Recently by Luigi Bastardo

The Hook (1963) DVD Review: "Kid, Any Day a War Ends is a Nice Day."

Kirk Douglas, Nick Adams, and Robert Walker, Jr. star in a well-made Korean War drama from George Seaton.
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George Seaton had quite the varied career. Starting out as a struggling playwright and actor within the theater, the future screenwriter and director also became the first nationally-heard actor to portray The Lone Ranger in 1933, lated alleging he invented the famous "Hi-yo Silver!" catchphrase due to his own inability to whistle. Landing a job at MGM courtesy the legendary Irving Thalberg, Seaton's wit and ability to think up a good gag soon caught the attention of Groucho Marx, and he helped contribute heavily to the jokes seen and heard in A Night at the Opera, and would earn the

Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) Blu-ray Review: Uneven Musical Gangster Noir (in Color)

The Warner Archive presents the second of three strikes for Jack Webb's failed franchise.
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Way back during those far-off days of the very early 1990s (he said in jest), I found myself - along with my peers - choosing an assignment for English from a number of eclectic books our teacher had on-hand. And while my report of The Communist Manifesto, wherein I commented Karl Marx was of no relation to Groucho, Harpo, Chico or Zeppo, was a deliberately dumb affair, it could not compare to the smirking delight that set over my face when the morons on the other side of the room - the "cool, popular" kids, if you will - decided

The Day They Robbed the Bank of England DVD Review: Introducing Peter O'Toole

A taut, well-crafted Victorian Era heist thriller that forged the way for many crime dramas to come.
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Though he had a relatively noted - if short-lived - career in the Hollywood limelight as an A picture actor, it's sometimes hard to imagine the late Aldo Ray as a serious performer when one notes the amount of motion pictures he made in his later years that were preceded B, X, Z, and just about every other letter of the alphabet. Today, he is probably best remembered for not being remembered at all - with an entire legion of mostly clueless Quentin Tarantino followers assuming Brad Pitt's Inglourious Basterds character, Lt. Aldo Raine, is merely just a similarly sounding

Birdman of Alcatraz Blu-ray Review: The Cinematic System's Sympathetic Psychopath

Twilight Time brings us a much-needed High-Def release of the Burt Lancaster/John Frankenheimer classic.
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November 2014 could truly be one of the most auspiciously underestimated months in the history of home video releases. One of two significantly incredible reasons for my assessment owes to a recent Warner release that many of us never, ever thought we would see, Batman: The Complete Television Series - which not only made it to video in a form other than our terrible VHS recordings from TV, but on Blu-ray even. The second reason this month deserves an asterisk in the annals of history is warranted by the High-Def home video debut of another fellow named after a small

Mokey / Revolt in the Big House DVD Reviews: A Young Robert Blake Two-fer

The controversial actor goes from motherless juvenile delinquent to prison revolutionary in these two New-to-DVD rarities from the Warner Archive.
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While Robert Blake is unlikely to be on everyone's list of people to meet, the one-time child actor was one of the few of his kind to actually make a successful transition from being a kiddie icon to an adult star. And, while the spotlights for both his professional and private lives have certainly faded out, Blake - one of the few still living actors to have starred in the original Our Gang / Little Rascals short subjects - has nevertheless left a lengthy legacy behind. Starting out as a young doe-eyed Bobby Blake (as he was then known as,

Daniel Boone: The Complete Series - 50th Anniversary DVD Review: A Dream Come-a-Truer

The Fox TV Archives makes its debut with an anticipated re-release the out-of-print TV favorite.
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Since the building of the Manufactured on Demand bandwagon, nearly every major studio in the home video industry has begun the seemingly-endless process of making hundreds (if not thousands) of rarely-seen movies and television shows available to the public upon order. The process has also enabled certain moratorium materials to be put back into print. And with the debut of Fox Home Entertainment's new MOD sub-label "20th Century Fox TV Archives", fans of the classic adventure/western program Daniel Boone are now able to fill in the gap left behind by the inefficiency and abrupt departure of two minor distributors from

Wicked, Wicked DVD Review: The Best Bad Gimmick Movie Ever

The first film to have been constructed entirely out of B roll footage finally comes to DVD.
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Towards the end of his career in the motion picture industry, director Richard L. Bare - the sole individual behind the camera for virtually every episode of Green Acres ever as well as the same man who penned and directed the Joe McDoakes series of theatrical shorts - hit upon an idea. As he looked down the freeway, he noticed it took on the appearance of being split into two separate screens by the divider. It was then, according to legend, that the filmmaker who had spent darn near the entire span of his métier in Hollywood directing comedies and

Possessed (1947) Blu-ray Review: At Last, Gender Equality in Film Noir!

Joan Crawford takes the wheel in a classic thriller that has received a startling new HD release from the Warner Archive.
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It's always the same. One minute, you're wandering aimlessly down the surprisingly empty streets of Los Angeles, searching for a man, mistaking every other stranger you meet for said individual, startling hard-working American folks by meandering into coffee shops and acting strange. The next minute, they're hauling your ass into the psychiatric ward. Well, maybe that's not a common occurrence for you, but I'm sure I have come closer to being in the exact same predicament Joan Crawford finds herself in at the beginning of her 1947 starring role Possessed than most other people who have would freely admit to.

The St. Louis Kid DVD Review: Another James Cagney Rarity Makes Its Debut

A cocky, real jerk of a truck driver learns the hard way about the evils of milk in this weird, uneven 1934 feature.
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Chalk up yet another victory for the Warner Archive, boys and girls. Not only have they given us a new stellar Blu-ray release of Yankee Doodle Dandy recently, but they've filled in several other missing James Cagney film gaps as well, including the riotous comedy Boy Meets Girl with Pat O'Brien. And here, with The St. Louis Kid, I was able to at last pin the tail on the donkey of something else. As a youth, one of the many videocassettes in my always-expanding library was a cheapo blooper tape from an illustrious label that at one point went by

The Killer Shrews DVD Review: A Shrewd Release from Film Chest

Film Chest brings us a "digitally transferred" re-release of the Public Domain cult classic. But just what exactly does "digitally transferred" mean?
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After Toho unleashed its monstrous creation Gojira upon the world in 1954 - itself a metaphor to the bombing of Hiroshima and the radioactive horrors that were born that day towards the end of World War II - America couldn't help but jump in on the fun (again). And so, one mutated critter after another began to emerge, whether it be a creature spawned from the uncharted depths of the Salton Sea due to nuclear testing, alien monsters from the vast vastness of vast space come to teach us a lesson, or the (sometimes) accidental creation of something from some

Yankee Doodle Dandy Blu-ray Review: You're a Grand Old Film

James Cagney gets born of the fourth of July for the Warner Archive's dynamic HD release of the already exceptional George M. Cohan biopic.
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Generally, as I have pointed out in a previous article, biographical motion pictures are something of specialty items - usually commissioned, produced and released in order to cash-in on the death of a celebrity. But in the instance of 1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy, we have a biopic that is a whole different affair altogether. Although the subject of the picture itself, the iconic patriotic American Broadway composer/playwright/performer George M. Cohan - conceived and brought to the attention of studio executives by the man himself (!) - was still alive at the time the film was made, he did not fall

The Italian Exploitation Invasion: Sex and Death, 1969-2012

From lite BDSM affairs of the late '60s to bloody splatter flicks of the mid '80s, here's a little bit of everything from one of cinema's most inimitably imitative industries.
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The bulk of Italian cinema is generally recognized by the average American viewer as little more than a number of classic neorealism features. Maybe a mafia movie made by a US filmmaker of Italian descent. And the occasional film by that guy who paved the way for a classic Tom Cruise interview by going berserk and climbing over (and atop) seats at the Oscars that one time. But for the cult/trash film enthusiast, Italy is perhaps the best known supplier of gory guilty pleasures, sinfully sultry sleazefests, and some of the most rockin' (or at least completely funky and groovy)

Boy Meets Girl (1938) DVD Review: Recommended Neglected Screwball Comedy Antics

James Cagney and Pat O'Brien pull no punches in this biting satire of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
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When one hears a saying like "boy meets girl", an instant (usually negative) image of a sappy Hollywood romantic comedy - or worse, a sappy coming-of-age sitcom - is almost immediately conjured up. Fortunately, the 1938 satire Boy Meets Girl more than exceeds any preconceived notions those of us who have lived that same Hollywood film ten times before (thank you, Mr. Bowie) may hold. At the same time, Boy Meets Girl represents two styles of comedy we genuinely do not see in the world of American film anymore: the screwball comedy (which essentially died in the '40s) and the

A Handful of de Havilland: Three Obscure Olivias from the Warner Archive

Olivia de Havilland encounters the plights and perils of a gold rush, a wartime rush, and rushed productions in a trio of forgotten films.
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In the middle of October 2014, Olivia de Havilland found herself having outlived her frequent, iconic on-screen romantic interest from motion pictures of the '30s and '40s, one Mr. Errol Flynn, by five-and-a-half decades. Oddly enough, despite the fact that she retired from the film industry nearly thirty years after her famous leading hero passed away in 1959, Ms. de Havilland nevertheless managed to tally up the same amount of acting roles for film and television as he did. And yet, despite a relatively brief legacy in Hollywood - a career that waned in the '50s due to motherhood and

One Night at Susie's DVD Review: Makes a Hardened Man Humble

The Warner Archive presents vintage film enthusiasts with one of the few surviving films of actress Billie Dove.
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An early "all-talking" drama developed for audiences before the Hays Office sucked all the life out of the business, One Night at Susie's not only gives us a grand glimpse at an infant Hollywood taking its first steps, but is one of the few films starring Billie Dove to have survived over the years. A highly adored actress of both the stage and the screen, Dove made several dozen movies in the Silent Era, retiring from the business shortly after the Sound Era came to be. Sadly, most of her legacy was erased from history by a studio fire, so

Oh, Sailor Behave DVD Review: Olsen and Johnson Liven a Dud to Death

They don't make 'em like this anymore. And an entire nation - if not universe - can sleep soundly with that assurance.
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Considering the seemingly-infinite amount of musicals Hollywood once proudly cranked out once the members of the industry figured out how to add sound to motion pictures, it's somewhat difficult to imagine that there was a time wherein the very public such items were manufactured for rolled their eyes in discontent at the thought of seeing yet another film with singing and dancing. After all, they could just go see a Broadway play if they wanted to see that type of tripe. And yet the suits in Tinseltown insisted on making musicals; often shooting movie picture adaptations of the same Broadway

John Wick Movie Review: Keanu Reeves Gets His Wick Debt

A nice change of pace action/thriller that will hopefully inspire others to emulate instead of imitate.
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Once upon a time, many moons ago, the American western found itself in dire straits. Movies followed the same regular routine to the point where they began to resemble little more than copies of xeroxed duplicates of toner-based facsimiles reproduced solely to sell the goods. It wasn't until some fresh blood from our Italian brethren was added into the fray - or spilled into the dust, if you prefer - that things started to change; the key ingredient there being violence itself. Sadly, it was only a matter of time before competitors started to repeat the process - choosing to

The Lusty Men DVD Review: An RKO Rodeo Picture

Robert Mitchum and Arthur Kennedy are two wild studs that only Susan Hayward can handle.
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While a day at the rodeo is not typically considered to be the most interesting of settings for a motion picture outside of a weird short subject produced by folks in the midwest, there have been a few notable exceptions to shine across the silver screen from time to time. Some of you may cite Eight Seconds with former teen heartthrob Luke Perry to have been of interest. That said, the obscure '80s music lover in me will always assume you're talking about the short-lived Canadian new wave group of the same name whenever you mention said movie - for,

Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend DVD Review: The Feel Good Flick of '57

OK, so Randolph Scott, Bret Maverick, and The Green Hornet walk into a bar dressed as Quakers...
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Towards the end of his prolific career as one of Hollywood's favorite cowboy stars, Randolph Scott was prone to signing on for the occasional odd outing in pictures. Just five years before changing his clean-cut good guy image in Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country, wherein the actor subsequently retired from the industry altogether, Scott found himself in a modest, somewhat offbeat Warner Bros. production entitled Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend. Though it would prove to be the final collaboration Warner Bros. had with Mr. Scott, it also highlighted several performers at the beginning of their own careers: James Garner and

Son of a Gunfighter DVD Review: Sundown of the American Gundown

The Warner Archive brings us the home video debut of an odd, early Euro western prototype.
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As the middle of the 1960s approached, American cinema bid two of its mightiest moneymakers a small, barely-audible adieu. First and foremost was the genre of classic western film, which had been done so many times since the motion picture industry had established its firm roots in Hollywood that studio executives eventually had to come up with box office ploys such as CinemaScope in order to keep audiences coming in instead of tuning in to watch Rawhide at home on the TV set. The second was that of CinemaScope itself; a procedure that every other studio had taken to copying

Under Fire (1983) Blu-ray Review: Nick Nolte Knows How to Shoot (a Camera)

Twilight Time's new Blu-ray release is most assuredly the best possible way to experience this underrated gem.
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With a story focusing on a journalist, a photographer, and a revolution, Twilight Time's release of Roger Spottiswoode's 1983 drama Under Fire sounds like a title that should have been released with their September 2014 line-up - as it would have made a great pairing with Oliver Stone's Salvador. But while both movies are based on actual events involving members of the news media becoming involved in a dangerous rebellion between indigenous oppressed folk and corrupt politicians, Spottiswoode's elegantly crafted 1983 film graciously succeeds in rising above just about everything Stone bombarded his viewers with three years later. Plus, not

Silent Witness: The Complete Seasons One and Seventeen DVD Reviews: Ch-ch-ch-changes

BBC Video releases the earliest and latest seasons of the long-running crime drama series.
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In 1996, the BBC debuted a new contender into an arena of crime dramas that was already heavily populated by a venerable assortment of combatants both old and new. Silent Witness certainly wasn't the first series of its kind, but it has nevertheless managed to cope with the ever-changing world it is based upon - all the while making a number of substantial alterations within its own fictional settings. Though the elements of adult-themed story devices and the sight of a rotting cadaver is something television producers across The Pond have embraced ever since they determined they could get away

The Adventures of the Wilderness Family Triple Feature DVD Review: The Off Grid Trilogy

Those lovable stinkin' hippies return in a compressed, single-disc/three-feature release for those of you on the cheap.
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Two years ago, Lionsgate Home Entertainment unveiled the first of a popular cinematic trilogy from not only another time, but for an entirely different kind of viewer altogether. 1975's The Adventures of the Wilderness Family offered up a unique form of motion picture escapism for moviegoers who had helped to bring the increasingly-overpopulated and polluted world to where it currently was. The tale told of the Robinsons, a family of four - father Skip, mother Pat, sister Jenny, and brother Toby - who decided their final tweet to civilization was to be "#OverIt", and promptly set out to live in

Classic Shorts from the Dream Factory, Volume 3 DVD Review: The Lost Stooges

The Warner Archive brings us six rare pre-Code shorts featuring The Three Stooges, including a previously thought-to-be-lost short rediscovered in 2013.
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The early filmic legacy of The Three Stooges - or the comedy troupe of Howard, Fine, and Howard, as they were sometimes known - is quite the bittersweet affair when viewed and compared to the later output the iconic team has since gone down in history for. Beginning via several different incarnations as stooges for vaudevillian Ted Healy (wherein the word "stooge" was used to define someone who played an audience member until called up onto stage), the antics of the leader and his outrageous flunkies became prime moving picture material fodder when representatives of an infant film industry started

The Believers (1987) Blu-ray Review: That Old Black Magic Has Me in Its Spell

Martin Sheen is in trouble, for he does not practice Santería. Nor does he have a crystal ball, for that matter.
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Today's younger generation of photoplay viewers probably only recognizes actor Martin Sheen as the father of Charlie and/or "the guy who starred in that one Vietnam movie with the boat and the napalm". An even smaller demographic will be able to go a step further on that front and classify him as the brother of cult B movie actor Joe Estevez. (Emilio never gets mentioned, and rightfully so.) In fact, it's almost hard to believe now that there was once a time that Marty was something of a formidable name on a movie marquee before he started to appear in

Steven Spielberg Director's Collection Blu-ray Review: Finally, Duel in HD!

Universal unveils the HD debuts of four of the iconic director's works in this eight-film set.
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With the fourth quarter upon us and the holiday season that comes with it closing in at an ever-alarming speed, it's the perfect time once again for studios to assemble various collections for established home video collectors and newbies alike. But whereas some sets will shamelessly repackage the same movies that have been released individually over the years, enclosing them in a shiny new shell for those whose are easily distracted by such things, others actually make their new releases of older catalogue titles worthwhile by including an assortment of movies that are actually new to the format in question.

The Vanishing (1993) Blu-ray Review: So Bad That It Actually Becomes Good

That smudged printing on Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland's résumés can be seen in a much clearer light now.
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Once upon a time, I received a copy of an Italian-made English-language movie that had been dubbed into Italian before somebody who obviously did not learn the King's language as their primary form of verbal communication next created English subtitles translated from the Italian translation. There was also an instance in photoplay history where an adaptation of Shakespeare was produced for German television; the Bard's original work transcribed into the local Germanic tongue, only to wind up dubbed back into English - from the German conversion, nonetheless - for a subsequent (and probably poorly-received) television airing in the United States

The Adventures of Marco Polo DVD Review: "The Princess Bride" of Its Day?

The Warner Archive re-releases a highly enjoyable epic of a box office bomb from 1938.
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As anyone who was taught in grade school about what a great benefactor Christopher Columbus was to the Natives on the New World has since gone on to discover, the telling of history is not always about the facts. And while a bit of whitewashing is absolutely unacceptable when it comes to one's education, taking such liberties generally makes a big screen motion picture more favorable to people whose only purpose is to be entertained. Ironically, the very same audience who drooled over Samuel Goldwyn's 1939 adaptation of Wuthering Heights - a film that stayed heavily from its own source

Audrey Rose Blu-ray Review: An "Exorcist" for the Neil Simon Crowd

Twilight Time brings vintage horror movie lovers a misaligned tale of reincarnation and possession.
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The mark of a new decade brings with it much anticipation of something new. Something special. A particular type of renovation that will outdo the victories and faults of its predecessor, whether it be in the world of fashion, music, and film. And the '70s definitely ushered in a venerable revolution in all three of those departments, from incredible (and somewhat incorrigible) clothing, to that funky music a certain unknown audience member shouted for white boy Rob Parissi to play, and right down to an entirely new era of the moving pictures: creepy kids. Though the concept of a child

The Blob (1988) Blu-ray Review: Everybody's in the Pink Now

Twilight Time delivers a dazzling HD re-release of the cult favorite '80s remake and it's swell, kids!
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Though many a motion picture updating replete with a bit of blood founds its way into theaters during the '60s and '70s, it truly wasn't until the 1980s rolled around when things really started to change in the field of horror remakes. Mainly, these reworkings occasionally boasted not only a vastly reimagined storyline, but usually included an impressive array of special effects ranging from optical to make-up. Sadly, these things have been replaced by CGI and - worse - an endless supply of dulled-down, MPAA-friendly lifelessness in the countless array of contemporary moving picture letdowns that befall us today. A

In the Flesh: The Complete Season Two DVD Review: The Undead Return. Again.

Because who doesn't long for a BBC drama that includes gay zombie love?
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As the curtain rang on the previous, initial season of the BBC's In the Flesh last year, its fate was entirely undetermined. Was the show that actually succeeded in making the overused element of the reanimated dead going to be given a second chance at life (pun possibly intended), or would it be permitted to simply pass on gracefully in its sleep? Well, as they say in the industry, "You can't keep a good corpse down", and it seemed only natural that In the Flesh return to right all of the many, many wrongs would-be filmmakers and the trendy hipster

Spenser: For Hire: The Complete First Season (1985-86) DVD Review: Great '80s Neo-Noir

The criminally neglected cult ABC TV series starring the late great Robert Urich returns courtesy of the Warner Archive.
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Anyone who has so much as flipped on a television set once for even only five minutes is probably quite well aware that detective shows are easier to find than one's own ass with the assistance of both hands and a flashlight. Now, when it comes down to finding a good detective series, however, things can become rather tricky. It certainly isn't easy in this day and age, what with their being seventeen kajillion different television channels full of tripe at our disposal. Believe it or not, it was even harder back when we only had three networks to choose

La Bamba (1987) Blu-ray Review: Lou Diamond Phillips Debuts As Ritchie Valens

The film that made you rue the day Los Lobos first started saturating radio airplay returns in High-Definition.
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For my money, biographical motion pictures are often comparable to those certain speciality stores in strip malls only a small reserve of individuals really go to. Cartridge World. Yankee Candle. The As Seen On TV Store. You know the type of retail outlet I refer to. You even drive past them on a regular basis, occasionally taking the liberty of briefly peeking through their windows to see if there's actually anything interesting in there, whether or not they truly do have customers or are just cleverly disguised another drug front, or if the employees of the outfit are having crazy

The Great Race (1965) Blu-ray Review: Blake Edwards, How Great Thou Art

A failure upon its release, this epic adventure makes a beautiful HD comeback via the Warner Archive Collection.
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When Blake Edwards departed from this world in late 2010, he left behind a lasting and versatile legacy of contributions to cinema. From the hard-hitting drama of Days of Wine and Roses (a serious look at alcoholism made during the early '60s, when civilized man enjoyed a steak and martini for breakfast), to a couple of noted musicals with his wife Julie Andrews (Darling Lili and Victor/Victoria), and even the odd thriller like the underrated Experiment in Terror (which Twilight Time was kind enough to issue on Blu-ray in early 2013), Edwards tried his hand at many different types of

Nosferatu in Venice (Prince of the Night) DVD Review: When Art Becomes Trash

A rarely-seen bad movie becomes even worse thanks to a marred English audio track.
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The essence of classic German expressionist cinema - particularly in the field of horror - is something many imitate, but which few can respectfully replicate in the long run. Indeed, director Werner Herzog created his own horror classic in 1979 with Nosferatu the Vampyre, his artistic take on F.W. Murnau's now-iconic silent 1922 masterpiece, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens. With the legendary visionary helming and the legendary creepiness and craziness (both onscreen and off) of his certifiably-insane lead actor, the infamous Klaus Kinski - who superbly mimicked the mannerisms of Murnau's mysterious monster (offscreen as well as on), Max Schreck

The Desert Song ('43 and '53 Versions) DVD Reviews: Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things

The Warner Archive presents two tales where the heat is hot and the ground is dry, but the air is full of sound.
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In the mid 1920s, composer Sigmund Romberg collaborated with the lyricists at large Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach, and Frank Mandel to create what would become a Broadway hit - The Desert Song. Inspired by the 1925 uprising of a group of Moroccan rebels, known as the Riffs, the musical play was later turned into a successful 1929 film rife with the kind of sexual innuendo and lewd humor (the kind you'd expect to find in a project that hailed from the decade we commonly refer to today as the Roaring Twenties) that was present in the original play. The

Grindhouse Trailer Classics, Volume 1 DVD Review: Seven Years Later...

Indie label Intervision presents American viewers with a collection of classic previews that has been out in the UK for over half of a decade now.
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Sometimes it just takes a while for things to cross The Pond. Seven years ago, the April 2007 release of the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino flop Grindhouse - an homage to the exploitation double features of yesteryear (which was a great idea, but which its own target audience ironically failed to comprehend the meaning of) - caused a tidal wave of low-budget DVD labels, each of whom had their own assortment of classic exploitation movies at their disposal (sometimes even legally!), to issue forth their own double (and sometimes more) feature discs. The intent of which was to cash-in on the

From Dusk Till Dawn: Season One (2014) Blu-ray Review: Why, God, Why?

Imagine a 108-minute film shamelessly and mercilessly expanded into an unwanted, unnecessary, uncalled-for ten-hour-long series.
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At some point in time, it seems rather inevitable that a filmmaker may return to a completed project from their early years. Sometimes, these visual poets do so solely with the intent of correcting a few things that have irked them since then (see: Ridley Scott, George Lucas). In other instances, they revisit their work to expand and completely alter the entire storyline - which, in-turn, changes the very universe the original item in question was set in (see: Ridley Scott, George Lucas). And while those viewers who predominantly consider themselves to be of the artistically inclined nature may see

The Killer Elite (1975) Blu-ray Review: The Wrath of Caan

Sam Peckinpah sets his bloody sights on a tale of covert government agents and stealthy ninja assassins. What’s not to love there?
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Sam Peckinpah's legacy on the world of film was something most people in the industry certainly never saw coming. Consistent undermined by studio executives who sought to correct what they perceived to be filmmaking flaws, the director of such now-legendary classics like Straw Dogs, Junior Bonner, and The Getaway usually wound up having his films re-cut without his permission. Combined with his own flawed human nature - alcoholism, substance abuse, and the ever-troublesome depression - eventually turned a promising talent into that washed-up talent no one would want to hire. (Also see: Bela Lugosi.) Yet, Peckinpah's films are widely regarded

Salvador (1986) Blu-ray Review: Oliver Stone Finds His Calling

Twilight Time revives the controversial director's first (notable) film back for another haunting round.
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Prior to becoming a standout name with the international success of Platoon in 1987, Oliver Stone was only known for directing several films. Two of them were B-grade horror movies, the generally unseen Seizure from 1974, and the usually laughed-at fiasco The Hand from 1981. It was with his third directorial feature, however - the 1986 Hemdale Film release Salvador - that Stone, a man who has potentially passed one illegal drug too many through his system over the years, finally found something he was good at: a politically charged war drama that swerved in and out of reality, whilst

Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973) DVD Review: More Than a Name on a Postcard

A rare type of film that precariously teeters between sleazy exploitative trash and fine underrated art.
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Prior to her success as the best-selling writer of the "Alphabet" mysteries which have gone to be a vital part of practically every little old lady's library, author Sue Grafton penned a number of television scripts and published several novels that went largely unnoticed by the masses. Among those was a 1969 book entitled The Lolly-Madonna War: a tale of mistaken identity, Southern inhospitality, redneck wars, and the madness contained therein that, interestingly enough, was never published in America. Similarly, the 1973 MGM film adaptation of the story, Lolly-Madonna XXX was doomed to being mostly ignored, heavy criticized, and consistently

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection (1931-1956) DVD Review: Too Little, Too Late

Cinema's iconic creature features are re-released yet again in another SD-DVD set.
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When I was just a tiny little lad, I - like many other small children - had an intense fear of monsters, the sight of blood, and scary movies in general. People find that hard to believe these days, especially seeing as how I proudly own a copy of Cannibal Holocaust on Blu-ray in my collection, and have probably viewed just about every style of gory, scary, and horrible (in every way) monster movie imaginable at this point in time. In fact, it's safe to say that I've grown somewhat immune to that variety of film, despite my nearly lifelong

The Bowery Boys: Volume Four (1946-1958) DVD Review: My Life Is Finally Complete

The Warner Archive unleashes the last 12 outings of what was arguably the greatest, longest-running comedy series ever made.
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Nearly two years ago, the Warner Archive released a multi-disc set containing what had previously been something of a Holy Grail amongst classic B comedy lovers: The Bowery Boys: Volume One. The following year brought forth the next two volumes, teasing fans with the prospect of a fourth and final set that would essentially serve as the closest thing to a definitive collection ever - thus enabling anyone who still held on to a few shoddy bootlegged 16mm television prints a chance to upgrade once and for all. Well, it took nearly a year for that to become a reality,

The Musketeers (2014) Blu-ray Review: Finally, A Reimagining Worth Viewing

Sporting great battles, amazing costumes, and a fresh take, this incarnation of the Alexandre Dumas tale has a lot of potential.
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As I had iterated in a somewhat recent article, there are really only a venerable handful of classic literary characters and stories that seem to re-emerge in order to be retold time and time again upon small and big screens alike. And there is certainly little doubt in my own mind that the classic Alexandre Dumas 1844 work Les Trois Mousquetaires falls somewhere at the very top of that limited grouping; its immortal characters having appeared in many various adaptations over the last couple of centuries, along with the particular tale itself. Granted, some of us may be prone to

The Dogs of War (1980) Blu-ray Review: These Boots Are Made for Walken

Recommended. Even if we don't get to hear Christopher Walken recite Shakespeare.
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Despite the claims of many an adult website author, bigger is not always better. Take the contemporary action film genre, for example: things must explode continuously, actors must shout a lot, cameras must shake wherever and whenever possible in order to convey a general feeling of queasiness, and any and all probability or indication of intelligence must be sucked out of the room immediately. Sure, it sells, but at what cost to the view with a brain? Alas, whenever somebody tries to construct an action flick that isn't completely braindead, it usually flops at the box office when the disappointed

The Moonshine War (1970) DVD Review: Early Hicksploitation with an Unlikely Cast

Alan Alda and Patrick McGoohan portray Southerners in this tale from the disgraced director of the television remake of Catch-22.
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Essentially, there are two types of hicksploitation genres: you either have a group of Yankees wandering into the South only to be terrorized by a group of rampaging rednecks - be they alive, dead, or somewhere in-between - or one bears witness to a war between two factions of undereducated (but nevertheless cunning) mountain men who go toe-to-toe over something like women or whiskey. But all of those unofficial rules are tossed out the window when it comes to the 1970 film adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel The Moonshine War - which, despite the seemingly self-explanatory title, tells an enthralling

Che! (1969) Blu-ray Review: A Prime Example of "What Were They Thinking?"

