Recently by Luigi Bastardo

Cabin Boy (1994) Blu-ray Review: Still Floating After All These Years

Kino Lorber bravely launches a Special Edition release for one of the most hated films of the mid '90s.
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Though I never saw the film in its entirety until much later in life, I was nevertheless present when Adam Resnick's Cabin Boy briefly flickered onto silver screens near and far in 1994. I was also there when word began to spread (and quickly, at that) regarding just how popular of a title it was at the time. But my personal favorite Cabin Boy story hailed from a secondhand account, wherein a former acquaintance of mine enjoyed the movie's many, many flaws so much, that he exited the cineplex in tears, resulting in one very confused usher walking up to

Gold (1974) Blu-ray Review: Always Believe in Your Soul

Kino Lorber digs up this strange British mish-mash of just about every genre under the ground starring Roger Moore, Susannah York, Ray Milland, and Bradford Dillman.
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For years, finding a copy of Gold in its original unaltered form was about as rare as the eponymous mineral itself. Thankfully for a wide array of vintage offbeat film enthusiasts, Peter Hunt's unsung mashup has been refined for a new High-Definition release from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. And boy, oh boy, what a strange little "dig" this one makes for! Set (and mostly filmed) in South Africa during its infamous apartheid regime, Gold stars the late great Sir Roger Moore (who had only inherited the role of James Bond from Sean Connery the year before) as the very manly

A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die (1968) Blu-ray Review: And Nearly Two Hours to Snooze

Kino Lorber unholsters one of the most boring, cynical, shallow, and violent attempts to cash-in on the Spaghetti Western craze.
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If you had the good fortune to grow up in or around video rental stores during the '80s and '90s, then there's a darn good chance you saw a very generic-looking videocassette cover for A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die (Un minuto per pregare, un istante per morire) on the shelf at one point or another. I know I certainly did, and I was always a little put off by the lack of its "enticing" artwork. Nevertheless, when teenaged me beget his Spaghetti Western phase and I had burned through all of the more popular-looking titles, Franco Giardi's

Color of Night (1994) Blu-ray Review: Color Me Bad for Enjoying It So

Kino Lorber reminds us how great bad '90s erotic thrillers were with this two-disc Special Edition set featuring both the Theatrical and Director's Cuts.
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Much like director Richard Rush's 1980 cult classic The Stunt Man has never been the sort of film one could easily classify under just one genre, his following feature Color of Night isn't a movie anyone can describe as being merely "good" or "bad." For it is both of these things, and yet, neither. As unforgivably '90s as you could possibly ever hope to get, Color of Night is an unbelievably goofy psychological thriller with a heavy focus on sex ‒ and very little else. Making little to no sense throughout the bulk of its two-hour-plus runtime, Color of Night

Condemned! | The Devil to Pay! DVD Reviews: Both Worthy of Exclamation Points

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off two pre-Code Ronald Colman classics featuring Ann Harding, Loretta Young, Myrna Loy, and a familiar-looking terrier.
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Once again, the Warner Archive Collection has unveiled a couple of forgotten titles starring Ronald Colman, the British-born talent who transcended from stage to silents to talkies with the greatest of ease, resulting in three Oscar-nominations during his 40+ career in the world of entertainment. Here, the WAC presents us with two pre-Code rarities ‒ a serious drama and a madcap comedy ‒ both of which are well worth the cost of admission. Condemned! (1929, United Artists) Set on the isle of Cayenne ‒ the infamous French penal colony better known as "Devil's Island", from whence Humphrey Bogart would repeatedly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973) Blu-ray Review: Please, Don't Act So Sheepish

The American Genre Film Archive and Something Weird Video present something so delightfully awful, it'll leave you ecstatically screaming "Ewe!"
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Even established connoisseurs of strange little motion pictures generally regarded as "bad" can occasionally step into something they are wholly unprepared for. And that can certainly apply to anyone who decides to leap off the beaten path only to set foot into the sulphuric pile of sheep dip that is Godmonster of Indian Flats. The fourth and final feature film from recently departed artist/filmmaker (and Cornell graduate also, I might add) Fredric C. Hobbs, this bizarre 1973 offering is truly difficult to categorize, as it appears to be an environmentally-conscious retrograde science fiction/horror hybrid about an eight-foot-tall mutant sheep housed

The Martian Chronicles (1980) Blu-ray Review: Is There Life on Mars?

Kino Lorber Studio Classics blasts off into the crazy surreal cosmos of this sci-fi mini-series.
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Despite the fact that it has been released on virtually every form of media since the dawn of home video itself, it wasn't until I sat down to review Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release of Michael (Logan's Run, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze) Anderson's The Martian Chronicles that I witnessed the TV mini-series for the very first time. And what an interesting endeavor it proved to be. Boasting a rather enviable list of names with their own individual cult followings, this 1979 co-production between the UK and the U.S. has not aged very well over the years. In fact, it

Jack the Giant Killer (1962) Blu-ray Review: The Original Mockbuster

Kino Lorber Studio Classics debuts the infamous Harryhausen knock-off in HD, complete with the incredulous musical variation as a bonus.
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"If they could do it, I can do it!" At some point in life or another, some of you have found yourselves saying something along those lines. You may also have also found yourselves coming to the realization shortly after that you could not do whatever it was the other person(s) succeeded in doing so well, usually due to pesky annoyances such as experience and training. Indeed, that was essentially the entire reason for producer Edward Small's 1962 fantasy flick Jack the Giant Killer ‒ which is now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics ‒ being summoned into

Lights of New York (1928) DVD Review: The Most Sublime Milestone in Cinema

The Warner Archive Collection brings us the first all-talking motion picture ever, which deserves a look-see for that very reason alone.
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Given that even the cheapest films produced today can be presented in faux widescreen with 7-channel surround sound and special effects manufactured entirely via computer software, it's extremely easy to take some of cinema's most important milestones for granted. Much like the very first motion pictures to be shot digitally as far back as the early 2000s have already faded from the memory of the general public, the movies which introduced the world to surround (let alone stereo) sound and the phenomenon once known as CinemaScope have become little more than mere footnotes in cinematic history. One such milestone ‒

Fireman, Save My Child (1932) DVD Review: Old Hatter Up

Joe E. Brown strikes out in a tired pre-Code baseball comedy now available from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Admittedly, a movie from the early '30s is bound to feel more than just a tad bit outdated when viewed today. That said, Lloyd Bacon's Fireman, Save My Child ‒ a First National Pictures comedy starring the mouth himself, Joe E. Brown ‒ was already old hat (or old fire helmet, as it were) when it was released by Warner Bros. in late February of 1932, as it had already been made twice before during the Silent Era. The first film to carry the title was Hal Roach's one-reel short from 1918 with the great Harold Lloyd in the lead,

Alexander Hamilton (1931) DVD Review: I Never Expect to See a Perfect Work Anyway

An entirely-too-old George Arliss portrays a much younger Hamilton in this early pre-Code biopic from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Far removed from the musical stage sensation of today, the 1917 Broadway production of Hamilton presented audiences with a condensed version of the first Secretary of the Treasury's battle to pass his Assumption Bill funding act in the years following the end of the Revolutionary War. With very little else in-between. But that didn't seem to matter much to the public, who were probably more excited to see recent Academy Award winner George Arliss ‒ the first (and youngest) English-born actor to earn such an honor in the US ‒ parading about amid a compelling human drama he himself had

The Hanging Tree (1959) Blu-ray Review: Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

The Warner Archive Collection knots it up with this captivating western starring Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden, and first-timer George C. Scott.
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Several years before a more somber wave of performers rode into town, Gary Cooper was ‒ as he had done so eloquently before ‒ pioneering a unique protagonist who would fit right at home in a '70s revisionist western. In Delmer Daves' The Hanging Tree, released two years before one of the genre's quintessential heroes passed away, we witness the stalwart High Noon icon delivering his final lead performance in a cowboy picture. This time, however, Cooper does not play a man haunted by what he must do. Rather, he's tormented over what he has done. Set in the tiny

The Gay Bride (1934) DVD Review: Married to the Flop

Carole Lombard and Chester Morris unite for a well-aged gangster screwball comedy, now available from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Some marriages just need a little time to get things right. Crafted at the tail-end of Hollywood's golden age of gangster pictures, MGM's classic screwball comedy The Gay Bride failed to wed audiences upon its initial release in 1934. But when I first witnessed this union betwixt Carole Lombard (My Man Godfrey, To Be or Not to Be) and future Boston Blackie star Chester Morris (Five Came Back, The She-Creature) 84 years later in 2018, I found this once-dejected Bride to be quite worthy of a suitor ‒ Gayor otherwise. Set in New York (but clearly filmed in Los Angeles),

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

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

Schlock (1973) Blu-ray Review: The Dawn of Landis

John Landis' campy homage to classic monster movies surfaces in High-Definition for a limited time from Turbine Media Group.
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The first feature film of cult filmmaker John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Innocent Blood) Schlock serves as a exemplary reminder we all have to start somewhere. Shot over the course of 12 days on a measly $60,000 budget in one of the many suburbs of Los Angeles, Schlock is a campy homage to horror and science fiction movies of the past, as seen through the eyes of one very eager 21-year-old filmmaker. A small community is besieged by a wave of baffling, unsolved murders, committed by an entity whom authorities and the media alike have dubbed "The Banana

MGM's The Big Parade of Comedy (1964) DVD Review: When Compilations Were String

For whatever reason, the Warner Archive Collection releases Robert Youngson's effortless cut-and-paste documentary to DVD-R.
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One would expect a collection of clips featuring some of cinema's greatest comedians and comediennes to be a laugh-a-minute mini-fest; a cinematic party tape devoted entirely to some of the biggest names in comedy during their best moments on-screen. And, while such compilation movies surely exist somewhere, you will not find anything remotely resembling such in MGM's The Big Parade of Comedy ‒ a dreadful cut-and-paste wonder from the once-respected mind of documentary filmmaker Robert Youngson. Beginning his career at Warner Bros. in the late 1940s as the director of documentary shorts ‒ two of which won Academy Awards ‒

A Lost Lady (1934) DVD Review: A Lost Cause

The Warner Archive Collection finds a rare Barbara Stanwyck flick co-starring the famous Emerald City Wizard himself, Frank Morgan.
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After witnessing the man she is due to marry (in just two days) get gunned down in front of her by a jealous husband (the cad!), poor Marian (Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity) becomes a bitter, dejected, clinically depressed recluse. Months later, her family, completely uncertain what to do with her now that she's so very sad and boring, pack up her belongings and ship her off to the Canadian Rockies so she can mope in peace there. And indeed she does, until she decides to run off into the woods after nearly experiencing an emotion, wherein she promptly falls off

Bruce's Deadly Fingers (1976) Blu-ray Review: How Low Can You Go?

VCI keeps the memory of Bruceploitation alive and kicking by cloning a German Blu-ray release for this one.
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Though contributions to what has since become known as the "Bruceploitation era" were numerous, those who dare consider themselves loyal to the less-than-esteemed subgenre of ripoff filmmaking generally tend to hold three particular titles high above all others. Amazingly managing to reach a zenith within a cataclysmic cinematic nadir such as this, Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave, The Clones of Bruce Lee, and Bruce's Deadly Fingers have become as holy to bad kung fu movie lovers as has Clint Eastwood's The Man with No Name Trilogy has with Spaghetti Western enthusiasts. Apart from the occasional music cue shamelessly

The Chastity Belt (1967) DVD Review: As Uncomfortable As You'd Expect

Tony Curtis and Monica Vitti are more than a bit rusty in this appallingly unfunny Italian sex comedy from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Every once in a while, a film critic encounters a difficult obstacle to overcome. The late '60s, Italian-made sex comedy The Chastity Belt ‒ originally given the very late '60s title of On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who… ‒ proved to be one such challenge. Starring Tony Curtis and Italian bombshell Monica Vitti, this 1967 medieval "farce" incredibly credits A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum writer Larry Gelbart, the same man who would later turn Robert Altman's hit M*A*S*H into an even bigger television sensation. After making it into the film

The New Centurions (1972) Blu-ray Review: Blue Lives Shatter

Twilight Time books a classic, slow burning cop drama starring George C. Scott and Stacy Keach.
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Columbia Pictures' The New Centurions was filmed and released during a particularly interesting era: a time when the lives and actions of police officers was present in just about every form of media, be they negative, positive, or somewhere in-between. In the instance of this 1972 cop drama, we find ourselves planted directly in the epicenter of the two, where moments of lighthearted comedy can give way to heartbreaking tragedy at any moment. The film was adapted for the screen by the prolific Stirling Silliphant (Village of the Damned, The Killer Elite), as taken from former law enforcement officer and

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

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

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

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

The L-Shaped Room (1962) Blu-ray Review: The Misplaced Misfits

Twilight Time releases the forgotten, award-winning "kitchen sink" drama from Bryan Forbes, which all fans of Morrissey and The Smiths should probably see.
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Long before Hollywood tried to appeal to everyone by adding various "token" characters from all walks of life, postwar British filmmakers were trying something much more subtle and less transparent. One stellar example is the 1962 domestic drama The L-Shaped Room from director Bryan Forbes (The Stepford Wives). Adapted for the screen by Forbes from the best-selling novel by Lynne Reid Banks (The Indian in the Cupboard), this solid little "kitchen sink" drama finds former musical icon Leslie Caron (An American in Paris, Gigi, Lili) as one of many tenants in a boarding house full of characters who would be

Forever Amber (1947) Blu-ray Review: It Never Seems That Long Until You're Grown

By hook or crook, Linda Darnell climbs her way to the top in the once-controversial drama, now available from Twilight Time.
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A full decade before its hugely successful Peyton Place managed to poke a few holes in the brick walls of alleged decency, 20th Century Fox was already turning a controversial bestseller into a major ‒ however sanitized ‒ motion picture. Previously in history, Kathleen Winsor's 1944 novel Forever Amber had been condemned by the Hays Office, but that hardly stopped top Fox man Darryl F. Zanuck from securing the movie rights for the book immediately after its publication and turning something racy into a big-budgeted epic. Three years later, Fox's Forever Amber premiered. It would prove to be the biggest

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

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

The Hospital (1971) Blu-ray Review: George C. Scott Loses His Patients

There's a killer on the loose and someone has to foot the bill in this obscured, Oscar-winning satire now available from Twilight Time.
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What happens when you combine the talents of actors George C. Scott (Patton, Hardcore), and Diana Rigg (The Avengers, Theatre of Blood) with director Arthur Hiller (The In-Laws) and writer Paddy Chayefsky (Network)? Well, from a historical perspective, 1971's The Hospital resulted in an Oscar win in 1972 for Best Original Screenplay. Alas ‒ as is frequently the case with most Academy Award winners ‒ the film quickly faded from the general public's memory, despite the still-relevant social commentary hidden immediately below the surface of Chayefsky's extremely cynical and darkly comical story. Set in bustling Manhattan, The Hospital takes place

Wild Bill (1995) Blu-ray Review: The End of an Era (in Film)

Twilight Time unholsters Walter Hill's wildly uneven western starring Jeff Bridges as the iconic gunman.
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Although it was never a title I saw when it was initially released, Walter (The Warriors) Hill's Wild Bill has always lingered in the back of my mind for an utterly absurd reason. Following an extremely limited release in cinemas (spoiler alert: it bombed), the film hit the shelves of a video rental outlet I was managing at the time. It was a decidedly rural area, where just about anything western was considered a keeper by the locals, the majority of whom were about as "hick" as could be. One memorable afternoon, a middle-aged gentleman came in to return the

Play Dirty (1969) Blu-ray Review: The Dusty Octet

Twilight Time raises Caine ‒ Michael Caine, that is ‒ with this forgotten anti-war flick from 007 producer Harry Saltzman.
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No doubt inspired by the success of 1967's trendsetter The Dirty Dozen ‒ the film that all-but brought us the suicide mission subgenre of war movies ‒ André de Toth's Play Dirty is, unsurprisingly enough, a similarly themed picture. Released in the midst of the Vietnam War, this (purely) British production from James Bond producer Harry Saltzman ‒ inspired by real life events experienced by British Army units stationed in North Africa during World War II ‒ takes a decidedly fatalistic tone. And while presenting an outside commentary towards the then-current war abroad was their prerogative, it certainly didn't help

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

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

Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976) Blu-ray Review: They Should've Stayed Home

Twilight Time brings us the maligned crime caper comedy with James Caan, Elliott Gould, Michael Caine, and Diane Keaton.
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On December 5, 1872, the Mary Celeste was discovered adrift off of the Azores Islands, berift of its captain and crew, but still loaded with personal possessions and cargo. Not a single soul from the voyage was ever seen or heard from again, and no explanation has ever been discovered behind the mysterious, mass disappearance. But it wasn't until Columbia Pictures' Harry and Walter Go to New York debuted in American cinemas nearly 104 years later that those who dared board it had the misfortune of discovering what it was truly like being onboard a ghost ship lost at sea.

Summer of '42 (1971) Blu-ray Review: There's a First Time for Everything

The obscured (if slightly controversial now) coming-of-age hit returns to home video courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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An unexpected box office sensation upon its 1971 debut, Robert Mulligan's adaptation of Herman Raucher's Summer of '42 has since become as distant to audiences as has the element of romance to the average Tinder user. Indeed, the advent of modern technology has far-removed the timeless coming-of-age motif from that of younger generations, who will more than likely find the film's characters ‒ to say nothing of their particular plights here ‒ weird, if not completely unsettling. A personal favorite of iconic rogue filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (it's the only live-action film featured in The Shining, I believe), Summer of '42

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

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

Allenesque: Five Woody Allen Movies on Blu-ray from Twilight Time

From screwball spoofs to serious dramas, this quintet of features from the one and only comedian/filmmaker offers a variety of stylings.
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Whether you are a collector, purist, enthusiast, or just someone who is trying to get through the work day, there is nothing as gratifying as being able to mark something off of a checklist. And every time Twilight Time issues a classic Woody Allen film on Blu-ray, it gives his fans a chance to experience something just as gratifying. Fortunately for all parties involved, Allen's extensive (and still-expanding, as he has rarely skipped a year without making a movie since 1965) library can come that much closer to being "complete" thanks to Twilight Time's regular releases of the filmmaker's work,

The Flight of Dragons (1982) Blu-ray Review: Colonel Potter vs Darth Vader?

The Warner Archive Collection clears the runway for this neglected Rankin-Bass animated fantasy.
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Even to contemporary animation fans caught up in the neverending sea of anime, the Rankin-Bass brand is both familiar and holy. Best-known to the majority of the masses as the company which produced two of the most iconic perennial holiday treats ever made ‒ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman ‒ Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr.'s love for family-friendly fantasies stretched beyond the borders of commercialized Christmases. In fact, they were the fellers responsible for the original animated versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and Return of the King in the late '70s and early '80s ‒

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) Blu-ray Review: Indie Codependent

The Warner Archive Collection revs up the gas for Jeff Burr's controversial buzzer.
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Bridging the gap between pure psychological horror with a touch of humor and gore into something polarly opposite isn't an easy task. And there is no better example of that in the realm of scary movies than New Line Cinema's maligned 1990 slasher sequel, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Though technically an '80s flick, Jeff Burr's 1990 contribution to the famous film franchise ‒ which still exists today via an occasional, unnecessary reboot every couple of years ‒ became an instant target for fans and foes alike. Several years before, the Cannon Group released Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Twilight People (1972) Blu-ray Review: The Island of Dr. Romero

John Ashley and Pam Grier highlight this hilariously cheesy slice of Filipino rip-off cinema.
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When fans of sleazy exploitation movies get together to discuss their favorite contributions to bad filmmaking from the Philippines, Eddie Romero's name is rarely left out. In fact, the late B-movie guru from the same country that brought us national treasures like the films of Weng Weng is undoubtedly one of the "best" known directors to hail from the country, thanks to a series of mind-numbing mad scientist flicks from the late '60s and early '70s informally referred to as the Blood Island movies. Following the conclusion of the aforementioned series, the late Mr. Romero found himself cranking out a

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

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

Auntie Mame (1958) Blu-ray Review: And It's Completely Lucille Ball-Free, Too!

The Warner Archive Collection brings us a beautiful restoration of Rosalind Russell's original great aunt.
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Beginning as a best-selling novel by Patrick Dennis in 1955, Auntie Mame became a Broadway success starring the one and only Rosalind Russell a few years later. As was customary with just about every (even minor) stage triumph in those days, a film version wasn't too far behind. Released to theaters at the tail end of 1958, Warner Bros.' Auntie Mame became the highest-grossing film of 1959. While that may not seem like much of an accomplishment at first glance, it should be noted the films it vanquished at the box office included North by Northwest, Ben-Hur, Anatomy of a

Suspiria (1977) Blu-ray Review: Dario Argento at His Non-Giallo Peak

The only thing more beautiful than the last 12 minutes of this Synapse Films restoration are the first 86.
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Best described as a surrealistic fairytale nightmare come to life, Dario Argento's Suspiria has been leaving its mark on audiences and filmmakers alike since its debut in 1977. Truly, it's hard not to become immersed in its breathtaking (sometimes literally) visuals, stunning cinematography, or that wild and pounding soundtrack by Goblin. And now, thanks to a drop-dead gorgeous new 4K transfer by Synapse Films, Argento's amazing masterpiece almost feels like an entirely new feature. Equal parts horror, giallo, and fantasy, Suspiria finds cult favorite star Jessica Harper (Phantom of the Paradise, Shock Treatment, Inserts) as an American ballet student named

Racy Reels from the Something Weird Vault, Vols. 1 & 2 Blu-ray Reviews: A for Effort

Pop Cinema releases two cool SWV double features, albeit in compressed, condensed form.
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There's an unofficial saying pertaining to the world of adult-oriented filmmaking which goes something along the lines of "If you can think it, someone has already filmed it." Various horrors which shall undoubtedly spew forth from your subconscious once you've thought long and hard about that notwithstanding, there is that occasional moment in time wherein you witness something you had actually wanted to see. For years, I had imagined a scenario involving a man and woman in a post-apocalyptic setting whose first meeting is interrupted by a kung fu fight to the finish with roaming bandits. You can imagine the

My Father the Hero (1994) Blu-ray Review: Gerard Depar-don't. Please.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics re-releases the awkward, awful remake starring doughy Gérard Depardieu and jailbait Katherine Heigl.
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The amazing world of French cinema is unquestionably a unique artform unto itself. So it the remaking of French features for American audiences, for that matter. Alas, the latter skill is something very few people have ever been able to master, and has mostly ever resulted in a heap of bad '90s movies floated into theaters under one Disney distribution label or another. Which brings me to My Father the Hero ‒ Disney's lamentable 1994 attempt at remaking the 1991 French comedy, Mon père, ce héros ‒ as helmed by director Steve Miner (Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken) for release

Doc Hollywood (1991) Blu-ray Review: A Crash, a Clash, a Fox Office Splash

Michael J. Fox goes country in this early '90s rom-com now available on BD from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Doc Hollywood was exactly the sort of early '90s filmfare I recall going to see every weekend at the local cinema in the small hick town I grew up in. In fact, I actually did see Doc Hollywood when the nearby theater of my teen-aged youth, where nary another soul was in attendance, leading me to (falsely) concur the movie must not have made a big splash at the box office. In reality, the film was something of a box office hit, but due to prolonged exposed to something called "aging", very little of that remained in my memory banks.

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

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

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

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

Oh God, They're Singing: Three Classic Musicals on Blu-ray

The Warner Archive and Twilight Time give us some old song and dance routines, available in High-Definition (and in one case, widescreen) for the first time.
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You know the feeling. You're sitting there, minding your own business, enjoying the sights and sounds of a classic motion picture. Suddenly, the gears seem to shift: orchestral accompaniment appears out of nowhere as characters begin to step in pace with one another, speaking in lyrical rhymes before breaking out in full-out song and dance routines. "Oh God, they're singing!," you cry out, realizing you have been sucked in once more by a movie musical. But don't worry, I won't judge ye. In fact, after witnessing all of the toe-tapping antics found in these three titles ‒ all of which

The Teenage Prostitution Racket (1975) Blu-ray Review: Don't Try This at Home, Kids

Unapologetically sleazy and unintentionally hilarious, another Italian exploitation mess-terpiece arrives in the U.S. from RaroVideo.
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If you can envision what might happen were someone to create a ’50s style propaganda movie à la George Weiss in the vein of ’60s arthouse roughie by Doris Wishman fused with all of the sense and sensibilities of a cheap ’70s exploitation flick written by Ed Wood, there’s a fairly good possibility you might be prepared for everything The Teenage Prostitution Racket has to offer. Even then, however, you still might not be ready. Sewn together much in the same way a five-year-old would darn a pair of socks ‒ replete with plenty of awkward stitchings that make a

A Trio of WAC Pre-Codes: Oh, the Horror Icons!

The Warner Archive Collection presents three pre-Code rarities featuring a serendipitous number of classic early horror movie stars.
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Perhaps it's just the many years I spent wasting my youth away in front of a television set, but I almost always seem to find some sort of odd little connection between home video releases from the Warner Archive Collection. This time around, we have three pre-Production Code flicks from the early 1930s with a rather unique common thread: the notable presence(s) of classic horror movie stars such as Fay Wray and a hilariously miscast Boris Karloff. But they aren't the only faces from vintage creature features to be found here, as you will soon discover for yourself. And if

The Super (1991) DVD Review: Low Rent Entertainment

The Warner Archive Collection raises the roof on Joe Pesci's flop.
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Epitomizing just about every bad decision made by the world of domestic entertainment in the early '90s to its fullest extent ‒ be it the questionable tastes in fashion and music or the peculiar, career-killing choice to cast movie tough guys in family-friendly comedies ‒ The Super stars the Joe Pesci no one really wanted to see. Cast as the vehemently loathsome spoiled jerk son of a racist ol' New York City real estate magnate (gee, I wonder who served as inspiration for that?), Pesci is at his squirmiest, scene-chewing best here as Louie Kritski ‒ the slumlord of a

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

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

Eaten Alive! (1980) Blu-ray Review: Lenzi Frenzy from the Cannibal Craze

Severin Films sinks its teeth into Umberto Lenzi's hilariously tasteless cult flick. Break out the ketchup.
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Though Ruggero Deodato is perhaps Italy's (if not the world's) most "famous" director of gory cannibal movies, the entire bloody movie subgenre can be attributed to the late great Umberto Lenzi (Eyeball, Cannibal Ferox). Eight years after accidentally forming the concept with his 1972 shocker The Man from Deep River ‒ a strange "mondo" take on A Man Called Horse ‒ Lenzi returned to the jungle for something even stranger. Fusing the cannibal flick with a literal cult movie, Eaten Alive! (Mangiati vivi!) manages to exploit the real-life horrors of Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre. It also serves as

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Blu-ray Review: The Marvel Cinematic Universe Holiday Special

Chris Hemsworth lets his hair down (and sleeps with one eye open) in this highly enjoyable change of pace from director Taika Waititi.
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Admittedly, I am not the biggest contemporary superhero movie enthusiast. At one point in time, I would have fallen somewhere in the vicinity of such a category, but I essentially dropped out around the same time the current Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as we know it came into existence in 2008. Sure, I catch the occasional superhero flick here and there (including the occasional new DC abomination, which usually only helps me appreciate Marvel's contributions all the more), but I generally remain indifferent to what I see. And then there is Thor: Ragnarok ‒ a film which proves even a

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

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

Battle Cry (1955) Blu-ray Review: Former A-List Hit with Future B-Grade Stars

The Warner Archive Collection digs up another wartime relic with a nice cast of cult favorites.
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Battle Cry's cast is enough to send shivers up the spine of any classic B-movie enthusiast from sheer excitement. The film itself, on the other hand, may cause one to shudder from entirely different reasons. For, despite the impressive gathering of actors who would later gain fame (or perhaps, infamy) from appearing in some of the greatest cult movies of all time (as well as a heap of television work), there simply isn't enough to keep the average viewer's attention throughout the bulk of this equally bulky World War II drama. And, frankly, that says an awful lot ‒ especially

The Sea Wolf (1941) Blu-ray Review: Another Major Discovery from the WAC

Formerly lost at sea, the original 100-min cut of this classic sails in to home video thanks to the Warner Archive.
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The discovery of any classic film in its original uncut form brings with it an opportunity to rejoice. Recently, the Warner Archive Collection uncovered an uncut 35mm nitrate print of Michael Curtiz's classic 1941 film adaptation of Jack London's The Sea Wolf. Buried away for decades in the Museum of Modern Art's storage facility in New York, the unveiling of such a print was a significant find ‒ as the film had only been available in a heavily-shortened version since its first theatrical re-release in 1947. Naturally, much like the WAC's recent re-discovery of the three-hour TV cut of Richard

The Emperor in August / Sayonara / The Yellow Handkerchief Blu-ray Reviews: Three for Japan

All is fair (great, in fact!) in love, war, and on the road in this trio of classics from Twilight Time.
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American and Japanese. Remakes and originals. Love and war. Though they may all appear to be starkly different on the outside, this trio of Twilight Time releases from (or at least filmed in) Japan evinces we're only human on the inside. The Emperor in August (2015, Shochiku Company) Remaking a classic historical war film is never an easy task. Especially when the story focuses on internal political strife as opposed to the always bankable sight of what SCTV's Farm Film Report would likely refer to as "stuff gettin' blowed up real good." It's an ever harder chore to pull off

Hack-O-Lantern (1988) Blu-ray Review: Every Night is Halloween

Massacre Video brings us a High-Def release of this cult Satanic Panic '80s horror oddity.
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Only a short time ago, finding a copy of Jag Mundhra's low-budget '80s horror flick Hack-O-Lantern on VHS was similar to discovering the source of The Nile. Granted, said copy would usually be a well-worn one, as the direct-to-video film ‒ which also once bore the title Death Mask before seeing later distribution on home video under the title Halloween Night ‒ was certainly not the sort of moving picture to have made rounds on the retail videocassette market. Rather, Hack-O-Lantern was the sort of schlocky cheesy tripe which could have only hailed from the glorious days of rental pricing;

The Trip to Spain (2017) Blu-ray Review: Moore (or Les) of the Same

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are at it again in this feature film version of the popular UK TV series.
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The third film adaptation to spawn from Michael Winterbottom's television series The Trip, The Trip to Spain reunites British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon for yet another bizarre road trip. This time, our pair of middle-aged delinquents embark off to good ol' España to indulge in the finest Spanish cuisine (and wine for the Welshman, as Steve is on the wagon here). But food and drink are the least of the viewer's concern, as our hosts' seemingly erratic behavior is the thing that keeps us coming back for more. Or "Moore," as is the case in The Trip to

The Taking of Beverly Hills (1991) Blu-ray Review: Try Hard

The ridiculously fun 'Die Hard' knock-off with a mulleted Ken Wahl finds its way to BD thanks to Kino Lorber.
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Any time you depict a filthy rich jock as someone the average moviegoer should be able to sympathize with, you're bound to run into some trouble. In the instance of Sidney J. Furie's 1991 non-hit The Taking of Beverly Hills, we get just that ‒ played to the hilt by former Hollywood heartthrob and Wiseguy star Ken Wahl. Sporting a perfect urban mullet (which perfectly compliments this thick bushy eyebrows) throughout, Wahl plays a football hero nicknamed Boomer. While Boomer's career may have recently ended due to a leg injury (an eerie omen to our lead actor's fate: Wahl effectively

Not as a Stranger (1955) Blu-ray Review: Robert Mitchum, Sociopathic Surgeon

Kino Lorber brings us Stanley Kramer's first directorial effort starring Olivia de Havilland, Robert Mitchum, and Frank Sinatra.
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Any movie which conjures up the mental image of a motorcycle bound Lon Chaney Jr. going out in a drunken blaze of glory certainly deserves a special place in history. However, when that same movie also happens to star Olivia de Havilland, Robert Mitchum, and Frank Sinatra ‒ along with a first-rate supporting cast including Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford, Lee Marvin, Harry Morgan, and the aforementioned Mr. Chaney ‒ its significance in the world of film increases substantially. Now toss in the superb production values and social commentary filmmaker Stanley Kramer was (and still is) so well known for, and

Charley Chase at Hal Roach: The Talkies, Volume One: 1930-31 DVD Review: In One Word, 'Yes!'

The Sprocket Vault releases a two-disc set celebrating the lost talent of one very gifted comic.
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While history may not regard him as highly as many of the other on-screen comics who predated or succeeded him, the world of comedy nevertheless owes a substantial debt of gratitude to Charley Chase. Born Charles Joseph Parrott in 1893, the immeasurably gifted individual worked with just about every great comedy act in the business during his tragically short lifetime. During the Silent Era, a young Chase worked at Keystone Studios for Mack Sennett, appearing in several Charlie Chaplin shorts. In later years, after sound had come to moving pictures to stay, Chase worked on the other side of the

The Aftermath (1982) Blu-ray Review: A Little Movie with a Long Wake

VCI Entertainment re-releases Steve Barkett's wild, low-budget post-apocalyptic cult classic co-starring the one and only Sid Haig.
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Were you to whisper the name "Steve Barkett" to the average moviegoer, a lengthy pause with near-audible chirping crickets in the background may follow. Say Barkett's name to an aficionado of low-budget sci-fi and horror movies from the days when people still shot independent movies on film, however, and you're entirely likely to get a different reaction. From a much more personal perspective, I actually met a former colleague of his at a coffee shop; an encounter which would later result in me inheriting several reels of film from two of Mr. Barkett's films. Well, let me rephrase that slightly

The Violent Years (1956) Blu-ray Review: Ed Wood's Teenage Girl Gang Terrorists

With everything from original production materials to a bonus feature Ed allegedly worked on, this AGFA/SWV BD is packin' a lot of Wood.
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The list of filmmakers best known for helming the worst movies ever made is a long and varied one. In fact, it grows more and more with each passing year. But even as contemporary contenders and waning wannabes vie for some sort of misplaced honor (or misattributed attention) in the awkward world of unintentionally terrible motion pictures, one name still manages to frequently take the lead: that of amateur auteur Edward D. Wood, Jr. Since Wood's untimely passing in December 1978, his delightfully delirious titles ‒ including the early (if totally bizarre) LGBT drama Glen or Glenda? and the sci-fi/horror

Deathdream (1974) Blu-ray Review: We Are the Dead of Night, We're in the Zombie Room

Blue Underground brings the creepy Bob Clark/Alan Ormsby cult classic back to life with a gorgeous new 2K scan.
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While W.W. Jacobs may have never been much of a household name either before or after his death in 1943 at the age of 79, the late English author nevertheless left a lasting mark on the world of horror thanks to his 1902 horror story The Monkey's Paw. The quintessential tale carrying the classic "be careful what you wish for" analogy, Jacobs' "immortal" tale would go on to be transformed into a variety of many mediums over the years, beginning with a stage adaptation just one year after the story was first published. But it was the world of film

The Pirates of Blood River (1962) Blu-ray Review: A Dish, Out of Water

Twilight Time unsheathes an enjoyable Hammer Films outing with ex-Sinbad Kerwin Mathews and a smoothly sinister Christopher Lee.
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Your friends might argue a pirate movie won't float without water. Or an actual pirate ship. Heck, even an award-winning 2005 pornographic cash-in of Disney's Pirates of the Carribean had a boat, for porn's sake! But then again, so did Renny Harlin's Cutthroat Island and Roman Polanski's Pirates ‒ a pair of box office failures regularly cited as two of the worst pirate films ever made today. And, while forcing your friends to watch those two flicks may provide an easy win to such a foreseeable argument. Ultimately, however, the best way to succeed in winning a disagreement over whether

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953) Blu-ray Review: Sunken Leisure

Young Robert Wagner sinks to new depths ‒ literally ‒ in this early CinemaScope effort, now available in a beautiful, uncut, widescreen HD transfer from Twilight Time.
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The advent of CinemaScope in the 1950s brought with it many changes to Hollywood. Sadly, in the case of 20th Century Fox's 1953 Technicolor adventure film Beneath the 12-Mile Reef ‒ the third movie to be filmed in the studio's lavish new way of luring moviegoers back in theaters ‒ director Robert D. Webb seemingly forgot to include enough subject material to fill up the width of the widened screen. The story ‒ a pivoting, bore-a-minute tale pitting sponge divers against fishermen ‒ finds young Robert Wagner as the son of aged Mexican-American actor Gilbert Roland. Naturally, they're cast as

Captain from Castile (1947) Blu-ray Review: A Power-fully Fun Swashbuckler

Twilight Time foils foes with a splendid classic Hollywood adventure tale starring Tyrone Power.
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Even at 141 minutes in length, Henry King's lavish big-budgeted adaptation of Samuel Shellabarger's 1945 novel Captain from Castile only covers the first half of its source material. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you ‒ the 1947 swashbuckler epic from 20th Century Fox still captures the grace and beauty of classic historical adventures. It also serves as a great reminder of how outrageously preposterous Hollywood's old-school casting agents could get back then, as evidenced by co-star Lee J. Cobb (The Exorcist, Lawman) as a roaming adventurer named Juan García. One wonders if it didn't inspire Russell Mulcahy's casting

Waiting for Guffman (1996) Blu-ray Review: The Waiting is the Artist Part

The brilliant mockumentary from Christopher Guest and Co. gets a beautiful new High-Definition transfer from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Before he gave us his unique looks at dog shows and folk groups, This Is Spinal Tap co-creator and star Christopher Guest formed his first "solo" mockumentary turned his eyes towards the stage for this hilarious mockumentary revolving around one very memorable community theater presentation by way of Samuel Beckett's immortal play Waiting for Godot. Set in the fictional small town of Blaine, Missouri, 1996's Waiting for Guffman finds Guest as an ambiguously gay theater director from New York named Corky St. Clair. Clad in some of the worst fashion violations ever conceived, Corky takes on the helming of "Red,

The Green Slime (1968) Blu-ray Review: Would You Believe It When You're Dead?