Omar Sharif as Che Guevara. Jack Palance as Fidel Castro. A match made in bad movie heaven.
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Every now and then, a motion picture comes along that is so positively astute in its own sense of being, so sure it knows what it is and why it's there, that it becomes painfully clear there isn't a single soul within the confines of the cosmos who could tell you what the hell was going on there. Rather, movies such as these tend to ignore all fundamental elements of filmmaking (i.e. consumer demand and/or a plot) boil down to a quip British comedian Eddie Izzard once made regarding the fine art of making speeches: that people only pay 70%

Prom Night (1980) Blu-ray Review: Disco! Dancing! Death!

Synapse Films brings us the definitive transfer of the classic Canadian slasher flick.
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Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a classic slasher flick, only to wonder "Man, I sure wish they would have included a lot of disco tunes on the soundtrack"? Or perhaps you are of the persuasion that would find themselves in the midst of a disco movie before they began to envision how much better it would be were there people getting slashed? Well, either way, the 1980 American/Canadian slasher film Prom Night proves that you can have your cake and eat it too - as it not only features murder, but disco dancing as well. And

Nasty Habits (1977) DVD Review: Nunsploitation of a Different Denomination

Watergate set in a convent. Seriously.
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There truly is no separation of church and state when it comes to a movie like Nasty Habits, a late '70s comedy that remains in a classification of its own to this day. Inspired by the famously notorious exploits of a certain tricky American president (read: Watergate), this off-the-wall entirely different take on the nunsploitation subgenre centers on a little-known abbey in Philadelphia chock-full of vice and corruption. When its reigning head abbess dies before she has a chance to officially make her chosen successor public, Sister Alexandra (Glenda Jackson) decides the best way to assure her proper place is

Enchantment (1948) DVD Review: Everlasting Loves, Friends and Lovers Divine

David Niven and Teresa Wright headline a WWII romantic drama about lost love.
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Keeping up with their brief, recent Samuel Goldwyn/David Niven motif, the Warner Archive Collection has re-issued the 1948 romantic drama oddity Enchantment, previously available on DVD from MGM. Based on the 1945 novel Take Three Tenses: A Fugue in Time by Rumer Godden (who also wrote the original literary version of Black Narcissus, which had been made into a now-classic film in 1947), Enchantment brings us a rather unique take on that which a philosopher named Jones once referred to as "an everlasting love" - wherein the narrative takes on a sort of nonlinear approach to inform us, the lovelorned

Raffles (1930) / Raffles (1939) DVD Review: Because Cricket Doesn't Pay

Two rare versions of the same story about an even rarer combination of English gentleman, jewel thief, and cricketer.
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There have been many notable, historically celebrated examples of a literary character enjoying a long and happy life (or death) over the course of several decades (or even centuries) via not only their original work, but through the lucrative cash-cow known as franchising as well. But for every Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, or Dracula, there is a staggering amount of lesser-known fictional entities that ultimately failed to make the grade within the grand scheme of things. In fact, it's quite frightening to think of how many once-briefly-popular imaginary men and women (and to some degree, those who would have to mark

Out of the Past (1947) Blu-ray Review: Lightning Captured in a Bottle

The very epitome of film noir - and the femme fatale that goes with it - receives a jaw-dropping HD upgrade from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Some things simply aren't easy to capture. Bigfoot. Blood from a stone. Bones in ice cream. And of course, the proverbial lightning in a bottle many have alluded to throughout the years in an attempt to confuse those cerebrally challenged individuals who would only wonder why anyone would be foolish enough to hold up a glass container in a thunderstorm like a complete and total fool. Nonetheless, certain things are likely in the world of film, particularly when the timing is just right. In the instance of the 1947 RKO film Out of the Past, we are able to bear

2 by Ken Loach: Riff-Raff (1991) / Raining Stones (1993) Blu-ray Review: Depressingly Fascinating

Two low-key, very sincere movies about everyday average people get a High-Def release from Twilight Time.
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If there's one thing you may have noticed amidst all of the screaming and flailing mechanical bits in the latest Transformers film, many a movie today seems to lack a genuinely honest sense of realism. But that is not the case for British filmmaker Ken Loach, who has delivered one true-to-life motion picture after another throughout his career in an industry that strongly believes it should give the people what they want. Loach, on the other hand, gives the people what they are: people. Everyday, average people just-a-doin' their thing, come rain or shine, good or bad, do or die.

A Very Honorable Guy (1934) DVD Review: A Lighter Look at Dark Humor

Few men will lay their life on the line, but Joe E. Brown is one of 'em in this Vitaphone rarity.
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Eighty years ago, a man's reputation meant everything - whether he was a high society snob who looked down at the struggling day-to-day plight of the common people, or he was, in fact, one of those very subculture individuals who was just trying to get by. In the instance of the 1934 Vitaphone comedy A Very Honorable Guy, a luckless, hapless schmuck by the handle of "Feet" Samuels (played with a rather honorable amount of gusto by comedian Joe E. Brown) is so worried about his own reputation amongst the venerable sea of ruffians and conmen, that he would rather

You Said a Mouthful (1932) DVD Review: Pre-Code and Pre-Politically Correct

A tale of "sink or swim" with Joe E. Brown and a barely-recognizable Ginger Rogers.
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I suppose there's little argument to be had in the speculation that we as a species have a tendency to assign labels and stereotypes onto individuals within certain fields. And one of two prime examples that you can find in the pre-Code 1932 Vitaphone comedy You Said a Mouthful is in its very own leading comedian, the great Joe E. Brown. Thanks to our habit of socially profiling comics as unathletic eccentrics, it can really slap you in the face when you note that Brown was not only a professional baseball player in his earlier years, but that he kept

Broadminded (1931) DVD Review: Pre-Code Comedy with...Wait, Bela Lugosi?!

Ever wondered what cinema's most famous Dracula would have looked like wooing Thelma Todd? Look no further.
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As any halfway decent stand-up artist can attest to (or at least should be perfectly aware of), the element of timing means everything in the field of comedy. The same also applies to the food and beverage industry, of course. And most probably definitely surgery too, I suppose - but I'm probably going to go way outside of my personal everyday comfort zone if I keep thinking about that. Actually, the subject of being outside of one's personal everyday comfort zone happens to be entirely relevant with the subject of this review, 1931's Joe E. Brown Vitaphone comedy Broadminded -

The Buddy Holly Story (1978) Blu-ray Review: And I Suppose You're Mary Tyler Moore?

Even when cast as a legendary rock and roll icon, Gary Busey still looks friggin' nuts.
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As I had briefly eluded to in my less-than-coherent rambling for Twilight Time's Blu-ray release of the Elvis flick Follow That Dream, some people only know a legend by the fact that they've become an icon within the world, as opposed to being remembered for what they actually did. And while the memory of Mr. Presley could very well outlive all of us, I sometimes fear that the image of Buddy Holly is perhaps only known these days to poor, misguided souls who are under the delusion that Weezer was a good group. Someday, an astronaut by the name of

Follow That Dream (1962) Blu-ray Review: Elvis Presley Stands His Ground in Florida

One of The King's better-known lesser-known works goes HD thanks to Twilight Time.
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Of the umpteen gazillion pop culture icons and references that circle throughout both my delicately-balanced conscious mind and that bizarre latent being that lies within on a regular basis like a poorly-loaded cheap washing machine, there is perhaps no name as popular as that of Elvis. In fact, so amused were a close grade-school friend and myself over the numerous tabloid headlines that popped up during the '80s amidst the Elvis Lives era, that we even started to write our own ridiculous magazines, complete with headlines such as "Elvis Possesses Woman's Toaster - And She Marries It!" and so forth

Man Hunt (1941) Blu-ray Review: Ein Film von Fritz Lang? Oh Heck, Ja!

America's late wake-up call to World War II receives a lovely upgrade from Twilight Time.
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Once, as a child in the 1980s, I found myself sitting up late one night watching TV. It was nothing entirely new for me - it still isn't, in fact - but the sensation I experienced that particular night was, as I became privy to what has since become an all-time favorite episode of the ingenious '60s television series The Outer Limits, "The Man Who Was Never Born". Moreover, it was then and there that the closing narration of that particular episode - as delivered by the series' "Control Voice", Vic Perrin, revealed a piece of well-written dialogue. "It is

The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) Blu-ray Review: Because Nothing Brings a Town Together Like Booze

Stanley Kramer's wonderful World War II comedy/drama is an absolute must-see.
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As anyone who has ever seen the likes of Wall-E or even Army of Darkness knows all-too-well, heroes can sometimes spawn from the most unlikely of sources. In the case of Stanley Kramer's 1969 World War II comedy/drama The Secret of Santa Vittoria, our protagonist is essentially little more than the village idiot. As word reaches the sleepy Italian winemaking village of Santa Vittoria that Mussolini is dead and that the good, simple people of the community are now free from the tyranny of fascism, local wine seller Italo Bombolini (Anthony Quinn) ascends to the top of a water tower

Wizards and Warriors: The Complete Series (1983) DVD Review: Long Overdue

The cult, short-lived, tongue-in-cheek '80s adventure/comedy finally hits home video.
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Although the concept of the sword and sorcery line of adventure films had been in employment for several decades prior to the 1980s - most notably in the guise of Italian peplum movies that permitted some new stars to rise and old ones to fall just like the Roman Empire itself - it wasn't until the beginning of that magical MTV era that the subgenre reached its very own zenith. Movies such as Excalibur, The Beastmaster, and Conan the Barbarian excited many a young soul's imagination whilst simultaneously delighting the nerdy fantasies of older moviegoers whose adolescence had long been

Beyond Westworld (1980) DVD Review: ...Where EVERYTHING Went Worng!

So it's a television spin-off set between the original film and its sequel, but which wholly ignores them and is set in a weird unannounced alternate reality. Got it.
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There are simply some ideas that look better on paper than they do on film. The impending JJ Abrams' HBO reboot of the 1973 creepy science fiction masterpiece Westworld - a tale written and directed by author Michael Crichton, wherein an adult theme park with eerily human-like robots goes to Hell when the androids begin to act out in a most inefficient (read: deadly) manner - certainly seems like one to me. After all, once the circuits hit the fan in the show, where can you possibly go without any hope of things becoming a bit redundant and silly? Well,

Ransom! (1956) DVD Review: "And Introducing Leslie Nielsen"

Glenn Ford sets the stage for Mel Gibson's 1996 remake (and shows that young buck how to do it in the process).
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Although television was basically considered to be the bastard cousin of the cinema during the '50s, it nevertheless proved to be a successful launching point for many a future talent in the industry - as well a venerable fountain of resources whenever filmmakers needed something that wasn't so heavily copied to death in the realm of film. A relevant case in point would be an episode of the long-running (and long-defunct) anthology series The United States Steel Hour, which once presented a dramatized account of a family's reactions after they learn their child has been kidnapped. Soon after, a big-screen,

Radio Days (1987) Blu-ray Review: Twilight Time Strikes Gold(en Age of Radio)

Woody Allen bridges a couple of generational gaps with a heartfelt look at growing up.
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Although I was one of those kids born at the very tail-end of the Generation X era - a mark in history that rendered me sufficiently incapable of clicking with anyone from my own generation or the one that followed - I was also a kid who had that non-too-rare-these-days distinction of being raised by my grandparents, who were born at the very beginning of the Greatest Generation. Which, of course, made it even harder for me to click with people in the long run, but which I like to think was a good thing overall. In fact, having been

Childrens Hospital - The Complete Fifth Season (2013) DVD Review: So Darwin Was Right, Apparently

A natural selection of comedic evolution if ever I did see one.
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The work of Charles Darwin has always proven to be a bit of a cumbersome to discuss, particularly when there are people who can't do math or have a complete lack of a brain in the room. And yet, time and time again, there have been little bits and pieces of various stuff and things throughout the bulk of history that seem to indicate Darwin's theory of natural selection is in fact alive and well. Naturally, I cannot speak for the whole of the human race - that would just be silly. And I should perhaps clarify that I am

1948 Film Noir in Review: Three Thrillers from Poverty Row's Monogram Pictures

The Warner Archive Collection unleashes a handful of B film noir tales.
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Being as how I dive into a handful of Warner Archive releases on a weekly basis, I have to wonder if the powers that be pick out a certain now-neglected B movie actor to sort of "highlight within the shadows" over a period of time. That, of certain actors just happened to be in everything. One character player in particular that has been popping up in at least one selection from the assortment of titles released within the last couple of weeks is Anthony Caruso. Best known to fans of the original Star Trek series as a gangster boss in

The Warner Archive Presents Alan Ladd, Cinema's Very Own Napoleon

From way out west to war in the east, a little Ladd goes a long way.
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There are two things most vintage movie buffs will instantly think of whenever Alan Ladd's name is mentioned: the movie Shane and the word "short". Originally rejected by the very industry that later made him a star due to his height and extremely blonde hair, one has to wonder if that didn't spawn some sort of Napoleon Complex with the actor. Indeed, after becoming a force to be reckoned with in 1942's This Gun for Hire as a tormented assassin with a damning moral sense of right and wrong, Ladd managed to escalate to his own victory as the drifting,

Born Yesterday (1950) Blu-ray Review: A Memorable Holliday in DC

Twilight Time presents us with a classic comedy from Columbia Pictures that's just as big of a laugh as its own studio head.
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In 1946, writer Garson Kanin unveiled unto Manhattan a simple Broadway play entitled Born Yesterday. The story concerned a uncouth, brazen, total jerk of a millionaire - junk dealer Harry Brock - coming to Washington DC with the intent of buying a crooked congressman to work it out so that he could make even more money by screwing people over (something entirely all-too-common today). Embarrassed by the actions and words of his equally dimwitted fiancée, former chorus girl Billie Dawn, Harry hires a local reporter named Paul Verrall to educate the former showgirl with an oh-so-obnoxious voice in the hopes

A Threesome with Errol Flynn (Because Who Wouldn't Want To?)

The Warner Archive presents three rarities starring cinema's great swashbuckling heartbreaker.
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From his breakout starring role in 1935's Captain Blood, it was quite apparent that Errol Flynn was the sort of dashing daredevil leading man who would live on forever in the hearts of film lovers around the world. And indeed he has, though he is mostly known today for his more famous work, such as his aforementioned debut and the subsequent swashbuckling adventures that followed, and even more so for his eponymous portrayal in The Adventures of Robin Hood. But, much like every recording artist/group has a number of singles to stage a Saturday night venue at a bar with,

Need for Speed (2014) Blu-ray Review: Bad, Bad, Bad (But with Some Great Car Stunts!)

Finally, a movie for addlebrained adolescents BY addlebrained adolescents.
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Like many film critics, I frequently fantasize being on one end of the camera or another. The generalized speculation at such a regularly employed daydream is attributed to a case of us wanting to "show the professionals how to do it". Now, while the theory that many of those aforementioned professionals would be unable to tell the difference between a certain form of bodily waste and Shinola, it stands to reason that many of them are employed in their fields for a reason. And, while I quite often agree that most of the people in Hollywood don't have a clue

Save Your Legs! (2012) Blu-ray Review: Wait, Australia Has Sports?

A coming-of-age-a-bit-late-in-life tale, served with a generous serving of Curry sauce.
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I know what you're thinking: "Twilight Time finally brings us a movie from Australia, and it's about cricket?" OK, well maybe that was only what I myself was thinking as I stood there, looking down at the title in my hands with an overwhelming feeling of ambivalence, to wit I eventually loaded the 2012 Aussie comedy Save Your Legs! into my machine and sat down for something I was - as you may have already guessed - totally and completely uncertain of. Much to my surprise, it wasn't half-bad. It wasn't all that great, either - but then, this photoplay

Violent Saturday (1955) Blu-ray Review: The Day Before Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Twilight Time gives us a much-appreciated upgrade to its previous DVD.
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As someone who grew up and lived far too long in a small community, I learned that drama is often looming around every street corner in such an environment. Everyone tends to stick their noses into the private lives of others, people can have often-unfair labels assigned to them at the drop of a hat, and the absence of available women - or the promiscuity of taken ones - can literally drive some men to drink. Heck, I can proudly say that I have sadly been on the receiving end of all of those maddening elements at one point in

Curtains (1983) Blu-ray Review: A Shining Example of "Less Is More"

Synapse Films unveils a finely-aged Canadian slasher flick.
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If there's one memory I tend to cherish more than most others, it would be the amount of video stores we once had in the small but very spread-out community I grew up in. Why, there were three small independently-run places in the tiny town I lived near alone in the '80s, while the "heavier populated" area had its own larger mom and pop stores. As my eye for entertainment progressively turned more toward the section marked "Horror" (which, in some places, was directly below those special ones with the very large boxes boasting peculiar imagery of people in compromising,

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977) Blu-ray Review: When Nightmares Become Reality

Surreal, creepy, and ripe with an unmistakable element of subculture artistry.
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I suppose it isn't entirely out of the ordinary for a human being from any regular ol' walk of life to completely drop everything they're doing in order to pursue a dream. Some people even go as far as to film them, such as the great Akira Kurosawa - who constructed an entire feature based entirely on stories inspired by his own subconscious. And then there's the case of a Michigan man by the name of George Barry, who chose to stray from the aforementioned, seldom-traveled path in order to follow what surely must have been a feverish and utterly

Bloody Moon / Bloody Birthday / The Baby (1973) Blu-ray Reviews: Bad, Bizarre, & Bizarrely Beautiful

Severin Films re-releases three outrageous horror classics in High-Def.
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Several years ago, back when I first started writing for the now defunct dvdinmypants.com, a Severin Films release landed on my doorstep one day that I was literally only able to repeatedly refer to as "heinous." The film in question was Jess Franco's Bloody Moon - a 1981 German slasher flick wherein the late Spanish director was cunningly (or perhaps "conningly") lured in by some rather shady producers who promised him the dark side of the moon - or rather, the men behind the The Dark Side of the Moon themselves, Pink Floyd, as the composers of the finished work.

Brannigan (1975) Blu-ray Review: Dirty Duke (Done Dirt Cheap?)

For those of you who have ever wondered what would have happened had John Wayne played Harry Callahan.
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Of all the many fascinating little tidbits shuffled away within the footnotes of film history, there is nothing quite as frightening as what very well could have happened had Don Siegel's now-legendary film Dirty Harry been cast with one of the original actors the film's producers approached to play the role of Harry Callahan. Among that distinguished list of honorees were Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, and The Duke himself, John Wayne. Most of the actors approached fully realized that they were perhaps just a little bit too old for the part, while others were appalled by the story

Our Family Honor (1985) DVD Review: The Beginning of a Short-Lived Series

The Warner Archive brings us a sample of forgotten '80s TV crimetime drama.
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Years before television viewing audiences found themselves frantically tuning in on a weekly basis to see what outrageous antics were being developed - and shown - on such groundbreaking shows as NYPD Blue and The Sopranos, ABC tried out a primetime drama that theoretically could have very well proved inspirational for those future, much more popular programs that people still remember today. In fact, there's a moment in the beginning of Our Family Honor that features starlet Daphne Ashbrook removing her shirt to expose her bare back, followed by what I could only describe as a side-of-a-side-of-a-side-of-a-sideboob shot. While this

High Barbaree (1947) DVD Review: Van Johnson and June Allyson Drop a Bomb

Recoil in horror as a tale with too many flashbacks literally bores its own co-star to death.
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As anyone who has ever judged a wet t-shirt contest in a college town can surely attest to, there's nothing quite like a great pairing. And the same rule applies to film - especially when the chemistry of two actors always seems to ignite a certain spark amongst audiences. A grand example of such a cinematic union would be RKO's dynamite combination of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, whose films together have withstood the test of time. But of course, for every grand pairing, there are usually some relatively minor fictional couplings. In fact, there's a strong possibility that there

Bret Maverick: The Complete Series (1981-1982) DVD Review: James Garner's Final Round

The Warner Archive brings us the last series starring one of the industry's finest.
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The late great James Garner left a lasting impression upon the world of film and television, but there was perhaps no greater character he brought to life than that of gambler Bret Maverick. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. The character of Jim Rockford could very well vie for the title too, of course - though we must take into consideration that Garner was one of four lead actors to be cast in the original Maverick, and still managed to come out ahead of the others (like there was any contest with Robert Colbert!). As the late '70s rolled around,

Twilight Time Presents: Men of Action (and Reaction)

An assortment of adult drama featuring some of classic cinema's biggest names are now yours to enjoy on Blu-ray.
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If today's box office blockbusters are capable of delivering any kind of message at all, it would be that a vast majority of moviegoers seem to prefer their action movies to be riddled with non-stop bullet ballets, edited together via one giant shaky cam CGI-laden experience completely devoid of any character development, actual emotion, and - quite often - halfway decent writing. Lens flares get tossed in at the drop of a hat, seemingly added solely to distract audiences from the lack of acting occurring on the screen on the part of the way-too-young and aesthetically-pleasing faces of performers cast

The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968) DVD Review: Well, Not Really, No

Raquel Welch's fripples and Edward G. Robinson's dancing highlight a rather lackluster comical caper.
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In all the annals of crime fiction, there can perhaps be no greater task assigned to any filmmaker than the execution of a heist or caper tale. Such a photoplay must be handled with complete and total confidence, caution, care, and subsequently carried out with great attention paid to each and every detail. In fact, making a caper isn't too terribly dissimilar than the act of performing for a daring robbery itself: you need a crew of professionals who not only having the fine art of perfect timing down to a science, but who are also utterly suave and sophisticated

The Sunshine Boys (1975) DVD Review: Walter Matthau and George Burns Are Forever Young

One of those rare Neil Simon dramedies that still makes you laugh in all the right places for all the right reasons.
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The mid '70s was essentially the zenith of a now-occasionally-questioned-by-film-scholars craze wherein virtually every melodramatic Broadway hit penned by playwright Neil Simon's simply had to be turned into a movie. And, while several of the umpteen kajillion Simon plays transformed into cinema fare - like, say, Chapter Two - wouldn't even be worth the price of admission into a free upscale theater with an open snack bar and the guarantee of a personal Q&A with God himself to take place immediately thereafter, there are those other filmic works of the famous writer that would be worth viewing even if you

The Future, the Past, and Creepy Dolls: Twilight Time Breaks the Eclectic Mold

The niche Blu-ray label unveils, among other things, its first double feature release.
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A little over three years ago, a tiny niche distributor began to issue limited edition releases of movies that didn't quite fit the norm on DVD, before quickly deciding to give viewers these exclusives only on Blu-ray instead. Films that, for one reason or another, had either become concealed in film vaults by excessive dust, archival copies of the six-thousand superhero movies produced this year alone, or which their parental studios didn't quite have enough faith in to release single-handed (because, you know, why spend money to make the fans of classic movies happy when you have six-thousand superhero movies

Musical Oddities From the Warner Archive

Two forgotten musicals, a neglected homage, and The Cars, too.
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While Friedrich Nietzsche is perhaps best known today by underread Facebook users as the guy who said "Without music, life would be a mistake," the general idea of such an idiom makes a great deal of sense. That said, however, the combination of music and film has resulted in a venerable slew of items - ranging from movie musicals for the big screen to music videos for television - being produced and quickly forgotten about throughout the better part of an entire century. Prior to television becoming the norm for entertainment, wherein variety shows (another casualty of the passing of

Losers, Lineages, Lust, Lemons, and Lynch: Five Comedies From Twilight Time

What do Woody Allen, James Stewart, Kurt Russell, David Lynch, and a couple of horny teenage girls have in common? They're all on Blu-ray now.
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That which makes something "the funny" is something we as human beings utterly fail to see eye-to-eye on far too regularly. You don't know how many times I've projected an episode of SCTV onto the television set in a desperate attempt to educate today's unimpressionable youth, or stalked the aisles of a video store looking for people to start fistfights with just because they were under the false impression Haunted House was a good movie. But I guess our respective taste in comedy (or lack thereof) is just another example of that which makes us individuals. You know, just like

Wildcat Bus (1940) DVD Review: As Outdated as Public Transportation Itself

Fay Wray highlights this slow-moving ride that's too proud to ask for direction.
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Prior to the days of Big Oil coyly destroying America's public transportation system in favor of urging everyone to buy huge gas-guzzling cars, there existed a different kind of criminal to the owners and operators of bus travel. Wildcat Bus tells of such activity, though its sense of direction could do with some navigation control. We begin with the carefree inheritor of old money (Charles Lang) having everything he owns but his car and his chauffeur/best friend (the great Paul Guilfoyle) being taken away from him by the powers that be, who declare him incompetent and incapable for some unknown

A Slight Case of Larceny (1953) DVD Review: Bottom of the Barrel Comedy

The beginning of the end for Mickey Rooney and Eddie Bracken.
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It's always interesting to watch a titan fall within the realm of film - even one who was as diminutive as the late Mickey Rooney. Hailed as a prodigy in his youth, Rooney escalated into the bright limelight of Tinseltown as an adult, starring in the ever-popular Andy Hardy series. As the 1950s rolled around, however, Rooney found himself in a precarious situation. He had been married and divorced several times over already (those numbers would keep growing as time went on), and was only nine years away from declaring bankruptcy when A Slight Case of Larceny was released to

Sky Full of Moon (1952) DVD Review: And a Script Full of Maroons

Notable for being as genuinely dumb as its name implies.
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Throughout the annals of romantic history, ladies and gentlemen - whether it be pressed onto paper, matted into music, or solidified on celluloid - there has never been anything quite like the moonlight to bring out the lustful lycanthropes within us. Even that one time when Bugs Bunny was in drag on the moon commenting that there was "a beautiful Earth out tonight", you can't help but suspect it was the very lunar surface itself that was responsible. And yet, were someone to say to me "Look at that sky full of moon," I think all romantic notions would come

Caged (1950) DVD Review: Polished Prototype of a Sleazy Subgenre

The Warner Archive gives this lifelong classic a deserving second chance.
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You know when the words "Pile out, you tramps! It's the end of the line!" are uttered by a grumpy, disgusted prisoner transport driver at the opening of a movie that you're in for a good one. And while they say nothing quite changes a man like prison, it goes doubly so for women - something we all learned from numerous late-night viewings of those wonderfully sleazy Women In Prison (WIP) movies we watched as horny adolescents (and which we still view on occasion today as grown, oversexed men). But long before the days of those mouth-watering, gratuitous scenes of

Never Too Late to Learn? Twilight Time's Quintet Examines Human Nature

Five films making their High-Def debut take a good long look at depraved elements like violence, greed, sports, and Jon Voight.
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If there was one particular collection of words that I would repeatedly hear and subsequently remind myself during those brutal mornings when I would wake up with a staggeringly, seemingly-undefeatable hangover during my years as a twentysomething, it was that it was never too late to learn. And, much like the idiot I was then (as opposed to the idiot I am now), I didn't listen. Similarly, this assortment of titles released by our friends at Twilight Time in March of 2014 deals with people from all walks of life finding themselves with the same epiphany - though most of

Performance (1970) Blu-ray Review: Mick Jagger Highlights Psychedelic Cult Classic

For those of you who wonder what that whole "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" thing is like.
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Whenever people ask me how my day was, I tend to tell them that I won't honestly be able to give them an answer to their inquiry until a little after 11:59pm. And my slightly-sane reasoning behind my sarcasm offers up the argument that it is hard to sum something up that hasn't fully concluded yet. Likewise, if one were to make a movie about the life of a famous person whilst the individual in question is still alive, the entire point seems a bit moot. The same goes for motion pictures that are all about an entire decade: it's

Brain Donors (1992) DVD Review: An Underrated and Extremely Neglected Comedy

The Zucker Brothers take on the Marx Brothers in a rare example of someone actually succeeding in recreating classic comedy.
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Capturing the elements that made classic comedies classic for a contemporary comedy is ne'er an easy task. In fact, it can be near impossible to accomplish such a feat. Who can forget that time Harvey Korman and Buddy Hackett attempted to recreate Abbott & Costello's timed-to-perfection routines for the the 1978 TV biopic Bud and Lou? Actually, it turns out that everybody forgot about that, and rightfully so, I dare say. How about a more timely topic, like the Farrelly Brothers' abysmal take on The Three Stooges from 2012? Yes, the same project that managed to bring a Curly Howard

Search for the Gods (1975) DVD Review: What, Another Failed TV Pilot? You Bet!

Pre-action star Kurt Russell highlights this amusing piece of '70s pseudoscience schlock.
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In the late '60s, a fellow named Erich von Däniken published a book entitled Chariots of the Gods?, which - among other things, highlighted the concept of ancient astronauts. Now, perhaps it was the seemingly-godless state of the world at the time or the fact that everyone was on drugs then, but it wasn't long until the public had a keen interest in all things pseudoscience shortly after the rather-controversial title's release. Soon after and well into the late '70s, movies and TV shows were popping up left and right that showed ordinary men looking for Bigfoot, the Loch Ness

Death Among Friends (1975) DVD Review: Lighthearted Murder Fare = Failed TV Pilot

Not quite as nice as sex among friends, but I suppose it'll do.
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While many of you will no doubt agree with Christopher Lloyd's line in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock that a failure is the most powerful destructive force ever created, I have to beg to differ when it comes to television pilots. When it was quite clear that these vehicles would never be able to spread their wings and learn to fly, they wound up banished to the hoary netherworlds known as vaults, wherein they practiced the fine art of collecting dust. It is only when studio folk start rummaging through these motion picture relics of yesteryear that we

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure DVD Review: A Different Kind of Disaster

Still, it's better than the 2006 remake of the original film!
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If you've never seen the original version of Irwin Allen's disaster movie masterpiece The Poseidon Adventure, allow me to sum it up for you in a short gathering of words: it's about a big boat that flips over. If you've never seen Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, Irwin Allen's very own attempt at grabbing more moolah from the same cash cow he himself nurtured and brought to market in the first place, then please permit me to inform you that you really aren't missing all that much. Nothing at all, in fact - unless you happen to have a soft spot

Testament (1983) DVD Review: Still Waiting for the World to Deserve It

One of the most powerfully realistic (and yet simplistic) post-apocalyptic movies ever made.
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Every single time one of my patented and less-than-stellar efforts at conversing with a fellow human being in the interest of that mysterious dating thing occurs - and subsequently fails - I often find myself devoting a fraction of my imagination and time to the possibility that somewhere, in an alternate timeline, it succeeded. This, of course, opens up the floodgates to a variety of silliness on my part, wherein I ponder what might have happened to world had various individuals and places taken different paths than the ones we know and remember them for today. And I'm not the

The Lonely Man (1957) DVD Review: An Equally Lonely Movie

Who's ready for a little PnP? Perkins and Palance, I mean.
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As soon as the brooding, bellowing, and otherwise lamentable sounds of Tennessee Ernie Ford's voice starts to croon the titular theme song, you get the feeling that the 1957 Paramount Picture b-western The Lonely Man is an appropriately titled affair. And it is, too; the entire film suffers from a deep case of severe depression and isolation from the whole of humanity - so much so, that Paramount even stopped distributing the film on DVD a while back. Recently, however, the Warner Archive added this one to their ever-growing collection of odds and ends, with this one most assuredly falling

Fearless (1993) Blu-ray Review: Jeff Bridges in the Pre-Lebowski Years

The Warner Archive brings us a massive upgrade from that horrible old budget DVD.
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Having "been there, done that" throughout the whole of the '90s, I have to say I have a certain amount (read: a lot) of bias against the entire decade. Why, I cringe in terror whenever I think of the god-awful colors our extremely baggy articles of clothing were endowed with to the music scene that seemed to accomplish very little in the grand scheme of things except that most people needed to bathe more. And then there were the films of said era, like Forrest Gump. What the hell were you all on, for God's sake? And thought a thousand-and-one

The Americanization of Emily Blu-ray Review: A Classic Satire of Heroism and War

It's easy to see why James Garner and Julie Andrews each considered this their favorite starring roles.
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The very traits that distinguish your average, everyday coward from that of renowned public hero are split by a very fine line - something Lieutenant Commander Charlie Madison (James Garner) knows only too well. An enlisted Naval officer and practicing coward, Charlie makes his living solely by being a dog-robber for Rear Admiral William Jessup (Melvyn Douglas) in London during the days just prior to D-Day in World War II. Whatever the officers of merit want, Charlie gets it, even in a city - nay, an entire country - that hasn't seen fresh fruit or Hershey's bars in years. Food,

The Girl in the Empty Grave DVD Review: Andy Griffith Shines in Forgotten TV Thriller

The Warner Archive dusts off yet another obscurity from the vaults.
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After all-but-becoming Sheriff Andy Taylor in that long-running, still-in-syndication classic television series with the whistling theme song, Andy Griffith was a natural selection when there was a small town country cop part to be cast. Sadly, the public apparently had an issue with Griffith being cast as a lawman within the confines of a fictitious rural community if the subject was that of a serious one. A 1974 TV-movie entitled Winter Kill starring Griffith was intended to sell a series to network audiences, and, when that failed, was altered into what would become the short-lived Adams of Eagle Lake, where

Warner Archive's James Cagney Combo DVD Reviews: Three Rarities for You Dirty Rats

See Jimmy duke it out. See Jimmy enlist in the Navy. See Jimmy go West to fight Bogie. Then see yourself smile.
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Gangster. Dancer. Mister Roberts’ personal pain in the ass. James Cagney inhabited all kinds of roles as a performer, and the better-known works of his onscreen legacy have been well-preserved time and time again over the years. And then there are those other, lesser entries in Cagney’s filmography that have all-but slipped underneath the radar as time marched on - three of which have recently hit DVD via the Warner Archive Collection. In fact, this instance in home video history notably marks the first time two of said titles have seen their way into homes other than as a late-night

The Twilight Zone - Essential Episodes (55th Anniversary Collection) DVD Review: Gift It or Rent It

Lives up to its subtitle admirably, though not for those looking for the quality.
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The groundbreaking, thought-provoking science fiction television series The Twilight Zone is truly a gift that just keeps on-a-givin'. Who - apart from a fortune-telling napkin dispenser in a tiny rural town somewhere - could have possibly conceived that when a visionary named Rod Serling first presented television viewers with his first creepy look into his now-legendary fifth dimension all those years ago that the show would still be inspiring and delighting people all over the world? Never you mind the countless times Serling and his crackshot writing staff destroyed said world in the process: they still made it happen just

Tim Holt Western Classics Collection, Vol. 4 DVD Review: Atypical B Westerns

Quite possibly the only cowboy star to work with John Ford, Orson Welles, and Alfred Hitchcock.
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My love of classic black-and-white b-westerns is not a film fetish I try to hide. Anytime I get a chance to check one out, I take it. If my local art theater decided to show one every day until the day I died, I would probably only miss, well, none. Likewise, when the Warner Archive issues another entire set of old cowboy movies, I am always eager to mount my metaphorical steed and write off into the sunset (like what I did there?). But in the instance of the Tim Holt Western Classics Collection, Vol. 4 (please, say it five

Out with the Old, in with the Even Older: The Warner Archive Presents Dr. Kildare

More docs and Dick than you can shake your medical staff at.
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Decades before the American public became more comfortable with the concept of watching the outrageous antics of an antisocial-and-yet-still-sociopathic doctor with a strong Vicodin addiction on a regular weekly basis, they were more content with witnessing a man who actually cared about people in action. In fact, in the instance of the fictional physician Dr. James Kildare, popularity was not just limited to one format, as he was one of those rare characters who transgressed the bridges of every conceivable kind of media - branching out into film, radio, television, comics, novels (where he actually originated, having been given life

The Delphi Bureau - The Merchant of Death Assignment DVD Review: Laurence Luckinbill, Desk Jockey

Ah. THIS must be why Sybok searched so anxiously for God.
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Possibly beget as one of three bullets loaded in the chamber of a short-lived ABC wheel series The Men, where it revolved along with Assignment Vienna and Jigsaw, The Delphi Bureau starred Laurence Luckinbill - best known to old-school Star Trek fans as the least-effective big-screen villain ever, outranked only slightly by a certain Voyager spacecraft - as government agent Glenn Garth Gregory. Well, he's kind of an agent. In fact, the Delphi Bureau has only one employee (guess who), but the department is so obscure that they don't even have an office or phone number. Nevertheless, Gregory, along with

The Vitaphone Comedy Collection, Volume Two - Shemp Howard (1933-1937) DVD Review: Thank You, Warner Archive!

For those of us who have always been and always will be Team Shemp.
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After leaving the original vaudeville version of a comedy company that would later come to be known to the world as The Three Stooges, Shemp Howard embarked on a solo career in comedy. It was a venture he did not have to enter into lightly, either - as Shemp possessed an inherent ability to make one laugh, be it by his oh-so-distinguishable looks (his manager once promoted him as the ugliest man in Hollywood) or his knack for slapstick humor. Unlike his former (and later, future) colleagues, he didn't necessarily need to be a second banana or serve as an

Fernando Di Leo - The Italian Crime Collection, Vol. 2 DVD Review: Violenza all'Italiana

Raro Films issues another set of gritty crime flicks from the late Italian maestro.
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During my awkward years spent as a pretentious latter-stage teenager who spent way too much time watching weird, foreign-made films, I went through the various phases of being, looking, or at least pretending to be "cool" in some fashion. This, naturally - and in hindsight, regrettably - included the act of smoking. When one of my eighth-grade teachers saw me dangling the dreaded tobacco stick from my bottom lip, she politely scolded me, but then quickly reflected the wise words a long-gone cousin of mine (who died before I was born) imparted unto her: "Pick your poison and stick with

Red Scorpion / Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except / Street Trash Blu-ray Reviews: Synapse, Bloody Synapse

Three sleazy, gory gems for your bad movie viewing (dis)pleasure.
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Most of us already know that there is nothing like a good movie. There is also nothing like a good bad movie, but it takes a special kind of bad to make one good enough for my particular, already-far-too-drastically-low standards. Fortunately, there are companies like Synapse Films - who not only specialize, but excel at releasing a variable assortment of venerable b-movies from all walks of life (or living death, perhaps). Under scrutiny here are three of Synapse's older releases, which I sat on for a really long time before a recent move unearthed them - much like the films

The Swimmer (1968) Blu-ray Review: The Last Great Studio-Made Cult Film

Burt Lancaster delivers a performance that will positively send chills down your spine. And those blue swimming trunks sure won't help any.
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The very definition of a cult film is one that many (ahem) "scholars" such as myself can drunkenly argue amongst ourselves into the wee hours of the morning over copious amounts of scotch and Schlitz. In my humble opinion, setting out to make a cult film will grant you an unlikely chance of winning; one need only take a peek at the many kajillion so-called "cult" movies released to DVD via indie labels on an unfortunately, weekly basis. But if there's one thing many of us actually can agree on, it's that most major studios simply don't have the guts

What Price Hollywood? DVD Review: Hell Is a Place Called, Well, You Know

The Warner Archive dusts off another forgotten tale of woe set in vintage Tinseltown.
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We've all heard the many tales of terror reaching from the furthest depths of the various circles of Hell that make up a certain section of the greater metropolitan Los Angeles area, and even as far back as 1932, the offscreen drama and intrigue were already present and in full swing. The pre-Code RKO ditty What Price Hollywood? presents us with a lurid look at the high cost of living it up as one rises into the illustrious nighttime sky to play amongst the stars. And while the people and events depicted therein are works of fiction, it is worth

Free and Easy / Estrellados DVD Review: Buster Keaton en Español? ¡Sí!

Because we all know how well Buster Keaton could dance, sing, and speak Spanish.
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Although MGM's 1930 pre-Code musical comedy Free and Easy wasn't silent comedian Buster Keaton's first talking motion picture, it was the first film wherein audiences were introduced to his gravelly voice - which the suits at the studio were, for reasons unknown to this day, completely OK with asking him to sing with. While dancing. Because that's what one of the greatest comic daredevils ever does best: sing and dance. Oh, and why not have him speak phonetic Spanish, too? That's not in any way silly, is it? But then, that's just the way they did things back then, kids.

Still Mine Blu-ray Review: All He Wanted to Do Was Build a House

For those of you who have always wanted to see an elderly James Cromwell nekkid, your ship has just sailed in.
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Chances are the one-time plight of now-deceased Canadian resident Craig Morrison eluded you back in the day. Back in 2007, an 88-year-old Morrison staked out a plot of land on his own property to construct a new single-story house so that he could take better care of his wife Irene, who suffered from Alzheimer's. But building a home for he and his wife on their own land proved to not be as easy as he remembered it being: not because of his age or the work, but due to the fact that a building inspector began to cite Morrison for

Ripper Street: Season Two Blu-ray Review: Hey, Things Are Improving!

It's not quite dead. It's getting better.
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My initial assessment for the first series of the BBC Victorian Era police procedural Ripper Street was highlighted by the short quip "Needs Improvement". When the second season/series landed at my doorstep, a part of me wondered what I was in for. Essentially, there were three roads the makers of this television programme could go down: that of altering the formula for the worst, keeping things exactly the same, or adjusting it just enough to improve the show overall. Fortunately, it would appear that the latter path was the one chosen to travel here - as Ripper Street: Season Two

Atlantis: Season One (2013) Blu-ray Review: Let's Get Mythical

Sometimes, placing all your eggs in one basket pays off.
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I only caught Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy's alleged brainchild Merlin once a few years back, and quickly wished I had not. It was a dull fantasy series created to no doubt cash-in on some franchise about a kind of magic kid named Harry. Fortunately, someone else finally figured out the show was a dreary excuse for all things interesting, and Merlin came to an end in late 2012. But with an empty timeslot and the broadening possibility of life in the unemployment line on the horizon, TV producers Capps and Murphy had to think of something new. So, with

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) Blu-ray Review: A Secret Best Left Untold

Ben Stiller succeeds in launching and then crashing the very same project so many others abandoned or passed-up several times before.
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One fateful day as a geeky movie kid in the late '80s, I discovered a recently-released-to-home-video VHS of something called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It had the wonderful Danny Kaye. And horror icon Boris Karloff. And silly musical numbers - which I still could probably recite from memory to this day if someone gave me five bucks. Essentially, it was the perfect movie for a fresh classic movie lover such as my younger self, and while the first DVD release of the 1947 classic became one of the hardest movies for me to find at a reasonable price

Martial Arts Double Feature: Hapkido / Lady Whirlwind (1972) DVD Review: The Return of Angela Mao

Shout! Factory doubles down with a pair of early '70s chopsocky flicks.
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While I haven't completely forgotten every single bit of my life as an awkward teenager in the '90s, there aren't too terribly many memories from that point in time that I can safely chalk up on the board as being overly favorable. But, for each of the bad ones, there was always some way a bullied movie geek in high school could find some sort of release. One such memory involves a series of martial arts double features videocassettes the now-defunct Video Treasures label put out in the early '90s. The recording speed was always LP (four-hour) mode, the presentations

Off-the-Wall TV Shows from the Warner Archive DVD Reviews: Heroes and Fathers Galore

The Search for Jimmy Stewart's Courtship of Superboy.
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In case you've ever wondered, there have been millions upon millions of motion pictures made the world over since the very inception of film in the late 1800s. Sadly, it's impossible to get an exact count on these, due to many movies out there having been made independently and/or never released, lost due to fire or misplacing, or the fact that they just haven't been "discovered" yet. When you move over to the realm of television shows, however, things don't seem to be as mind-boggling when it comes to numbers - but if just so happens that there are many

Bill Elliott Detective Mysteries (1955-1957) DVD Review: From Deadeye to Dick

Put out an APB on a couple of beers and shoot out the light.
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At the tail end of his career in motion pictures, a longtime western star by the name o' Wild Bill Elliott was forced to contend with several big changes in the film industry. First, the near-legendary Poverty Row studio known today as Monogram Pictures - under whom Elliott had had his final motion picture contract with - went through a transformation. As it morphed into what soon became Allied Artists, the low budgets Monogram cheapies were so well-known (and rather notorious) for ceased to be. Secondly, as television audiences began to crave western shows, the B-Western unit was disbanded entirely.
Previously, the folks at Twilight Time had stepped up their game from two to three releases per month to four. Recently, however, the niche home video label decided to up the ante a wee bit further, giving consumers a total of five new releases to add to their collection. As always, this batch is of a decidedly varied assortment; the only true constant here appearing to be most of the movies somehow work death into the picture! But hey, that's one of the few things that still sells, right? Read on and find out. Firstly, we have the 1956 classic

The Zombie Film: From White Zombie to World War Z Book Review: As Lukewarm as a Reanimated Corpse

Because one more publication on the subject couldn't possibly hurt the subgenre any.
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Once, years ago, the living dead were revered to by many as something almost legendary. George A. Romero's original trilogy of walking corpse movies were regarded as holy. It almost seemed that very few people in the film world dared to enter into such a subgenre of horror for fear of either oversaturating the market or looking like complete fools in the process. And the very notion of a television series about the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse was something that would - at best - conjure up streams of laughter from just about everyone around the world. And now

SEAL Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines (2014) DVD Review: aka The Dyslexic Subtitle Movie

Tom Sizemore sizes up a comeback in a movie with a confusing title that no one is truly bound to see. The end.
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Years ago, film producers seemed to take an unnatural amount of pride in increasing the numerical value of their franchises, which were commonly accompanied by a subtitle to the film. For example, the fourth (and by far the last even semi-amusing) Police Academy film was released to theaters under the moniker Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. Friday the 13th Part VII sported the subtitle The New Blood. And this was mostly because we kept things simple back then. Alas, with the rising insurgence of prequels, spin-offs, and reboots within the film industry, utilizing the number system became less sagacious

Kirby Grant and Chinook Adventure Triple Feature, Volume 2 (1949-1950) DVD Review: Canadian Mountedness from Monogram Pictures

The Warner Archive breaks out three vintage Northern films co-starring a very bright doggy.
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When the name Kirby Grant is mentioned - usually in a bar full of aging male retirees reminiscing about the good ol' days - he is automatically associated with that of the popular, long-running '50s television series Sky King. A musical prodigy in his youth, Grant eked out an existence as a leading man in B-movies for more prominent studios in Hollywood, wherein he starred in seven budget westerns for Universal. His new star status caught the eye of those fellows on Poverty Row, and Monogram Pictures soon signed the performer to head a series of ten Northern adventures based

Monogram Cowboy Collection, Volume 7 (1945-1952) DVD Review: There's Gold On That There Poverty Row

The Warner Archive dusts off another nine delightful B-Western selections.
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In late 2011, the Warner Archive unveiled its first nine-film volume of the Monogram Cowboy Collection. Well, it's been just over two years now, and here we are with the fresh MOD three-disc release of Monogram Cowboy Collection, Volume 7 in our saddlebags - which features nine more B-Western goodies from the '40s and '50s starring (respectively) the talents of the portly Johnny Mack Brown, country crooner Jimmy Wakely, and the wacky Whip Wilson. The latter star dishes out the largest bulk of fare here, with four films, while that legendary crooner Jimmy Wakely only gets two entries to his

In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission (2014) Blu-ray Review: Why Do I Torture Myself Like This?

Yet another entry from a franchise nobody asked for to begin with.
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Sometimes, all it takes is the right angle - whether you're a Nigerian prince trying to give away free money, or a adult magazine photographer who's looking for the proper approach to snapping a picture of someone's privates. And then there are bad movies made by bad directors which star bad actors. If you stand even the slightest chance of surviving such an affair, it's imperative you change your point of view somewhat. Now, I'm not saying you should take back all those things I've said about Adam Sandler movies not being funny (they're still not) but that you should

Fibber McGee and Molly Double Feature (1942-1944) DVD Review: The Mediocre and the Stinky

Decades after the fact, the Warner Archive cleans out the McGee's hall closet. Sadly, this was all they found.
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In this day and age, the idea of a real-life couple appearing together in a motion picture, on the television, or even on the radio is enough to make one want to pick up one of those book things and take up an interest in reading. But it hasn't always been that way, kids. No, decades before the criminally uncomforting activities of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez or the monotonous snoozerific charms of those blank expressionless Twilight leads, there existed actual real-life couples with actual real-life talent, who were capable of captivating actual real-life audiences for generations. And these brave

Love Is a Racket (1932) DVD Review: Yeah, Figured That One Out Already, Thanks

Personally, I need an everlasting love, but I'll wait for it, wait for it, give it some time.
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First of all, allow me to say that, although the gossip column of the newspaper has expanded enormously into entire tell-all magazine publications and deceptive propaganda-mongering networks since the era in which Love Is a Racket was made, it's still a difficult notion for me to grasp. Put simply, I just don't get it - and this is primarily due to the fact that I don't care about the lives of celebrities. So, whenever I find myself assigned with the task of critiquing a film like the Love Is a Racket - especially Love Is a Racket itself, wherein our

Ashanti (1979) Blu-ray Review: The Most Disastrous Disaster of a Non-Disaster Flick

A naked supermodel, bored lead, hammy heavy, and a guest star gettin' blowed up real good: now THIS is what cinema is all about!
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If one were to pick a solitary word to describe Richard Fleischer's 1979 exploitation adventure flick Ashanti, the noun "disaster" might very well define every single aspect about the motion picture. Though he was no stranger to the field of action/adventure movies - or even exploitation for that matter - it seemed that, by the time the late '70s rolled around, Fleischer (son of legendary animator Max Fleischer) no longer had quite the luck he had enjoyed up to fifteen years prior with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Fantastic Voyage, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and even Soylent Green. In fact, shortly

Corruption (1968) / The Big Gundown (1966) Blu-ray Reviews: Two Points for Grindhouse

Grindhouse Releasing gets their hands on two cult epics from the Columbia Pictures vaults - and the results are nothing short of fabulous.
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In the latter half of 2013, cult indie label Grindhouse Releasing unveiled their first Blu-ray title - the mind-numbingly awesome 1972 psychedelic romp, An American Hippie in Israel. Shortly thereafter, Grindhouse continued what had already amazingly become a winning streak with two more equally devilishly delicious ditties: the sleazy 1968 British horror/thriller Corruption, and the 1966 Italian spaghetti western The Big Gundown. Their astounding transfers and bonus materials aside, the only thing these two moving pictures from the latter half of the '60s have in common are blood and typecasting. But in the case of Corruption, we have a prime

Roadblock (1951) / Nocturne (1946) DVD Reviews: Misplaced, Unconventional LA Noir

Two forgotten - and highly enjoyable - low-budget thrillers from RKO make their way to DVD courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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Since the inception of the Warner Archive Collection several years ago, film noir enthusiasts have become highly appreciative of the manufactured-on-demand label's tendency to dust off the occasional crime drama from the vaults. Indeed, these noir titles even receive their own special banner atop the DVD covers - indicating the Warner Archive's obvious pride in releasing these items. For the beginning of 2014, the WAC have brought out two more titles for aficionados of this dark moving picture subgenre to add to their collections - both of which were produced by RKO Radio Pictures and have their own share of

The Bowery Boys, Volumes Two & Three (1946-1957) DVD Reviews: Satisfaction Guaranteed

The Warner Archive brings us 24 more classic comedies in two four-disc sets. Win.
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In late 2012, the folks at the Warner Archive brought forth into reality what had previously only been an everlasting fantasy on many a classic comedy connoisseur's list: they released a four-disc set highlighting twelve of the 48 motion pictures from the iconic Bowery Boys series. Earlier the following year, the Warner Archive unveiled The Bowery Boys, Volume Two before commencing the final quarter of the year with Volume Three. For those of you doing the math there, that means 2013 brought us an entire one-half of the whole Bowery Boys franchise. Now, for those of you who are like

Khartoum (1966) / Man in the Dark 3D (1953) / Titus (1999) / Zulu (1964) Blu-ray Reviews: Twilight Time Gets Serious

The niche HD label unveils a venerable wave of odds and ends.
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When my regularly scheduled package of Twilight Time items showed up last month (Look, I'm rarely on time about anything, alright? It's the only way I can guarantee I'll be late for my own funeral!), I was a bit shocked to discover that, instead of two or three items, as I/we reviewers usually received, I had four movies to experience. All for the first time, mind you. And, while I can't say I was overly impressed with one genuinely pretentious piece of horse droppings in particular, Twilight Time definitely started out 2014 with a bang. (And we're scheduled to get

Sherlock: Season Three (2014) Blu-ray Review: Back from the Dead?