The Warner Archive Collection gives the campy U.S./Japanese cult classic a stellar new HD transfer.
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Apart from the occasional World War II movie, there haven't been terribly many instances in film history wherein the US and Japan collaborated on something together. When they did, the results tended to vary, ranging from epic successes such as Tora! Tora! Tora! to movies almost as disastrous as WWII itself. And it is there, on the latter list of atrocities, that you will find a barely moving motion picture; one which has been sitting ‒ quite comfortably, at that ‒ in the same illustrious spot for several decades. An unofficial sequel to the mid '60s Gamma One quadrilogy from

The Long, Hot Summer (1958) Blu-ray Review: Climax Change

Twilight Time heats things up with Martin Ritt's Southern Gothic tale starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Tony Franciosa, and an inarticulate Orson Welles.
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Though the notion of someone ‒ anyone ‒ being labeled as a "barn burner" in this day and age may give you an inkling as to how outdated The Long, Hot Summer may be, the various tawdry emotions and tempers depicted in this mish-mash of several William Faulkner works sprinkled with a dash of Tennessee Williams is just as fresh as ever. Especially to anyone who may have lived in a small town. Beating Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to screens by just five months, The Long, Hot Summer finds acting legend Paul Newman as a vaguely regular rogue

Night Moves (1975) / Scarecrow (1973) Blu-ray Reviews: The WAC Gets Hacked

The Warner Archive Collection rescues two neglected classics with Gene Hackman, including his one and only pairing with Al Pacino.
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One of the most difficult acts to follow from 20th Century film history, the great Gene Hackman returns to astonish classic filmgoers (and maybe a few Millennials curious as to why everyone else shakes their head over the mere mention of Welcome to Mooseport or Heartbreakers) in two recent Blu-ray releases from the Warner Archive Collection. Night Moves (1975, Warner Bros.) The inimitable Mr. Hackman ‒ at the height of his career as a leading man here ‒ stars in this gripping neo-noir from director Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, The Chase). One of several thrillers written for the silver

The Illustrated Man (1969) Blu-ray Review: Rod Steiger's Shorts, Illustrated

The Warner Archive Collection puts an awful lot of effort into an awful Ray Bradbury adaptation.
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In 1951, genre novelist (and all-around legendary icon) Ray Bradbury published The Illustrated Man ‒ a collection of eighteen short stories based around a former carnival sideshow freak whose body is covered in an assortment of mysterious tattoos which come to animated life as they relay bizarre tales hailing from different corners of time and space. Were that not already a recipe for box-office poison, the people behind Warner Bros./Seven Arts' 1969 feature adaptation of the same name threw out more than just five-sixths of Bradbury's tales: they also threw out all of the coherency. There is also a very

A Quintet of Pre-Codes from the Warner Archive

The WAC has more early '30s fun to offer, featuring young Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, leading man Edward Everett Horton, and a pre-wheelchair Lionel Barrymore.
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While the days of their Forbidden Hollywood sets may be behind us now, the folks at the Warner Archive Collection have nevertheless kept their promise we would see more Pre-Code rarities released to DVD. In recent months, the Warner Archive has unleashed several forgotten ditties from the vaults to MOD discs, all of which feature the classic same risqué elements, lovely lassies, and ambiguously fey men of the era whom we have grown to admire in the decades that have since passed. Among the talent included in these individually released titles are the likes of Alice White, Edward Everett Horton,

Trailer Trauma 4: Television Trauma (2017) Blu-ray Review: TV Spots-a-Go-Go

Garagehouse Pictures unveils its most ambitious compilation ever ‒ and the result is nothing but incredible.
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Once more, Garagehouse Pictures has assembled another magnificent gathering of movie trailers for fans of genre flicks to drool over. This time, however, they have put together something entirely (well, partly) different from previous trailer compilation outings: a Blu-ray devoted entirely to television spots for a variety of exploitation movies released to theaters over the course of several decades. Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking, "An entire Blu-ray of nothing but TV spots?" Well, yes, dummy, that's exactly what this is! Sure, it may seem like a rather ambitious project to put together, but you have to

Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983) Blu-ray Review: Still the Man

Mill Creek Entertainment releases Antonio Margheriti's wild fantasy movie mashup, complete with an all-new commentary by star Reb Brown.
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The early 1980s brought with it many marvels in the world of film, including a swarm of trend-setting horror, science fiction, and fantasy films ‒ the likes of which still inspire filmmakers to this day. Naturally, such a surge in genre fables did not go unnoticed in countries like Italy, where imitation was considered the sincerest form of infringement-worthy flattery. But just simply copying the premise of one popular American (or Australian) flick in particular was too easy of a task for certain Italian exploitation filmmakers, leading them to mash various movies (and genres) together in order to make something

The Sword and the Claw (1982) Blu-ray Review: Witness the Unbelievable

The AGFA returns with a double-billing of ham-fisted fighting flicks which may cause you to question your sanity.
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Imagine if a small gathering of very serious grade schoolers miraculously collected enough money to write and produce an entire motion picture. Now let's envision they cast their teachers, parents, and the latter's various associates from the PTA, borrowing plot points and music from other, legitimate Hollywood productions with nary a concern for copyright infringement to be had. Now picture them fusing their tale with the very sort of feverish storytelling one might expect from a bunch of little kids, but set amidst production standards akin to that of a posh community theater project (or perhaps something you might see

Valdez Is Coming (1971) Blu-ray Review: They Just Messed with the Wrong Mexican

Despite casting Burt Lancaster as a Latino, this early revisionist western from Kino Lorber still deserves a look.
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Originally envisioned as a project for director Sydney Pollack and the starpower of Marlon Brando and Burt Lancaster, novelist Elmore Leonard's Valdez Is Coming was once set to contend against the Spaghetti Western craze dominating screens throughout the latter half of the '60s. That didn't happen, of course. In fact, Valdez wouldn't come until 1971 ‒ when the European variation of the genre was quickly being paved over by the American revisionist western ‒ with an entirely different cast and crew attached to the project. With Pollack out, Broadway/TV director Edwin Sherin took over directing. It would be the first

Hell Night (1981) Blu-ray Review: A for Effort

Scream Factory goes all-out for the minor low-budget college slasher flick with Linda Blair.
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One of several dozen slasher movies to find its way to screens during the slasher horror movie boom of the late '70s and early '80s, Tom DeSimone's Hell Night always seems like the one that gets left out in the cold. Granted, there's very little to outwardly discern the 1981 shocker starring The Exorcist's Linda Blair from any other movie of the era featuring a group of annoying college kids being murdered in an isolated setting. (Well, other than the fact that it stars Linda Blair, of course!) In fact, were one to make a check-list of '80s college slasher

Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) Blu-ray Review: When Tom Met Meg

John Patrick Shanley's quirky fantastical romance hits Blu waves with a stellar transfer from the Warner Archive Collection.
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After his Academy Award-winning screenplay for 1987's Moonstruck, playwright John Patrick Shanley launched into the '90s by taking the world into a different corner of comedy altogether. It was the first time Shanley directed a film ‒ something he wouldn't do again until crafting his own stage work for the screen in 2008 ‒ but it would go on to become a genuine American cult classic. A fairytale romance perfect for pairing with The Princess Bride, Joe Versus the Volcano was also the first time filmgoers were treated to the award-winning chemistry of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who would

Six Shooters: A Full Round of Classic Westerns New to Blu-ray

Twilight Time and the Warner Archive present us with a gunslingin' good time.
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The ageless allure of life in the Old West is just as timely as ever with these six classics, now available on Blu-ray courtesy the efforts of Twilight Time and the Warner Archive Collection. Boasting many common themes (including a few connections between home media distributors!) and ranging from early cinematic 3D productions to the earliest revisionist westerns by genre rule-breaker Sam Peckinpah, there's an awful lot of reason to shoot up the joint over here. Gun Fury 3D (1953, Twilight Time, Limited Edition of 3,000) One of several movies conceived and released during the early '50s 3D phenomenon (and

The Fox with a Velvet Tail (1971) Blu-ray Review: An Engaging Twist on the Giallo

Mondo Macabro brings us a fascinatingly unique romantic thriller take on the cult subgenre.
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From the surreal (and trippy) animated opening credits accompanied by a spectacular track by the mysterious talents of one Shawn Robinson (a tune which serves as the underlying theme throughout the bulk of the production), it is rather obvious this Italian/Spanish co-production is very different from other gialli of the time. Or any time, for that matter. Indeed, as the intriguing (if somewhat predictable) film ‒ also known as to English-speaking audiences as In the Eye of the Hurricane ‒ plays out, it seems to transgress from the routinely bloody and sex-laden Euro "whodunit" the giallo is now known for

Cop-Out (1967) Blu-ray Review: A Boring Stranger in the House

Kino Lorber's dated mod pic features a drunken James Mason, Bobby Darin as a total creep, and that's about it.
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By the time Belgian author Georges Simenon's 1940 book Les Inconnus dans le maison was adapted into a 1967 British movie by Bulgarian exile Pierre Rouve, the source material was probably already fairly out of touch with modern times. Looking at Rouve's Stranger in the House now, however ‒ or, Cop-Out, as it is known to the select group of American audiences who have actually heard of or seen it ‒ it seems about as dated as could be. Its story, set within the era of England's counterculture of the late '60s, finds the one and only James Mason as

Platoon Leader / Soldier Boyz Blu-ray Review: The Dudikoff Abides

Kino Lorber gives us a double feature offering of two 'lesser' Michael Dudikoff actioneers.
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Yes, that's right, kids ‒ our favorite American Ninja has returned to kick a little ass on Blu-ray once more. This time around, the folks at Kino Lorber have given us a double feature of Vietnam-focused films to star the one and only Michael Dudikoff: 1988's Platoon Leader and 1995's Soldier Boyz. Our first selection, Platoon Leader, hails from the Dudikoff's propitious Cannon days. Oddly enough, however, this was one of very few Cannon releases to not actually be produced by company founders Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus; rather, this drama set during the Vietnam War (and filmed in South

Ruby (1977) / Satan's Cheerleaders Blu-ray Reviews: Tales from the Drive-In

VCI Entertainment goes retro with two imperfect releases for two equally flawed horror flicks.
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VCI Entertainment is no stranger to the world of home video. In fact, it's (quite possibly) the only label in the US to have survived all of these years without a parental company in the active motion picture business (Universal, Paramount, et al). And while their current library of classic films and forgotten flicks is anything less than impressive, certain "niche" enthusiasts such as myself will always associate the outfit with cult movies. This Fall, VCI has returned to its roots (replete with retro logo) by releasing several cult classics to Blu-ray. Both originally gracing flickering silver screens in 1977,

The Wrong Guy (1997) Blu-ray Review: The Right Release

Kino Lorber's Studio Classics releases the quirky late '90s Canadian comedy starring Dave Foley, David Anthony Higgins, and Jennifer Tilly.
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What would happen if comedians from The Kids in the Hall, SCTV, and Mike and Molly got together with a writer from The Simpsons? Well, depending on the circumstances surrounding your first viewing of The Wrong Guy, the end-result can be seen as one of two things: a silly Canadian comedy, or a subtly brilliant neglected masterpiece. Spawned from a sketch lead performer/writer Dave Foley once wrote during his days as one of the The Kids in the Hall, the quirky farce finds Mr. Foley as a meager ‒ and startlingly naïve ‒ executive at a major city high-rise office

The Mercenary (1968) Blu-ray Review: This Fun for Hire

Franco Nero, Tony Musante, and a flamboyant Jack Palance highlight this Sergio Corbucci western, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Amongst the many subgenres of the European western ‒ the tombstones of which typically bear the headings of "Revenge" and "Betrayal" ‒ is another category, informally referred to by devout aficionados as the "Zapata Western." Set during the Mexican Revolution (see: History), these plates of Spaghetti usually feature a pair of protagonists, neither of whom truly adore one another or ever see eye-to-eye, but who form an alliance nevertheless in their individual, alternating quests for glory, money, and/or freedom. Naturally, the American(ized) lead is always the one in pursuit of a fistful of dollars within the confines of these fairly

The Gumball Rally (1976) Blu-ray Review: Real Cars. Real Actors. Real Fun.

The Warner Archive Collection revs its engines up for one of the greatest cross-country race flicks to hail from the '70s.
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It never fails to amuse me how many road/race flicks spawned from the same decade now synonymous with "gas shortage." Similarly, those very motion pictures never fail to delight. And now, thanks to the ever-diligent efforts of the Warner Archive Collection, one of the first films to capitalize on Brock Yates' Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash ‒ which Yates himself would cash-in on a few years later with The Cannonball Run, after Burt Reynolds already had in Smokey and the Bandit ‒ has hit Blu-ray for home media enthusiasts who love seeing vintage (and very expensive) automobiles darting across

The Man with Two Brains / My Blue Heaven Blu-ray Reviews: Get Martinized

The Warner Archive Collection re-releases two of Steve Martin's best films, this time in glorious High-Definition.
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From his early days as a collaborator on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Steve Martin's unique brand of humor has always left an impression. Even on people who have never been able to tune in to his sense of comedy, such as my father and just about every critic who saw The Jerk upon its initial release. Fortunately, time has always been on Mr. Martin's side. Well, maybe so not so much in the case of those Pink Panther remakes, but his original classics have maintained their popularity over the years, especially these two new Warner Archive Blu-ray issues. Originally

Freebie and the Bean (1974) Blu-ray Review: How Can Something So Wrong Feel So Right?

Look out, world ‒ because James Caan and Alan Arkin are on the loose again, thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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A classic example of "How can something so wrong feel so right?", Richard (The Stunt Man) Rush's classic 1974 action-comedy starring James Caan and Alan Arkin is a delightful politically-incorrect romp through the streets of San Francisco. The granddaddy of the buddy cop genre most of us have grown to despise today, Freebie and the Bean focuses on the outrageous antics of two rogue SFPD detectives, whom we only ever know by their eponymous nicknames: Caan plays the openly corrupt "Freebie," while Arkin ‒ an actor of Jewish heritage, mind you ‒ plays a Mexican-American everyone calls "Bean." And who

Death Rides a Horse (1967) Blu-ray Review: Lee Van Cleef's Finest Hour

Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law each set out for revenge in this above-average Spaghetti Western classic, now available from Kino Lorber.
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Though it was one of several dozen Spaghetti Westerns produced just in the year of 1967 alone, Giulio Petroni's Death Rides a Horse (Da uomo a uomo; or, As Man to Man) has nevertheless managed to climb its way up through the dark and dusty trails of European westerns over the years. Boasting a memorable score by the legendary Ennio Morricone himself (both the soundtrack and film "inspired" several aspects of Quentin Tarantino's homage to just about every kind of genre movie under the desert sun, Kill Bill), the unconventional entry in the long list of Euro westerns ‒ the

The High Commissioner (1968) Blu-ray Review: The Accidental Spy from Down Under

Kino Lorber brings us a fun tale of an abrasive detective wrapped up in international intrigue starring Rod Taylor and Christopher Plummer.
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The notion of a Eurospy movie was hardly anything new in 1968. If anything, it was becoming rather mundane to European filmgoers who had been bombarded by a jaw-dropping assortment of bastardized 007 clones by the time our film in question first hit screens. And yet, the makers of The High Commissioner (aka Nobody Runs Forever) nevertheless managed to give their project a unique twist: an abrasive, unsophisticated copper straight from the Outback as the protagonist. Made before fellow Aussie George Lazenby engaged in his shortlived stint as James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the late great Rod

Web of the Spider (1971) Blu-ray Review: Get Caught in This One

Garagehouse Pictures ups the ante of awesomeness by bringing us a fresh HD print of a classic cult Italian horror flick.
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There aren't a whole heck of a lot of film directors who are brave enough to remake their own work (short films notwithstanding). In fact, I can only think of four off the top of my head. At the top of that very short list are A-list contenders Alfred Hitchcock (The Man Who Knew Too Much) and Cecil B. DeMille (The Ten Commandments). The quality of motion pictures change drastically, however, come the final two entries, which consists of two cult filmmakers: Dick Maas (whose remade his bizarre killer elevator film The Lift years later as Down, both of which

He Walked By Night (1948) Blu-ray Review: The Dawn of Dragnet

The film that helped form the world of police procedurals receives a beautiful restoration from ClassicFlix.
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Although He Walked By Night may not be considered a household movie title today, it nevertheless remains a founding pillar to the entertainment industry. For had it not been for this atmospheric 1948 film noir from screenwriter Crane Wilbur (House of Wax), a certain minor actor (and music lover) by the name of Jack Webb would not have struck up a friendship with an LA police detective. And had that not have happened, younger generations, a series known as Dragnet would not have come to pass, which means the gigantic world of police procedurals and forensic dramas may never have

Superman: The Movie - Extended Cut (1978/82) Blu-ray Review: A DC Miracle

The Warner Archive Collection soars with this rare, three-hour TV cut of Richard Donner's superhero classic.
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Of all the variable incarnations of motion pictures that exist within the world, there is perhaps none more elusive than the legendary TV version. This holds particularly true in the instance of films made before television censors officially threw up their arms and said "We give up" after Dennis Franz's flabby backside first appeared on late night television airings. Prior to that, many theatrical outings underwent sometimes drastic re-edits before they could be shown to the still-sensitive primetime audiences of the late '70s and early '80s. One good example is the near-legendary network-added prologue to Sergio Leone's A Fistful of

The Man Who Died Twice (1958) Blu-ray Review: Um, Is That a Spoiler Alert?

Kino Lorber digs up a beautiful print of a less-than-remembered guilty pleasure B-noir from Republic Pictures.
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The career of the late Vera Ralston was perhaps more fascinating off-screen than it was on. After escaping her native Czechoslovakia immediately before the Nazis closed the borders off during World War II, the former ice skater later became Republic Pictures head Herbert J. Yates' personal discovery, and he frequently cast her in pictures. Alas, even Ralston's thick Czech accent ‒ coupled with the fact she she didn't speak English terribly well and had to learn her lines phonetically ‒ was not enough to excuse her "unique" acting skills, and it was only a matter of time before her career

Only Noirs and Horses: Four Flicks from the Warner Archive

From classic psychological thrillers to obscure westerns, these WAC releases are worth betting money on.
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In keeping with their tradition of debuting and re-issuing timeless and forgotten classics alike, the Warner Archive Collection has recently brought forth four titles from its vaults. Among this quartet is the classic psychological thriller Undercurrent, and three new-to-DVD rarities: Full Confession, which may very well be the darkest "religious" film I have ever seen; the fascinating western noir Cow Country; and ‒ branching out from the cowboy motif ‒ the long lost '50s family-friendly adventure, The Lion and the Horse. Undercurrent (1946) By and far the most recognized title in the mix, Vincente Minnelli's Undercurrent (also known as You

Young Doctors in Love (1982) Blu-ray Review: Do Not Resuscitate

While the talent may have been fresh, it's clear no one in Garry Marshall's soap opera spoof scrubbed up first.
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One might imagine a comedy starring the likes of Michael McKean, Sean Young, Harry Dean Stanton, Patrick Macnee, Dabney Coleman, Ted McGinley, Taylor Negron, Pamela Reed, Saul Rubinek, Michael Richards, Hector Elizondo, Crystal Bernard, and Richard Dean Anderson would be a laugh-a-minute masterpiece. And while I'm sure such a movie exists in an alternate universe somewhere, it has yet to emerge in our reality. One of the first spoofs produced in the wake turbulence of Airplane!, 1982's Young Doctors in Love almost plays like a dirtier, dumber version of Scrubs ‒ right down to being produced by ABC (it was

Innocent Blood (1992) Blu-ray Review: A Parisian Vampire in Pittsburgh

The Warner Archive Collection unveils a gorgeous new uncut transfer of John Landis' star-studded horror/action/comedy.
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Where An American Werewolf in London and From Dusk Till Dawn points on a map, John Landis' 1992 vampire horror/action/comedy Innocent Blood would probably be somewhere in-between in terms of its ability to both shock and delight. Set in the magical land of Pittsburgh, the film finds La Femme Nikita beauty Anne Parillaud as Marie, a less-stereotypical (and frequently nude) vampire with a heart. Deeming it an immortal sin to feast upon the innocent, Marie prefers to sink her fangs into the worst society has to offer. Namely, those of the criminal underworld. (Whereas today, she'd likely be draining swamps.)

Popcorn (1991) Blu-ray Review: Hot Buttered Death

Synapse Films turns up the heat on one of early '90s most underrated horror movies.
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Crafted during that curious cusp separating the '80s and '90s, Popcorn initially failed to "pop" with audiences when it first hit theaters in early 1991. In the years that have followed, however, the film has gone on to become a highly-acclaimed cult classic amongst horror film fans. And that is a particularly great feat, considering the production was plagued with many difficulties, including ‒ most notably ‒ the replacement of its director and lead star. Originally intended to be another collaboration between Porky's creator Bob Clark and Cat People (1982) writer Alan Ormsby (who had created several creepy horror classics

The Hidden (1987) Blu-ray Review: The Best Movie John Carpenter Never Made

The Warner Archive Collection proudly delivers this amazing horror/sci-fi/action/comedy hybrid starring young Kyle MacLachlan.
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The epitome of everything that made '80s cinema everlastingly fantastic, Jack Shoulder's cult classic The Hidden is a rare hybrid of horror, sci-fi, action, and comedy. Set in the ghostly shadow of Los Angeles' past, the 1987 film focuses on a parasitical alien lifeform from the infinity beyond with a local affinity for fast sports cars, deadly assault weapons, more money than it needs (since it doesn't actually need any), loud rock music, and a lot of power over others. Yes, there's one of them there allegories present in that particular synopsis; one which not only becomes all the more

The Big Knife (1955) Blu-ray Review: Cuts Like a Life

Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, and a barely restrained Rod Steiger star in this dark exposé of '50s Hollywood from Arrow Academy.
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Trying to classify The Big Knife as one particular film genre over another isn't an easy task. But then, there weren't too many movies in the 1950s which brought up the possibilities of Hollywood corruption and cover-ups to light. Nowadays ‒ especially in the wake of the once-powerful movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's fall from the limelight ‒ it's easier for the public to imagine the sort of depths studio executives would sink to. And that's precisely the sort of pickle The Big Knife's tormented protagonist Charlie Castle is up against in this 1955 "exposé" from the acclaimed director of Kiss

The Ambassador (1984) Blu-ray Review: When Exploitation Gets Political

Kino Lorber unleashes some Cannon Films cheese starring a boozed-up Robert Mitchum and a gravely-ill Rock Hudson.
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One of two adaptations of Elmore Leonard's 52 Pick-Up produced and released by Cannon Films in the mid '80s, any resemblance between J. Lee Thompson's The Ambassador and John Frankenheimer's subsequent 1986 version (which starred Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret) ends with the basic storyline. Set in sand-blasted, terror-torn Middle East, where all sides wage war against each other on a daily basis, the film finds the great Robert Mitchum ‒ during his "I'm Just Doing This for the Free Booze" point in his long career ‒ as a U.S. Ambassador who just wants everyone to get together, talk their issues

The Lift (1983) / Down (2001) Blu-ray Reviews: Same Shaft, Different Play

Blue Underground opens the doors to Dick Maas' epically strange tale of a killer elevator, as well as his poorly-timed Americanized remake.
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"Take the stairs! Take the stairs! For God's sake, take the stairs!!" Elevators are the worst, aren't they? I mean, you sit there, waiting for a soulless metal box to drop ‒ or ascend ‒ only to have to stuff yourselves in with various groups of strangers whose various odors you'd rather not have to breathe in. But what happens when that metal box suddenly develops a soul, but remains utterly cold and heartless? That was the sorta-kinda premise behind one of Dutch filmmaker Dick Maas' greatest successes, 1983's De Lift. A surprise hit around the world (it even wound

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

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

All the Sins of Sodom / Vibrations (1968) Blu-ray Review: The Dawn of Erotica

Film Movement has quite a pair to offer, just as all of Joe Sarno's actresses do in this two-fer of classic sensual cinema.
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If you've ever found yourself sitting in a darkened room with only the light of a saucy softcore selection flickering away before you, you have Joe Sarno to thank for it. A true pioneer of sexploitation cinema, the late New York City native was one of the first filmmakers to chip away at the barriers which had previously separated us from such taboo elements as birthday suits. And two of his many contributions to what would eventually go on to be known as "softcore" are on full parade here in this titillating double feature from Film Movement, both of which

Phenomena (1985) Blu-ray Review: Argento at His Most Bewildering

Synapse Films releases Il Maestro's bizarre cult classic in three different forms, including the rare U.S. "Creepers" cut.
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One of Dario Argento's most eclectic contributions to the European horror movie boom of the 1980s, Phenomena is something like an Italian cinematic variation of paella with just a dash of LSD to enhance the flavor. Equal parts giallo, horror, and a lot of other interesting juicy bits of meat, the very strange story finds young Jennifer Connelly as Jennifer Corvino, daughter of an (unseen) American movie star. Sent to a prestigious Swiss boarding school whilst daddy dearest is off shooting a flick in the Philippines (presumably with Bruno Mattei), Jennifer soon discovers she has picked a rather cumbersome time

Kid Galahad (1962) Blu-ray Review: Elvis. Bronson. Sold.

Twilight Time brings us the only film in history to feature Elvis Presley and Charles Bronson, which automatically makes it awesome by default.
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Despite having appeared in several dozen movies, there are relatively few things you can actually see Elvis do on-screen. One of them is actually get a chance to act. The other is something even more amazing: Elvis Presley training under Charles Bronson. And that right there is good enough reason for me to recommend Twilight Time's new Blu-ray offering of Kid Galahad. A musical remake (uh-oh) of the 1937 original starring Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart, this 1962 color dramedy finds The King himself as a young lad fresh who journeys to the remote countryside community he

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

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

The Moderns (1988) Blu-ray Review: Land of the Lost

Keith Carradine, Linda Fiorentino, and a dolled-up Wallace Shawn highlight this fascinating piece set in Roaring Twenties Paris.
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At one point in time, filmmaker Alan Rudolph described his 1988 film The Moderns ‒ a project which took him a full 12 years to nurture ‒ as "the most rejected screenplay in Hollywood." That in itself is the sort of thing which should fuel more artistically-inclined minds to take note of this underrated cult drama, particularly once you stop to take a good long look at the very sort of cinematic ilk the industry has descended into cranking out on a perpetual weekly basis ever since then. Set in 1926 Paris (and doubled by Montreal), Rudolph's fascinatingly oddball character

8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997) Blu-ray Review: As Braindead as Its Name Implies

Joe Pesci's waning career gets ahead of itself in this delightfully dumb film now available in HD from Twilight Time.
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Though it may not be something I'm particularly proud of, movies from the late '90s are a source of bittersweet wisdom for me, having spent the entire duration of said era as a very devoted video store manager. It was there I discovered it was one of the few professions where you could actually benefit from being your own best customer, but I didn't necessarily watch everything that went out on the shelves. Not that we received everything released (not unless there was some sort of bulk discount involved), but I did watch an awful lot of the moving pictures

The Crimson Kimono (1959) Blu-ray Review: A Crash Course in Orientation

Samuel Fuller's powerful (and still topical) look at racism gets a beautiful HD release from Sony Pictures and Twilight Time.
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As someone whose entire adolescence coincided with the late '80s and early '90s, I was able to witness firsthand a remarkable movement in Hollywood during that time. It was a period on the calendar when the term "political correctness" first started to become an actual thing. Sure, it would eventually culminate in some really ridiculous casting as the years rolled by (to say nothing of what it did for a serial womanizer such as the character of James Bond), but, all in all, there was one really fascination thread in particular to emerge out of the period. For you see,

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) Blu-ray Review: Who's Afraid?

Twilight Time brings us Woody Allen's legendary farce, highlighted by appearances from such greats as Gene Wilder and John Carradine.
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In the late '60s, physician David Reuben started to turn repressed and undereducated Americans near and far with a breakthrough manual about something most people weren't comfortable talking about at the time: sex. Originally published in '69 (because, well, yeah...!), Reuben's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) soon became a Number 1 best-seller the world over, going on to enlighten more than just prudes in the States. Now, with the subject literally staring them all in the face, it was finally time for some long overdue sex education; a movement which, in turn,

State Fair (1962) Blu-ray Review: Suppose They Held an Exhibition and Nobody Came?

Jose Ferrer directs Pat Boone, Bobby Darin, and Ann-Margret in an awkward musical remake of a musical remake.
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Were Twilight Time's double-bill of the Reader's Digest-produced early '70s musical adaptations of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn just not enough to satisfy the song-and-dance movie lover in you, don't worry. Because now they've added another musical remake of a classic tale to their lineup with Rodgers and Hammerstein's State Fair. But this isn't the famous 1945 musical remake of the original non-musical 1933 pre-Code film State Fair, boys and girls. Rather, this particular version is the (hold onto your straw hats, kids) musical remake of the musical remake of the original non-musical movie. You may take a

Tom Sawyer / Huckleberry Finn Blu-ray Review: Wild Oates and Foster Kids

Twilight Time proudly proclaims "I'll be your Huckleberry" with these '70s Mark Twain musicals from Arthur P. Jacobs and Reader's Digest.
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Years before they preyed upon lonely elderly folks with unfulfilled promises of winning phony lotteries even Ed McMahon wouldn't stamp his name on, the folks at Reader's Digest set out to lure entire families into theaters for motion pictures they produced. Thus begins one ‒ or rather, two, as it were ‒ of the strangest incarnations of Mark Twain ever to appear on any screen, big or small: the Reader's Digest Musical Adaptation. Appearing on the worn-out heels of a now-forgotten cinematic fad ‒ that of MGM's Children Matinees, wherein classic features were re-released and targeted at kids with nothing

Phantasm: 5 Movie DVD Collection Review: The NeverEnding Horror Story

Don Coscarelli's franchise has always reflected the times. Now, the time has come to repackage and re-release it. Again.
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Although I was routinely exposed to the few horror film franchises that existed within the world of film before movies like Scream started to pop up all over the place, there was always something about the Phantasm series which appealed to my youthful self. Perhaps it was the creepy, lawless atmosphere where the dreaded Tall Man (as played by the late Grammy-winning Angus Scrimm, in what would become his claim to filmic fame, be it for better or worse) and his otherworldly demonic dwarfed minions reigned over the living, usually to quite cataclysmic extents. Or the iconic flying silver spheres

Blood Alley / The Sea Chase (1955) Blu-ray Reviews: The Duke Turns to The Drink

John Wayne runs ashore with Commies, Nazis, Lauren Bacall, and Lana Turner in two seafaring melodramas from the Warner Archive.
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Following in the wake of the Warner Archive Collection's 2016 debuts of John Wayne's They Were Expendable and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, the WAC has assembled another two-fisted encounter with The Duke himself. This time, however, we are treated to two of Wayne's more unusual endeavors, Blood Alley and The Sea Chase, both of which were released in 1955 to less than triumphant box office debuts. And it's pretty darn easy to see why neither movie became the must-see hit of the year, too. Ironically, the trouble with each title is our larger-than-life star himself. Far removed from the

The Mummy (2017) Blu-ray Review: The League of Rather Average Gentlemen

Tom Cruise teams up with visually-impaired paint-by-numbers artist Alex Kurtzman to bring us something as old as ancient Egypt itself.
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First off, make no mistake, Universal's latest attempt at rebranding one of their many legendary classic horror movie franchises is a very inferior film. It didn't necessarily need to be so, however. In fact, I dare say I had relatively high hopes the film would be at least halfway entertaining in a manner which didn't involve shaking one's head in disbelief every couple of minutes. Alas, the studio that brought us the legendary 1932 tale of undead romance starring Boris Karloff is now the same company responsible for a slew of increasingly ridiculous Fast and Furious movies, horrifically written Fifty

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

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

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

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

The Loved One (1965) Blu-ray Review: I'm Lovin' It

The Warner Archive unleashes an outrageous black comedy cult classic that covers a lot of desecrated ground.
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Whereas motion pictures deliberately constructed to shock and offend people with even the most lenient sense of humor are hardly unusual today, I have to wonder how audiences must have reacted when MGM first premiered The Loved One in 1965. Freely adapted from British author Evelyn Waugh's novel The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy (with shades of Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death thrown in for good measure) by satirist Terry Southern ‒ who previously co-wrote Dr. Strangelove with Stanley Kubrick ‒ The Loved One could quite possibly be the darkest comedy ever to hail from the '60s. In

Effects (1980) Blu-ray Review: The First Snuff Movie to Get Snuffed Out

The AGFA releases the previously lost flick bout an entirely different sort of in-house FX, co-starring and featuring make-up by Tom Savini.
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Following in the wake of their previous release, The Zodiac Killer, the American Genre Film Archive is back with another killer offering. Put together by a group of aspiring young talent in rural Pennsylvania ‒ all of whom had met whilst working under the guidance of the late great George A. Romero during the filming of Martin in 1978 ‒ Effects was one of the first features to both tackle the latest urban legend of the time: the rumored existence of the "snuff" film. Two years prior to Effects raising its meager $55,000 budget, the controversial subject of the snuff

Where the Boys Are (1960) Blu-ray Review: Life Was a Beach Even Then

The Warner Archive Collection unveils the film that inspired the whole Beach Party Movie genre.
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Three years before the marketing genii at American International Pictures first discovered there was gold in the banks beside the sea with what would become the Beach Party series (and the many bad clones that came with it), the folks at MGM were having a little soiree in the sand all to themselves. Much like the later AIP franchise (which, technically, saw its roots in the late '50s via a couple of drag racing flicks), Henry Levin's Where the Boys Are features a group of kids heading off to the beach for a little fun ‒ something that, amazingly enough,

Beggars of Life (1928) Blu-ray Review: All Aboard

Kino Lorber reveals the dynamic Silent Era offering starring imposing vagabond Wallace Beery and a crossdressing, rail-hoppin' Louise Brooks.
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Although it was technically the first moving picture for Paramount to include a newly (however crude) developed invention known as "sound," William A. Wellman's 1928 classic Beggars of Life was never intended to be classified as a "talkie" by its creators. The year before its theatrical release, Warner Bros. unveiled the groundbreaking Al Jolson musical The Jazz Singer, effectively calling out to the industry to bring the curtain down on the Silent Era. With the forthcoming medium approaching them like a runaway train, Wellman reluctantly went along with the studio's request to incorporate sound into his project. Alas, the proverbial

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

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

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

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

Killing Hasselhoff (2016) DVD Review: The Stoner Comedy of the Year

Ken Jeong and David Hasselhoff cast-off amid a wave of improv comics and washed-up cameos in this vulgar, strangely enjoyable guilty pleasure.
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"I was gonna cap on The Hoff, but then I got high." Were they to have made it at least ten years ago, Killing Hasselhoff might be considered a cult classic unto its own today. Alas, as is frequently the case in Hollywood, poorly-written scripts for godawful Michael Bay movies always receive priority over something an aspiring screenwriter who actually has an imagination. And it's a pity, too, because I'll gladly take ten more movies like Killing Hasselhoff any ol' day. Even if the many production companies and distributors responsible for promoting the movie ‒ a short list, yes, but

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

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

The Valachi Papers (1972) Blu-ray Review: Pulp Non-Fiction

Twilight Time gives us a chance to tear into an underappreciated European Charles Bronson mafia flick from James Bond pioneer Terence Young.
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While it may have debuted in its native Europe more than two months before Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather forever changed the face of mobster movies, Terence (Wait Until Dark) Young's half-exploitation feature The Valachi Papers didn't see a stateside release until many months after the fact. By that time, however, full-time exploitation artists like Duke Mitchell had already cranked out or had started work on their very own low-budget rip-off of homage to Coppola's flick, thus ensuring The Valachi Papers didn't see a lot of action. The fact Charles Bronson would later be quoted as saying The Godfather "was

Erik the Conqueror (1961) Blu-ray Review: Bava Gets Epical

Arrow Video brings us Mario Bava's unique Italian take on American 'Vikings' in this stellar BD/DVD combo release.
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A few years before Mario Bava singlehandedly invented the giallo with his genre-breaking Blood and Black Lace, he created that one thing most Italian filmmakers get a bad rep for doing: remaking popular American films. Of course, when you're an inventive genius like the late great Mario Bava, the actual story of a film doesn't matter as much as the manner in which you make it. Taking its cue from the 1958 US Kirk Douglas/Tony Curtis box office smash The Vikings, Bava's 1961 epic Erik the Conqueror eliminates the typical, boring humdrum usually reserved for lavish Hollywood epics, fusing his

Snake in the Eagle's Shadow / Drunken Master (1978) Blu-ray Review: A Whole Loaf of Kung Fu

Twilight Time breaks out one of its most unusual releases yet with this double-feature of classic Jackie Chan kung fu flicks in HD.
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Despite their very pledge to release films from a variety of different genres to home video, every once in awhile, the folks at Twilight Time dish out a release that makes me stop dead in my tracks and say "Wait, what?" In a very favorable sort of way, that is. One such unveiling is the double-bill of Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (Se ying diu sau) and Drunken Master (Zui quan), two early break-out hits from Hong Kong martial arts legend Jackie Chan and acclaimed filmmaker and fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping (who varied work includes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as

The Creep Behind the Camera / The Creeping Terror Blu-ray Review: Creepshots, Redefined

Synapse Films releases a docudrama about one of cinema's most inept movies, along with a new 2K scan of the original creature feature.
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Sometimes, the most interesting aspect of a movie is its production history. Especially when the movie in question is something as legendarily awful as Vic Savage's 1964 magnum oopus, The Creeping Terror ‒ a film so bad, it makes even the worst Ed Wood flick seem like fine art by comparison. Indeed, the story behind the infamous black-and-white no-budget monster movie messterpiece has garnered the interest of several twisted minds throughout the years, most notably by the honorably dishonorable mentionings of said in two of Harry and Michael Medved's books, The Golden Turkey Awards (1980) and Son of Golden Turkey

Varieté (1925) Blu-ray Review: The Spice of Life

Kino Lorber releases a restored look at a visually stunning masterpiece from the German Silent Era.
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If you were one of the many Americans to see Ewald André Dupont's Varieté (aka Variety, Jealousy) when it was first released here ‒ which is highly unlikely, considering it was released nearly a century ago ‒ there's an even better chance you didn't see the whole story. And that's because the 1925 German feature was slimmed down considerably when the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (which would later become the MPAA we all know and regularly question the sanity of today) objected to film's more amoral bits ‒ namely, the sight of miserable carnival resident Emil Jannings

The Accidental Tourist (1988) Blu-ray Review: Good Grief

Lawrence Kasdan's powerfully therapeutic film starring William Hurt and an Oscar-winning Geena Davis hits BD thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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Though he is probably only known to the current generation of stalwart moviegoers as one of the writers of several Indiana Jones and Star Wars pictures, there was a time when the name Lawrence Kasdan was a highly praised by older moviegoers as much as maybe a few younglings craving anything bearing the LucasArts logo might do in forums today. Those of you who may be dangerously close to nearing AARP status now might recall the first-run popularity of one of Kasdan's earliest, important contributions to the film industry, 1983's human drama The Big Chill. In the '70s, as the

The Wheeler Dealers (1963) Blu-ray Review: It'd Be Funnier If It Weren't So Damn True

The Warner Archive Collection deals us a vintage James Garner/Lee Remick screwball comedy that hits a little too close to reality today.
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Given a proper duration of passing time, just about anything that was once considered cool or comical may malform into something wholly other. And there is truly no better example than the hip 1963 screwball comedy The Wheeler Dealers ‒ an early theatrical effort from director Arthur Hiller (The In-Laws) which finds the great James Garner as a shrewd businessman with a big mouth and persona to match. Dressed to the hilt in classic Texan millionaire garb, Garner's Henry Tyroon was the very sort of man whom the very sort of untrustworthy jerks who have ruined America solely in the

Spencer's Mountain (1963) Blu-ray Review: Good Morning, Johnboy

Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara, and James MacArthur inspire everything from each other to TV shows in this classic family drama from Warner Archive Collection.
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Nine years before The Waltons was broadcast across the nation's airwaves for the first time, Henry Fonda was hard at work building the very homestead the aforementioned TV series would later inhabit. Figuratively speaking, that is. And while the names, places, and events depicted in the 1963 Warner Bros. hit Spencer's Mountain differ vastly from the famous television show it would later inspire, there's no denying the simple country worlds depicted in both incarnations stem from the same Earl Hamner, Jr. novel. Set in rural Wyoming somewhere in the first half of the 20th Century, Spencer's Mountain finds one of

Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965) Blu-ray Review: Who Says Chivalry Is Dead?