The wait is over. But was it worth it?
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Two years ago, Sherlock creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat left their titular modernization of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's timeless creation at the edge of a very awkward and uncertain fate, in a season finale that seemed to channel the very vibe of a good ol' Saturday Matinee Cliffhanger Serial. And, while Baker Street Irregulars around the world started spinning webs of fanciful conspiracy in order to explain what they think happened, it was only a matter of time until the two men who constructed what has since become the UK's most watched drama series within the past thirteen years
Less than two short decades ago, '80s action megastars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger began to feel the world changing around them. Having arm-wrestled and last-action-heroed their way into early retirement on account of several decidedly futile battles with the increasing boredom of box office patrons, they gave way to a rising boom in the demand for direct-to-video fare: articles of B-moviemaking best suited for their lower-rent counterparts such as former marquee heralders Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. From there, Stallone stuck to opening Hard Rock Cafes, while Schwarzenegger opted to take up a career in politics. And, while

The Fifth Estate (2013) Blu-ray Review: When Tension Becomes Tedious

(aka 'The Anti-Social Network'.)
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In 1963, legendary cult filmmaker Roger Corman - determined to live up to his reputation as a parsimonious producer - decided to recycle a number of leftover props, crew, actors and costumes left behind from previous productions (both his as well as those of others) in order to get the most out of sets built for The Raven before the scenery was torn down and destroyed completely. Sadly for film historians and enthusiasts alike, the resulting film - The Terror - was a lot of substance stuffed into a great big boring messy heap of a flick; one co-star Jack

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) / Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) / Royal Flash (1975) Blu-ray Reviews: A Vintage Hero and a Classic Cad

Twilight Time brings us the last of a Harryhausen trio and the only entry from a proposed series.
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Late last year, while most of your average, run-of-the-mill distributors were busy emailing out holiday gift guides en masse to publications both virtual and tangible alike in order to push those illustrious fourth-quarter sales up as high as possible, the folks at Twilight Time were kickin' back in a surprisingly laissez-faire-esque manner. They were foregoing that whole "Santa Claus wants you to buy this, for you'll surely burn in a rich Christian Hell if you don't!" aggression most outfits succumb to during the holidays, instead opting to release three lesser-known entries from two classic film franchises. Well, you had better

Silent Night, Bloody Night (aka Death House) DVD Review: Attack of the Killer Warhol Factory Inmates

A constantly forgotten slasher film prototype gets another budget label release.
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While some major holidays always seem to get the short end of the axe handle when it comes to having their own scare films, Christmas is perhaps even more popular than Halloween when it comes to slasher movies. And indeed, as one sits there watching the mostly forgotten no-budget horror flick Silent Night, Bloody Night, they cannot help but notice a number of minor similarities between it and the original (real) 1978 version of Halloween. It comes as a great surprise, however, when one also takes note that Silent Night, Bloody Night was, in fact, made several years earlier than

Jane Eyre (1943) / Oliver! (1968) / The Way We Were (1973) Blu-ray Reviews: Growing Up Again

From Orson Welles to Oliver Reed and Karl Marx, too.
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If I were asked to pick two things the folks at Twilight Time certainly don't believe in, I would have to shoot for both biasness and uniformity. Every month, the niche (and now exclusively Blu-ray) label releases an assortment of movies from its two current licensors - Fox and Sony - never showing any particular favoritism to either studio, but releasing equal amounts of titles from both companies. What's more, Twilight Time has a wonderful knack of redefining the very world "eclectic" nearly every month. And November 2013 was certainly no exception for what has become a favorite label for

North to Alaska (1960) / The Undefeated (1969) Blu-ray Reviews: The Duke Finds a Duchess and Gets a Piece of the Rock

Two vastly different John Wayne titles make their High-Def debut.
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While his own personal range as a performer may have left something to be desired for many a graduate of The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the one and only John Wayne nevertheless managed to leave a rather eclectic filmography unto the world. From his early days as a bad actor in B-Westerns up until those last few films he made following that disaster of a Genghis Khan biopic, The Duke reigned supreme - in just about every fashion of fiction (from non to highly fabricated) possible. And 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's latest pair of Blu-ray discs - North

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) Blu-ray Review: Witness the Pidgeon Take Flight Underwater

Irwin Allen develops the prototype to the Roland Emmerich formula.
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Before he became well known throughout the world as the "Master of Disaster" - to wit he created and directed a number of memorable (as well as some highly forgettable) star-studded disaster films and television movies in the '70s and '80s - Irwin Allen was one of the most prolific science-fiction producers during the '60s, responsible for such TV greats as Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The latter item - which was actually the producer's longest-running series - started out several years earlier as a lavish sci-fi adventure with an

The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) DVD Review: Let's Give the Boy a Hand

An oft-neglected horror classic makes its digital debut courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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As DVD quickly started to become the norm in the late '90s, many a classic horror film was brushed off and cleaned up so that its parent company could market yet another fan favorite in the then-new digital medium. To date, we've seen every notable thriller starring the likes of Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney Jr. released on disc - but there was one noticeable entry from the filmography of one Peter Lorre that has always eluded us. Until now, that is. Penned by frequent Universal Horror scribe Curt Siodmak, the 1946 Warner Brothers chiller The

The Uninvited (1944) Criterion Collection DVD Review: Who 'Ya Gonna Call?

The first American film to take ghosts seriously gets the elite treatment.
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In today's era of mishmash horror moviemaking - wherein there's a new Paranormal Activity flick released every other year - it's almost hard to believe that there was once a point in time when Hollywood, along with the rest of the world, didn't take the concept of ghosts likely. Nevertheless, it's true: prior to the final days of World War II, movies featuring "spooks" were usually contributions to the comedy genre - and nary an apparition ever turned out to be anything but a fellow masquerading as a specter as the film in question drew its own conclusion. But this

Mindwarp (1992) / The Other (1972) Blu-ray Reviews: Happy Halloween from Twilight Time

Everyone's favorite new niche label is back with two very different seasonal selections.
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Holding up to the classic cry of "Trick or treat!" youngsters are apt to beckon homeowners to handfuls of candy and razors with, Twilight Time has given us two vastly different horror titles for the year of 2013: the 1992 splatterfest Mindwarp, followed by the creepy 1972 thriller The Other. And indeed that's just what we get here: a trick and a treat. Now, every now and then, a niche label is bound to release something that will generate a big amount of "Huh? What?" from its regular consumers. Much like the folks at Criterion have puzzled completionists with their

Nightmare Honeymoon DVD Review: Can I Get an Annulment Over Here?

The Warner Archive brings us a sleazy, slow-paced rape/revenge thriller with two different versions.
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As events near and far forever altered the world throughout the '60s and '70s, the well-known face of cinema began to go through a change, as well - beginning with the demise of the Hays Code in 1968, wherein the MPAA introduced us to a rating system. With this advent, filmmakers could depict more "adult" themed tales - without fear of excessive backlash from the censors. This also meant exploitation folks all over could at long last make the kind of trash their demented audiences craved at drive-ins and grindhouse theaters all over the country - such as Wes Craven's

Sex Kittens Go to College DVD Review: Oh, Dear God, Please Make It Stop!

What happens when you try too hard to be too hip.
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Ah, the wonderful world of exploitation. After studios and filmmakers such as AIP and Roger Corman began to make hip motion pictures aimed solely at the adolescent crowd in the '50s - manufactured, no doubt, in an effort to wrangle the teens into theaters so as to curb the ever-growing numbers of juvenile delinquent crimes that were on the rise in the US ([/sarcasm]) - the rest of the moviemaking community started to stoop so low as to embrace earnings over eminence. Some of these fine folks, however, grossly overestimated the demand to make things far en vogue with the

Modern Family: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: Yet Another Mouth to Feed

A show that scores even after they ad another addition.
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Were the average individual to take the time to peruse the annals of sitcoms from both the past and present, they would likely discover that the addition of a new family member often results in the untimely departure of the show's run on television. Who could ever forget the stupefying deathblow administered to Diff'rent Strokes when Danny Cooksey came aboard? Or what happened to The Cosby Show when sagging ratings spawned several latter-day additions to the cast? But again, these instances of the final nails being gently pounded into the proverbial coffin came to pass because - as I previously

Killing Season (2013) Blu-ray Review: More Like Retiring Time

You know it's bad when even Nicolas Cage drops out.
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For every motion picture performer, there comes a time when all that matters is a quick and easy paycheck. It is during these dark moments in one's career that even the most ill-advised decision to make a little dough can serve to topple what was once the most immovable of towers. I fondly remember a point in time when Robert De Niro - the man who wowed many a moviegoer away in movies like Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter, and who won an Oscar for his work in both Raging Bull and The Godfather: Part II - was on

Tarzan (1966): The Complete Second Season DVD Review: Wither Ron Ely

The last of the 15th Lord of the Apes' adventures.
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As the old saying goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." When motion pictures first came about, nearly every literary character ever created started to appear in pictures. As radio became the norm, many a pop culture hero - from comic books to classics, and moving pictures to boot - turned into regular audio programs. Once a newfangled contraption known as television quickly started to become the new medium, many a previously-used idea was recycled and rebooted for contemporary audiences. And, while Hollywood is still utilizing the re-imagining of virtually everything already conceived all-too-heavily today -

The Tin Star (1957) / Nichols: The Complete Series DVD Reviews: Lawmen of a Different Color

The Warner Archive presents two very different western tales.
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In the annals of the western, there is perhaps no greater character than that of the local sheriff. Sometimes he's just as ornery as the resident villain's sadistic henchman (heck, sometimes he is the resident villain's sadistic henchman). Other times, he's an old, weary fellow who is ready for that great round-up in the sky. And then there's that quintessential hero type who is both quick on the draw and guaranteed to save the community at any given time. But what we usually don't see in these cinematic (or even episodic) tales of the old west are greenhorn newbies taking

William Powell at Warner Bros. DVD Review: The Early Adventures of a Thinner Man

Four Pre-Code Vitaphone rarities starring the definitive Nick Charles.
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Everyone needs a role model. Especially when they're growing up. As a young lad, I found myself at odds with my choices. The men folk amidst my surroundings weren't entirely suitable to my liking on account that I was a precariously peculiar boy delimited by rednecks, loggers, farmers - just a plain assortment of simple-minded people in general, really. But that all changed upon my first viewing of The Thin Man. I had found a god amongst men. And although William Powell had retired from acting many, many moons before I was ever so much as a twinkle within the

The East (2013) Blu-ray Review: Anarchy in the USA?

The long lost sequel to 'The North' and 'The South'.
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First, there was Gregory Nava's El Norte in 1983. Next, Victor Erice followed suit by delivering El Sur unto us that same year. And then, nothing - not a single motion picture with a Spanish-language direction came about for years! And while up-and-comer Zal Batmanglij's latest magnum opus, The East has about as much to do with the aforementioned peliculas as frozen yogurt has to do with raw ore, I just think it's a shame nobody made a movie called El Este, so I'm assigning this one that name for just a brief second in time for absolutely no specific

La Cage aux Folles (1978) Criterion Collection DVD Review: Classic French Farce Bliss

It's OK to be in Saint-Tropez.
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Eighteen years before the enjoyable-but-ultimately-uncalled-for remake, The Birdcage hit theater screens across the world, La Cage aux Folles first introduced moviegoers to the fantastic farce of an engagement between the offspring from two entirely different households as only the French could do it. In fact, they did it better. And there's a reason for that: La Cage aux Folles is a bona fide French creation all the way around. Based on a 1973 stage play by Jean Poiret, La Cage aux Folles proved so popular, it inspired two sequels, an American musical stage version, and the aforementioned remake. Here, we

In the Flesh (2013) Series One DVD Review: Leave It To the Brits to Make Zombies Human Again

"If you wanna find out what's behind these cold eyes, you'll just have to claw your way through the disguise."
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Anymore, it seems the word "zombie" is synonymous with a well-placed sigh of exasperated annoyance - garnished with a complete and total hatred of the unimaginative hipsters and low-budget filmmakers who have taken something that used to be underground and cool, only to have turned it into a dull and tired affair. In America, television execs decided to jump on the living dead bandwagon and create a series about a post-zombie apocalypse world. The result, of course, was The Walking Dead - and is in every way identical to what one might envision would happen were George A. Romero, the

The Odd Angry Shot (1979) Blu-ray Review: The Occasionally Aggressive Movie

Further proof Australia may, in fact, actually exist.
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While the various horrors in Southesast Asia were rarely ever touched upon by any significantly major movie studios during the Vietnam War itself - with many a World War II or Korean War flick made in order to passively "commentate" on the ongoing battles between countries - it wasn't until it was all said and done with that anyone really started to make movies about it. And make movies, they did. In the late '70s alone, moviegoers witnessed powerful tales of madness such as Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter - both of which were created by American filmmakers who

Hands of a Stranger (1962) DVD Review: Different Take, Same Ol' Story

The umpteenth film incarnation of "The Hands of Orlac" is a botched operation unto itself.
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From the opening shot of Hands of a Stranger, one gets the distinct impression that the director of this low-budget fiasco was intent on doing things differently. And, when you stop to consider that the inspiration of this horror flick - Maurice Renard's 1920 classic novel, Les Mains d'Orlac (The Hands of Orlac) had already been filmed at least sixty or seventy-thousand times prior in the 1930s alone, with another adaptation having been made only two short years before this mess premiered, you really can't blame the director for wanting to take a different approach to it all. Of course,

An American Hippie in Israel (1972) Blu-ray Review: The Rocky Hebrew Picture Show

A mind-warping lump of coal that has magically turned into gold.
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At first glance of the title, An American Hippie in Israel seems like some sort of joke. And indeed, it was - on the investors who shelled out the cash to produce this flick back in the early '70s. The film, known in its native land as Ha-Trempist (The Hitch Hiker), started out as a social commentary by one-time filmmaker Amos Sefer before being shelved completely on account of its complete lack of any aptitude whatsoever. That, however, did not stop the film from becoming something of a popular item in Israel - much like The Rocky Horror Picture Show's

Hands of the Ripper (1971) Blu-ray Review: Jack the Ripper's Bastard Daughter Goes Psycho!

Never mind her hands - take a look at those perky l'il boobies!
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Oh, it never fails, does it? You grow up in squalor, the young teenaged ward of a nefarious phony séance mistress who frequently lends your nubile assets to the demands of oversexed men of parliament. Worse still - and somewhat unbeknownst to you, at that - you turn out to be the orphaned child of the one and only Jack the Ripper, who murdered your mother before your very eyes the night he disappeared off the face of the Earth once and for all; an act that has, as that already bad twist of luck would have it, resulted in

The Frozen Dead (1966) DVD Review: Pre-Hip Unhip Nazi Zombies

Triumph of the shrill.
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Throughout the annals of filmdom, there has been an trait wherein filmmakers aspire to live up to the old adage "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" the only way they know how: by downright copying someone else's work. Usually, the culprits are lazy American filmmakers, who commonly tend to (ahem) "borrow" the titles, plots, and sometimes even directors of movies made in magical, far-off lands such as France, Australia, and a mythical realm called England. The results are usually laughable at best, yes - but what happens when, say the British, hire an American-born director to write, produce, and

The Accursed [aka The Traitor] (1957) DVD Review: Early Christopher Lee? Sold!

Every once in a while, something gets pried out from within cracks of time.
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Every once in a while, something gets pried out from within cracks of time. In the instance of The Traitor - a 1957 mystery from the UK that was released in the US under the more ambiguous title, The Accursed in 1958 - we have at long last been given the opportunity to see one of the few feature films made by the seemingly-promising talent of a young would-be auteur by the name of Michael McCarthy. Sadly, McCarthy's true talent more than likely never had a proper chance to materialize, as he died at the tender age of 42 -

The Devil's Backbone (2001) Criterion Collection DVD Review: Hell Is for Children

"I don't think I need a spine. It's holding me back." -Satan
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During the mid '90s, my fascination with all things foreign and artsy-like led me into the welcoming arms of two entirely different movie directors: Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar - whose quirky comedies such as Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown greatly appealed to my youthful pretentious flair - and a Mexican-born fantasy filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who caught my eye with the inventive 1993 flick, Cronos. Needless to say, when I found out the 2001 Spanish/Mexican-made film The Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo del Diablo) was a collaboration between the two, I

Babette's Feast Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Tale of Love, Life, and Food

A venerable banquet unto itself.
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Gabriel Axel's multiple award-winning film Babette's Feast takes place almost entirely in a tiny, remote, 19th century village somewhere near the western Denmark coast. That's right, kids: it's a movie that doesn't have to rely on cell phone reception - so you can exclude this one as a kooky cannibalistic horror film right off the bat. No, Babette's Feast is instead a drama about something contemporary cinema seems to have missed the mark on: the human factor. Based on the novel by Danish author Karen Blixen (1885-1962), the 1987 Academy Award-winning film begins with a tale of two elderly sisters,
There's a dazzling moment with the antagonists of Mel Brooks' comedy classic Blazing Saddles wherein the always-excellent Slim Whitman suggests killing "the first born male child in every household" in order to permit the bad guys to prevail. To this, the great Harvey Korman to deliver the line "Too Jewish" - a line many a magnificent comedic writer has heard in his or her attempts to get a laugh from their audience. One such talent is the one and only Rick Moranis (yes, he's still alive), who stresses in the liner notes of his new album, My Mother's Brisket &

The Beasts Are on the Streets (1978) DVD Review: Live-Action Hanna-Barbera Mayhem!

The forgotten disaster flick from the famous animators finally makes its home video debut.
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From the earliest days of cinema, filmdom's original filmmakers - those brave, experimental individuals who would pave the way for their industrial descendents' hits and misses with their own blood, sweat, and tears - found there was no truer onscreen battle to behold than pitting man against nature. Thus, the disaster film was born - even though it really technically didn't become a whole genre unto itself until the '70s, wherein movies like Earthquake!, Airport, and The Poseidon Adventure loomed their tales of adversity over the horizon of foldable theaters seats near and far. Towards the latter half of the

Mitchell (1975) DVD Review: Uncut, Uncensored, and Uncouth - The Way It Should Be!

Break out the Schlitz and enjoy.
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After quickly rising out of the mists in an uncredited bit in Cool Hand Luke in 1967, Texas-born character actor Joe Don Baker found himself nearing that proverbial spotlight many performers out there dream of. He starred in the surprise breakout hit Walking Tall - a fictionalized 1973 account of Sheriff Buford Pusser's well-known one-man battle with the State Line Mob - which was followed up via a memorable, BAFTA-winning role as the sadistic hitman hired to kill Walter Matthau's Charley Varrick later that same year. After that, Baker moved on from exploitation oddities like Golden Needles to the short-lived

Bus Stop (1956) Blu-ray Review: Marilyn Monroe Finally Goes to Acting School

The "too little, too late" spot on the route.
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Fifty-one years after her tragic death, Marilyn Monroe has managed to land a number of personas in the public eye. First, there's the Iconic Model Marilyn, whom we all know and love, if the numerous cutouts of her in various low-key '50s-themed diners across the country is testament to anything. Next, we have Naughty Marilyn: that which is attributed to her drug and alcohol abuse, as well as the many highly publicized and clandestine affairs she (often allegedly) had during her brief period on Earth - including several husbands, two Kennedys, and God know who else. Why heck, there's even

Bullet to the Head (2012) Blu-ray Review: Stallone Takes Us Back to the Past. Again.

Think of it as enjoyably brainless entertainment.
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When I first saw some sort of shrapnel about Sylvester Stallone being in a film entitled Bullet to the Head, I immediately figured the American film industry had stooped so low as to attempt to remake a John Woo film. Again. I thought for sure we were all set to return to the world of '90s action films - which, needless to say, did not pump the caffeine-riddled sludge passing itself off as blood in my veins. Thus, you can imagine my delight once I realized that Bullet to the Head was indeed not a reboot of the 1990 Hong

Blood and Sand (1941) Blu-ray Review: Three-strip Technicolor Death in the Afternoon

The torrid tale of a man who dreams of single-handedly exterminating the world of its excessive amounts of male bovines.
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Growing up in the shadow of your father is never an easy task for a young lad - especially when dead ol' dad is dead. As a hot-headed boy, Juan Gallardo dreamed of following in his deceased bullfighter father's footsteps, and to massacre many a poor, hapless animal that the great Tom Lehrer once described as a "half a ton of angry pot roast." Fortunately for the young, impoverished Spaniard youth - who has suspiciously blue eyes and speaks with nary an accent - he runs away with his buddies and grows up to be the equally non-Hispanic Tyrone Power,

In Old Arizona Blu-ray Review: Proof Not All Classics Are Classic

Tonight, on Racial Stereotype Theater…
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When Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace first started teasing moviegoers and nerds everywhere in the late 1990s, the world became accustomed to the phrase "Every Saga Has a Beginning" - something that has been copied and parodied in some circles ever since. Of course, it's a true statement; one that extends as far back as the early days of moving picture entertainment itself. Witness the 1928 Academy Award winning Hollywood classic In Old Arizona, wherein we see the beginning of three entirely different (but altogether) factions of film: the singing cowboy motif, the first all-sound entry filmed

Man of Steel (2013) Movie Review: A Movie Made Solely to Sell Kiddie Meals

I wish I had Superman's powers, just so I could spin the world around backwards and turn back time just long enough to prevent this film from being made.
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Upon the release of Skyfall, regular ol' filmgoers and trolling fanboys alike started to point out all the similarities between the third Daniel Craig James Bond flick and a certain superhero series that filmmakers Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer had rebooted. Well, hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? There's absolutely nothing wrong with including in a little homage to another title (or complete franchise) in your own movie. And it's a game that just about anyone can play, too. All one need do is check out the Goyer/Nolan-penned reboot of the timeless Superman legacy, Man of

Call Me Mister DVD Review: That's MISTER Mister to You

A seldom-seen and unsurprisingly not-so-memorable mediocre (but still entertaining) musical.
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Adapting a series of comedic sketches into a feature film is probably not the wisest move one can make. Sure, those Monty Python boys did a reasonable job recreating many of their BBC skits for And Now For Something Completely Different, but it still didn't possess the panache their feature-length comedies held - nor did it have the same magic as their original televised sketches did. Now just imagine what might happen were one to take a musical/comedy revue and turn it into a film. Actually, you really don't have to imagine what might happen: Twentieth Century Fox's 1951 post-war

Teenage Rebel DVD Review: Without a Clue (or Widescreen)

Who knew Michael Rennie could get down and boogie so well?
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In the 1950s, a life-threatening menace began to rear its ugly head to all good, God-fearing, red-blooded Americans who valued their freedom. No, I'm not referring to the alleged peril Communism was supposedly trying to destroy us with - I'm talking about something far worse: teenagers. More specifically, the teenaged crowd who were busy bopping about in hula-hoops and poodle skirts at the drive-ins after drag racing in hotrods and downing numerous chocolate malts with their hamburger sandwiches, all the while greasing their hair back to the sound of that dreaded negro jazz beatnik music on the jukebox. Or something

Jubal Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Shakespeare in the Wild West

Glenn Ford and Charles Bronson as buddies? SOLD!
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While traditional and contemporary adaptations of William Shakespeare's works have been coming and going since someone figured out how to record moving images way back in the late 1800s, there's something about the more off-the-wall incarnations of the famous author's works that happen to appeal to those of us who don't like to shuffle through the Middle English language we just heard and attempt to translate it into Modern English (I melt with you, by the way) in our heads while still trying to listen to the next line. As such, we have been blessed with films like Forbidden Planet

The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker DVD Review: Unremarkable Non-Anamorphic CinemaScope Fluff

With seventeen children in two cities, it's clear that Mr. Pennypacker has been packing more than pennies.
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As soon as those infernal television set devices were installed into American homes and began to receive incoming transmissions of this and that in the 1950s, Hollywood had to come up with something new to pull the public in so that they could spend their hard-earned money. One of these gimmicks was dubbed "CinemaScope" - which presented for the first time, motion picture entertainment in a widescreen aspect ratio. While initially utilized to present productions that were on the more "epic" scale of things (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Forbidden Planet, The Robe, et al), it wasn't long before even

Wake Up and Live (1937) DVD Review: Fun Vintage Semi-Musical Hijinks

Probably the only instance in film to see The Tin Man and Batman ride around in a car together.
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You might think that the concept of filmmakers adapting other people's works so loosely that the byproduct doesn't even come close to resembling its source material is a newer notion. You'd be wrong, of course: Hollywood has been doing this sort of thing since the initial inventing of celluloid itself - so much so, that when I discovered the 1937 Fox musical comedy Wake Up and Live (which is the optimist's way of saying "Fuck Off and Die!", no doubt) was based on a self-help publication by Dorothea Brande, I figured it would be a name-only variation. And I was

The Wild Geese Blu-ray Review: When Brits Go Badass

Richard Burton, Richard Harris, and Roger Moore blowing the piss out of people. What more could you want?
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Contrary to what most of today's youth might falsely believe, the all-star adventure action flick has been around for several decades - long before Sylvester Stallone was old enough to enlist as a mercenary-for-hire or Chuck Norris mastered the art of waxing his back hair. In fact, these classic movies went on to inspire Italy's sacred genre of what we sometimes call "Macaroni Combat" films - which in-turn motivated people Quentin Tarantino to create movies like Inglourious Basterds. Interestingly enough, some of the more formidable entries on the unofficial list of goodies this oft-unspecified genre has produced over the years

The Oranges Blu-ray Review: A Conventional Tale of Unconventional Romance

TV's Dr. House, Maeby Fünke, and Seth Cohen - together at last.
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During the middle of the previous decade, my girlfriend at the time and I were hooked on three specific television series: House M.D., Arrested Development, and The OC. Well, the latter was more to appease her than anything. I can't stress that enough, folks. Honestly. In fact, the only thing that enabled me to survive the yuppie haven that particular drama served up on a regular basis was Adam Brody's character of Seth Cohen - who appealed to me since he was an awkward nerd. I can relate. Unsurprisingly enough to anyone who has ever met me, I also identify

Whispering Ghosts DVD Review: Milton Berle, Ghost Hunter

No, we don't get to see Uncle Miltie's legendary penis in this one, either. Get over it already.
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The very genre of comedy owes an insurmountable debt of gratitude to many of its unsung screenwriters who worked hard to give us an uncontrollable case of the sillies with the timeless gems of yesteryear. Such an arrears almost doubles when it comes to crafting a truly genuine piece of "the funny" during a time of worldwide apprehension - such as war. While the patriotic men and women of the United States were certainly in need of a good laugh, such a thing wasn't always at their beck and call. Sure, on one hand, you had Bud Abbott and Lou

The Moon Is Down DVD Review: Suicidal Norwegians vs. the Nazi Menace

Solution: lunar antidepressants.
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Based on the 1942 novel by John Steinbeck by the same name, 20th Century Fox's 1943 ode to freedom The Moon Is Down centers on the Nazi invasion of a small costal Norwegian town during the very midst of World War II. While the book was a bit vague on the identities of the invading force, the movie - written by The Dirty Dozen screenwriter Nunnally Johnson - is as blatant as can be as to who the villains are. We begin with an extended shot of a typically angry Führer (or rather, his overly-expressive hands) shouting in his native

Surf Party (1964) DVD Review: How NOT to Throw a Beach Party

Come on in: the water's completely and unapologetically tepid!
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Though the concept of a moving picture story set on the beach depicting the everyday lives of youngsters skilled in the fine arts of surfing, singing, dancing, and G-Rated fornication with one another had been done once or twice before AIP invited us all to the very first Beach Party in 1963, it wasn't until that frolicking festivity with Frankie and Annette that America (and possibly even part of the Lesser Antilles as well) embraced the actual subgenre of such filmmaking. Sadly, this meant that the usual school of low-budget competitors were sure to surface from the murky depths below

Pierre Etaix: Criterion Collection DVD Review: Affordable Pricelessness

The Criterion Collection brings us a wonderful set from a fine French comic you probably never heard of.
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For many of the "average" citizens living within the confines of the continental United States of America, the concept of viewing French comedy is on-par with sitting around in coffee shops drinking itsy bitsy cups of coffee whilst talking about art and folk music: that which is perceived by the ignorant, uneducated masses who have been raised under the impression that NASCAR and Coors Light make the world go 'round to be artsy-fartsy-hippie-liberal-faggoty stuff. Of course, what they fail to realize is that - as Morrissey once crooned - America is not the world. And both NASCAR and Coors Light

Texas Chainsaw 3D Blu-ray Review: Wither Heatherface?