The one and only Ken Takakura shows those young upstarts how to do it in this early yakuza offering from Toei and Twilight Time.
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Much like Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather would someday pave the way for jaw-droppingly violent cult classics like Massacre Mafia Style, Kiyoshi Saeki's 1965 yakuza gangster drama Shôwa zankyô-den (Showa Era Resistence) is essentially the less-exploitative precursor to Kinji Fukasaku's Battles Without Honor and Humanity. Shôwa zankyô-den ‒ hence referred to by its better-recognized English-language alias, Brutal Tales of Chivalry ‒ even stars the same amazing actor: the inimitable Ken Takakura. Here, Takakura-san plays Seiji, a World War II veteran who returns from the battle abroad only to find a new one brewing up at home. With the whole of

The Man in the Moon (1991) Blu-ray Review: Wither Mulligan and Witherspoon

Twilight Time brings us Robert Mulligan's famous final film, featuring a dynamic debut from young Reese Witherspoon.
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At the beginning of the 1960s, a fairly new motion picture director by the name of Robert Mulligan accepted a project very few people in Hollywood had an interest in touching. It was a story about a small Southern community, where people were simple and problems were complicated. There was nary a trace of action or romance, and the only violence that happened occurred in-between the pages of its source material, as penned by a one-hit writer. The result, 1962's To Kill a Mockingbird, would go on to become an Oscar-winning American classic, thanks to Mulligan's ability to focus on

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

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

Who'll Stop the Rain (1978) Blu-ray Review: Drugs, Not Hugs

Director Karel Reisz lends a lot of Creedence to this grim and gloomy tale of Dog Soldiers running amok, recently released to Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
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In case you've ever found yourself quoting the fairly famous words of The Dude whenever a song by The Eagles comes on, you'll be happy to know you can get your Creedence Clearwater Revival fill ‒ and then some ‒ in Karel Reisz' gloomy 1978 adult drama, Who'll Stop the Rain. In fact, I think it's safe to say someone overseeing the post-production of this gritty adaptation of Robert Stone's novel Dog Soldiers (not to be confused with the 2002 British werewolf horror film of the same name) was quite the fan of CCR since one-third of the soundtrack is

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

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

Year of the Comet (1992) Blu-ray Review: It's Twilight Wine Time

Peter Yates' unintentionally hilarious adventure tale will make you want to join a wine club and beat him over the head with it.
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What can you say about a movie where the hero is named Oliver Plexico? Well, frankly, you can say an awful lot about it, actually ‒ especially if the movie you're talking about happens to be Peter Yates' less-than-revered early '90s "magnum oopus", Year of the Comet. According to screenwriter William Goldman, the less-than-lacklustre success his story received from a free screening audience (who, reportedly, got up and left) was attributable solely to the unpaid group's respective distastes for red wine, which is ‒ believe it or not ‒ what this 1992 ode to the romantic comedy adventures of the

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

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

The Zodiac Killer (1971) Blu-ray Review: Trap Them and Thrill Them

The American Film Genre Archive teams up with Something Weird Video to bring us a quintessential slice of sleazy '70s exploitation filmmaking, paired with a second, rarely-seen serial killer flick.
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Pop quiz, hotshot: How many films can you think of that were made to trap a serial killer? If you find yourself suddenly developing a headache at the mere notion of such a thing having ever taken place, it's probably time you checked out Tom Hanson's creepy low-budget exploitation flick from 1971, The Zodiac Killer. Cranked out on a whim and released less than three weeks after the infamous real life serial killer mailed what would prove to be the last letter for nearly three years, this very loose adaptation of one of the modern world's greatest unsolved mysteries was

Blackenstein (1973) Blu-ray Review: Withstanding the Tests of Taste and Time Alike

Severin Films and Vinegar Syndrome team up to bring us a certifiable guilty pleasure, which is probably most famous due to the unsolved murder of its creator.
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When it comes to connecting with a cult movie enthusiast, the mere mention of the blaxploitation genre can effectively inspire one's ticker to start pumpin' blood ‒ usually to the strains of a funky theme song we have come to adopt as our own over the years. For instance, if you so much as even say "Shaft" to me, you had best be prepared for my best Isaac Hayes impersonation. This also applies to the rarer horror subgenre of urban exploitation features, the best example of which would more than likely be AIP's lovably ridiculous (but still right on track)

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

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

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

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

Who's Crazy? (1966) Blu-ray Review: Come for the Jazz, Stay for It!

Kino Lorber presents this lost avant-garde sensory orgy, featuring actors from the Living Theatre and music by The Ornette Coleman Trio.
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Whereas some films withstand the test of time, others simply get buried by it. And one such example recently emerged from the annals of obscurity in the form of Thomas White and Allan Zion's Who's Crazy? ‒ a ripe slice of avant-garde celluloid from the glorious post-beatnik world of the mid '60s that is perhaps best-known for having never been seen at all. Following a poorly-received debut at Locarno in '65 and a brief screening at Cannes in '66 (this time with some extra added musical accompaniment by Nino Ferrer), the meager, black-and-white U.S./Belgian co-production vanished, leaving a vague, lingering

Beyond the Darkness (Buio Omega) Blu-ray Review: She's a Real Doll

Get stuffed as Severin Films proves a dynamic HD master can make even Joe D'Amato's most notorious schlocker look sharp and polished.
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Of all the Italian horror maestros whose various works I discovered and worshipped as a teenager in the analog era, none stood out quite like the great Aristide Massaccesi did. Best known by his more marketable anglicized alias Joe D'Amato, the late low-budget director/producer/writer/cinematographer/editor of sleazy European exploitation cinema cranked out nearly 200 directorial efforts alone throughout his wild ride on Earth before heading off to the world beyond in 1999. Fortunately, Joe left behind a wide and varied legacy for both the devout and the curious alike, with numerous contributions to every feasible film genre in existence, from westerns

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

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

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

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

The Rounders (1965) Blu-ray Review: Glenn Ford. Henry Fonda. 'Nuff Said.

The Warner Archive Collection wrangles up a classic western comedy starring two of filmdom's greatest cowboys.
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The Rounders is the sort of film that made a bigger impression on the public than anyone had anticipated. Originally released on the tail end of a double feature ‒ a spot generally reserved for movies nobody expected much from ‒ the 1965 cowboy comedy starring the unbeatable pairing of western icons Glenn Ford and Henry Fonda garnered enough attention to launch a prequel TV series starring Ron Hayes and Patrick Wayne. But whereas the television version was doomed to failure (as was just about any project starring Ron Hayes or Patrick Wayne), this adaptation of Max Evans' 1960 novel

Twilight Time Presents: Riches, Fortunes, Millions, and Women

Four classics ranging from comedic capers to World War II musicals to soul-stirring Woody Allen dramas make their HD home video debut.
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Luck. Timing. Fate. Coincidence. Good or bad, they're all on display here in this quartet of catalog classics now available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, beginning with a once-timeless expression which the essential oil and mustache wax-obsessed entrepreneurial youth of today could do with a reminder of: You'll Never Get Rich. Granted, times have changed just slightly since this black-and-white wartime musical comedy first premiered in 1941 ‒ beginning with the more than immediately noticeable observation that they just don't make black-and-white wartime musical comedies anymore for some reason. Featuring songs by the legendary Cole Porter himself, You'll Never Get

S.O.B. (1981) Blu-ray Review: Julie Andrews' Most Revealing Role

The Warner Archive Collection releases Blake Edwards' bitingly funny stab at Hollywood, featuring his famous wife's only nude scene.
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For a film director, there surely can be no greater blow to the ego than to have your work re-edited without your consent. In fact, studio interference has had dire consequences in the allegedly "magical" world of motion pictures, resulting in vastly talented filmmakers being reduced to little more than mystical scapegoats when things don't go the way the people who screwed everything up had hoped for (also see: Politics). There have even been unforgivably unfortunate moments in Tinseltown history where directors have committed suicide after things didn't quite work out in the favor of the businessmen who thought they

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

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

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

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

Madhouse (1981) Blu-ray Review: A Film Where No One is Fully Committed

Arrow Video's recently discharged slasher flick is so lazy, its composer ripped-off his own work.
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Perhaps one of the most alluring features to be observed within the boundaries of Italian exploitation movies was the industry's tendency to rip-off anyone's work, including their own. Sometimes, the references are quite obvious, such as when they make sequels to other people's movies. Other times, the connections are much more subtle (by Italian filmmaking standards, that is). In the instance of Madhouse, however, we're served a little bit of both: its various parallels to other works are undoubtedly noticeable, but none of them can hold a birthday candle to the fact that the legendary, late great composer Riz Ortolani

Brain Damage (1988) Blu-ray Review: The Greatest Drug Parable Never Aired

Frank Henenlotter's rude, crude, cult horror-comedy classic receives a fresh fix from Arrow Video in this must-have release.
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While it has been something of a long time since he brought us a new feature film, it's still safe to say no one can make a horror movie like Frank Henenlotter. Sure, a countless many may have tried, but no one has ever truly succeeded in emulating Mr. Henenlotter's bizarre form. From that glorious moment in 1982 when his first feature film, Basket Case ‒ the story of a man (as played by the great Kevin Van Hentenryck) who keeps his deformed killer Siamese twin in a wicker basket, letting the little rubber bugger out as they track down

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

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

Twilight Time Presents: Go Big, But Don't Go Home!

Four classic titles ranging from suffocating small town drama to the wonderful world of corporate corruption highlight this must-see wave of new Blu-ray releases.
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Even if you're just now joining us here on Planet Earth, there's a fair chance you've already heard someone utter that annoying catchphrase people who post nothing but inspirational memes on their Facebook page tend to use: "Go big or go home." In all honesty, however, there is absolutely nothing wrong with heading off someplace other than one's former place of residence if things don't go as "big" as you had hoped. Indeed, the protagonists of this quartet of Twilight Time releases certainly have no intention of returning home in the unlikely event of failure. But then, with an assortment

The Jacques Rivette Collection Blu-ray Review: New Wave, Old Hat

Arrow Academy releases a trio of lengthy, esoteric, and surreal offerings which quickly turn into a case of 'mise-en-seen it.'
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Sooner or later in life, everyone reaches a point where personal obsessions and rather weird views seem to overtake either their private or professional output. Indeed, Arrow Academy's box set of The Jacques Rivette Collection presents one such unique phase from one of the men most commonly associated with the French New Wave period. By the time he made the movies included in this six-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo ‒ Duelle (Une quarantaine), Noroît (Une vengeance) (both 1976), and Merry-Go-Round (1981) ‒ Jacques Rivette had veered off of the road less traveled he and his contemporaries had become so famous for frequenting.

World Without End (1956) Blu-ray Review: Make Dystopia Great Again

The Warner Archive Collection travels through time and space to bring us one of cinema's first ‒ and strangely optimistic ‒ views of a post-apocalyptic future.
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While the notion of living in a world ravaged by nuclear war may be a regular staple in motion pictures today, it was just as much of a newfangled concept in the 1950s as was the very thought of a post-apocalyptic society itself. Of course, when it's an era where the basic "science" behind surviving an atomic blast suggested hiding under your school desk would do the trick, you have to expect a fair bit of silliness from the few movies that dared to tackle the subject. Certainly, Edward Bernds' World Without End ‒ a lavish Technicolor CinemaScope production from

From Hell It Came (1957) Blu-ray Review: This Is More Like 'Heaven-Sent'

One of the most amusingly bad drive-in monster movies ever conceived receives a beautiful new HD transfer from the Warner Archive Collection.
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What can you say about a monster movie featuring a walking, stalking, murderous tree on a wooden rampage? In the instance of From Hell It Came, you can say a whole heck of a lot just by saying very little. In fact, the most commonly referenced review of the movie was a six-word piece which read nothing more than "And to Hell it can go!" But ne'er fear, kiddies ‒ From Hell It Came has managed to uproot itself and terrorize unsuspecting filmgoers once again. This time, however, bad movie aficionados 'round the world will be able to fully immerse

Inquisition (1976) Blu-ray Review: 'Let's Face It, You Can't Torquemada Anything!'

Spanish horror legend Paul Naschy's directorial debut gets the full treatment in this shocking, sleazy, and sinful release now available from Mondo Macabro.
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As a small child, Jacinto Molina became heavily captivated and inspired by the classic Universal horror movies of the '30s and '40s. So much so, in fact, that he would later craft his own series of bloody horror outings in his native Spain under his better-known alias, Paul Naschy. All but begetting the Spanish horror boom of the late '60s and '70s, Naschy's more celebrated character would be that of a tormented lycanthrope named Waldemar Daninsky, whom his creator (and portrayer) continued to torture onscreen more than a dozen times over a span of 36 years in-between his many varied

The Blood of Fu Manchu / The Castle of Fu Manchu Blu-ray Review: Toppling Towers

The world hears from Christopher Lee's most infamous character again in Blue Underground's HD double feature of two cult collaborations from Jesus Franco and Harry Alan Towers.
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Even though nearly everyone involved in the creation of Harry Alan Towers' legendary film series have since passed on, the world has nevertheless heard from Fu Manchu again thanks to the efforts of Blue Underground. To the uninitiated (or at least overly-sensitive), Towers' Fu Manchu franchise started out in 1965 with The Face of Fu Manchu ‒ effectively reviving the long-absent (and nowhere near politically correct) villain from Sax Rohmer's legendary master of "yellow peril" thanks largely to the late great horror icon Christopher Lee and his effortless ability to play a baddie. Even when the 6' 5" British actor

Fight for Your Lady (1937) DVD Review: The Ultimate Showdown of Goofy Faces

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off an odd comic rarity with Ida Lupino and an epic battle of dirty looks between Jack Oakie and Billy Gilbert.
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If the Academy ever opted to include a category for the goofiest faces made on film, RKO's 1937 production of Fight for Your Lady would have to win one of the first posthumous awards. One of three movies director Benjamin Stoloff made with a young unknown actress by the name of Ida Lupino (a few years away from becoming the film noir femme fatale and pioneering producer/director she is best remembered for today), this charming little lighthearted ditty from yesteryear finds John Boles (the third wheel of James Whale's love triangle in 1931's Frankenstein) as a famous singer with a

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

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

The Girl and the General (1967) DVD Review: All Give Some, None Give All

A shockingly subdued Rod Steiger stars in this Italian-made WWI dramedy from Pasquale Festa Campanile.
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From a screenwriting perspective, Pasquale Festa Campanile was a fairly active fellow. Beginning in the 1950s, Campanile would go on to pen nearly 60 motion pictures, including a heap of melodramas and sex comedies, most notably the Senta Berger guilty pleasure When Women Had Tails. During the early '60s, he would collaborate with both Elio Petri and Luchiano Visconti on The Assassin (1961) and The Leopard (1963). He was also the fellow responsible for writing and directing the gritty cult 1977 thriller Hitch-Hike with Franco Nero and the late David Hess, proving the late Italian filmmaker knew how to choose

The Boy Friend (1971) Blu-ray Review: Was This the Precursor to 'The Apple'?

Ken Russell's hallucinogenic homage to Busby Berkeley is just that ‒ and the Warner Archive has made it even trippier via a beautiful (and uncut) restoration.
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While musicals aren't my prefered form of motion picture entertainment, I did, in fact, see many a song-and-dance flick during my youth. That said, with the exception of the glamourous Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers classics of the 1930s (all of those movies which just happened to feature a musical number don't qualify in my less-than-established but nevertheless somewhat experienced opinion), most of my interaction with musicals tended to be of a decidedly off-kilter variety. In fact, I can't even count how many times I have seen Phantom of the Paradise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pink Floyd: The Wall,

Finian's Rainbow (1968) Blu-ray Review: Dance with the Times

The Warner Archive raises the curtains on a movie that would be both Francis Ford Coppola's first studio film and Fred Astaire's last complete musical.
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As the end of the 1960s rolled around, bringing with them the many changes some people are still having a difficult time wrapping their ideologies around, the timeless tradition of the standard movie musical began to make a much-needed alteration as well. One such example was 1968's Finian's Rainbow. Directed by a young novice named Francis Ford Coppola, this big-screen version of E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy's stage success features many of the elements the '60s are so well remembered for ‒ namely, civil rights and stinkin' hippies. It's pretty hip to the times, even if it is slightly bewildering

Demon Seed (1977) Blu-ray Review: Artificial Intelligence Meets Artificial Insemination

The kooky, slightly kinky '70s sci-fi horror hybrid featuring the talents of the late Fritz Weaver and Robert Vaughn receives a beautiful makeover from the Warner Archive.
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Released just a few months before Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind would become science fiction movies to end all science fiction movies, Donald Cammell's 1977 horror hybrid Demon Seed really isn't the easiest movie in the world to fathom. Not without some combination of drugs or alcohol, at least. Based on an early story by Dean Koontz, the tale finds Fritz Weaver ‒ no stranger to either genre ‒ as a computer genius who builds the supercomputer to end all supercomputers. Little does he know, however, that his latest, greatest invention may actually turn out to

Voodoo Black Exorcist (1974) Blu-ray Review: The Epitome of 'So Bad, It's Good'

The Film Detective brings us the first widescreen 2k scan of this truly abominable, incoherent ‒ and yet, undeniable entertaining ‒ Euro horror messterpiece. And it's glorious!
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Imagine if an amateur Spanish filmmaker, light years away from honing in on the trade he decided to briefly pick up, suddenly received word he and his friends could join a cruise to the Caribbean for free. "Free," that is, so long as they agreed to document ‒ and subsequently promote ‒ the company paying for the very generous freebie. Deciding this would be the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their limited financial means and still crank something (emphasis on "something") out in the process, they wrangled in what little talent they could (emphasis on "little") and took their

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

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

The Sheik (1921) / The Son of the Sheik (1926) Blu-ray Review: Happy Valentino's Day

Kino Lorber unleashes two of the greatest works from legendary Silent Film heartthrob Rudolph Valentino.
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One of the civilized world's first heartthrobs and cultural icons returns in two of his most famous works, now available on Blu-ray for the first time from the folks at Kino Lorber. Although the sands [terribly pun possibly intentional] of time may have obliterated the name of Rudolph Valentino from the limited lexicons of today's youth (especially his full name at birth: Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguella!), the impression the Silent Era film legend left behind ‒ as well as the universal vogue his raw sex appeal launched ‒ are the sort of things which shall

The Yakuza (1974) Blu-ray Review: That Time Robert Mitchum Went to Japan

Like a trusty katana, the Warner Archive Collection whips out this neglected, gritty, emotional '70s cult classic with much grace and dignity.
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What can you say about a Japanese-American co-production from the director of Three Days of the Condor as written by the beautifully dark minds who penned Chinatown, Taxi Driver, and Kiss of the Spider Woman? Well, if said film also happens to star the great Robert Mitchum alongside Japanese icon Ken Takakura, and features an eclectic funky score by Dave Grusin, then the one and only official answer to that query is a heartfelt "Plenty!" ‒ as Sidney Pollack's 1974 cult classic The Yakuza should prove to even the most jaded classic movie buff beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Bells Are Ringing (1960) Blu-ray Review: You Found Me Just in Time

The irreplaceable Judy Holliday teams with the one and only Dean Martin for a musical extravaganza which has received a dynamic makeover from the Warner Archive.
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The history of the American musical is indeed a fascinating one, particularly once the genre was introduced to the ever-changing world of the 1960s. Far removed from filmed vaudeville acts and Broadway show adaptations from the dawn of the Sound Era in the late '20s, the once-harmless naïvety of the movie musical of yesteryear was about to be shown the door by an increasingly cynical society which would soon be surrounded by great shifts in both cultural and political trends. And the beginning of those changes are quite noticeable in the classic 1960 musical Bells Are Ringing, which is now

The Climber (1975) Blu-ray Review: The Stuff Scarfaces Are Made Of

An all-growed-up Joe Dallesandro stars in this nifty (and violent) little Italian crime drama, recently rescued from obscurity by Arrow Video.
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Fresh from appearing in several collaborations for Paul Morrissey and the legendary Andy Warhol ‒ a union which culminated with two of the most notorious horror-comedies ever made, Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula ‒ model-turned-actor Joe Dallesandro found himself alone in Europe. Much to his surprise, his underground popularity as a Warhol factory superstar in the US was synonymous with that of "famous" abroad. And it wasn't long before he was being asked (or conned) into making a handful of motion pictures in the continent. One such film was Pasquale (I Am the Law) Squitieri's L'ambizioso, aka The

Kiss of Death (1947) / Edge of Eternity (1959) Blu-ray Reviews: Homicidal Tendencies

Twilight Time brings us two remarkable, unforgettable, trend-setting thrillers from yesteryear in two equally beautifully transfers.
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Kiss of Death (1947) One of the most quintessential titles to ever emerge from the annals of film noir, Henry Hathaway's Kiss of Death still packs quite a punch today, long after a bastardized 1995 remake from the same studio left many with a foul aftertaste. Here, however, the flavor from the fatal lips administering the eponymous smooch is both robust and plentiful. This is particularly true whenever the movie's most famous character ‒ a giggling psychopathic killer sporting the time-honored moniker of Tommy Udo, as played in a groundbreaking debut by a young Richard Widmark ‒ livens up the

Ludwig (1973) Blu-ray Review: The Historical Epic Wherein Nothing Really Happens

Love it or hate it, Arrow Academy has unveiled an undeniably beautiful box set for one of Luchino Visconti's final films.
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I would only be slightly remiss were I to openly admit history was never my strongest subject in school. Truth be told, when I wasn't having assorted slurs shouted at me in the hallways or eluding those who wanted to stuff me in a locker, I was safe in my room at home watching movies most people had forgotten about. And the truly beautiful part about those otherwise terrible years was my ability to sit through even the longest, most boring film known to man and still be able to focus on it. Sadly, enduring great strides of monotony is

L'assassino (The Assassin) Blu-ray Review: The Lady-Killer of Rome Returns

Elio Petri's forgotten, strange, and very dark satire makes a long-overdue debut in the US from the newly launched Arrow Academy.
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The first feature film from Property Is No Longer a Theft director Elio Petri, The Assassin (L'assassino) is an interesting, early test run for the filmmaker's later (and better known) 1970 hit Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion by way of Franz Kafka's The Trial. Albeit a very Elio Petri fashion, of course. Interestingly, some Italo movie aficionados around the globe see The Assassin as something of a proto-giallo, as many elements would later become staples in the gialli movement. It also, coincidentally enough, features a character similar to legendary TV detective Columbo, a year after the character first appeared

The Dismembered (1962) Blu-ray Review: I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia

Garagehouse Pictures digs up one of the goofiest ‒ and yet, strangely intriguing ‒ lost regional horror comedies ever.
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Picture, if you can, what might have happened had a very bored Charles Addams sat down for a few hours one sunny afternoon to jot down the general outline for a lighthearted episode of The Twilight Zone. But rather than seeing his little side project achieve fruition via its intended nationally broadcast television medium, the story wound up in the hands of amateur filmmakers instead. Expanding his original story into something that would still pass for "feature-length" by cinematic standards in 1962, an indie filmmaker in Philadelphia subsequently gathered together a few friends, even fewer dollars, and said "What the

Interiors (1978) / Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979) Blu-ray Reviews: Suicidal Tendencies

Twilight Time unveils the HD debuts of two distinctly different dramas featuring Mary Beth Hurt.
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Interiors (1978) As anyone who has ever straddled a bicycle, slipped into something made out of lamé, or walked into a brothel full well knows, there's a first time for everything. In the case of Interiors, we witness comedian/filmmaker Woody Allen's first uncompromising move into the world of motion picture drama. Following his unparalleled triumph at the Academy Awards the following year with the Oscar-winning Annie Hall ‒ something die-hard Star Wars fans still haven't forgiven him for ‒ the Woodster decided it was time to tell a different kind of story: one that didn't have to rely on elements

The Valley of Gwangi / When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth Blu-ray Reviews: More Animated than Ever

The Warner Archive Collection shows off two showcases of animators Ray Harryhausen and Jim Danforth in these splendid catalog releases.
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Decades before civilized man would figure out new and inventive ways to suck the life out of that good ol' fashioned movie magic previous generations grew up looking up to, a species of gifted animators roamed the great halls of special effects studios near and far. Out of all the long-leggedy beasties, none were as revered and respected as the Hausenusharrius Rayus ‒ better known as Ray Harryhausen to us laymen ‒ whose magnificence and might effectively crowned him King of the Stop-Motion Animators. And it is with one of his tales that we begin this peek at two recent

Vitaphone Varieties, Volume Three: 1928-1929 DVD Review: Utterly Amazing

The Warner Archive Collection unleashes 16 more lost novelty acts from the days of vaudeville and burlesque shows.
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After nearly five years since the last installment in the intermittent series, the Warner Archive Collection has assembled another amazing assortment of forgotten, filmed novelty acts with Vitaphone Varieties, Volume Three: 1928-1929. Back in the mid 1920s, just a short few years before the various pioneers in the motion picture industry dreamt up a reliable way to record and print sound on to film, the folks at Warner Bros. and First National figured out a different method of providing sound to moving images: a mechanically synced-up record player. And though it may seem completely archaic and downright hipster today, the

Wait Until Dark (1967) / Love in the Afternoon (1957) Blu-ray Reviews: An Audrey Two-fer

The Warner Archive Collection brings us two remarkably different ‒ but nevertheless essential ‒ offerings from the inimitable Audrey Hepburn.
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In case you missed it, 2017 is already a great year for Audrey Hepburn fans. Twilight Time recently unveiled a gorgeous transfer of Stanley Donen's Two for the Road, wherein cinema's most beloved beauty co-starred with Albert Finney. And now the Warner Archive Collection ‒ who have been unveiling more classic catalogue releases on Blu-ray for film lovers to cherish ‒ presents us with two more for the road in what I can only call an "Audrey Two-fer" (yes, Little Shop of Horrors fans, that may have been a reference). The first title being perhaps the most popular of the

Twilight Time Presents: Odd Men Out (and the Women Who Drive Them)

Vindictive villains, stereoscopic Stooges, speculative spouses, heroic horsemen, and illiterate inventors highlight this quartet of New-to-Blu releases.
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At one point or another, every one of us falls under the jurisdiction of being that which they once called the "odd man out." Maybe you're that unathletic movie nerd who finds himself amidst a group of people talking about sports. Or you're the jock who can't seem to communicate with all of the people talking about a popular television series you've never heard of. I'm sure you get the idea ‒ as do the various protagonists of this batch of Blu-ray releases from Twilight Time, which features a wide array of odd men who are a bit out of

The Other Hell (1981) / Dark Waters (1994) Blu-ray Reviews: Breaking Bad Habits

Cursed convents? Possessed prioresses? Severin Films is having nun of that now!
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The various subgenres of exploitation filmmaking are both wild and varied, ranging from bizarre tales featuring Bruce Lee wannabes to brutal barrages upon the senses having to do with the Nazis. In addition to Bruceploitation and Nazisploitation, there's also sexploitation, blaxploitation, 'Namsploitation, and even sharksploitation to consider. And they're all a lot more popular than you probably think, too. But hidden away in the darkest recesses of cinema, there's yet another form of exploitation film that could effectively eradicate any remaining scruples of the morbidly inclined. I refer to, of course, the weird and wacky world of Nunsploitation. If you

Millionaires in Prison (1940) DVD Review: The Club Fed of the '40s

The Warner Archive paroles a corny prison yarn featuring Shemp Howard and the voice of Jiminy Cricket as inmates.
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Despite the slightly uplifting title, RKO's Millionaires in Prison is exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to happen today were the system ‒ which, as we all know, knows better ‒ to incarcerate a deserving fraudster or two: a lighthearted romp where no one gets hurt. This wouldn't necessarily a bad thing if the film was intended to be a comedy. Alas, Millionaires in Prison appears as if it is supposed to be taken seriously ‒ something which becomes all the more difficult to fathom when you stop to consider the film was directed by a man who mostly

Blu-ray Reviews: Twilight Time Goes Around the World (and Then Some)

Six globetrotting adventures and dramas make their HD home video debuts, including a Sonny Chiba disaster flick and that missing title from you Ray Harryhausen collection.
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Although statistics and insurance companies tend to inform us most accidents occur within only a few miles of our own places of residence ‒ sometimes mostly within their very confines themselves ‒ storytellers and filmmaking industries prefer to place protagonists into plights far from home. And there is perhaps no greater assortment of variable cinematic journeys than this particular lot from Twilight Time, which range from being perfectly cordial to posing downright perilous situations for their passengers. You know, the very sort of tales that keep audiences glued to cinema seats ‒ be it from euphoric glee or sheer suspense.

A Girl in Every Port (1952) DVD Review: Because Chico Needed the Money

Groucho's last leading role ‒ now available from the Warner Archive ‒ isn't something you'd bet your life on, but warrants a viewing from devoted Marxists just the same.
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The wisdom and wit of Groucho Marx may be as timeless as comedy itself, but it can be a little hard to perceive underneath some of the late legend's latter-day contributions to cinema. And a prime example of just how hard even the mightiest of comics can struggle is no more apparent than in the 1952 RKO ditty, A Girl in Every Port. When he was given the chance to simply be himself and say whatever popped into his head (censors permitting, of course), Groucho was nothing short of dynamic. Here, however, in what would be his final leading role

Django, Prepare a Coffin (1968) Blu-ray Review: Can You Dig It?

Terence Hill digs a name for himself in the only legitimate unofficial prequel to the Sergio Corbucci cult classic.
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While Sergio Leone's legendary pairings with Clint Eastwood may have injected fresh blood into the waning genre of the cinematic western, Sergio Corbucci's quasi-remake Django (1966) with Franco Nero was the first film to really draw it. Considered to be one of the most violent motion pictures ever made at the time, Django's popularity resulted in a new era of filmmaking in Europe: the bastard sequel. Soon, unofficial followups ‒ few of which had anything to do with the character ‒ were popping up in cinemas courtesy seasoned professionals trying to make a quick buck to total newbs who were

Property Is No Longer a Theft (1973) Blu-ray Review: Undeniably Italian

Elio Petri's forgotten, strange, and very dark satire makes a long-overdue debut in the US from the newly launched Arrow Academy.
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The final entry of a surrealistic motion picture trio ‒ known to fans as the "Trilogy of Neurosis" ‒ Elio Petri's strange little 1973 comedy Property Is No Longer a Theft (La proprietà non è più un furto) makes a very late US debut via the newly launched North American wing of Arrow Academy, the much more artsy side of Arrow Video. One of several titles inaugurating the Academy (which also includes the celebrated Cinema Paradiso, and offerings from Luchino Visconti and Walerian Borowczyk), Property Is No Longer a Theft is, in one word, "bizarre." But of course, that's what

Battleground (1949) Blu-ray Review: War is Hell, But This is Far From That

The Warner Archive Collection unveils a marvelous, meticulously restored look this WWII classic.
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Initially advertised to the public as "The First Great Picture of the Second World War!", William A. Wellman's 1949 epic Battleground certainly lives up to its own hype ‒ something very few films can truly lay claim to. Sporting an all-star cast that was trained by twenty veterans from the actual events the film's story is based on ‒ a heroic assembly the history books dubbed "The Battered Bastards of Bastogne" ‒ the two-time Oscar winner from writer Robert Pirosh (who won a total of three awards for this work) lives to fight another day thanks to another spectacular catalogue

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) Blu-ray Review: A Great Day for Movie Lovers

The Warner Archive Collection brings us the groundbreaking precursor to the revenge film genre in what is easily one of the most beautiful transfers of the year.
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A stranger arrives in a small town, only to discover he isn't wanted. While such a premise may have been quintessential in the storyline of every other classic oater western made in the '30s and '40s ‒ to say nothing of many a hicksploitation thriller that graced grimy screen throughout the '60s and '70s ‒ said diegesis has never been more at home than in John Sturges' 1955 Bad Day at Black Rock. Here, in a performance that would earn him a Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival that same year, the one and only Spencer Tracy portrays

The Vampire Bat (1933) Blu-ray Review: Restored and Ready to Leave Its Mark

The best B horror movie Universal Studios never made receives a beautiful makeover from the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Detective.
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Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time is all it takes. And when it comes to fairly forgotten B horror pictures from Poverty Row during the 1930s, Frank R. Strayer's underrated gem The Vampire Bat essentially flew down from the skies and into motion picture history just for its impeccable timing alone. Filmed at night on leftover sets from earlier big studio productions and rounding up a fine cast from various other recent horror hits ‒ independent or otherwise ‒ this 1933 chiller from mystery/thriller writer Edward T. Lowe Jr. has all of the heart, humor, and

Cathy's Curse (1977) Blu-ray Review: Still Cursed and Still Curse-Worthy

Canada's strange 'Exorcist' rip-off receives a beautiful restoration thanks to Severin Films.
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Apparently, nary a nation capable of manufacturing a motion picture during the 1970s was immune to the phenomenal success of William Friedkin's The Exorcist. Sadly, the otherwise reputable country of Canada was among the list of offenders in the post-Exorcist wave of rip-off cinema that followed once the 1973 blockbuster traveled abroad, exorcising their right to cash-in on the horror subgenre of demonic possession with a tale of their own. Unfortunately, the resulting motion picture, Cathy's Curse lacked most of the enjoyable qualities better-known, less-reputable knock-offs from other countries possessed. To imply Cathy's Curse is slow would be something of

Wax Mask (1997) Blu-ray Review: The Steampunk Phantom Terminator of the Wax Museum

Lucio Fulci's last credited feature feels more like a dry run for Dario Argento's career slump. And is just as appealing.
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Within the annals of Italian horror films, there are perhaps no two better-known names than those of Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento. Even today, long after the film industry which had shot both filmmakers to fame (or infamy, if you prefer) had collapsed, the two artists are still held in high regard ‒ despite the inconvenient truths that one of them is dead and the other hasn't made a decent picture since 1990 (sorry, Trauma lovers, but Two Evil Eyes is where I officially draw the line). During their heyday, it was easy to distinguish one director's work from the

Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) Blu-ray Review: Save Yourself, Dawg

Yes, it's a dog's world, but that doesn't mean you have to live in it.
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When is a dog movie strictly for the dogs? When it's Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, that's when! Unleashed upon an unsuspecting public in-between the two movies that actually would save Hollywood ‒ Jaws and Star Wars ‒ this 1976 stinker probably started off with better intentions. Intended to spoof the enormous and, by today's standards, inexplicably bizarre popularity of canine motion-picture performer Rin Tin Tin during Tinseltown's Silent Era, this equally strange byproduct of the movie-making machine ‒ manufactured during a time when animal movies had made their anomalous return to screens ‒ was, incredibly, made

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Vote for Pedro

Pedro Almodóvar's career-defining, groundbreaking dark screwball comedy gets the Criterion treatment ‒ and is just as awesome as you'd expect it to be.
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There are few films which can combine failed romances, hysteria, spiked gazpacho, the fine art of voiceover acting, and get fully away with it. And, truly, Pedro Almodóvar is only one filmmaker in the world who could pull such a feat off, which he does flawlessly in his breakout hit, Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios. Effectively managing to mix the classic Hollywood screwball comedy with the esoteric humanity of Jean Cocteau and the artistic stylings of Alfred Hitchcock, Almodóvar's acclaimed, award-winning tour de farce returns to delight once more as part of the Criterion Collection ‒ and

Return of Kung Fu Trailers of Fury (2017) Blu-ray Review: Conceived in Hell, Made in Hong Kong

Severin Films assembles 35 original trailers for some of the most mind-numbing martial arts films ever to escape from the Far East.
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'Following on the high-kicking heels of last year's Kung Fu Trailers of Fury release, the folks at Severin Films have once again sunk their iron fists into the vaults in order to bring us another gathering of jaw-dropping previews from some of the most mind-bending movies never seen by American audiences. And, honestly, this might be the best way to see some of the films advertised in this 134-minute compilation, which brings both disbelieving viewers and diehard fans alike a total of nearly three-dozen trailers for Hong Kong martial arts flicks (or at least movies made in Hong Kong that

September Storm (1960) Blu-ray 3D Review: The Stars That Didn't Steal the Night Away

A forgotten, completely forgettable underwater treasure-hunting flick receives more love than it probably deserves in this fully restored, fully loaded 3D release from Kino Lorber.
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While perhaps best known for writing classic crime novels such as Little Caesar and The Asphalt Jungle ‒ to say nothing of the classic motion picture versions of his own celebrated work ‒ W.R. Burnett also managed to adapt a few titles from other authors for the silver screen. One such title, a modest little 3D production from 1960 entitled September Storm, fell through the slats of the proverbial pier many moons ago, only to recently reemerge from the deep thanks to some very devoted Kickstarter followers. In fact, were it not for the people behind this restoration, this September

Drive-In Massacre (1976) Blu-ray Review: Well Worth the Price of Admission

Severin Films presents one of the best bad movies ever, fully restored from original elements discovered ‒ naturally ‒ in the remains of a drive-in.
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Had your average drive-in movie theater screen been constructed with a curtain, then Stu Segall's Drive-In Massacre would have definitely called for the pulling of such. That is not to say Drive-In Massacre is a "bad" film: truth be told, it's actually quite awful ‒ though, in this particular instance, its sheer incompetence is actually the film's saving grace! Rather, the jaw-droppingly unbelievable 1976 independent no-budget wonder from Southern California was made on little more than a whim and a prayer once it became all too clear the once-popular form of outdoor motion picture entertainment was coming to an unceremonious

Moscow on the Hudson (1984) Blu-ray Review: Relocation, Relocation, Relocation!