Yes, it's good to be bad. But this is much worse.
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While I was never a "huge" fan of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre series (the ones that started with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in '74), I must confess that one of my favorite LPs in my record collection is that of the soundtrack from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 from 1986. Of course, any motion picture soundtrack that contains Concrete Blonde, Oingo Boingo, Timbuk3, and The Cramps simply demands to be taken seriously - and there's even an offering from The Lords of the New Church (a group that, interestingly has a new singer named Adam Becvare) entitled "Good

Heavenly Shades of Delight: Twilight Time's Blu-ray Releases, Volume Three

Under scrutiny here: Bonjour Tristesse, The Rains of Ranchipur, Beloved Infidel, The Blue Lagoon (1980), Lost Horizon (1973), Experiment in Terror, and Our Man Flint.
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Once more, friends, we (or rather I) invite you to join me as I poke about a bit with some of the newer Twilight Time Blu-ray releases in another chapter of the Heavenly Shades of Delight series, which started with Volume One and Volume Two earlier this year. For this illustrious third entry, I am taking a peek at seven titles from the exclusive niche label - each of which is available exclusively online from Screen Archives (providing they're not sold out already, that is!). 1. Bonjour Tristesse (1958) (Columbia Pictures, Released November 13, 2012) Giving up the lifestyle one

Berlin Correspondent DVD Review: A Nifty L'il WWII Espionage B-Flick

Dana Andrews matches wits with Martin Kosleck in Nazi Germany - and it's fun!
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For many B-movie lovers like myself, the late great German-born Martin Kosleck will perhaps be best remembered as the mad scientist who helped create the titular creations in one of the earliest gore flicks, The Flesh Eaters in 1964 - and as a baddie in the ultra-campy no-budget American James Bond rip-off Agent for H.A.R.M. in '66. Decades prior, however, Kosleck made a career playing villainous Nazis (including Herr Goebbels himself - four different times!) in World War II-themed motion pictures boasting both large and small budgets alike. His frequency inhabiting such roles was not just another case of prime

Carnival in Costa Rica DVD Review: An Endless Unfunny Rom-Com Musical

A movie full of Caucasian Ricans and a hero who looks like frickin' Matthew Lillard.
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In case it has slipped past both your central and peripheral paths of vision in recent years, the residents of the United States of America don't really care for its neighbors beneath it. Apparently, they feel they're, well - beneath them. Canadians? Kosher - so long as they don't talk politics or health care. Mexicans? Never. Not in a million years. Who cares if they do all of the menial tasks most of the USA's own citizens feel are a tad too tedious: they still don't like them. And that goes doubly so for those lazy, happy-go-lucky Costa Ricans -

The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe DVD Review: For Curiosity Seekers Only

Edgar Allan Poe and Sherman T. Potter: College Roommates.
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While he was one of the authors who appealed to me during those days of darkness that dominated both my fashion sense and overly-artistic mind in the not-too-distant past, I must confess the notion of a motion picture based on the romantic side of Edgar Allan Poe seems like a real head-scratcher in my opinion. Ironically, outside of something in the vein of a BBC miniseries, Poe's tragic existence would perhaps be best-fitted for fiction - whether it be Hollywood's overly sensationalized 2012 film The Raven with John Cusack, or as an illusory cameo who sets up the entire plot

George A. Romero's Knightriders (1981) Blu-ray Review: The Most Sincere, Underrated Drama About Adult Outcasts Ever Made

"It's real hard to live for something that you believe in."
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The setting is a quiet forested area, with a gentle, calming body of water nearby. A king awakens completely nude on the ground - his slumber distributed by a vision of a black bird - with his just-as-bare queen lying next to him. He goes about his ritualistic afternoon: bathing in the water, lightly lashing himself in the back with a small, flexible branch, only to then don his tunic, his sword, his armor and helmet, and then - as if a moment had been pulled straight out of the pages of a forgotten Monty Python screenplay, the king and

John Dies at the End DVD Review: Hey, Thanks for the Spoiler Alert!

As genius as what might have happened had Douglas Adams taken LSD.
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Every filmmaker has some sort of visual signature that can be easily recognized in their works. Sometimes, such as in the instance of Alfred Hitchcock, it's a brief walk-on role that you have to look out for (to say nothing of his directorial style, but that's quite literally beside the point in his case). For others, it's the tendency to repeat the same damn scene in every movie they make - such as that no-talent hack Michael Bay and his frequent usage of something exploding on a freeway as the camera pans away. And then there are directors like the

Warlock (1959) DVD Review: A Dynamic Western Presented in an Outdated, Eviscerating Format

Because displaying a movie in its proper widescreen ratio is passe, right?
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OK, so let me bring you up-to-date here, kids: recently, Fox Cinema Archives released several classic motion pictures - originally presented in theaters in CinemaScope - in the dreaded, severely outdated process of pan-and-scan (something that was used for older 4:3 TVs, but which is flat-out ridiculous in this day and age, what with widescreen television sets and all). As Douglas Adams would say: "This made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." Well, seeing as how everyone else has griped about this faux pas (or would that be a "Fox pas"?)

The Marriage-Go-Round DVD Review: James Mason, '60s Swinger at Large!

Lesson learned: don't punch holes in the lid of the bottle for the lightning to breathe.
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Adapting a work from one form of entertainment to another is not an easy task. Imagine, if you will, what might happen were one to add a Descriptive Video Service audio track to a film like Koyaanisqatsi. Or if Cannibal Holocaust were turned into a bloodless Broadway musical. Something would inevitably get lost in translation, making way for that age old adage about capturing lightning in a bottle. But what happens if you hand that magical glass container over to someone - say a complete and total dumbass - and they go and punch holes in the lid so that

Oh, Men! Oh, Women! DVD Review: Oh, Brother!

Typical run-of-the-mill '50s War of the Sexes fare, notable only for being Tony Randall's film debut.
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If someone were to voluntarily stroll up to me and willingly make it a point to talk to me about the classic War of the Sexes genre of romantic comedies that highlighted many a headliner at cinemas of yore, chances are they would invoke the holiness of those oh-so-dated-yet-timeless Doris Day/Rock Hudson vehicles. Were such a conversation with a complete stranger to occur, however, my first thought would not stray towards the appeal of either aforementioned lead performer. Instead, I would grin with delight over the very thought of the quintessential War of the Sexes co-star, Tony Randall - one

Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence DVD Review: Or, Before They Were Stars: The Movie

No, it's not a documentary about America produced by the Tea Party.
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Everyone remembers the late great actor Glenn Ford for a different reason, whether it be his roles as Pa Kent, Mr. Eddie's Father, Dr. Faraday, or - on perhaps a more famous note - as the lead of many a fine cowboy or film noir protagonist. But what of his films before he became a big star? Well, thanks to the Fox Cinema Archives, we can at long last view Glenn's very first major role - as a feller named Joe Riley in the 1939 film Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence - without having to scour hundreds of television

Pier Paolo Pasolni's Trilogy of Life Criterion Collection DVD Review: Make Mine Bunuel

Picaresque neorealism, or artsy-fartsy stuff from a bipolar loon? You decide.
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As one of those individuals that became the slightly pretentious artsy-fartsy feller during his teenage years whilst growing up in a small town, I frequently made trips to video stores (or at least ordered random titles from grey market mail-in video distributors) in search of something that I surely thought would add a little culture to my mundane, tormented existence. It was through these actions that I transitioned from one phase to another - discovering and subsequently learning to appreciate the work of oft-renowned filmmakers such as French New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard, the stylish bullet ballet work of Hong

Ripper Street [Series One] Blu-ray Review: As My Teachers Always Said: "Needs Improvement"

It's no Sherlock, but it certainly could be worse.
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Some will tell you that life imitates art. Others will insist that the opposite is true. Personally, from what I've seen in the fields of film and television, I would venture to say that art imitates art. Well, sometimes it's art that's being imitated. Other times, you have people emulating the likenesses of other endeavors from the film and television genres that simply weren't too terribly outstanding to start with - and which were really only popular with the masses. It's almost like popcorn imitating popcorn: a tasty treat when you dive into it, but it's oh-so-fleeting in the long

Raiders from Beneath the Sea DVD Review: "As Far As I'm Concerned, You Stink of Trouble!"

A laughably bad scuba heist drama that never heard the expression "sink or swim."
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When I received my copy of Raiders from Beneath the Sea in the mail, I knew I by the artwork alone I was in for a real exercise in tedium. As soon as I popped the disc into my player late one evening after having consumed not nearly enough Guinness, the words "Lippert Incorporated Presents" appeared onscreen - giving me an even graver indication that I was about to slide into an obscure B-Movie Hell. I was right, of course: chock full of wooden acting, production values that seem even lower than that of a rushed Del Tenney feature, and

Parental Guidance (2012) Blu-ray Review: Usually, Jokes are Funny - But Hey, Why Kill Time Laughing?

Billy Crystal challenges everything in contemporary society - including the patience of his audience.
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In an early episode of Scrubs, Neil Flynn's Janitor character sprayed Zach Braff's fictional persona of J.D. in the crotch with a mist of water. Several times, in fact. And such a juvenile prank worked then and there because the writers knew it wasn't funny - which, in turn, made it funny. The dynamic WGA-approved talents of the rarely-employed duo Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse - two of the seven people to have received credit for the already-forgotten animated kiddie film Surf's Up - on the other hand, completely failed to realize that such a cheap joke seldom causes so

Heavenly Shades of Delight: Twilight Time's Blu-ray Releases, Volume Two

Under scrutiny here: Cover Girl, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, High Time, Bye Bye Birdie (1963), The Sound and the Fury, Steel Magnolias, Enemy Mine, and Night of the Living Dead (1990).
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What do classic musicals, aerial races, William Faulkner, and flesh-eating zombies have in common? Not much, really - apart from the very fact that indie label Twilight Time has released all of the above on Blu-ray in the recent past. Continuing where I left off with the previous Heavenly Shades of Delight article, I present you with eight more titles the popular niche outfit has quietly unleashed upon the world of collectors within the last year. Each of these titles are/were limited to only 3,000 pressings apiece, and are available exclusively online from Screen Archives. Cover Girl (1944) (Columbia Pictures,

She Played with Fire (Fortune Is a Woman) DVD Review: Jack Hawkins, Ladies Man?

A fun, forgotten English film noir.
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Some people you simply don't associate with certain types of roles. Like Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble. Or John Wayne as Genghis Khan. And then there's the case of English actor Jack Hawkins (The Bridge on the River Kwai, Ben-Hur) - a highly respected though-rather-bulldog-faced actor - inhabiting the role of a chick magnet, as he did in the superb-yet-sadly-underrated 1957 British film noir flick Fortune Is a Woman. Released in the United States the following year under the less-imaginative title She Played with Fire, the tale stars Hawkins as Oliver Branwell (not Oliver Cromwell): an insurance investigator for Lloyds

Heavenly Shades of Delight: Twilight Time's Blu-ray Releases, Volume One

Under scrutiny here: Bite the Bullet, Demetrius and the Gladiators, Bell, Book and Candle, Désirée, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Big Heat, As Good as It Gets, and The Wayward Bus.
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I know it's one of those things that we all hate hearing about, but nevertheless, it's true: the economy in the last couple of years has really made for some hard times. Though it's not as awful as, say, losing your house or job, the world of home media was not immune to the downfall of the financial system. Nearly a decade ago, we were treated to the digital disc debuts of titles we never even thought we'd see on videocassette back in the '80s. Once things started to take a turn for the lesser, however, we lost many of
As just about anyone who has ever surfed either the shelves of a video store's "hip" section or scoured throughout the various forums available on the Interweb (and the avatars of the users contained therein) has probably deduced, Christopher Walken is hailed as something of a badass with several generations. It's really no surprise, of course: the famous performer has become something of a living meme for the oft-bizarre characters he has played, not to mention his own wild-style and keen ability to mock even himself repeatedly on Saturday Night Live. But then there's that side of Walken that not

Night of the Devils (1972) Blu-ray Review: Sexually-Charged Psychosomatic Italian Horror at its Finest

All this and full frontal nudity, too, guys and gals. Definitely a keeper in my book.
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Were I given the opportunity now to do a high school report on Italy, I would list the boot-shaped country's top major exports as "Pasta, Shoes, and Horror Movies." Made during the time of that curious cusp between Italian filmmakers' transition from the giallo style of thrillers to the flat-out, full-on "We're gonna try to make you puke" gore-laden chillers we all know so well today, Giorgio Ferroni's (The) Night of the Devils (La Notte dei Diavoli) manages to deliver the goods from both genres -- and incorporates a hypnotic (and sometimes bewildering) music score by Giorgio Gaslini (yes, you

Two-Lane Blacktop: The Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Monte Hellman's Masterpiece

Is it weird that I can relate to every single main character in this film? Oh, well!
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As anyone who has ever experienced a truly awkward moment of puberty is well aware, growing up is an inevitable part of life. However, in most cases, we do not simply jump from Point A to Point Z -- there's usually a learning process involved that teaches us the rest of the alphabet of maturity. Valuable skills are developed upon the way -- wherein we (are supposed to) learn how to interact with the rest of humanity and how to function as the relatively-sane human beings our parents probably had hoped for in the process. And then there those of

Red Dwarf X Blu-ray Review: Series IX? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Series IX!

The Boys from the Dwarf make their long-awaited return with a full six-episode series in glorious High-Definition.
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More than 24 years after it first hit the airwaves of a perplexed BBC and delighted jaded science-fiction comedy viewers near and far, Red Dwarf made a triumphant return to television in the final quarter of 2012 — only this time, under the compassionate guidance of Dave TV (no, not the fictitious David Lee Roth network from the mid '80s). Previously, the Boys from the Dwarf had made a minor comeback with a three-part special in 2009, subtitled Back to Earth, which took place nine years after Series VIII — which concluded with a cliffhanger many hoped would be resolved

Police Academy: The Animated Series, Volume One DVD Review: From Caddish to Kiddie

Some things simply will not lay down and suffer a painfully natural death like they should.
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It never fails to amuse me how something so decidedly adult in nature can sometimes turn into a franchise aimed solely at children. In Japan, the epic Godzilla character was conceived as a serious science-fiction look at the horrors of America's nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. A few years and several sequels down the line, Godzilla had somehow malformed into a heroic favorite with the kiddies. Several decades down the line, America itself was treated to similar-but-altogether different mutation. The popular Police Academy series started in 1984 with an R-rated comedy strictly for adults, complete with nudity, drug use, public acts

V/H/S DVD Review: Definitive Proof as to Why Beta Was Better

Not only is it a contemporary SOV flick, but it's a found footage flick, to boot. Joy, eh?
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Some of you may remember a point in the history of home video wherein amateur filmmakers who had managed to save up enough bread to buy a camcorder would make their own movies. These shot-on-video (SOV) items were usually of the horror variety, and were renown for their piss-poor quality in terms of, well, everything. Nevertheless, indie distributors managed to make a few bucks off these budget-less wonders — something that wasn't too terribly hard to do in an age when rental priced videocassettes often sold to mom-and-pop stores for a hundred bucks a piece, and private producers could easily

Savages (2012) Blu-ray Review: Oliver Stone Makes a Torture Porn Flick

Guaranteed to give you a bore-gasm.
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At the very beginning of Oliver Stone's Savages, we are greeted to the sight of Taylor Kitsch's bare ass in motion as he rams his co-star, Blake Lively, who proclaims via voiceover narration: "I have orgasms, he has war-gasms." And, with that less-than-Blake's-last-name delivery, all expectations one might have for this dramatic thriller — to say nothing of the amount of respect one might have once had for any of the film's performers — goes out the door and into the rubbish bin like a big jug of sour milk. Granted, taking a gallon of curdled dairy out to the

The Adventures of the Wilderness Family DVD Review: The Defining Moment of an All But Dead Subgenre

A highly-enjoyable family adventure flick about a group of dirty stinkin' hippies.
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Following the events of a seemingly-endless war in Vietnam and the horrid realization that mankind was emitting excessive waste into the air within the heavily-populated areas of the world, it was inevitable that someone somewhere in the already hygienically-questionable '70s would pack up their daily struggle with life in the city and move out into the country to get away from it all. Today, we call them dirty stinkin' hippies. Back then, however, they were something of heroic figures to those who secretly envied the ability to stop working for a living and adjourn to the mountains. Well, they were

Lili DVD Review: When Is a Musical Not a Musical?

A surprisingly song-less song-and-dance film with Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer.
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Question: When is a musical motion picture actually not a musical, despite the fact that it contains every cinematic musical element contained within the confines of its short 81-minute runtime? Answer: When it's Lili. One of many Technicolor MGM romantic dramas with singing added produced during that bodacious period of filmmaking when audiences actually craved such things, Lili tells the tale of a young naïve country French lass named Lili (Leslie Caron, still riding on the success of An American in Paris) who follows a handsome fellow (Jean-Pierre Aumont) around one afternoon after he saves her from a lecherous shopkeeper.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray Review: Most Righteously Recommended, Dude

The first Bill and Ted in High-Def? Why, in time, we'll be dancing in the streets all night!
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The year was 1989. It was an awkward twelve months all around, especially for a discomfited tween such as myself who was experiencing that equally graceless period of life known as junior high. Of course, no matter how ill-at-ease I felt then, there was always a sliver of salvation made available to me on numerous occasions that year courtesy the film industry — who seemed to be making releasing just about every kind of movie under the sun. But between movies like Field of Dreams and Tango and Cash, there were the inevitable, vastly popular film franchises — which many

Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines DVD Review: Who Needs Originality When You Have Direct-to-Video?

When is this series going to make a right turn? Oh, ask a silly question...
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A nearly-forgotten Canadian rock band from the '80s called Eight Seconds once declared in a tune "Your voice is for calling my name, and I shall return." Sadly, some low-budget horror movie producer somewhere evidently heard someone say "Oh, I took a wrong turn" one day and completely misconstrued Eight Seconds' words — thus unleashing yet another god-awful entry in a line of direct-to-video shitfests that no one ever asked for in the first place. Yes, although the Wrong Turn series had already reached its nadir long ago with its initial entry, we're still getting assaulted every year with more

Bones: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray Review: Enter the Pregnant Lady

There's really nothing new under the sun here except for some old, brittle, sun-bleached Bones.
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It's always been said that, should your television series be showing some serious signs of redundancy or you just can't figure out how to tally up the very equation that you set forth into the world, just add a kid to the show and call it good. There have been many instances in which we have witnessed the demise of even a moderately mediocre primetime program due to a noticeable lack of originality and the ever-dreaded addition of a child character to the fray. And Bones — a series that started off as a somewhat so-so title to begin with

Alcatraz: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review: More Mysterious Mystical Crap from JJ Abrams

More fodder for my ever-worsening mental condition.
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Every year, J.J. Abrams brings us yet another television series. Around that same time every year, I grow a little crazier. Sure, you may just consider the two seemingly-unrelated items to be nothing more than mere coincidence, but it is most assuredly not, boys and girls — as at least one-percent of my madness is unquestionably attributable to the lousy shows Mr. Abrams proudly stamps his "I am to crappy mystical TV shows what Tim Burton is to crappy, overly-artsy movies" seal of approval upon. And the short-lived 2012 Abrams-produced series Alcatraz has become more fodder for my ever-worsening mental

The Game (1997): Criterion Collection DVD Review: Edgy and Uneven, But it Grows on You

Lesson learned: never accept a gift from Sean Penn.
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There's nothing taking time out of your everyday boring routine to play a fun game with your friends. In the case of completely unlikable investment banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), his venture into The Game is not one he is too terribly willing to participate in — and his playmates are anything but friendly. When he was a young boy, Nick's secretly unhappy father committed suicide on his 48th birthday. Now, having just turned 48 himself, Van Orton is just as miserable as his deceased father to anyone with half an eye. So, his young, reckless brother Conrad (Sean

Les Visiteurs du Soir: Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Medieval Tale of Love and Fate

As God said to Cain: "If you want to cast people into the deepest depths of despair, send in a couple of French folks."
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In late 1942, when the surreal French fantasy Les Visiteurs du Soir was first released in good ol' gai Paris, the capital City of Lights was anything but happy. In fact, it was occupied by those ol' no-good Nazis — and the prospect of freedom was but a farfetched dream for some. Thus, the very premise of the film — wherein two of the Devil's emissaries are sent to an otherwise happy castle in 1485 to bring about despair to all — was something of a believable concept to those who were forcefully living within the Hellish confines of Hitler's

The Robert Mitchum Film Collection DVD Review: A Gallant Line-up of Shamelessly Repackaged Releases

Any actor who shares the same name as my deodorant is A-OK in my book.
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In keeping up with their recent line-up of Film Collection releases (box sets featuring highlights from Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Denzel Washington, Liam Neeson, et al), the folks at Twentieth Century Fox have once again assembled a set of classic, well-known titles from one of Hollywood's most legendary bad boys: the one and only Robert Mitchum. The Robert Mitchum Film Collection repackages ten of the most famous titles from the Fox and MGM libraries (in two volumes) to star the iconic actor (any actor who shares the same name as my deodorant is A-OK in my book), and includes feature

People Like Us (2012) Blu-ray Review: Wait, This Isn't the Sequel to Spies Like Us

A movie that doesn't live up to its title: I don't like these people at all!
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Family. Yes, there's nothing like your own flesh and blood to screw up your entire existence and make you never want to socialize with any single member of the human race ever again. Yet, somehow, there's nothing strangely satisfying in life than discovering a new branch on your family tree — a finding that gives you the false hope that, just perhaps, they will make your term on this Earth all the more complete. Or, at the very minimum, they won't be as crazy as the rest of folks in your clan. Of course, I don't know very much about

Best of Bond...James Bond: 50 Years - 50 Tracks Review: An Outstanding Collection

A wonderful set containing timeless theme songs and intense incidental music as well.
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Bond. James Bond. For some, it's the man itself that makes them jump up and down with delight -- personal choice in actors notwithstanding, of course. For others, it's the endless array of post-kill puns, sexual euphemisms, and gadgetry. Finally, folks, there are those in this world who love 007 movies just for the musical contributions they have brought to the world; whether it be a kick-ass theme song or just some tense incidental music. And that, boys and girls, brings me to the very point of this piece: the music that has been accompanying James Bond on his

Bait 3D (2012) Blu-ray Review: Sharks in a Supermarket

This shark is even more dangerous roaming the aisles of a grocery store than I am.
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Russell Mulcahy, ladies and gentlemen. Fans of a certain franchise about an immortal Scotsman who says "There can be only one!" know him as the man who directed the one true, original Highlander movie. '80s music lovers know him as the guy that helmed a few videos for Duran Duran, Billy Idol, and The Tubes. And then there are all those rednecks who probably don't know any better than to associate him with the made-for-TV biopic 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story, but that's probably for the best since most of Russell's crappier films have — fortunately — gone mostly unnoticed

October Baby DVD Review: Pro-Life Christian Propaganda from a Hate Group

Wake me up when October ends.
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I suppose being an depressed asthmatic epileptic is something of a load unto itself for a college coed with dreams of being an actress. Now, try tossing in the discovery that your parents aren't really your parents after all — and you are, in fact, the result of a botched abortion. Not exactly an uplifting thought, eh? I suppose things could get worse, of course — and you could actually be some thinly-disguised plot point of a rotten, boring pro-life Christian propaganda flick that surely escaped from some sort of kooky Conservative Hell. Well, that's about the gist of October

Confessions of an Opium Eater DVD Review: Would You Like a Side of Beef, or a Side of Man?

Casting Vincent Price as a "good guy" action hero is a sure sign of drug use itself.
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By 1962, motion picture producer Albert Zugsmith had been far removed from the Universal science fiction classics that he will forever be remembered for with "serious" moviegoers (i.e. The Incredible Shrinking Man) and returned to what was best at: making cheap, independent exploitation flicks. The Allied Artists release Confessions of an Opium Eater is a prime slice of beef (or is it a slice of man, to mock a corny philosophical conversation that takes place within the confines of the film) wherein we learn one truly important thing: casting Vincent Price as a "good guy" action hero was a sure

Chillers (1987) DVD Review: Generic Grape Juice Does Not Fine Wine Make

A cheapo horror film gets an equally cheapo DVD release.
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For those of you who — like me — miss those days of wandering through mom-and-pop video stores in search of weird, wild, and sometimes wonderful movies, its sometimes nice to see a retro scary flick find its way to digital home video. In the case of Troma's "first time" DVD release of Daniel Boyd's Chillers however, I have to wonder where the fascination is. For starters, the movie has been released on disc before: eight years ago, actually (by BCI), as part of a Toxie's Triple Terror set — so any anticipation one might have had for this no-budget

The Living Daylights Movie Review: It's Not Easy Being the New Guy, Especially When You're the New Guy's Substitute

Just like Frankie, Elvis, and Sid, Timothy Dalton did it his way.
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As anyone who ever found themselves making that awkward transition from one school to another during their years spent in educational institutions can attest to, it's not at all easy to be the new guy. The pressure gets turned up to an unbearable temperature as people around you begin to unjustly judge you right off the bat - just because you don't conform with their expectations of how a total stranger should look. What, then, might occur when you're not even the guy that was meant to be there? Supposing you're the new guy's surrogate - only there because

Two and a Half Men: The Complete Ninth Season: How to Carry On After Your Star Gets Fired

Ashton Kutcher is given the unenviable task of stepping in to fill Charlie Sheen's cocaine-stained shoes — and he immediately starts winning.
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The loss of a lead performer in a film or television franchise can be a truly devastating ordeal — whether the missing star's absence is attributable to an unfortunate real-life passing (see: Taggart), or someone simply went wacko and got shit-canned by producers (see: Valerie). In the moving picture industry, this can be rectified by a simple bit of recasting. In TV Land, however, there are these strange, ardent, geek-like individuals — people we often refer to as "fans" — who become so rapt by their favorite show that the mere thought of hiring a new player is usually met

Lonesome (1928) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Sometimes, Happiness is Just a Neighbor Away

Criterion brings us the lost fairy-tale romance from Paul Fejos, along with two other Fejos curiosities.
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There's nothing like a little alone time to give you some perspective on your situation in life — especially when you're lonely. During his extremely brief career in Hollywood, Hungarian-born filmmaker Paul Fejos directed this early artistic curio contribution to the world of celluloid about a lonely factory worker in New York named Jim (Glenn Tyron), who — bored with the day-to-day drill of his professional life — goes to the mystical Isle of Coney, wherein he meets an equally forlorn female by the handle o' Mary (Barbara Kent), who works as a telephone operator (because there were few other

Revenge: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Very Little Here You Can't Find in a Daytime Soap Opera

Once again, ABC has taken a routine movie formula and turned it into an overlong TV series.
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Since the dawn of television itself, there have been countless attempts to turn popular big screen movies into a long-running weekly programs produced exclusively for small screen viewers. More times than not, these transitions have proved disastrous for producers and performers alike, but that hasn't prevented them from continuing to try. Lately, however, TV studios have been attempting to turn entire film genres into series. A recent example was the shockingly god-awful unintentional laughfest The River — a show that should serve as living proof that ABC will, in fact, air anything. The latest instance is another ABC series: the

Moonraker Movie Review: Even an Established Film Franchise Can Bow to a New Trend

007 goes toe-to-toe with Star Wars, and the result is nothing short of amusing.
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After 33 years, what is honestly left to be said about Moonraker that hasn't already been touched upon? I certainly can't go and say "Well, it's bad!" for fear of repeating what many people have already most definitely established without the aid of a run-of-the-mill film critic such as myself. I cannot even go with what my immediate gut feeling tells me to say -- "Well, it's enjoyably bad!" -- because I know there are many individuals out there that have also figured that one out for themselves. However, in lieu of anything wholly original to say, I'll just

Hercules, Samson and Ulysses [Ercole sfida Sansone] DVD Review: Sea Monsters! Lion Strangling! Hamstrings!

The last major peplum flick from the director of the original Hercules.
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Though filmed in 1963, Pietro Francisci's final contribution to the peplum (sword and sandal) genre — a little ditty called Hercules, Samson and Ulysses (aka Ercole sfida Sansone) — didn't make it to screens in the U.S. until 1965, by which time the macho muscleman movie craze had all but ended all over the globe. I suppose it's not such a bad thing, though, since this offering probably seemed just as routine to audiences then as it does to me today. Of course, that's not a bad thing, as we only watch these movies for one reason alone: prime Italian

Death Wish II / Death Wish 3 / Death Wish 4: The Crackdown Blu-ray Reviews: The Cannon Days

Five years. Three films. One ass-kicking elderly star.
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It took eight years for someone to make a sequel to the original film adaptation of Brian Garfield's novel, Death Wish. To this day, many speculate whether or not the film should have even bore a sequel — let alone the entire five-film franchise that came to pass over an impressive twenty-year span. Whereas the classic 1974 Charles Bronson revenge flick could have very well remained a stalwart and standout film to moviegoers and scholars alike, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus — the boys behind the notorious production company of Cannon Films — had other ideas: mainly, to make a

The Hedgehog [Le Hérisson] (2009) DVD Review: Eccentric Esoteric French Fare. Golly Gee.

No, it's not another documentary on Ron Jeremy. Thank God.
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When it comes to stories concerning the most esoteric and eccentric of life's inhabitants, our brothers and sisters in France almost always take the cake. Rarely do filmmakers from other countries depict someone wandering about in a self-absorbed haze, questioning what the very purpose of their existence is for, and spouting the most pretentious of soliloquies like the French do. And Mona Achache's The Hedgehog — a 2009 motion picture adaptation of Muriel Barbary's novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog — is certainly no exception: only this time, our filmic philosophical tutor is a depressed, suicidal eleven-year-old girl. Determined to

The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Dreadful [Mondo Bastardo]

From Roy Rogers to Jonah Hill, and from Willem Dafoe to Seann William Scott: who makes the grade?
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Sometimes, you just never know what movie you want to pick out to watch. Artwork and taglines deceptively lure you in with promise of instant crowd-pleasing classics, only to deliver epic turds instead. Other times, those films that actually warrant a viewing are given such lurid presentations, that you pass 'em by completely -- assuming they're just more fodder for the never-ending direct-to-video hell we've brought upon ourselves. So, in a vain effort to spare you the extreme pain of some of the downright dreadful movies out there, and hopefully clue you in as to the existence of a few

Leverage: The 4th Season DVD Review: Like a Needle Stuck in a Groove

For fans only. The rest of us tuned out long ago.
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When Leverage first aired on TNT several years back, the modern-day spin on the classic espionage series Mission: Impossible seemed like a novel one. Sadly, by the time the second season rolled around, the show's writers had already found themselves becoming formulaic and repetitive — a routine that kept on going until, finally, the whole series felt like a needle stuck in a groove. So, when you roll around to the fourth season, where do you take your characters when you don't have all that much going on in terms of writing and delivery (not to mention plot) in the

Get the Gringo [aka How I Spent My Summer Vacation] DVD Review: Mel Gibson is Back in Action

An enjoyable, exploitative throwback to Mel Gibson's cinematic past.
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Of all the fallen Mels out there eager to make a comeback (Mel B., Mel C., Mel Sharples) with the whole world, perhaps none struggles as much as Mel Gibson. More than half a decade after his initial fall from the limelight, everything he has ever said and done since then has been highly publicized and scrutinized alike — everything except the movies he has made, that is. Get the Gringo finds Mel returning to the tough, imperfect type of character we all used to love him so much for. Sadly, the film received next to no theatrical distribution in

Operation Bikini DVD Review: Frankie Avalon and Tab Hunter in World War II!

The lost forerunner to the more-delightful Frankie Avalon days of AIP.
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Released only five months before he was to become a cult icon in the epic Beach Party films, singer/actor Frankie Avalon found himself in one of his first co-starring roles in this American-International Picture release. True to AIP form, the advertising campaign was about as misleading as could be — depicting the film as more of a romantic comedy than anything. But, with a hot young recording star cast just below the already established Tab Hunter, and a supporting cast consisting of Scott Brady, Jim Backus, Michael Dante, and Eva Six, it would have been pretty hard for Operation Bikini
Anyone who has always been a fan of the immortal slapstick comedy The Three Stooges brought us over the course of several decades and was around to remember the glorious days of home video in the '80s and '90s will no doubt recollect the various VHS releases we used to get in the stores (to say nothing of LaserDisc and Beta in the early days). They consisted of three shorts per cassette (rarely totaling over 45-minutes) and the classics seemed to be chosen at random. When DVD came about, we were treated to digital releases which contained more titles per

Spin a Dark Web [aka Soho Incident] DVD Review: Forgotten British Film Noir

Ever wonder where both Bernard Fox and Ken Adam got their start?
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With all the great American film noir movies out there, forever leaving their mark on experienced and newbie fans of cinema everywhere, it's easy to forget that countries like England have contributed heavily to the genre. Sadly, many of them wind up getting swept underneath the giant carpet of time, waiting for the day when someone finds them and gives them a little distribution. One such forgotten item is a British flick that was originally entitled Soho Incident, but which was given the more lurid moniker Spin a Dark Web for its 1956 debut in the U.S. Here, the one

Wilfred: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Thank You, Australian Television

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to love it or loathe it.
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Out of all the television producing and filmmaking countries in the world, there are perhaps two that Americans love to borrow (or perhaps, steal) from more than any other. One is that magical, mystical country of France — a land not only of baguettes and tiny clove cigarettes, but which has absolutely nothing to do with this piece whatsoever. The other is the Land of Oz itself: Australia — which has quite a lot to do with this review, since Wilfred is an American remake of an Aussie television comedy of the same name that initially aired in Oz back

Spaghetti, Sleaze, and Mysteries [Mondo Bastardo]

Luigi Bastardo takes a look at six recent Blu-ray releases guaranteed to either delight or degrade.
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It's time to let our fingers wander through the shelves as I introduce you to a new feature, Mondo Bastardo (kudos to George White for the name). For this preliminary article, I bring you a peek at several recent Blu-ray releases that are guaranteed to either delight or degrade. Included here are the double feature releases of The Grand Duel and Keoma as well as The Stranger and Kansas City Confidential, and single releases of D.O.A. (1988), 42nd Street Forever: Blu-ray Edition, Midsomer Murders: Set 19, and The Red House (1947). Enjoy. Spaghetti Western Double Feature: The Grand Duel /

The House on Garibaldi Street DVD Review: Primetime TV Nazi Hunters

The man who captured Eichmann before Arliss Howard.
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Though their contributions to mankind will — thankfully — never be looked upon in a positive light by anyone other than skinheads and wacko politicians, Hitler's Third Reich has at least made for an endless source of motion picture entertainment over the years. But whereas certain filmmakers have strived for straight-up exploitation, others have touched upon more factual affairs. In the case of the 1979 ABC TV movie The House on Garibaldi Street, we get a primetime account of the capture of Adolf Eichmann — one of the most notorious SS officers behind the Holocaust — who escaped to Argentina

Mirror Mirror (2012) Blu-ray Review: Please, Make it Stop!

Julia Roberts delivers yet another god-awful performance in this abysmal comedy.
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When I sat down to soil myself in horror over the fetidness only Mirror Mirror could deliver, I had to take a few moments to look back and ask myself "Has Julia Roberts ever truly made even one good movie?" The answer to that was a very stern "No," of course: even the truly best movies that happen to have featured her had been hampered by her appearance — a fact that begged me to question whether or not she is even a decent actress to begin with. But then — before I could answer that one — I found

The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan: The Complete Series DVD Review: Wham-Bam, They're in a Jam!

Keye Luke's elevation to the character of Charlie Chan hits DVD via the Warner Archive.
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Ever since his very first moving picture appearance in the now-lost 1926 film The House Without a Key, Charlie Chan had only ever been portrayed by an actor of Chinese descent but once — and that was in the 1972 Hanna-Barbera cartoon, The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan. Veteran Hollywood actor Keye Luke — a character actor fondly remembered by many as Lee Chan, the Number One Son to Charlie Chan in several Fox and Monogram mysteries made between 1935 and 1948 — escalated up the ranks to portray Mr. Chan himself. Sure, Luke's much-needed representation of Earl Derr

Thin Ice (2011) [aka The Convincer] Blu-ray Review: Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin Reunite

"Don't be surprised when a crack in the ice appears under your feet."
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As someone who occasionally forms ideas and words together with the hopes of someday turning them into an actual bona fide story, the nightmare of having another person completely rewrite your work for the sake of making a moving picture more acceptable to "mainstream" (read: obtuse) moviegoing audiences is a completely realistic one to me. But even completing your opus the way you envisioned it isn't always enough to make it through the cold dark tunnel of studio executivedom: sometimes, somebody is told re-edit your entire movie, re-title it, re-score it, and release it with a trailer that makes it

Outlaw Trail DVD Review: The Trails Blazers Save the Day (Again)

Another enjoyably bad brain-dead b-western from Monogram Pictures.
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From the very first time the moving picture industry first started showing double features at the bijou every Saturday to an entire generation of bored children, the b-western became a hot commodity with no-budget filmmakers. The poorly-dressed suits at Monogram Studios — one of the most (in)famous Poverty Row film companies ever to grace the silver screen — were certainly no exception to cranking out run-of-the-mill cowboy movies for the masses, creating short-lived franchise heroes (often with has-been silent stars) after another in order to give the same recycled stories Monogram's writers used time and time again some unlikely inkling

Women in Danger: 1950s Thrillers DVD Review: Highly Recommended

If you love classic noir, this is a must-have.
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When soldiers pass their prime, they look forward to assistance from the VA. When a judge retires, he or she starts to count on their local bartender for support. But when it came time for an actress like Joan Crawford, Ida Lupino, Esther Williams, or Merle Oberon to be cast astray from the studios that made them famous, they had but one place to go: Universal-International. During the '50s, the recently renamed company began to pick up former A-List starlets for a reasonable "Well, at least I'm still working" rates, catering to them with specially-written screenplays based on their own

Yesterday's Enemy (1959) DVD Review: Hammer Films' Contribution to the War Genre

A taut World War II drama from the studio that dripped blood.
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Based on the 1958 BBC teleplay of the same name, the 1959 World War II drama Yesterday's Enemy brings us an account of the Big One from a different perspective. Yes, we've all witnessed various tales of American soldiers in the Asian jungles, as we have seen patriotic yarns depicting the struggles in Europe on the behalf of our British brothers. With Yesterday's Enemy, however, we get to see something altogether different: the plight of a British regiment in the Burmese jungles fighting against the Japanese. Sure, it's very similar to most other WWII flicks, but when you take into

Act of Valor Blu-ray Review: Better Than You Might Expect

An enjoyable B-Movie that fires real bullets and shells.
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The very thought of an action film starring non-actors can send chills up your spine. Imagine what might have happened if Clint Eastwood positively sucked at the fine art of performing whilst cast in Dirty Harry, or Kurt Russell had no clue whatsoever when he was bringing Snake Plissken to life in Escape from New York. Or, for the full effect of genuine horror, think of any film starring Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, or Steven Seagal wherein the aforementioned B-Movie icons weren't even as proficient at their legendary, individual brands of chuckle-inducing stiltedness as they are. Pretty scary thought,

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Blu-ray Review: Food for the Mills of Hell

A serious contender for Worst Film of 2012.
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Well, boys and girls, that clown Nicolas Cage has done it again: absconded with a heap of dough, and leaving behind a pile of something quite smelly in his wake. This time, though, he's gone overboard — delivering what has to be his worst intentionally-hammy performance ever (which — and let's be honest, here — is saying an awful lot) as he reprises the role of Johnny Blaze, the tortured feller who made a deal with the Devil and is now doomed to suck the souls out of evildoers. Interestingly, Cage himself is said to have formed a pact with

Bad Ass Blu-ray Review: A Film that Absolutely Reeks of Mediocrity

Don't you mean "Badass"? You're talking about a putrid heinder otherwise!
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For those of you who saw and enjoyed Machete as much as I did, you might have found yourself wondering at one point or another "How does one go about recreating the magic Machete had?" Well, if you're Robert Rodriguez, all you need do is make another Machete movie with Danny Trejo in the lead. If you're not Robert Rodriguez, then all you really should do is not try. At all. Case in point: Craig Moss' inept attempt to make a modern exploitation flick, Bad Ass — a film that is very loosely-based on the infamous viral video of white

The Last Posse DVD Review: An Overlooked B-Western Gem

An excellent example of what happens when an above-average story is shipped off to the B-Unit department.
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There's nothing I like more than sitting back and watching a good ol' B-Western, and 1953's The Last Posse is my cup of tea. But this isn't your average cowboy film fare, folks — this one has a strange bit of intrigue and noir woven into its material. Filmed in the beautiful rocky terrain of Lone Pine, California, this forgotten Columbia Pictures gem stars the great Broderick Crawford and a young John Derek (their third feature together), and tells the tale of a small sheriff's posse that rode out of Roswell, New Mexico one day to apprehend a trio who

This Means War Blu-ray Review: More Absolute Yuck from McG

A contemporary, colorless take on Design for Living.
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Late last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing the wonderful 1933 comedy Design for Living — the story about two men who both fall for the same girl and decide to form a "gentlemen's agreement" to remain friends with each other as well as the woman in question. Of course, times have changed. Were you to make a film like Design for Living today, you'd wind up with something so pedestrian and impractical, you'd have to hire some hack like McG to direct, a lousy writer such as Simon (X-Men: The Last Stand) to write, and a number of

Without a Trace: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: Primetime Filler

A lousy show, but a great presentation.
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My first viewing experience of Jerry Bruckheimer's Without a Trace really wasn't much of a voluntary one. I was reviewing another Bruckheimer production, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Eighth Season, at another (now defunct) site and one of the bonus features was the Season Six episode of Without a Trace "Where and Why" -- which was only included as it was a crossover episode to the CSI episode, "Who and What." Frankly, I wasn't too terribly impressed with what I saw: the writing seemed pretty simplistic, and the performances were fairly mediocre at best. I figured it was just

Sherlock: Season Two Blu-ray Review: Contemporary Genius

Robert Downey, Jr. and Guy Ritchie should take notes.
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It doesn’t matter we're talking about a gifted mathematician or an extremely skilled plumber: every genius is that of a flawed one. Even the fictional individuals. And there is no better proof than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's immortal character of Sherlock Holmes. Portrayed on big and small screens alike countless times since his first published appearance in 1887, the character of Sherlock is — without a doubt — the most popular of all fabricated creations to appear in film and television. He's also the most freely-adapted character, having served as the inspiration for House, M.D. and more. Of course, with

Red Tails (2012) DVD Review: George Lucas Drops the Ball Again

How do you get into a World War II flick when someone says "A'ight"?
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If there is any one subject that doesn't get enough screen time, it's that of the Tuskegee Airmen. These legends of the air have been in dire need of a big-budgeted, heartfelt, genuine dramatization of their deeds for decades now (cable-TV movies with Laurence Fishburne notwithstanding) that tell the real story. Sadly, the Lucasfilm production of Red Tails — a PG-13 offering about the brave black pilots who gave their all during World War II, which stars Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr. — is not the film we've been waiting for. It's rare these days to see a moving

Inch High, Private Eye: The Complete Series DVD Review: Kick-Ass Hanna-Barbera Fun

It takes a little man to accomplish a big feat. Or something like that.
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Once again, it's time for us to dive into another vintage Hanna-Barbera classic from the folks at Warner Brothers. While not as famously known as its brethren Scooby-Doo Where Are You? or The Flintstones, the '70s cartoon Inch High, Private Eye has achieved its own following over the years. Lasting only one season, the NBC morning kiddie show originally ran from 1973 to 1974, and brought us the amusing exploits of a bumbling private detective known as Inch High. His name is an appropriate one, too: Inch is literally only one-inch in height. Though he is employed at the Finkerton

The Last Mile (1959) DVD Review: Mickey at His Rooniest

A low-budget prison drama from Amicus Productions' Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky.
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Prior to their great success in the British horror film industry with the highly prolific Amicus Productions, American-born filmmakers Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky cranked out a number of tiny-budgeted movie musicals that were mostly aimed at teenage audiences. In 1959, just a year away from producing the atmospheric classic Horror Hotel, Milton and Max fashioned a minor prison drama called The Last Mile, which was based on the popular 1930 play by John (Angels with Dirty Faces) Wexley — a project that had been filmed several times before as well as produced many times onstage. But, whereas the original

The River: The Complete First Season DVD Review: Oren Peli's Paranormal Holocaust

There's magic out there. Well, maybe not in this series, but…
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While police procedurals are and always have been a dime a dozen when it comes to television shows, the horror genre has almost always left something to be desired. Well, let me rephrase that: it has always left something to be desired if it's anything other than an anthology show like Tales from the Crypt or whatnot. When studio execs decide to give the greenlight to something such wholly other, however, you can usually bet your bottom dollar that the end result will be disastrous. One glorious and ultimately thorough example is the recent ABC failure The River, which combined

Eclipse Series 32: Pearls of the Czech New Wave DVD Review: Gems Indeed

Criterion brings us six seldom-seen surreal ditties from five masterful directors.
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You never really know what to expect from the more "arty" contributions the world of international cinema has to offer us. When the Criterion Collection released A Hollis Frampton Odyssey earlier in the year, I found myself being tortured by a self-absorbed artiste's experimentations with celluloid. With Pearls of the Czech New Wave, however — a collection of oddities from assorted filmmakers of the former Central European state now available under Criterion's Eclipse banner — I found the pretentious art-lover in me at long last emerging. Of course, I have always preferred New Wave over avant-garde art any ol' day,

Underworld: Awakening Blu-ray Review: Can This Series Really Have a Nadir?

Kate Beckinsale returns for another easy paycheck.
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Like its zombie counterpart — the increasingly-tedious Resident Evil series — the vampire/werewolf Underworld film franchise has now reached a point so low that you have to wonder if it's even possible for this entire legacy to even have a nadir. With the first three films just barely piquing past the point of being tolerable as it stands (and that praise in itself is somewhat debatable), it's fairly plausible that a fourth feature — especially one that creeped into cinemas without any advance screening for critics — will have just enough steam in it to elevate it slightly above the

Chapter Two (1979) DVD Review: Dull Neil Simon Melodrama

James Caan sinks into one sappy quagmire of a film.
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During the '70s and '80s, there was an onslaught of Neil Simon plays being adapted in movies. He was at his peek in both venues, penning one hit for the stage, and then rewriting it for the screen. Sure, he created a number of comical masterpieces like Murder by Death and The Cheap Detective during that time, but he also wrote several sappy semi-autobiographical dramedies like Only When I Laugh and The Goodbye Girl — most of which starred his then-wife Marsha Mason as a slightly-fictionalized, overly-dramatic version of herself, with a nice Jewish boy like Judd Hirsch or Richard

Tom and Jerry: Around the World DVD Review: A Bad Trip

Yet another "best of" set that fails to deliver.
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In all the world of home media, there is perhaps nothing as dreaded as the proverbial "best of" compilation — especially when it comes to cartoons. Instead of just releasing television shows or theatrical shorts in their original, unedited chronological order, some distributors insist on tossing a group of items together onto a single disc and calling it good. The latest assemblage of animation to hit the shelves of video stores near and far is something called Tom and Jerry: Around the World, and brings us nearly three hours of hijinks from the classic cat and mouse pairing. Unfortunately, this

The Three Stooges (2000) DVD Review: Nowhere Near as Bad as its Reputation

A heartfelt but nevertheless fabricated biography of America's longest running comedy team.
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Though he is not at all seen as being the quintessential spokesperson for people of Jewish heritage today, there was a time when the once-powerful Mel Gibson thought very highly of the legendary comedy team of the Three Stooges (of whom the original members were Jewish) — enough so that he felt the urge to produce an emotional, Made-for-TV biopic about them. In 2000, The Three Stooges was beamed to television sets across the nation, garnering mostly lukewarm reviews from the few folks who actually bothered watching the primetime feature that evening — only to fade (somewhat quickly) into obscurity

Flicka: Country Pride Blu-ray Review: Talk About Beating a Dead Horse

Walmart presents a direct-to-video sequel to a direct-to-video sequel of a remake. Yay.
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It’s rare you see a movie these days that bears an honest-to-goodness G rating. I figured the MPAA just up and quit assigning them altogether. Of course, when you get right down to the heart of the matter, the possibility of a G-rated movie even being any good is about as likely as meeting an interesting Walmart greeter. Speaking of Walmart, their latest direct-to-video exclusive, a G-rated something that is labeled as Flicka: Country Pride in the advertising, but which bears the actual onscreen title of Flicka 3 — something that immediately begs the question “Wait, there was a Flicka

Strip Strip Hooray! DVD Review: A Sexual Sextuplet of Sleaze

Once again, Something Weird is afoot — and I'm pleased as punch about it.
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In the middle of 2007, a crushing blow was delivered to the lovers of the truly bizarre, the sleazy, and the entirely otherworldly when the seven-year-old partnership between Image Entertainment and Something Weird Video ceased to be. Although the dedicated folks at Something Weird continued to release more strange ditties upon the unsuspecting world via their wonderful website, there seemed to be something ultimately missing overall — as we stopped seeing stores carry deranged goodies like Please Don't Eat My Mother, Doctor Gore, and the double feature offerings of gems such as Alley Tramp and Over 18...and Ready! Earlier this
Whenever a singer ventures over into the world of motion pictures, the results are usually dire. Let’s take Madonna’s career in film, for example. More importantly, let us examine how many truly awful movies she appeared in. From Shanghai Surprise to Swept Away, it seems that a majority of Madonna’s performances in front of the camera have wound up either receiving Razzie nominations, extreme backlash from critics and the public alike, or has gone down in history as one of the worst films of the year. Even her cameo in Die Another Day — arguably one of the dumbest James

The Convoy Collection DVD Review: Highway to Haul

Buckle up and prepare for three, forgotten grey market '70s movies, kids.
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A good exploitation filmmaker is quick to cash in on a craze. Unfortunately, most of the bad ones are, too. In the ‘70s, the industry of trucking had transformed into a phenomenon of epic proportions. Truck drivers were seen by the public as modern-day cowboys and outlaws (a far cry from the image we have stuck in our heads today every time we see another moronic Walmart driver overturn his rig) -- and there were numerous filmmakers across the nation (especially the lower states) anxious to make a buck off of America’s enthusiasm over the subject. Recently, the folks at

Pal Joey Blu-ray Review: Joey's Definitely a Pal of Mine

Rita, Frankie, and Kim shine — as does Twilight Time's presentation.
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"Some guys have a system with horses, and I got a system with dames. It's a snap. You treat a dame like a lady, and you treat a lady like a dame." —Joey Evans (Frank Sinatra) on the subject of romance. You know you’re a popular fellow when you’re being thrown onto a train by the police and told to never come back. And that’s just what happens to Joey Evans (Frank Sinatra) at the opening of the 1957 romantic musical drama, Pal Joey, after he has been caught cavorting with a young lady from the respectable side of the

Pharaoh's Curse (1957) DVD Review: Silly, Dumb, and Very Enjoyable

MGM dives into their own tombs to excavate an '50s horror obscurity.
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It’s too bad that Joe Flaherty’s epic SCTV character Count Floyd never hosted an actual bona fide version of “Monster Chiller Horror Theater” on late-night weekend television. Were he to have done so, you could bet your bottom dollar that the 1957 mummy flick Pharaoh’s Curse would have shown up on his roster of campy forgotten movies. And, just like he did on SCTV, he probably would have been found administering a much-needed facepalm to his mug during the cutaway sequences — only to snap out of it and quickly try to reassure the bored kids at home that something

Young, Violent, Dangerous DVD Review: A Healthy Dose of Italian Cheese

Shootings galore, nudity en masse, and common sense in short supply.
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There’s nothing worse than a tale of good boys gone bad. Well, actually, there are: in the case of the 1976 Italian crime thriller Young, Violent, Dangerous, the movie itself is far worse than the message of uncertainty it was meant to deliver to begin with. No, I take that back — it’s clear from the get-go that Romolo Guerrieri’s exploitative tale of three fellers on a killing spree was most certainly not supposed to carry any sort of significance whatsoever. I’m fairly certain of that, at least. Nevertheless, the movie succeeds in what it sets out to do: live

Swamp Water Blu-ray Review: Jean Renoir Comes to America

A larger-than-life, captivating feature starring Walter Brennan and Dana Andrews.
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The legendary Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia has always presented its share of challenges. For some, it’s a difficulty in pronouncing it correctly. For others, the test of time has been the spelling of it. It is for those who live around it, however, that the Okefenokee Swamp presents its greatest dare: survival — something the local yokels of Jean Renoir’s Swamp Water (aka The Man Who Came Back) can easily attest to. Countless men have wandered into the foreboding, murky bog only to never be seen again. And, as Renoir’s tale (his first in America) of life, love, death and

Picnic (1955) Blu-ray Review: William Inge's Play Comes to Life

Okay, so maybe it's no picnic, but it is damn good.
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Sometimes, all it takes is for one stranger to come-a-roamin’ into town for everything and everyone to change. In the case of 1955’s Picnic — the first and by far the best adaptation of William Inge’s famous stage play — that stranger is a man by the name of Hal Carter (portrayed by the one and only William Holden). Once upon a time, Hal was the quintessential embodiment of the all-American boy: a college football hero who had a way with the ladies, and the potential to become a moving picture star to boot. Alas, those days are behind him

The Darkest Hour (2011) Blu-ray Review: Attack of the Imperceptible Intruders

Dumb? Yes. But it has an enjoyable 1950s drive-in movie feel to it.
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“I’m trying to keep my freak-out on the inside!” —Sean (Emile Hirsch), as he and his pals are attacked by invisible aliens (!). Anyone who has read even a sample of my reviews on contemporary cinema knows that modern movies usually make me roll my eyes towards the heavens and shout “Why, oh, why?” But then, every once in a while, somebody makes a stupid B-movie that appeals to that side of me that truly adores low-budget films. And, while The Darkest Hour certainly isn’t a great achievement by any means — in fact, calling it an “achievement” is really

A Night to Remember (1958) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Stunning Presentation for a Genuine Classic

I've never paid to see James Cameron's film, but I'd gladly pay ten-times over to see this one again and again.
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“I don’t think the Board of Trade regulations visualized this situation.” —Capt. Edward John Smith (Laurence Naismith), upon learning his ship is going to sink. Well, since I know there is absolutely no chance whatsoever (during anyone’s lifetime) that James Cameron will apologize to the entire population of the whole planet for making a certain overrated and pretentious moving picture nightmare about the Titanic (I see no need to mention the name of the film outright), I suppose someone else will have to do it for him And, while I assume no responsibility for his actions — I don’t even

Nightmares (1980) DVD Review: Australia's Contribution to the Slasher/Giallo Genres

"Mama, mama, I keep having Nightmares. Mama, mama, mama, am I ill?"
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They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And, while they may be correct in their assumption, they obviously never saw Australia’s 1980 contribution to the slasher/giallo genre, Nightmares. Originally released in the U.S. under the title Stage Fright, this Ozploitation thriller begins with an adolescent lass named Cathy, who causes the demise of her mother (and her mum’s lover) after causing an automobile accident — and (inadvertently) finishing the job by rubbing her matriarch’s throat upon the shattered windshield. In the hospital, Cathy again embraces her dark side — slashing her own father’s face with broken glass.