Robin Williams turns in an exceptionally fine dramatic performance in this must-see classic from Paul Mazursky, now available in High-Definition from Twilight Time.
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Immigration. Russians. No, it has nothing to do with current (controversial) topics, kids ‒ rather, said subjects are at the very heart of Paul Mazursky's Moscow on the Hudson. In fact, the word "heart" could not be any more appropriate in this particular instance, as the 1984 classic from Columbia Pictures ‒ recently added to the Twilight Time catalogue ‒ sets out to prove a point which many naysayers today seem to have missed: namely, the perfectly sound notion that them there foreigners are human beings, too. Here, the late great Robin Williams portrays Vladimir Ivanoff ‒ a circus saxophonist

Mondo Bastardo: Odds and Ends from the International World of Exploitation

From Brazilian horrors to 3D European westerns, this assortment of weird and unusual films knows its target audiences quite well.
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While the nations of the world may not agree on many points, at least our respective histories of filmmaking have proven there is at least one thing we can see eye to eye on: exploitation. Here, we bridge the gaps between Brazilian horrors and American blaxploitation, and from Italian sex flicks to Spanish westerns. It's a thoroughly jaw-dropping assortment of odds and ends, replete with nudity, sex, violence, and many other magnificent marketing gimmicks, right down to the lost art of Stereoscopic 3D. At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964) / This Night, I'll Possess Your Corpse (1967) [2017, Synapse

Panther Girl of the Kongo (1955) Blu-ray Review: The Claw Monsters Strike Back

Phyllis Coates and Myron Healey star in the penultimate Republic Pictures serial, which gets a new lease on life from Olive Films.
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After wowing Saturday Matinee Serial lovers everywhere in 2015 with a casual release of the 1950 guilty pleasure The Invisible Monster, Olive Films sent an indirect message to classic cliffhanger fanatics that there was indeed hope for these nearly-forgotten relics from yesteryear. Indeed, said hope is still springing up from out of the Paramount vaults Olive Films has access to, and now ‒ following subsequent digital serial debuts of Flying Disc Man from Mars and quasi-serial Commando Cody: Sky Marshall of the Universe ‒ another kiddie-friendly offering from Republic Pictures has been made available in High-Definition. The serial in question,

Solace (2015) Blu-ray Review: Quantum of Bollocks

Anthony Hopkins stars in a four-year-old dud based off of a decades-old, rejected sequel to 'Se7en,' ineffectively re-written to rip-off the recently revoked 'Hannibal.'
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From its opening frame, Solace leaves one with an immediate impression similar to what you might experience were you to take a swig of discounted milk from a bargain market without checking its expiration date first. It feels old. It seems slightly off. The sour taste of Solace only grows worse as all of the the markings of incompetence are repeatedly stamped over it, much like the proverbial image of well-traveled early 20th century Rockefeller's well-worn luggage would sport numerous luggage labels from different parts of the world. Alas, Solace never gets off of the runway, as its director is

It's Always Fair Weather (1955) Blu-ray Review: Gene Kelly's Blues

The Warner Archive Collection proudly presents something anyone can sing and dance to: a Cynical Musical from the otherwise sunny 1950s.
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Even if you're the type of person who generally loathes (or at least has trouble sitting through) musicals, you might actually find something to like about MGM's 1955 flop It's Always Fair Weather. For starters, It's Always Fair Weather marked the end of that strange era where larger-than-life movie musicals roamed the nation, thereby sparing many a poor sap (or sapette) any further misfortune of being dragged into an auditorium to see people sing and dance their blues away. But whereas that was the remedy in other (successful) musicals, It's Always Fair Weather proudly stood out from other song-and-dance titles

The Goodbye Girl (1977) Blu-ray Review: Back When Richard Dreyfuss Was Sexy

Neil Simon's Oscar-winning precursor to the contemporary rom-com receives a warm welcome from the Warner Archive Collection.
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If nothing else, Neil Simon's award-winning 1977 precursor to the contemporary rom-com, The Goodbye Girl is of a certain cinematically historical significance, inasmuch as it was one of a few films written by Neil Simon that didn't start out as a Broadway play. Granted, in the years since this multiple-Oscar winner first premiered, however, The Goodbye Girl has not only garnered a musical Broadway makeover, but it has also received the dubious honor of getting its own lackluster TV remake ‒ something that, sadly, has happened far too many times with Neil Simon tales (just ask anyone who had the

Dark Passage / On Dangerous Ground Blu-ray Reviews: Bogie. Bacall. Lupino. Ryan. Sold.

The Warner Archive Collection shows us its dark side with two more gems from the fabulous world of film noir.
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While history's greatest philosophers wise men may have brought forth many a pertinent question as to the purpose and situation of the human race, it was a total wise-ass the history books have unapologetically miscredited as a guy named Murphy who really seemed to hit the nail on the head with the phrase "Anything that can go wrong, will." In fact, Murphy's Law is one of the few philosophies which can be applied into storytelling without fear of alienating an audience, because if there's one thing any adult who has ever had to work for a living can tell you,

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Blu-ray Review: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

The motion picture that single-handedly brought about the fall of the Hays Code receives a fearless restoration from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Sixteen years after Elizabeth Taylor transcended from child actress into a full-fledged "adult" in Father of the Bride ‒ wherein, it should be noted, she entered her first of eight failed marriages ‒ the still-famous actress showed us just how big of a girl she could be. In every respect. For here, in 1966's motion picture landmark, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, we see a 32-year-old Liz donning more than a little stage padding as she stars alongside her most "popular" husband, Richard Burton, as Martha: an obnoxious, alcoholic, middle-aged shrew whose outward vulgarity is only complimented by the infinite

Father of the Bride (1950) Blu-ray Review: RSVP to the WAC BD ASAP

The original classic receives a makeover to die for thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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Let's take a brief gander at marriage, folks. While many of us are keen to issue a timeless, fool proof slice of advice when it comes to matrimony ‒ that of "Don't do it, it's not worth it" ‒ the fact is those darn kids never listen to us. Just ask Spencer Tracy's Stanley T. Banks in the three-time Oscar-nominated, AFI-approved 1950 classic, Father of the Bride. Though the trendsetting favorite is one of the few instances where a Steve Martin remake garnered critical praise (yes, we're still upset over that Pink Panther reboot), the original film possesses its own

The Survivor (1981) Blu-ray Review: I Guess Fate Really IS the Hunter

Severin Films brings us the seldom-seen supernatural thriller which seems to have inspired others more than itself.
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While he is perhaps best known to cult horror and sci-fi audiences today as the guy who was in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup, Dario Argento's Deep Red, and Roger Vadim's Barbarella, the career of one-time Alfred the Great star David Hemmings was much more extensive than that. Off-screen, the late English actor/filmmaker was the co-founder of the Hemdale Film Corporation ‒ the very busy production company responsible for several iconic films from the '80s, including several Oliver Stone hits (Platoon and Salvador), Hoosiers, The Last Emperor, and even still-mimicked trendsetters such as James Cameron's The Terminator and Dan O'Bannon's zombie horror

Alfred the Great (1969) DVD Review: Greater Things Have Happened

The Warner Archive Collection presents the home video debut of this legendary box office failure featuring a young Ian McKellen.
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Sprawling epics were all the rage in the 1950s, with fantastical biblical yarns and timeless tales of undefeatable conquerors popping up in theaters near and far, usually presented to eager audiences via the modern miracle of of CinemaScope and stereo sound. And yet, long after American filmgoers had had their fill of wildly inaccurate and often preposterous cinematic blockbusters which damn near bankrupted Hollywood's biggest studios, the Brits decided it was their turn to rewrite history and produce a large-scale saga which people would avoid in droves. Thus, Alfred the Great ‒ the UK's 1969 throwback to the great epics

When a Feller Needs a Friend (1932) DVD Review: How About a Break Instead?

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off one of the sappiest, nerve-wracking, Depression-era family melodramas ever made. Enjoy.
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While I am always eager to point out how wretched contemporary filmmaking seems to have become, I can never dismiss the notion that bad movies have been getting cranked out by Hollywood since the beginning. In fact, as the type of feller who appreciates that certain kind of maligned movie manufacturing (see: just about any of my articles), I don't mind discovering a previously unseen Tinseltown atrocity from yesteryear in the least bit. That is, until I stumble across something as wretched as When a Feller Needs a Friend, of course. That's when I feel like gnawing my own arm

The Black Dragon's Revenge (1975) Blu-ray Review: Bruce Lee Van Clief

Blaxploitation meets Bruceploitation in an utterly shameless, completely inept, no-budget cash-in on the demise of a martial arts master.
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A brief disclaimer beginning with "The names and characters in this film, based upon the Death of Bruce Lee, are fictitious..." cautiously alerts anyone with a lick of common sense or taste as to what sort of tripe awaits them. And yet, The Black Dragon's Revenge still manages to hit way below one's expectations of a cheapo martial arts flick produced in the wake (pun very much intended, since it's more than obvious the producers of this particular atrocity showed no remorse or honor whatsoever) of Bruce Lee's controversial death. Here, two equally tendentious subgenres of exploitation filmmaking ‒ that

The Internecine Project (1974) Blu-ray Review: Don't Ask, Don't Tell... Die Anyway

An overlooked, underrated slice of internal political espionage is probably more relevant today than you realize.
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Given the right amount of time, the natural progress of corruption can make even the lowliest tale of espionage and assassination seem relevant. Take Ken Hughes' The Internecine Project, for example. Originally penned as a freebie favor by screenwriter Jonathan Lynn for writer/producer Barry Levinson (no, not that Barry Levinson, but another guy with the same name), The Internecine Project started out as an espionage thriller about a sleeper KGB agent in the US who ‒ upon activation ‒ must dispose of the few people who are aware of his true identity. And while Ken Hughes and an unknown ghost

Binge-Worthy Collections from the Warner Archive

From forgotten comedy duos to early travelogues to matinee cowboy pictures, the WAC has just a bit of everything for classic film collectors.
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In this time where people will often sit and binge-watch an entire television series, half of the population gleefully engages in such sittings regularly, while the other half will sit and wonder why the term "binge-watch" was added to the dictionary, especially since there was already a perfectly good word selected for marathon viewings in the first place: "marathon." But no matter what side of the vernacular you're on, there truly is nothing quite like being able to sit down and get a good proper feel for a particular performer or series. Thankfully, even film history's lesser-remembered talents continue to

Inferno (2016) Blu-ray Review: Well, It Certainly is Hellish...

Tom Hanks and Ron Howard reunite for another apocalyptic Dan Brown/Robert Langdon adaptation. But is it a bit too late?
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If there's one grouping author Dan Brown never imagined he would be lumped into, it's that of the works by purported novelists E.L. James, Stephanie Meyer, and whoever it is we have to blame for those Hunger Games and Divergent books. And yet, thanks to terrible film adaptations of the works of Dan Brown ‒ to say nothing of other (real) writers whose works have been equally massacred by Tinseltown scribes who keep appearing to miss the moral of the story ‒ it has almost become virtually impossible to distinguish legitimate writers from hacks. Brown's messages to humanity first became

Trailer Trauma 3: 80s Horror-Thon Blu-ray Review: The Ultimate Party Mix

Imagine a seven-and-a-half-hour compilation of nothing but horror movie previews from the '80s. Then go one step further.
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Before the days of easily comprised playlists, which can be effortlessly constructed via an MP3 player synced up to something resembling iTunes, we adults had to deal with the complexities of assembling party mixes with using archaic technology such as analog cassette tapes. If you were lucky, you had a dual-cassette boombox with high-speed dubbing capabilities, but that hardly made editing a breeze: you either knew when and where to release the pause on Deck One as you hit the 'record' button on Deck Two or you didn't. And that was just for audio mixes, kids ‒ compiling a video

Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966) Blu-ray Review: Please Hang Up and Try Again

Olive Films releases one of Bob Hope's legendary flops, which is almost bad enough to be funny.
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If there's one thing film historians and aficionados alike can agree on, it's that you can't make a good movie with a bad script. Even a comedic titan such as the late, great Bob Hope would discover he was not immune to this theory as both he and his career entered the 1960s, wherein the legendary star of stage, screen, and radio ‒ who was now fully able to make a few dumb sex jokes for an hour-and-a-half thanks to changing times ‒ found himself with nothing more to do than make a few dumb sex jokes for an hour-and-a-half.

Blu-ray Reviews: Musicals and the Musically Inclined from the Warner Archive

Debbie Reynolds, Doris Day, and Julie Andrews highlight a trio of amazing rom-coms from more enjoyable, innocent times.
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Romantic comedies may have been a dime a dozen back in the '50s, but ‒ as any good numismatist knows ‒ a mint condition dime from the 1950s is worth much more than a pretty penny today. And the Warner Archive has been quite busy of late bringing a venerable assortment of shiny motion pictures classics to Blu-ray for future generations to marvel over, including a grand musical from the '50s, an amazing throwback to the musical from the '80s, and another '50s flick starring one of the era's most beloved musical starlets. In the latter instance, I speak of

Who? (aka Robo Man, 1974) Blu-ray Review: Wait, What?

An offbeat, seldom-seen British spy-fi offering goes HD courtesy the efforts of Kino Lorber.
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Apart from farfetched clones and spoofs of the James Bond films, or television shows ranging from animation to puppets to live-action girls with nice bouncy boobies about, there aren't a whole heck of a lot of noticeable titles falling under the heading of "spy-fy" in the world. We can fathom the sight of 007 driving an invisible car, or kids and talking animals preventing world domination. We are also able to accept comic book superheroes and space travelers in galaxies far, far away embarking on dangerous missions of intrigue with a straight face ‒ as such titles tend to be

Twilight Time Presents: A Quartet of Quirky Killers

Susan Hayward, Anthony Perkins, Tony Curtis, and Shelley Winters commit killer performances in this assortment of murderous movies.
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As it has been stated time and time again, the only two things we can be certain of in life are death and taxes. Onscreen, however, within the magical realms of cinematic art (where applicable), the subject of taxation ‒ with the notable exception of various legends hailing from Loxley and perhaps a song by The Beatles ‒ is one of the dullest subjects to spend your money on. Death, on the other hand, is a timeless and bankable topic. Few people would take note of a newspaper headline reading "Taxes Paid" (unless it's a politician or religious leader), but

Moby Dick (1956) Blu-ray Review: A Newly Restored Whale of a Tale

Twilight Time brings us the most famous filmic Melville adaptation of all, lovingly restored to match the original theatrical presentation.
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Obsession seems to abound every aspect of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, from its initial published parable right down to its most famous film adaptation, right down to John Huston's 1956 cinematic version, wherein most of the obsession was to be found on the other side of the camera. With as feverish of a desire to capture the legendary white whale as was Melville's main antagonist, Mr. Huston tried (unsuccessfully) to acquire financial backing for his little pet project over the course of several years before finally finding a source of salvation in Pink Panther producer Walter Mirisch and his brothers. Thus,

Moby Dick (1930) DVD Review: The Version You Never Thought Possible

For those of you who think they know Dick, the WAC salutes you.
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Anyone who has seen a single Hollywood adaptation of a classic (or even contemporary) work of literature knows full well how much Tinseltown can change even the most simple of premises. Sometimes, liberties are taken in the scriptwriting and/or filmmaking processes because of budgetary restraints or per the request of certain thespians who probably never had a very good grip on the subject matter to begin with. In other instances, time-honored tales are completely rewritten in the bold attempt at making them seem "fresh" ‒ a move which usually culminates in widely distributed box office debuts that would fare far

The Search for Weng Weng DVD Review: The Height of the World's Shortest Star

Filipino cinema's least-likely leading man was only 2-foot 9-inches tall, but his appeal to cult cinema aficionados is immeasurable.
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For anyone who has only experienced the mainstream world of cinema, venturing into the output of the Filipino film industry ‒ particularly its numerous exploitation movies made during the '70s and '80s ‒ can seem akin to jumping head first into a swimming pool with very little water in it. I still vividly recall the first time I sat down to cast my disbelieving orbs on Bobby A. Suarez's The One Armed Executioner, wherein Franco Guerrero and his giant pompadour sought vengeance against the evil men who killed his bride and left him minus an extremity. It was the closest

Strange and Unusual Christmas Films DVD Review: I Am in Hell, Help Me

Alpha Video compiles a selection of creepy shorts guaranteed to leave your mattress well soiled.
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A longstanding idiom states "'Tis better to give than to receive" ‒ and that theory definitely holds true with Alpha Video's nightmarish gathering of vintage Christmas shorts, newly compiled and released to DVD-R. From live-action horror to unsettling animation and even bed-wetting puppet play, Strange and Unusual Christmas Films is quite possibly the greatest gift you could give to someone this season, whether they're into the whole holiday thing or not. The assortment of oddities begins with a condensed Castle Films version of the 1945 Czech treat, A Christmas Dream, which actually won an award once upon a time. The

Time After Time (1979) Blu-ray Review: And Now for Something Completely Different

Nicholas Meyer's quirky sci-fi classic ‒ wherein Jack the Ripper and H.G. Wells travel through time ‒ gets a much-needed makeover from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Imagine, if you will, Jack the Ripper ‒ having just committed his final murder in Victorian London ‒ hopping into a time machine built by H.G. Wells and venturing forth to modern-day (1979) San Francisco, leaving the latter famous figure no choice but to follow him. It's the sort of premise to a motion picture which definitely falls under the category of "something completely different" ‒ so much so, one might theorize the entire concept had been taken from an unfilmed Monty Python sketch. After the success of writer/director Nicholas Meyer's previous movie mashup ‒ the combination of Sherlock Holmes

Body Snatchers (1993) Blu-ray Review: Uneven, But Not Unnecessary

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off filmdom's oddest pod people Invasion yet.
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Imagine a science fiction parable ‒ one for Communism, paranoia, conformity, or whatever ‒ where, should you fall asleep, you will be replaced by an unemotional clone grown from a pod. Sound familiar? Well, of course it does: we've been seeing such shenanigans on-screen since the mid '50s, when the first official adaptation of Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers hit theaters and sent chills up our spines. Since then, we have witnessed a number of bad imitations and three big-screen remakes ‒ the last of which, 2007's big-budgeted dud The Invasion starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, failed to garner

Michael Collins / Man in the Wilderness Blu-ray Reviews: Super Heroes

The Warner Archive Collection brings us both a legendary man and a man of legend in these two High-Def offerings.
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Some things simply go well together, hands down. Things like chocolate and peanut butter, Burt and Loni, and ‒ of course ‒ the fine art of combining totally true stories with complete and utter bullshit. And apart from politics and people on social media who should not be permitted to access the Internet, there is no great force behind blending fact with fiction than Hollywood. And for those of you who can't handle a little truth without a bit of falsehoods being thrown into the fray, these two "true stories" ‒ recently released to Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection

C.H.U.D. (1984) Blu-ray Review: The A-List B-Grade Latchkey Monster Flick

Arrow Video's two-disc Limited Edition release of this '80s horror flick is worth crawling through a mutant-infested sewer for.
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Like many of the "classic" horror flicks I tend to review, C.H.U.D. first crawled its way out of the manhole and into my life via videocassette. Even then, during that awkward span of existence known as my teenaged years, I couldn't help but shake the feeling there was something equally thorny about the film ‒ and it had absolutely nothing to do with the titular flesh-eating creatures within the picture itself. Rather, the peculiar odor C.H.U.D. emitted was of an entirely different variety of cumbersome: it was almost as if it was simultaneously trying to be something it ultimately wasn't

They Were Expendable / She Wore a Yellow Ribbon Blu-ray Reviews: The WAC Duke

Two of the most famous John Ford/John Wayne collaborations make their HD home video debut courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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While both names carry around their own amount of (significant) weight, it's almost hard to imagine a John Ford movie without John "The Duke" Wayne ‒ and vice versa. Thankfully, the Warner Archive Collection has been gracious enough to help fans of both classic motion picture greats fill two voids in their High-Definition libraries with new Blu-ray releases of two of their best-known collaborations, They Were Expendable and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Both films showcase The Duke doing what he did best ‒ giving 'em hell ‒ but is in the first of these individually released titles, MGM's They

Blindman (1971) DVD Review: Don't Let This One Out of Your Sight

The seldom-seen Spaghetti Western outing starring Tony Anthony and a recently disbanded Ringo Starr finally hits DVD.
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It was only 1971, but a lot had changed in the entertainment world since the '60s ended. First, and perhaps most importantly, The Beatles had disbanded. Secondly, the phenomenon of the Spaghetti Western was on the decline; the cruel victim of oversaturation and repetition on the behalf of the very countrymen who accidentally created the subgenre. One ex-Beatle in particular, Ringo Starr, attempted to launch a solo career in music, but was not experiencing much success [insert joke about Starr's drumming abilities here]. Across the Channel, American-born filmmaker Tony Anthony ‒ no "stranger" to the Euro western field, having created

Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze Blu-ray Review: A Hero? Yes. Super? Hell, No.