We Bought a Zoo Blu-ray Review: A Whole Hell of a Lot Better Than Buying the Farm

A feel-good family flick that tries to make you feel a lot more than you need to. In fact, it gets downright pushy at times.
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As soon as you see the words “From the Director of Jerry Maguire” on the cover of We Bought a Zoo, you have to wonder if you’re about to step into a great big heaping pile of animal muck. Thankfully, though, such is not the case here. Well, not entirely, that is. The story here — based on a memoir of the same name by former British columnist Benjamin Mee — brings us the account of a widowed American father of two (Matt Damon), who packs up his children and belongings one day and moves into a charming, spacious new

Hornets' Nest DVD Review: Not Really Recommended, But Good for a Gander

Rock Hudson leads a group of orphaned Italian kids into war against the Nazis.
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As anyone that can even vaguely recollect their years in school can attest to, kids can be cruel. And Rock Hudson finds out the hard way in Hornets’ Nest, an all-but-forgotten Euro war flick originally released in 1970. Sporting his infamous ‘70s moustache for (presumably) the first time, the Rock stars here as the sole survivor of a doomed American unit dropped behind Nazi lines in Italy during World War II. Nearly killed along with all of his comrades after parachuting in (during footage that was excised from the final cut, and only survives in the trailer), Hudson is saved

Letter Never Sent Blu-ray Review: A Survival Flick from Russia?

A grandiose piece of Russian cinema that depicts the triumph of the human spirit.
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A survival flick from Russia? Well, I suppose if there was one civilization that has learned to adapt, it was the one that belonged to our cousins of the former Soviet Union — who had to endure many hardships from the formation of their state in 1922 until the dissolution of it in 1991. Midway through the Socialist regime, filmmaking — which had previously been controlled by the government — was beginning to flourish, and there were many pioneers finding their way behind the camera to film some of the most atmospheric and masterful productions most Americans have never seen.

The Descendants Blu-ray Review: A Dynamic Drama from Alexander Payne

A film that rightfully deserved the Oscar it won.
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Based on the debut novel of Hawaiian born writer Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants stars the always-great George Clooney as Matt King, a lawyer in Honolulu whose everyday, ordinary existence comes to a crashing halt when his wife falls into a coma following a motorboat accident. A self-described “back-up” parent, Matt now finds himself having to take care of his rebellious ten-year-old daughter, Scottie (Amara Miller) — an act he is completely unprepared for, as he is in the midst of a land deal with a major developer. The land in question — 25,000 acres of virgin Hawaiian land —

Savage Sisters (1974) DVD Review: Filipino Exploitation Madness

Another weird and wacky oddity from Eddie Romero.
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How does one even begin to describe Savage Sisters? Well, first off, it’s a film from the one and only Eddie Romero — the infamous Filipino schlock auteur responsible for the Blood Island movies — so that might give some of you reading this a clue as to what the movie will be like right then and there. Like several of Romero’s English-language exploitation productions, Savage Sisters features the late, great John Ashley in a prominent role. Here, Ashley (who also co-produced) co-stars as W.P. Billingsley, a shady Southern boy in a Banana Republic who introduces the story (as well

Anatomy of a Murder Criterion Collection DVD Review: Anatomy of a Classic

A film that brings justice to the genre of courtroom dramas.
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Surprisingly, during all those years that I spent sitting in front of my television as a kid, watching one classic film after another, Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder never found its way into my videocassette player. Even as I matured (if you want to call where I’m at in life “mature”), the 1959 courtroom drama still eluded my field of vision — finally finding its way to my world years later after it was inducted into the prestigious Criterion Collection. And now, some 25 years after I first saw it on the shelves and passed it up for some

The Town Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Double Dipping? You Bet Your Affleck It Is!

The new ending of the lengthier cut of the already-long two-hour-plus feature is an appropriate one -- but is it worth it?
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After making his feature-length directorial debut in 2007 with his crime drama Gone Baby Gone, many people started to believe that actor Ben Affleck was finally on his way to redeeming himself for movies like Pearl Harbor, Paycheck, and several other abominations that should have been titled Paycheck since that's all they really were. And then, in 2010, Ben ventured once more into the territory of onscreen thievery with The Town — a film based on Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, and one that was well-praised by moviegoers and critics alike. Personally, I thought The Town was an okay

Tooth Fairy 2 Blu-ray Review: Dumbfounding in its Dumbness

Larry the Cable Guy in a pink leotard farting fairy dust — yes, that's EXACTLY what I wanted to see.
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Someday, when we reach that climactic moment in history wherein we hold “comedian” like Larry the Cable Guy responsible for their crimes against humanity (i.e. the amputation of an entire nation’s collective moral and intelligence quotient), they can sit before a jury of open-minded individuals who aren’t amused by homophobic and racial slurs and try to justify making stupid, unwanted, direct-to-videos movies like Tooth Fairy 2. Yes, folks, Larry the Cable Guy — a guy whose racist redneck humor has been tarnishing the overall American image for far too long — has been cast in yet another kiddie film: an

I Melt with You Blu-ray Review: Unforeseeable and Unforgettable

A haunting masterpiece starring Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, and Christian McKay.
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Anyone who has ever experienced failure knows what it feels like. Sure, it’s relatively easy to get over a slight case of minor disappointment (like going to see an Adam Sandler movie and expecting something good), but what about those more disparaging events — you know, the ones that really get under your skin? I Melt with You focuses on that breakdown of life many individuals undergo at some point in life — though the way the movie’s protagonists handle their respective situations is not at all recommended by the Surgeon General, the Pope, or anyone with even an inkling

Wyatt Earp's Revenge DVD Review: Just Another Lousy Modern Western

A low-budget affair that really isn't worth your time.
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Can somebody please explain to me where the western genre went wrong? Even when I look at a really bad singing-cowboy movie from the early part of the 20th century, I still see them as being infinitely more dignified than their modern-day counterparts. Today’s major Hollywood projects — as decent as they occasionally are — are somewhat akin to old, worn-out gunfighters: bloated and sluggish, and whose efforts in life generally go by relatively unnoticed. And then there are those rampaging Made-for-TV and Direct-to-Video movies who roam the land like desperados evading the authorities near and far — movies like

Columbus Circle Blu-ray Review: A Turkey of a Thriller from Kevin Pollak

I'm afraid Columbus just doesn't succeed in coming to a full circle.
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Over twenty years ago, I saw the great Kevin Pollak for the first time on cable TV doing a killer parody of Star Trek. While I'm not the most ardent admirer of anyone (outside of Arch Hall, Jr. or Grady Sutton, that is), I do tend to watch a movie the actor/comedian is in -- if I know he's in it, that is. In the case of Columbus Circle, Pollak has returned to one of his lesser-known trades: the penning of a serious story. Unfortunately, as much as I like Mr. Pollak's work, I'm afraid Columbus just doesn't succeed in

The Roots of Heaven Blu-ray Review: John Huston Has an Off-Day

A forgotten flick from the 20th Century Fox vaults finally finds a home.
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"They have to capture, kill, destroy everything -- all that's beautiful has to go, all that's free. Soon we'll be alone on this Earth with nothing else left to destroy but ourselves." Those words, uttered by Trevor Howard towards the beginning of The Roots of Heaven are just as true today than they were in 1958 -- as is the message of John Huston's adaptation of Romain Gary's novel, Les Racines du Ciel. Filmed on location in Chad (the very heart of Africa), the big-budgeted Twentieth Century Fox film from producer Darryl F. Zanuck focuses on an preservationist named Morel

Rapture (1965) Blu-ray Review: A Forgotten, Poignant Masterpiece

Twilight Time brings us a genuine obscurity, and the results are hauntingly pleasing.
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Prior to the advent of home video, it was very easy for a movie to simply fall far into the deepest recesses of time, where they would lie in wait to be discovered many years later. Indeed, even after we were able to watch motion pictures in private, some movies still eluded us. One such title is 1965's Rapture -- an adaptation of Phyllis Hastings' Rapture in My Rags (oh, how I'm glad they didn't retain the original literary title!) directed by John Guillermin -- a film that most audiences have rarely had the opportunity to see outside of cable

J. Edgar Blu-ray Review: Bloated Hollywood Makeup Drama

A hodgepodge of powerhouse moments interjected with a lot of ho-hummery.
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Have you ever seen an overzealous costume drama that reveled in its own fantastical wardrobe department more than anything? Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar is kind of like that, only it gets caught up in its advanced makeup effects instead -- prompting me to declare it a "makeup drama." Like its clothing-oriented period-piece cousins, this Hollywood spectacle brings us a fictionalized account of the life of the notorious and enigmatic architect of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover. And a Tinseltown exhibition it is, too: in keeping up with the many other ambitious biopics that preceded it, J. Edgar

Mandrill Blu-ray Review: Chile's Contribution to the Neo-Grindhouse Genre

I'm something of a "Mandrill" myself, if you know what I mean.
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Americans aren't the only ones who can make modern grindhouse movies. Our cousins in Chile evidently took a cue from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's more recent endeavors and created this campy action flick that obviously is paying its respect to classic European crime dramas (and the Grand Theft Auto video game series, as one might note upon viewing the movie's choice of font for its credits), with the extremely agile Marko Zaror cast in the lead. Unfortunately, writer/producer/director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza's Mandrill doesn't hold a candle to its predecessors, and instead just comes off as something of a mess.

Looney Tunes Super Stars: Pepe Le Pew DVD Review: Le Win

Warner's barebones disc delivers pristine-looking shorts coupled with timeless laughs.
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As some of us sit and wonder if we'll ever see one über-definitive ginormous anthology that delivers every Looney Tunes short ever made, we have little choice but to settle for individually themed titles, such as the Looney Tunes Super Stars series. While Warner Brothers have released several dozen different Looney Tunes packages on DVD over the last ten years, it would appear that the character of Pepé Le Pew had always been placed on the back burner for said sets -- only making an appearance here and there, but never receiving his own collection. Fortunately, that blunder has been

The Son of No One Blu-ray Review: "Meh, I Saw That One Coming"

The writer/director and star of Fighting reunite to bring us something just as boring.
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New York City-based filmmaker Dito Montiel teams up once again with Channing Tatum -- his star of 2009's Fighting -- to bring us another hard-hitting look at life on the wrong side of the tracks in The Son of No One. This time 'round, the rarely animated Tatum takes the lead as a cop in Queens with a troubled past and a nagging wife (Katie Holmes, one of many turn-offs this movie's cast has to offer) and a physically ill daughter at home. While things are hardly 100% kosher for Channing to begin with, his professional and personal lives grow

The Deadly Spawn Blu-ray Review: A Wonderful Slice of Gory, Cheapo '80s Sci-Fi / Horror that Delivers

Elite Entertainment returns from the grave with a disappointing "High-Def" release.
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One of the most cherished memories of my mostly-wasted teenage years was the time I spent renting obscure horror and science fiction movies from the video store. Back then, there were several video stores in the small community I lived in, and the bigger ones offered a "five movies (on VHS) for five days for five dollars" package. Seeing that I was already a very mad-about-motion-pictures kind of lad, I was back at the store every other day (my visits were sometimes more frequent than that -- there wasn't much else for me to do, folks), and my list of

Treasure Train Blu-ray Review: I'm Being Punished for Something, I Know It

What, they can't find a good print of The Secret of Magic Island, but they can release THIS on Blu-ray?
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Normally, I'm one to welcome a kooky French flick with open arms and baguette. In the case of the French/Canadian co-production Treasure Train, originally known as The Emperor of Peru, I couldn't help but feel I was being punished for something -- though I'm not sure what dastardly sin I committed to incur the wrath of this unforgiving kiddie film. The story mostly centers on a trio of young children: a brother and sister named Toby and Liz (and played, respectively by Jonathan Starr and Anick -- who, thankfully, never went on to do anything ever again), and a Cambodian

Ferry to Hong Kong DVD Review: The Beginning of the End for Orson Welles

One of the rare films where German great Curd Jürgens plays a good guy.
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Just one year after the disastrous debut of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil in 1958, the mighty auteur found himself in Ferry to Hong Kong, a low-budget British production set and filmed in the Orient. Co-written and directed by Lewis Gilbert, who later went on to helm the James Bond movies You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker. Reminding me of the finale of The Three Stooges short Dizzy Pilots, wherein Moe Howard was covered in rubber and accidentally turned into a human balloon, Welles (complete with a ridiculous English accent) overdoes it to no end

Five Star Day Blu-ray Review: A Movie About Life, Love, and Manure

Any movie that has a lounge singer is OK by me.
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Anyone who has ever glanced at their horoscope can attest those astrological predictions are not always what they're cracked up to be. In fact, they are usually pretty cracked themselves. For poor Jake Gibson (Cam Gigandet, desperately trying to find a star attraction in order to wipe Twilight off his résumé), his horoscope couldn't be any more inaccurate. Promoting a five-star day, complete with the promise of an improvement in his professional and personal lives, Jake's day only results in him getting laid off; returning home only to find his girlfriend getting laid. And so, Jake sets out to prove

Survive! DVD Review: Mexploitation Cannibal Goodness with Hugo Stiglitz

Best fit for a gloomy, snowed-in afternoon with a raw steak at your disposal.
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Some of you may remember the 1993 film Alive, which depicted a Hollywood account of the fateful Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 disaster of 1972. Seventeen years prior, Mexican exploitation filmmaker René Cardona produced a feature called Supervivientes de los Andes, which was released in America under the strikingly-similar-to-the-1993-title-Alive, Survive! (exclamation point included). Mexi/Euro superstar Hugo Stiglitz stars in this low-budget tale of survival, which was written for the screen by Cardona's son, René, Jr, who also brought us several other exploitative class-icks such as Beaks: The Movie, Guyana: Cult of the Damned, and The Night of a Thousand Cats

The Rebound (2009) Blu-ray Review: A MILF and a Twentysomething Guy Walk into a Movie...

Hey, Catherine Zeta-Jones can use me for rebound sex any day.
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Yup, it's another chick flick, kids. But what sets The Rebound apart from its multiple competitors out there is that this title tackles that often-taboo subject of an older woman bedding a younger fellow. Now, having been a cougar and MILF (not to mention psycho) magnet for many, many years, I can wholly relate to this premise -- and the moment wherein 25-year-old Aram Finkelstein (Justin Bartha) is being razzed by the friends of his twenty-years-his-senior girlfriend, Sandy (Catherine Zeta-Jones), brought back a irksome memory or two. The appealing part of the segment, of course, was that Aram is a

The Thousand Plane Raid DVD Review: An Ode to Stock Footage

A weak WWII flick that only succeeds in dropping the wrong kind of bomb.
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Sometimes, you just have to praise the almighty gods of film for the invention of stock footage. Having such a library of miscellaneous stuff on-hand is essential for movie and television producers, especially when they're establishing a location shot. Let's say a certain segment of a movie or TV show takes place in Thailand, but the cast and crew never so much as leave the confines of Hollywood. All one has to do is cue up some decades-old film that somebody shot whilst they were on vacation in Bangkok visiting and insert that footage with newly-shot studio scenes. It's that

Fright Night (1985) Blu-ray Review: Already Hard-to-Find, but Definitely Worth It

Twilight Time presents us with another wonderful HD release.
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Though most of his efforts to the world of film have been forgettable at best since, Tom Holland definitely made his mark on the map with his 1985 horror/comedy, Fright Night. Sure, Tom also brought us the original Child's Play (a wonderful notion, but one that became obscured once those awful sequels started being made) and the television mini-series of Stephen King's The Langoliers, but neither of those entries have anywhere near the bite (pardon the pun) that this campy vampire thriller has. To this day, I still remember being thoroughly impressed with the feature when my older brother brought

Zone Troopers DVD Review: Nazis, Aliens, and Tim Thomerson, Too!

A wonderful tale from Charles Band and the makers of The Rocketeer.
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It seems that, if there's a certain movie I want that hasn't been released on DVD yet, all I have to do is find an old videocassette of it and -- lo and behold -- I find out the very next day that it's due out as part of a Manufactured-on-Demand lineup. It's happened to me several times already, with Zone Troopers being the most recent. Here I was fortunate enough to find a good copy of the film on VHS from the ol' Lightning Video label in a video store one day, only to read the announcement that MGM

Gog DVD Review: The Final Chapter in Ivan Tors' OSI Trilogy

A good pick for the fan of vintage '50s sci-fi.
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In September of 2003, I made one of my few trips away from home to attend the World 3D Film Expo I in Hollywood, CA at the historical Egyptian Theater. I wasn't able to afford tickets for all of the movies presented at the nine-day festival -- which really didn't matter since all of the really "famous" films were sold out anyway -- but I was able to see three B-grade science fiction flicks from the '50s: the infamous Robot Monster (one of my all-time favorites), the equally-bad Cat-Women of the Moon, and the critically-complimented 1954 Gog, directed by Herbert

Mercenary Fighters DVD Review: When Cannon Films Roamed the Earth

Peter Fonda and Reb Brown "star" in another embarrassing Golan-Globus dud.
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Back when the mystical movie workshop of the Cannon Group was still goin' strong, the filmmaking duo of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus cranked out one B-movie action flick after another. Anyone who can vividly recall strolling through the aisles of a video store during the glorious days of VHS may also remember seeing the familiar Cannon logo on a number of videocassette sleeves, which were usually found on Media and MGM/UA releases. For some, the Cannon mark meant you pretty much knew what you were getting into should you have decided to rent one of their features. Low budgets,

Jerry Lewis as The Jazz Singer (1959) DVD Review: Jerry Sings? Oy Vey!

A genuine prize for any Lewis lover.
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Yes, you read that right: Jerry Lewis as The Jazz Singer. As if the 1980 musical version of Samson Raphaelson's famous play with Neil Diamond wasn't enough to have you rushing to the supermarket to buy a pound of bacon, you have to wonder what it'll be like with Jerry Lewis in the starring role. One glance at the title alone makes you wonder if it isn't some kind of parody as opposed to a being a bona fide "serious" offering -- and anyone who has ever witnessed Martin Short's excellent lampooning of Mr. Lewis will immediately wonder if this

Division III: Football's Finest Blu-ray Review: Andy Dick Jokes Do Not a Movie Make

I can't even see college brahs owning this one in their library.
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For those of you who have ever found themselves lying awake in bed, unable to sleep, fathoming mysteries such as "Who in their right mind would hire Andy Dick to star in their movie?," your ship has just sailed in with Division III: Football's Finest. Marshall Cook, a young lad who produced and edited House Arrest with Andy Dick, has somehow felt the urge to expand a short film he made with Dick in 2006 (also called Division III) about a vile creature named Rick Vice who is hired to coach one of the nation's worst college football teams ever

The Big Year Blu-ray Review: One of the Best Family-Friendly Comedies of 2011. Seriously!

Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson prove they still have something to give.
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As Adolfo Celi's Emile Largo once said to Sean Connery's James Bond in Thunderball, "Every man has his passion." Now, why did I just reference my all-time favorite 007 flick in a review for an unsuccessful comedy starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson? Actually -- and this is going to sound weird given the films some of the three headlining comedians of this feature have produced as of late -- I found The Big Year to be one of the best comedies 2011, and one that the entire family can safely enjoy. In fact, as I look at

Mysterious Island (1961) Blu-ray Review: Herbert Lom as Captain Nemo? Sold!

Twilight Time joyfully fills that gap in your Ray Harryhausen Blu-ray collection.
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During the '50s and '60s, Hollywood was experimenting with one crazy newfangled idea after another: CinemaScope, surround sound, Jerry Lewis films, etc. Special effects, too, were breaking new grounds during this Atomic Age of filmmaking, and one young lad in particular -- a feller by the name of Ray Harryhausen -- quickly rose to become one of the most popular FX gurus in film history. Another lad -- one who had ceased to be amongst the living quite some time before -- was also a hot item: Jules Verne, the famous French science-fiction pioneer who had passed away in 1905.

10 Things I Hate About You: Season One, Volume Two DVD Review: Canceled Too Soon?

Look at it this way: it's completely free of Julia Stiles and her patented pouty face!
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Wait, they made a series out of that movie? Indeed they did! For those of us who don't bother paying outrageous monthly fees in order to keep up with the latest crap television networks dish out to otherwise intelligent audiences on an hourly basis, it may interest you to know that Disney turned their 1999 hit teen drama 10 Things I Hate About You into a TV show ten years after its source of inspiration came and went. In hindsight, their timing probably wasn't the best: the family dramedy was a short-lived one, lasting only a single season and twenty

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star Blu-ray Review: A Cinematic Ipecac

So bad, it makes "It's Pat" look like a classic.
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Dear Adam Sandler; Go to Hell. Please. For reals. Sincerely,Me When I first saw the previews for Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star -- the latest travesty from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions -- I thought to myself, "Whoa, that's gonna be a rough one." Soon, I heard what filmgoers and critics alike were saying about it. It wasn't good. It was nowhere near good. In fact, the publicity this flick was getting was so bad, that I simply had to see it for myself. Turns out that they were right: it's an awful flick. If Adam Sandler and

The Black Cobra / No Survivors Please DVD Review: Two Kooky Titles from West Germany

VCI wisely pairs up two forgotten curiosities -- and the results are pleasing.
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Sometimes, I get this urge. A longing to sit back and switch off the more cerebral functions of that which all my therapists have claimed was in desperate need of some good medication and just watch some crazy old imports from Europe. They don't have to be great, but they do have to be dubbed into English. And I prefer them to be in black and white, especially if they tend to be a bit on the noir side and were made in what we used to call West Germany (you know, the nice ones). Oh, hey, what's this? VCI's

Columbus Circle Comes to Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand March 6, 2012

Selma Blair leads an all-star cast in a suspenseful murder mystery from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
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On March 6, 2012, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will unveil its latest thriller, Columbus Circle. Starring the talents of Selma Blair (Hellboy), Giovanni Ribisi (Contraband, Saving Private Ryan), Amy Smart (The Butterfly Effect, Varsity Blues), and Jason Lee (Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked, TV's My Name is Earl), Columbus Circle is a dark, suspenseful tale of an agoraphobic heiress in Manhattan (Blair), who is unwittingly forced to meet her high-rise neighbors when a murder is committed. In order to escape the hounding public and press, Abigail (Blair), the famous daughter of a wealthy industrialist, secluded herself in her Manhattan loft

Colombiana DVD Review: Uninspired, but with a Decent Soundtrack

Luc Besson amalgamates all of his previous films into one.
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They say you start to repeat yourself as you get older. This is evidently the case with Luc Besson, the pioneering French filmmaker who brought us such gems as La Femme Nikita, Subway, and Leon (aka The Professional) in the '80s and '90s. As I watched the low-key 2011 release of Colombiana -- wherein Monsieur Besson served as a co-writer and producer -- I couldn't help but get a certain feeling of déjà vu. The story here tells of a young Columbian woman (Zoë Saldana) whose parents were murdered before her eyes in the '80s, and has since grown into

Body Puzzle DVD Review: Gory Goofy Great

A wacky half-giallo/half-horror offering from Lamberto Bava.
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Listening to Modest Mussorgsky's powerful "Night on Bald Mountain" can prompt men to do very strange things. In the case of Walt Disney, it inspired him to whip hallucinating animators into making Fantasia. For one particular tortured young soul (François Montagut), however, listening to the strains of the aforementioned famous classical composition urges him to kill seemingly-random people with a nice big shiny kitchen knife. But he doesn't stop there. Oh, no. This assailant likes to take a souvenir from each of his victims -- hands, livers, stuff like that -- which he wraps up and "hand" delivers to an

In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds Blu-ray Review: Uwe Boll is Back, and Badder than Ever!

It's Dolph Lundgren vs. the Renaissance Faire rejects.
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While many moviegoers and critics alike curse the fact that he was ever born in the first place, I think the real shame is that Uwe Boll was born when he was. His infamous, rapidly manufactured brand of B-Grade movies are generally considered to be the bane of modern filmmaking by a majority of people; who, I should point out, are the same folks that willingly pay to see Tom Cruise films. Now, had the German filmmaker been brought into our world a few decades sooner, I fully believe he would have produced a number of mind-blowing exploitation movies during

Great White Death DVD Review: A Silly Sharksploitation Schlockumentary

CFS Releasing drops the ball by giving us an out-of-sync Glenn Ford.
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After the astonishing success of Steven Spielberg's Jaws in 1975, budget filmmakers around the world were determined to jump out into the money shower that ensued and grab a few falling coins. Some folks took the exact same premise of cinema's very first summer blockbuster and created their own version (whether it was in the water or on the land), some re-released already-made feature films that contained a man-eater in it (or at least the threat of one) and unleashed a re-titled bore upon unsuspecting moviegoers, while others copied the original film so blatantly that they were sued by Universal

The Left Hand of God DVD Review: Another Fine Humphrey Bogart Flick

Wait, Bogie? As a priest? Well, not quite.
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Upon one's initial glance at the cover of Edward Dmytryk's The Left Hand of God, the common goad is to ask "Wait, this movie has Humphrey Bogart playing a priest?" Well, yes and no. The story starts out with a lone Man of the Cloth (Bogie) trotting along in a rainy, Chinese mountains -- with a gun. Shortly after he literally loses his ass, he finds his way to a remote village, wherein he introduces himself as Father O'Shea, the new spiritual leader of the local parish. But that's only half true: O'Shea is actually American World War II pilot

Straw Dogs (2011) DVD Review: How to Ruin a Classic

A superb guide for all future filmmakers of the world: "Don't let this happen to you."
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Generally, when the modern-day monarchs of Hollywood decide to remake a classic motion picture, they opt to "re-envision" it instead of simply redoing something that somebody had already done before. They change the names of the characters, set their re-imagined stories in different locations, and usually add an altogether new tale all around. It's kind of like a witness protection program, really. In the case of Straw Dogs, the 2011 remake of Sam Peckinpah's unforgettable, groundbreaking tale from forty years before, screenwriter/director Rod Lurie decided to dispense with the "adding any originality" procedure into his feature -- giving us a

Design for Living Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: A Delightfully Risque Pre-Hayes Code Romp

Criterion brings us a lovely HD release of Ernst Lubitsch's 1933 romantic comedy.
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"It's amazing how a few insults can bring people together in three hours." "It was certainly good to hear all the names you called me. I haven't heard 'em since I left Father and Mother." Sometimes, I forget that the motion picture industry even had a pre-Hayes Code era, so when a movie from the early '30s is displayed before my eyes and mentions the (soon-to-be-forbidden) act of fornication between two guys and a gal, I can't help but smack the side of my head like you would an old tube television that was on the fritz. Shortly after I

Santa Claus (1959) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Who Needs LSD When You Have This?

"To avoid fainting, keep repeating: 'It's only a movie... It's only a movie'."
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It is frequently hailed as one of the weirdest Christmas movies ever made. It was lampooned in the mid '90s on a memorable episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. And its spirit -- Yuletide or otherwise -- simply refuses to lay down and die. It's Santa Claus, a truly bizarre Mexican fantasy film from 1959, directed by the venerable filmmaker René Cardona, who brought many projects to life over his long and illustrious career -- including all kinds of dramas, comedies, Luchador films, horror flicks, exploitation titles, and this. But what is this? Well, it's not an easy one to

Murder Obsession (Follia Omicida) DVD Review: Hey, Logic is for Losers!

Riccardo Freda's final outing is a wonderfully wacky mess of mayhem.
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Michael Stanford (Stefano Patrizi) is a young actor who occasionally suffers from strange flashbacks concerning the death of his father, a noted orchestral conductor who everyone referred to as "the Maestro," and whom Michael murdered in order to protect his mother. After the nearly-disastrous last day of shooting on his new film -- wherein Michael almost accidentally strangles a beautiful young actress to death, he makes an effort to get away from it all by doing just that: getting away from it all. And so, Michael's off to his mother's remote estate along with his whiny girlfriend, Deborah (Silvia Dionisio),

WWII Double Feature: Jungle Patrol / Silent Raiders DVD Review: Two Forgotten Gems from VCI

A fine pairing of World War II quickies.
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I have many guilty pleasures when it comes to film. Cliffhanger serials, Italian horror movies, European spy flicks -- I love 'em all. And, apart from kicking back at the end of the day to shut my brain off to a vintage b-grade western, one of my favorite ways to idly stare at the TV for hours on end is to watch a classic war film. Not so much the big-budgeted color spectacles with famous faces and runtimes the length of the California coast line, though. No, sir: I like my war films to be low-budget, black and white, short,

Golden Needles DVD Review: Joe Don Baker Kicks Ass in Hong Kong

A strange but unbalanced combination of noir and comedy from the makers of Enter the Dragon.
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Golden Needles is one of those movies that could have been better -- memorable, even -- had any of its crew actually cared enough to give a damn. Co-penned by former television writer S. Lee Pogostin and helmed by Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse, Golden Needles is one of many motion pictures produced and distributed following the death of Bruce Lee -- a time when American filmmakers and moviegoers were experiencing a sudden Asian craze. They even bring in Enter the Dragon co-star Jim Kelly -- who was in the middle of his short but unique career -- for

The Stunt Man (1980) DVD Review: One of the Best Damn Movies Ever. Ever.

Reality and fantasy collide in Richard Rush's masterful epic.
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Director Richard Rush had a vision. He wanted to adapt The Stunt Man, a novel by Paul Brodeur, into a feature film. Unfortunately, studio executives were, naturally, apprehensive about backing him because they just didn't know what it was -- and it took a good nine years for Rush to get the project underway. Filmed in 1978, but not released until 1980 (chalk up another score for the studio heads, kids), The Stunt Man is an utterly absorbing and fascinating journey into "subjective reality" -- one that has so many underlying elements about the human psyche going on, it's easy

The Rules of the Game (1939) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Jean Renoir, Je T'aime

The Criterion Collection brings us a constructive release of this reconstructed classic.
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I have no choice but to dismiss you. It breaks my heart, but I can't expose my guests to your firearms. It may be wrong of them, but they value their lives. - Marquis Robert de la Cheyniest (Marcel Dalio) to his trigger-happy groundskeeper, Edouard Schumacher (Gaston Modot). Anyone who's even remotely familiar with the Internet knows that it's pretty easy to find just about anything you're looking for -- from snow tires to prostitutes. It's also very common to see something shocking on the ol' Information Superhighway. Why, within mere minutes of his demise, images of the late Muammar

Ghost Warrior DVD Review: Like a Corny Tabloid Headline Come to Life

A forgotten "fish out of water" tale from the boys in the Band family.
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Based on an idea by low-budget filmmaker Charles Band, the fanciful Ghost Warrior is a spin on the timeless "fish out of water" tale -- things that were later perfected (and subsequently hashed) by filmmakers in the '90s. We begin with a noble 16th Century samurai warrior (Hiroshi Fujioka) receiving a seemingly fatal slice of death after a failed attempt at rescuing his wife. Falling into the icy water below, Yoshimitsu is discovered in the frozen wastes of Japan four centuries later and brought back to life by a experimental cryogenics lab that uses laser light show projectors to revive

Enter the Ninja DVD Review: "So, Who Are You Going to Kill Next, Mr. Ninja?"

An epic, illustrious failure from Cannon Films and Golan-Globus.
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Some movies are born unto greatness, achieving staggering heights of recognition rarely ever matched by imitators -- the likes of which seem to have been born solely to orally copulate and feast upon large, economy-sized containers of male genitalia. And then there are those other movies -- like 1981's ode to embarrassment, Enter the Ninja -- that are so utterly awful, they attain their own manner of renown. Put simply, Enter the Ninja is so bad, it's good -- and we can thank the infamous Cannon Film Group and the production team of Golan-Globus for bestowing this unforgettable "martial arts

Kill a Dragon DVD Review: Don't Train It; Kill it!

A low-budget Seven Samurai made for the 007 market and starring Jack Palance as the good guy. What's not to like?
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"Look, Limey: you swish your way, and I'll swish mine!" --Vigo (Aldo Ray) in drag, upset at being told how to sway his hips to make a more convincing woman. Aside from the drugs, music, political unrest, and sex, the '60s were perhaps best known for the persona of the swingin' secret agent type of feller -- a guise that men around the world dreamt of living up to, and filmmakers were keen to cash in on. Once Sean Connery stepped into the shoes of James Bond 007, it opened the floodgates for other actors to try to invoke his

Frankenhooker Blu-ray Review: Nobody Makes Movies Like Frank Henenlotter!

An uproarious parody of classic horror/sci-fi films that's been given a sizeable dose of supercrack.
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There aren't very many movies out there that have been publicly endorsed by both Joe Bob Briggs and Bill Murray. As a matter of fact, I can only think of two: Frank Henenlotter's Frankenhooker and, er -- nope, there's just that one, actually. When it first premiered way back in 1990 (Christ, has it been that long now?), this bizarre, comedic variation on the timeless tale of Frankenstein with oodles of breasts and crack thrown in for good measure gained a great deal of gratitude from the likes of a certain gonzo drive-in movie critic, as well as the famous

Stagecoach (1966) DVD Review: The Version Everyone Forgot About

Twilight Time brings us a beautiful transfer for a rather underrated remake of the John Ford classic.
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There's just something about redheaded women that make men want to fight over 'em. Within the first few minutes of the 1966 version of Stagecoach, we witness two Calvary soldiers fight each other to the death over a young ginger named Dallas (Ann-Margret). Just then, Calvary Captain Mallory (John Gabriel, who was the Professor in the original Gilligan's Island pilot) jaunts in and recommends the dancing girl of ill repute leave town on the next available stagecoach. The angry Calvary leader advises the same of several prominent witnesses to the double murder, as well -- including a white-suited gambler (and

The Last Gun / 4 Dollars of Revenge Blu-ray Review: A Double Dose of Mediocrity

Where the hell is Franco Nero when you need him?
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When someone hears the phrase "Spaghetti Western," there's a damn good chance a vision of Clint Eastwood wearing a poncho will pop into their head. And it's for good reason, too: those epic Sergio Leone classics starring Clint Eastwood are -- in all probability -- the most well-known Euro western titles to audiences worldwide. Indeed, the first Leone/Eastwood collaboration, A Fistful of Dollars is generally considered to be the first spaghetti western to achieve recognition in the U.S. But it wasn't the first spaghetti western made; between 1960 to 1980, the collective film industries of Europe produced and released approximately

Quigley Down Under Blu-ray Review: Yet Another Reason Tom Selleck Kicks Ass

An adroit tale of an American sharpshooter in the Australian Outback.
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"This ain't Dodge City -- and you ain't Bill Hickok." --Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck) confronts his former one-time employer, Elliott Marsden (Alan Rickman), in a dramatic showdown. The history of the American western in film has experienced a fair share of instability over the years. It seems that, once we reached out into the starry void of outer space, we gave up giving a rat's ass about cowboys, Indians, and the genocidal war that took place between the two. Several western flicks have surfaced over the last 30+ years -- many of which attempted to revive the sleeping genre in

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) Blu-ray Review: "Gesundeidt"

The Definitive Version.
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When you look at the cinematic contributions Walter Matthau left behind upon his death in 2000, one tends to commonly think of his roles alongside Jack Lemmon -- particularly their comedies like The Odd Couple and Grumpy Old Men. And, while those timeless tales of two men constantly bickering back and forth are remembered for good reason, there's a whole other serious side of acting that Matthau put forth over the years as well. One look at a classic like Charley Varrick should give you an inkling of what Walter was capable of when he didn't clown around -- to

Malone (1987) DVD Review: Hey, Little Sister, Shotgun?

We all die Malone and afraid.
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Anyone who grew up in the '80s probably remembers seeing a certain videocassette in the stores at one point or another, depicting a very angry, injured Burt Reynolds with a furious appearance upon his moustached kisser and brandishing a shotgun in mid-blast. Why, if you were to glance at a Polaroid I snapped of my room from the days of my (in all likelihood) misspent youth, you would notice a promotional display for the movie hanging from the ceiling. And yet, just like several other cinematic offerings starring Loni Anderson's former celebrity hubby from that particular period in time, I

The Stool Pigeon (2010) Blu-ray Review: Contemporary Hong Kong Action at its Finest

Director Dante Goes on the Lam from All the Beastliness.
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It's rare that a movie can employ that timeless-yet-tired ol' Yuletide tune, "White Christmas," and actually not make you want to throw up. It's also unusual to see a film by Hong Kong filmmaker Dante Lam -- the man responsible for such classics as Beast Cops, The Twins Effect (also known as Vampire Effect), and Beast Stalker -- to take a step back from his usual motif of infusing his own moving pictures with that certain amount of weird beastliness he typically tends to use. Nevertheless Dante goes on the Lam here from all that horror/fantasy stuff in order to

The Mysterious Monsters DVD Review: Peter Graves Hunts for Bigfoot!

A must for fans of absolute nonsense and misguided edification.
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How would you set about trying to prove the existence of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster to skeptics and non-believers? Well, if you're at all like the people behind the 1976 "documentary" The Mysterious Monsters, you do the one thing that would surely invite people to accept your rather-baseless theories and flimsy facts with: you'd hire none other than Peter Graves to host and narrate your feature, sending the former Mission: Impossible star all over the United States to interview reported real-life witnesses of Sasquatch encounters and honest to goodness scientists to provide all kinds of irrefutable evidence. Made
If you've ever seen some of the god-awful movies that independent film studio Crown International Pictures released like The Beast of Yucca Flats, The Creeping Terror, or They Saved Hitler's Brain, you may have pondered the age-old question: "What they fuck were these guys thinking?" Well, while the more "traditional" film historians out there will continue to vomit over the mere mention of some of the movies Crown released over the years, we B-movie lovers will prolong to show our adoration for enduring class-icks such as 1980's sci-fi sex romp, Galaxina, and 1977's throwback to '50s horror, The Crater Lake

The River Murders DVD Review: All Kinds of Awful

A seminar in embarrassment with Prof. Ray Liotta, Dr. Ving Rhames, and Christian Slater.
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I vaguely recall a time wherein actors Ray Liotta, Ving Rhames, and Christian Slater were slightly admired -- maybe even revered -- for their contributions to the film industry. Well, two of 'em were appreciated. OK, one. No, wait, I think the jury's still out on that. Nevertheless, the quality of moving pictures that the three aforementioned performers have been appearing in has dwindled over the years. Actually, maybe "sunk" or "plummet" would be more appropriate. Well, whatever verb, adjective, or noun you may chose to use in order to describe the sense of class inhabiting movies like The River

My Cousin Rachel (1952) DVD Review: A Victorian Era Psychological Thriller?

Not to be confused with My Cousin Vinnie.
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What's this? A Victorian Era psychological thriller from the writer of Rebecca and The Birds? Why, yes, indeed! Based on Daphne du Maurier's then-new novel of the same name, My Cousin Rachel brings us a tale of mystery and romance starring Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton, set in Cornwall, England in the latter half of the 19th Century. Nobleman Philip Ashley (Burton, in his first American role -- a part which prompted the movie's theatrical trailer to promote him as "a bright new star") has always admired his older cousin Ambrose (John Sutton), who raised him to be the

The Flim-Flam Man (1967) DVD Review: George C. Scott at His Most Amusing

Twilight Time releases the never-before-released cult classic to DVD as a limited exclusive.
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"You can sell anything on God's green Earth if a customer believes it's stolen." --George C. Scott as Mordecai C. Jones, flim-flam man. Based on Guy Owen's novel, The Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man, this light-hearted 1967 rural romp brings us the tale of fast-talkin' con-man Mordecai C. Jones, a "Master of Back-Stabbing, Cork-Screwing and Dirty-Dealing" (and played to the hilt by George C. Scott) who wanders from county to county in the South, relieving people of any financial weight they may have in their pockets. The story here -- as written by William Rose, who also penned such classics

Sugar Hill (1974) DVD Review: The Grandmother of All '70s Blaxploitation Zombie Flicks!

Hey Sugar: do do that voodoo that you do so well!
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"I give you your revenge! Put them to evil use; it's all they know -- or want." - Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley), upon having resurrected a group of creepy pinball-eyed machete-wielding corpses. In this age of increasingly dull, incredibly monotonous films depicting zombies as mindless, fast-moving, brain-eatin' hoards, it's hard to imagine there was a time when motion pictures about the living dead contained no flesh consumption whatsoever -- and that legions of reanimated carcasses served an objective in (after)life. It's also difficult to picture that we once had cinematic offerings featuring revived stiffs that were actually as enjoyable

The Howling: Reborn Blu-ray Review: Direct-to-Video meets Direct-to-Bargain-Bin

They should have included a free pooper-scooper, so that it could be disposed of properly.
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From the very first frame, it's clear to even a single-celled organism with a solitary intelligence quota point that The Howling: Reborn is an ode to incompetence. The Direct-to-Video wonder -- helmed by an unknown, untalented writer/director named Joe Nimziki -- is nothing more than a bunglingly bad and all-too-obvious attempt to meld the worlds of Harry Potter and Twilight along with just about any other semi-popular motion picture fad they could think of. All one has to do is note the presence of Harry and Bella look-alikes as the lead "teenagers" here and listen to any of the movie's

Act of Vengeance (1974) DVD Review: Watch Out, Men, 'Cuz the Rape Squad is Here!

Guaranteed to have you waltzing in to take a hot shower once it's over.
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Filmmaker Bob Kelljan started off with a promising enough career at AIP Studios in 1970 writing and directing the cult classic Count Yorga, Vampire -- a highlight of '70s horror cinema that Kelljan followed up the following year with a sequel, The Return of Count Yorga (which he also wrote and directed). Two years after that, Bob found himself directing yet another sequel, though this time, it was to a funky AIP bloodsucker that wasn't of his own devise; that of the hip Blacula in Scream Blacula Scream. And then, just as swiftly as his vocation manufacturing big-screen horrors began,

Book Review: The Vampire Film: From Nosferatu to True Blood - A Highly Recommended Reference Book

Alain Silver and James Ursini have revised their already wonderful book to include several recent entries of vampire lore.
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Recently in the history of our humble little planet, we've witnessed a ruthless dictator's toppling demise, the occupation of Wall Street by protestors, the threat of a complete shut-down of the government, and two -- two -- incredibly bizarre (not to mention highly inaccurate) promises of the end of the world by the same Christian nutjob (which many people actually fell for the first time 'round). It's madness, to say the very least. And yet, despite all the daily dangers to economies and budgets around the world, there's something comforting and buoyant over reference books about vampires in the motion

Grayeagle DVD Review: Charles B. Pierce's Faux Native American, er, "Epic"

Is that red face paint you're wearing, or are you really that embarrassed to be in this movie?
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During the last portion of the 20th Century, filmmakers became slightly attracted to the notion of making moving pictures about Native Americans -- or, as Mel Brooks would delicately describe them in his spoof of the cowboy picture genre, Blazing Saddles: "those little red devils." Indeed, American Indians had long been present on film since the earliest B-Western first appeared on matinee screens more towards the beginning of the 1900s, though they were almost always portrayed in a negative light; barbaric, scalping fiends brought to life by the most non-native-looking white men possessing the largest noses that Hollywood schmucks could

Straw Dogs (1971) Blu-ray Review: Don't Mess With Dustin Hoffman, Dammit!

A fine-looking transfer that sadly, lacks any remarkable features.
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This is where I live. This is me. I will not allow violence against this house. Don't worry. --David Summer (Dustin Hoffman), shortly before turning into a passive-aggressive creature of merciless cruelty. The raw human emotion of hate. The violence. Those nipples. While all of those key ingredients may be noticeably absent in the lackluster Hollywood blockbuster remake of the same name, they are still present in Sam Peckinpah's original Straw Dogs. In fact, those very sale delimiting elements will most likely always be present -- no matter how old this memorable, gritty, controversial cult classic gets. Here we are,

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) Blu-ray Review: Why Bother?

Why should Disney put any effort into a film that couldn't even get its own story straight to begin with?
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One of the delightful things many people enjoy when watching vintage flicks from the Golden Age of Hollywood is spotting the occasional goof or anachronism. Whether it be a visible wire in a "special effects" shot, a car in the background of the Old West, or a telephone pole on the moon, the odd flaw makes even some of the more wretched movies from yesteryear amusing. Such a sight is much less common in our modern age of filmmaking, though, so it's doubly laughable when you encounter a "newer" film that is littered with so many chronological mistakes and errs

The Tempest (2010) Blu-ray Review: A Nightmare of Pretentiousness

I'll stick to Forbidden Planet if it's all the same to you.
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In the recent Big Box of Wood release from S'More Entertainment, filmmaker/Ed Wood historian Ted Newsom commented that, while Wood's dialogue seldom wandered into the territory of greatness, it would have ultimately made more of a favorable impression had it been read by professional actors. In watching Julie Taymor's interpretation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, however, I observed a similar, though adverse notion: even the world's best dialogue can be ruined by staggeringly horrendous overacting and a smug aura of farty pretentiousness. Yes, I know I just mentioned Ed Wood and William Shakespeare in the same paragraph. But hey, they're both

Hong Kong Confidential (1958) DVD Review: Pour Yourself a Martini and Enjoy the Fun!

We just passed platinum and went straight on to the diamond level, baby!
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By 1958, Gene Barry had already established himself as something of a star among moviegoers, having won The War of the Worlds and chased down a moonshining Robert Mitchum in Thunder Road -- to say nothing of wooing Angie Dickinson at China Gate whilst starring alongside jazz icon Nat "King" Cole. Despite all those accomplishments, Gene's own singing talent had never been fully exploited by the entertainment industry. And then, somewhere around the same time his spell as Bat Masterson hit television airwaves, Gene Barry would hone in on some of the skills he would perfect in Burke's Law as

Hickey & Boggs DVD Review: Definitely Worth Checking Out

Bill Cosby and Robert Culp are positively stellar in this ignored, neo-noir detective story.
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"Nobody came." "Nobody cares." --Bill Cosby and Robert Culp as Al Hickey & Frank Boggs (respectively), ironically predicting how the film would fare at the box office. In the fall of 1972, audiences were thrilled to learn actors Robert Culp and Bill Cosby -- the stars of hit '60s espionage series, I Spy -- were teaming up once again to play a pair of detectives in the movie Hickey & Boggs. Unfortunately, all of the excitement about the movie died just as soon as the curtains in the auditorium went up or they read the reviews in the newspaper the

The Incredible Melting Man DVD Review: "Epically Awful" at its Finest

MGM's MOD DVD-R is A-OK.
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"Magnificent! You've never seen anything until you've seen the sun through the rings of Saturn!" --Alex Rebar as astronaut Steve West, shortly before returning to Earth and malforming into a big pile of goo. There are countless "bad" movies out there. I should know; I've seen a lot of them. But, when it comes to The Incredible Melting Man, there's simply no way to accurately describe how truly bad it is. But this one is one of those fabled "good" bad movies, the kind that is best enjoyed with copious amounts of alcohol and/or hallucinogenics. Or, as I like to

The Magnificent Seven / Return of the Seven Blu-ray Reviews: MGM Reissues Half of a Previously-Released Set

The best U.S. western ever to be inspired by a Japanese flick (and its lousy first sequel)
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It's really not something that's bound to come up in most history classes, but America has this odd tendency to remake anything that's vastly superior to what it churns out. Take, for example, the field of electronics: Japan makes these killer gadgets and doodads, which are in turn copied and produced by manufacturers in the States. The same goes for automobiles. The reasoning behind it all is simple: why would you even think about being a dirty Commie rat and shelling out the big bucks for some fancy-pants import when you can buy the much-cheaper, far inferior US equivalent (which,

Henry's Crime Blu-ray Review: Keanu Reeves Branches Out

Henry's Crime is something of a crime in itself.
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What is Henry's Crime? Apart from a poor title, it's a movie about some poor dope by the name of Henry who perpetrates a misdeed. In this instance, the aforementioned Henry feller is played by none other than Keanu Reeves. Now, should that mere fact not be enough to have you running for the hills, please be advised that Mr. Reeves also decided to branch out from his usual bland method of acting to co-produce this low-key dramedy. Still reading? Still curious as to what Henry's Crime is? Well, it's a yarn about Henry Torne, whose entire life is "Torne"

Norwegian Ninja DVD Review: A Tale of Bizarre Absurdist Comedy

A movie so surreal, even Luis Buñuel would scratch his head and say "No comprende."
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Movies that depict events of real-life political scandals usually wind up being about as memorable as the entire career of WWF alumni Brutus the Barber Beefcake: unless you're some sort of freak that obsesses on the subject matter in question, you're really not going to give a shit about it 26 days down the line. But what about 26 years after a guy like Arne Treholt? While a good 99.9% of Americans can safely say they have no idea who he is, he's something of a legend in his native Norway, where he was convicted and sent to prison in

Marley & Me: The Puppy Years Blu-ray Review: Oh, Dear God, No!

A terrible kiddie movie that shamelessly rips off several other terrible kiddie movies.
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Just when you think that that god-awful mega-super-evil conglomerate known as Walmart couldn't get any more malicious towards its ignorantly innocent clientele, it subtly unleashes an "in-store only" exclusive: a forgettable, crappy sequel to a surprisingly entertaining Owen Wilson movie. Yes, it's Marley & Me: The Puppy Years -- wherein the producers behind this abomination figured it would be a good idea to discard just about any continuity with the original film by turning this into a just another talking dog film. Yes, that's correct: the dogs talk in this film. Evidently, lackluster kiddie flicks like Marmaduke (another Owen Wilson

The Beaver (2011) Blu-ray Review: A Terrific Film with Some Dazzling Performances

Hey, this isn't the Jerry Mathers biopic!
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I have literally seen several thousand movies -- and I am not in any way trying to brag when I say that, as I know there are professional (read: "real") film critics out there that have seen thousands more. Now, one of the things that members of the general public sometimes don't really take into consideration when it comes to reviewers assessing a moving picture's worthiness is that we don't always pick the movies we see on account of any leisurely "Hey, let's go see that movie" feeling. As such, we occasionally get something dropped in our lap that we

Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man DVD Review: A Truly Mind-Blowing Experience

Harry Callahan gets split into Starsky & Hutch and injected with every Italian stereotype in the book.
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In the early '70s, cop flicks were all the rage. Witness, for example, the oh-so-spectacular Dirty Harry franchise from the United States; a series that was making money all over the globe. Meanwhile, in that Europe place, Italy was showing the world why their country was shaped like a policeman's boot: it was kicking some serious ass of its own with its highly-revered poliziotteschi genre. And, although Italy's contribution to the world of cop flicks started several years before Clint Eastwood's cinematic saga ever hit the screen, the effects of said legacy were felt abroad as well as in America.

Overboard (1987) Blu-Ray Review: A Fun Throwback to the Screwball Comedy

In short: good movie, bad release.
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"Billy, there is a God and he loves me!" "You're not gonna shave your head, are you?" Noted film critic Andrew Sarris once referred to the genre known as the Screwball Comedy as "A sex comedy without the sex." And, thanks to those uptight puritan bastards that developed the Hayes Code back in the '30s, they had no other choice but to keep it that way: the Code deemed sex to be a taboo subject during their totalitarian rule over the Motion Picture Industry that booted up in 1934. By the time 1968 came about, however -- and the Hayes

Be Cool Blu-ray Review: The Filmmakers Should Have Followed That Advice

Makes for decent, mid-afternoon "I'm stuck in a hotel with nothing else to do and this is all that's on" fodder.
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We've all heard of the wonders of "Movie Magic." No, I'm not referring to the screenwriting software, but rather to that thrilling enchantment of wondrousness that goes into every aspect of filmmaking. It's something that simply fascinates the general public, unless they have been involved in making a movie, that is, in which case, they can become either disenchanted, bored, bitter, bloated, or -- in the worst case scenario -- a Scientologist. The plus side of the latter fate is that its believers seem to be very happy -- in a "Look, pal, I don't care what you do, but

Stake Land Blu-ray Review: It Goes for the Throat

Dammit all, I thought this was "Skate Land"!
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eIn the film industry, all it takes is one hit. Zombieland -- a film that I really did not enjoy whatsoever -- not only opened the door for movies like Stake Land to be made, but removed it from the hinges completely, allowing for movies like, well, Stake Land to be made. Following my initial disappointment over the fact that I hadn't been given Skate Land like I had hoped, I settled down to check out Stake Land. The story here involves a teenage boy (Connor Paolo) named Martin (a nod to a certain George A. Romero film, perhaps?) teaming

Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Movie Review: An Extreme Guilty Pleasure

A movie that was "direct-to-video" long before it was ever fashionable.
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Long before the term "direct-to-video" was even so much as a twinkle in a greedy movie exec's eye, the idea of making a sequel to a science fiction film was as propitious to a motion picture studio as was Orson Welles trotting off to his favorite all-you-can-buffet one day with a 50%-off coupon, only to encounter a "Closed For Good!" sign hanging on the door. The reason for this was simple: film studios shied away from the manufacturing of sci-fi flicks in-general, believing them to be for losers, nerds, geeks, dorks, and people that would come to be known as

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