One of the pulp world's first heroes makes for one of film world's worst zeroes.
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Lately, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been threatening all of mankind by announcing he is slated to star in one remake after another, including a short-lived, fleeting fantasy of a new version of Big Trouble in Little China and ‒ more recently ‒ the reboot of a footnote in the revised American Superhero book, the Doc Savage franchise. And though no such crimes have been perpetrated as of this writing, I almost think a re-envisioning of Doc Savage is in order. Not necessarily because I would support it (I wouldn't), but because it couldn't possibly be any worse than the

Twilight Time Presents: The Southern Pacific Training Montage

Runaway locomotives, trainspotting hoboes, rail-hopping escapees, and deep-rooted Deep South prides and prejudices highlight this delivery of Blu-ray goods.
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Generally, my attempts at finding a common link between Twilight Time's monthly releases leaves me a lot of room to improvise. In the instance of the label's October 2016 releases, however, I didn't have to delve in too terribly far beneath the surface, especially with titles like Runaway Train, The Train, and Boxcar Bertha staring me right in the face. Combine that with the fact there is an awful lot of Southern drama involved in a large portion of the mix ‒ specifically in The Chase and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte ‒ and, well, I'm sure you get the idea

Universal Studios Home Entertainment Holiday Gift Guide 2016

From classic tear-jerkers to vintage knee-slappers, these goodies are sure to warm the hearts and tickle the funnybones of movie buffs.
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It's that time of the year once again, videophiles. And with all of the crazy mixed-up offerings 2016 has been pulling on us from the very beginning, there is some considerable comfort to be found in what Universal Studios Home Entertainment has put together for the holiday season. First and foremost is the prospect of you and yours spending a very Marxist Christmas (or perhaps Hanukkah would be more appropriate) with one of the most eagerly awaited Blu-ray box sets for classic comedy lovers everywhere. I speak, of course, of The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection: a three-disc High-Def item

Vamp (1986) Blu-ray Review: From Dusk Till... Hey, Wait a Minute!

Though the extras for this Arrow Video release are a bit on the anemic side, I can still sink my teeth in this fun '80s vampire cult classic.
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While the cinematic equilibrium of horror and comedy had been teeter-totting off and on for many years prior, it really wasn't until the 1980s rolled around that people started to get the balance right (that may or may not have been a Depeche Mode reference, for those of you playing at home). Indeed, the monstrous success of Ghostbusters in 1984 (you know, the good one) all but blew the doors off of the previously sealed gateway to the otherworldly. Within the boundaries of films we weren't supposed to take very seriously, that is. In a way, this permitted the horror

The Initiation (1984) Blu-ray Review: Old School's Out Forever

Arrow Video brings us a new HD transfer of the sorority slasher many of us kids ditched out on the first time around.
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If there was one lesson to be learned from the entire run of the slasher film subgenre, it is that no school-themed event, national holiday, or generalized superstition was safe from the prying eyes of bloodthirsty, homicidal maniacs. Indeed, after the first session of class began with John Carpenter's Halloween in 1978, no one ever thought to offer up "Nothing Lasts Forever" as part of the curriculum for the uninitiated. Instead, one applicant after another ‒ originating from actual graduates of filmmaking schools to drop-outs from other ends of the camera ‒ signed up for a refresher course, culminating in

Twilight Time Presents: Sense and Sensitivities

From insensitive employers to less-than-sensible debates about mayonnaise, this assortment of odds and ends is sure to inspire those of you who feel like humanity has lost all common sense.
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Like certain recent events in world history have proved, the elements of both sense and sensitivity are not always in full force: people don't always make the best decisions. This is particularly true ‒ to say nothing of acceptable ‒ in the less depressing field of fiction. And no matter how realistic of a course this sextet from Twilight Time may have become, these magical realms of fantasy nevertheless provide a great escape to scurry off to, particularly when the gravity of reality becomes almost too improbable to properly process ‒ especially since most of the protagonists of these six

Twilight Time Presents: All for the Glory of Love

From Peckinpah to Price and from Scott to Sinatra, this assortment of classics from Twilight Time doesn't mess around.
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It's easy to get carried away sometimes, particularly when the target of your obsession is something (or someone) you love. And you won't find a single protagonist or villain afoot in this wave of new Blu-ray releases from Twilight Time incapable of agreeing with you. Featuring the unparalleled talents of many motion picture greats, these releases ‒ all but one of which make their HD home video debuts ‒ this assortment of flicks touches upon all sorts of human emotion people throughout history have fallen prey to: an unbridled love for something, be it lust, pride, glory, and/or greed. Our

The Satanist (1968) / Sisters in Leather (1969) Blu-ray Review: Lost and Bound

The spirit of Something Weird Video is alive and as incurably sick as ever with this exciting new sexploitation double-bill from Garagehouse Pictures.
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Like absent remote controls and missing keys, lost films also have a tendency to pop up once in a blue moon, thus restoring a fraction of faith to movie lovers everywhere. And while movies such as the Silent Era's London After Midnight remain just as elusive as ever, a small percentage of that aforementioned fraction of faith is nevertheless present when even something far less famous (and infinitely more obscure) magically re-appears after more than 40 years of complete and total nihility. In fact, the enthusiasm over the rediscovery of something few people have ever even heard of can be

I Drink Your Blood (1970) Blu-ray Review: Lap It Up, You Mad Dogs!

Grindhouse Releasing brings us the ultimate version of this nightmarish acid trip down memory lane, complete with new extras and even two bonus movies!
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Like many cult/horror/exploitation movie enthusiasts who grew up in the '90s, I had to rely on mail-order companies to feed my growing dependency of strange tastes in film. Through these companies, hundreds of generic videocassettes ‒ the origins of which varied from fuzzy 16mm prints to second-generation LaserDisc transfers ‒ found their way into my home, many of which would stay with me well into the 2000s before the advent of DVD enabled many an obscured cult classic to be released commercially and en masse. One fateful evening, somewhere in the middle of a particularly life-changing year of my adolescence

The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast Blu-ray/DVD Box Set Review: Class-Ick

Arrow Video releases the definitive box set (well two, actually) paying all respect due to one of filmdom's most unique innovators.
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There will never be another Herschell Gordon Lewis in this world, ladies and gentlemen. And though some snobbier film aficionados may consider that a blessing, considering the course the motion picture industry has taken since the late independent exploitation filmmaker first succeeded in turning head whilst churning stomachs and all, there is no denying the legacy H.G. Lewis left behind. While his self-planted roots in the world cinema started with a variety of silly "nudie cuties" (which popped up in various "art houses" across the nation), Lewis didn't strike gold until he struck nerves. And arteries. And major organs. And

Men & Chicken (2015) Blu-ray Review: Hard-Boiled Danish

Breaching all boundaries of good taste, I can't decide if Denmark's award-winning black comedy is for mankind or just plain fowl.
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It's been a considerable while since I last dived into a Danish picture, and my immediate thought as soon as Anders Thomas Jensen's Mænd & høns ‒ or, Men & Chicken, as the English-language translation reads ‒ was if I had been out of the loop for far too long. Or maybe I have aged considerably more in the last couple of years than the calendar would have me believe, as I found Men & Chicken was a bit of a tough shell to crack. Sure, it either won or was nominated for numerous awards in its native Denmark (as

Crime or Climb: Tails of Scaling and Failing from the Warner Archive

Sean Connery ascends, George Hamilton pretends, and Don Siegel defends in this trio from the WAC.
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It is oft said one must reach the top in order to succeed, and this trio of minor motion pictures from Hollywood's past can serve as a painful reminder of how much of a fall you're in for should you slip up somewhere along the line. And both of those terrible analogies certainly come into play in the 1982 Warner Bros. drama, Five Days, One Summer, for it quite literally has to do with mountain climbing. But before you get your hopes up, this is not the sort of exciting cinematic fare like you might find in The Eiger Sanction.

Edward G. Robinson Breaks Out of the Warner Archive Collection!

Yeah, a quartet of individual titles starring classic Hollywood's perennial tough guy make their DVD debuts, see?
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Compared to the infinite number of indistinguishable pretty boys popping up in one forgettable flick after another today, there could only have been one Edward G. Robinson. Hailing from a time in Tinseltown when tough guys could be larger-than-life no matter how short and squatty they may have been, Robinson's noticeable lack of height (or a handsome mug) may have prevented him from landing more romantic, nice guy roles, but his natural grumpy-looking demeanor soon found him shooting up the ladder of success in 1931 when he landed the lead in the crime drama classic Little Caesar. This pivotal role

Marine Raiders / In Our Time (1944) DVD Reviews: WWII WAC

The Warner Archive Collection encourages you to buy war bonds ‒ and these old World War II propaganda flicks, too!
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Every time the Warner Archive Collection unearths another wartime propaganda movie, I have to wonder if Hollywood didn't make an entire feature-length drama for every war bond sold during the duration of America's involvement in World War II alone. But of course, I'm also glad to see rarities such as these two drastically different flicks being made available, and neither In Our Time or Marine Raiders will prove to be disappointing. Well, not unless you're easily offended, that is. Truth be told, the latter offering of this WWII-some from 1944 may drop a jaw or two with its less than

Twilight Time Presents: Moral Outcasts, Musicals, and Hey, Is That Charles Bronson?

Spies, human chameleons, horse thieves, sanitized sex, and less-than-subtle dance routines featuring a multitude of bananas highlight this round of goodies.
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The subject of outcasts seem to be the recurring thread with this wave of Twilight Time Blu-ray releases, as evidenced by a very versatile collection of motion picture which would appear to have nothing else in common otherwise. The exercise begins with one of contemporary society's greatest outcasts (on either side of the camera), Mr. Woody Allen, and his 1983 offering about an even bigger outsider, Leonard Zelig. Following in the footsteps of his own Take the Money and Run, Allen's mocumentary Zelig (released a year before the cult classic This is Spinal Tap hit screens) presents the tale of

The Thing (1982) / Tenebrae / Basket Case 2 & 3 on Blu-ray: Horror, Redefined

The groundbreaking madness of John Carpenter. The murderous manifestations of Dario Argento. The deranged imagination of Frank Henenlotter. On boy, here we go!
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While none of the titles covered in this article are necessarily new to the world of home video by any means, it is with a certain amount of pride I announce these four offerings have received what could very well be their definitive editions. And that's not an accomplishment which is easily accomplished, given the various histories of each flick. John Carpenter's The Thing ‒ now considered one of the finest science fiction/horror hybrids ever made ‒ was initially met with a great amount of disdain upon its debut in 1982, when timid audiences would have much rather consumed the

From Horrifying to Horrible: Back in Print from the Warner Archive

From a magnificent assembling of classic horror of the '30s, to the various sorts of silliness the whole of the '90s had to offer, these four releases will have you screaming.
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While the Warner Archive mostly brings us new and previously unreleased goodies to DVD, they also bring us the odd re-release of titles which have become out of print. Or possibly new and improved versions of old catalog releases which were unfortunate enough to have been pressed to disc when DVD was still new. This lot falls under both categories, sporting two new widescreen offerings of titles which were only ever seen in early (read: unmastered) releases, as well as the reawakening of two cult gems, the first of which has been on many a classic horror movie lover's wish

Burial Ground (1981) Blu-ray Review: Still Smelling of Death After All These Years

Severin Films unburies one of the most notorious titles from the Italian zombie apocalypse of the '80s, fully restored and just as empty-headed as ever.
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There really isn't a movie like Burial Ground. My first encounter with this notorious Italian gut-muncher from 1981 probably occurred a good seven years after the film first hit home video in the US, by which time the movie had already become a regular dust collector in rental stores across the nation. And one of the reasons why this was so is attributable to the fine craftsmanship which can be seen in every single frame of the picture: it stinks. Good God, how this movie stinks! But of course, when you're a teen-aged boy with nothing short of an addiction

Stablemates / Lord Jeff DVD Reviews: A Double Dose of Rooney

The Warner Archive Collection slips us a couple of Mickeys (with plenty of Wood) in these two rarely-seen gems.
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The late Mickey Rooney made a sizeable impact on classic cinema, leaving behind a list of motion picture and television appearances tallying well over 300. With a résumé like that, it may be quite some time before all titles are present and accounted for on home video (and even then, it's unlikely we'll see everything). Nevertheless, the Warner Archive Collection and it's many Mickey Rooney fans working there have been doing their best to fill in the gaps to their abilities. Two recent releases from the WAC marked the home video debuts of MGM's Stablemates and Lord Jeff, both released

George O'Brien Western Collection DVD Review: 9 Oats and a Lot of Grain

The Warner Archive Collection presents some of the final starring roles from one of B western cinema's most charismatic naturals.
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Generally, the star of vintage cowboy pictures ‒ or "oaters," as they are commonly referred to as ‒ tended to be a big hulking lunk of a feller who was quicker with his fists and side irons than he was with his grey matter. And I say that referring to the actual actor, not the character he would portray. In the case of George O'Brien, however, there was something more than a big dumb oaf: a personality. The son of a San Francisco police officer set out for Hollywood at an early age to be a cameraman, only to find

Stakeout on Dope Street (1958) DVD Review: Kershner. Corman. Coleman. Oh, My!

This forgotten gem from the Warner Archive Collection offers just the facts, and more than a little strange movie history.
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Best known by today's various subcultures for bringing us that which is often cited as the best Star Wars film of the entire expanding film universe (The Empire Strikes Back, in case you missed that one), the late Irvin Kershner (The Return of a Man Called Horse, The Flim-Flam Man) started out directing episodes of another nature ‒ television shows completely forgotten by history ‒ before landing his first big screen gig with Stakeout on Dope Street. No doubt inspired by another television series (and one which has withstood the test of time), Dragnet, this late '50s crime drama from

Daughter of Dracula (1972) Blu-ray Review: Oh, the Horror

Another one of the late Jess Franco's many bad movies has made its way to Blu-ray. And I have caught up on a lot of sleep. Coincidence?
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Prior to his departure from this world in early 2013, the late Jesús Franco had left an impressive looking resume behind in which his services as a film director totaled over 200. This did not include his work as a screenwriter, producer, composer, editor, cinematographer, or any of the other jobs Franco often handled himself for productions belonging to either he or another. Put simply: Franco kept himself very busy, right up until the end. His work has become the subject of many obsessed individuals around the world, and the bulk of his career has been printed in at least

Slugs: The Movie (1988) Blu-ray Review: A Marvelously Muddled Mess

One of horror filmdom's most enjoyable atrocities rises up from the sewers once more in a stellar new HD transfer from Arrow Video.
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As a feller who spent entirely too much of his teenaged years in the horror sections of local video stores, there were two things I learned to keep a watchful eye out for when it came to satisfying my never-ending urge to keep myself amused. One item the look out for was any horror movie which proudly sported the subtitle "The Movie" ‒ something anyone who had the misfortune of seeing Mexican trash cinema maestro René Cardona Jr's Beaks: The Movie undoubtedly also made a mental note of. The other thing wasn't one I mastered immediately, however, for there was

Twilight Time Presents: Party Poopers, Poor Sports, Sore Losers, and Bad Romances

From pubescent tweens and nightmarish games to pornographers and people who love to shoot things up, there's an awful lot of foul play afoot here.
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Despite all of society's best attempts at grooming us to be normal, well-behaved, completely functional human beings, there are just some people who, as Linda Ronstadt once repeatedly declared, are no good. And this wave of releases from Twilight Time ‒ initially unleashed unto collectors in June ‒ certainly highlights many peculiar elements from various walks of life, who all seem to fit the bill(s) for party poopers, poor sports, sorry losers, and bad romances. We begin with one of the grandest party poopers of all, Frankie Addams: a socially inept and unfetteringly awkward twelve-year-old tomboy in the Deep South,

Haunted Honeymoon (1986) Blu-ray Review: Tamer Wilder

Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner, and a dragged-out Dom DeLuise star in one frighteningly unfunny feature.
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I was perhaps all of ten years old when I first saw a trailer advertising the Gene Wilder/Gilda Radner comedy Haunted Honeymoon. It was in the (singular) local movie house of the small(minded) town I grew up in, and I recall being more confused by it than intrigued. Why was Dom DeLuise dressed as a woman? And, most importantly of all, why wasn't anyone laughing at the preview ‒ my easily amused ten-year-old self included? The immediate theory my preadolescent brain formed was, based on the evidence at hand (i.e. the startlingly unfunny trailer and the lack of a reaction

Twilight Time Presents: Something I Can Never Have

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven Miles from Alcatraz DVD Review: Prison Breaks for Patriotism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucifer: The Complete First Season DVD Review: You're in for a Devil of a Time

Tom Ellis brings the infamously infernal Vertigo/DC Comics character to life, giving boring cop shows a fresh, much-needed twist.
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Do you know what would happen if you were to take every police procedural television series in the last 20 years alone and watched them back-to-back? Frankly, you'd be in Hell ‒ especially as the paint routinely and ritually applied over each show's numbers quickly began to peel away. At that point, you'd yearn to be saved by someone ‒ anyone ‒ from that which a GTA radio commercial once (aptly) described as "forensically boring." And it almost seems that such a scenario befell prolific producer Jerry "I'll Produce Anything" Bruckheimer. No doubt fearful the CSI franchise he has been

Darker Shades of Blu: Film Noir from the Warner Archive

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

Gotham: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: So Far, So Good

Warner and DC Comics' small-screen reboot of the Batman franchise grows, leaps, and slays in great strides.
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The ascension to success is quite often a very bumpy climb. Just ask Gotham's hero Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Poor Jimbo was continuously getting bumped up and down the police department ladder of rank and popularity ‒ random punishments sentenced to him by his corrupt superiors that even included a brief stint as a security guard at the infamous Arkham Asylum, where all sorts of video game scenarios are formed. In Gotham: The Complete Second Season, things are even more wild for both Jim Gordon and the residents of Arkham. Our hero gets demoted and promoted and hired and fired

American Ninja / American Ninja 2: The Confrontation Blu-ray Reviews: The Dawn of Dudikoff

Olive Films unleash one of the Cannon Group's greatest franchises in High-Definition via releases fans are sure to get a high-flying kick out of.
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There are a number of things that made the 1980s the 1980s. New Wave music. Big hair. Video game consoles. Outrageous fashions. Odd expressions. Even the film industry pertaining to that particular decade offered up a variety of awesome flicks from every genre possible, from westerns to comedies, and from horror to action. But it is the latter category to wit we owe an eternal debt of gratitude, thanks largely in part to an amazing slew of low-budget wonders from Golan-Globus Productions, and their now-infamous distribution company, the Cannon Group. The men behind this outfit, Yorum Globus and Menahem Golan,

Twilight Time Presents: Breaking the Rules of a Lovelorn, War-torn World

From bitter one-armed, one-legged, one-eyed veteran vigilantes in Santa Barbara to faithful female Jewish writers smuggling money into Nazi Germany, this lot of features proves all is indeed fair in love and war.
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In a previously penned piece, I published my admiration of Michael Winner's Chato's Land (1972), which saw a recent Blu-ray debut via Twilight Time. It was just one of six titles from the label released in April of 2016, along with five more motion pictures, each sporting their own similar feelings towards not only love and war, but the rules we break in order to win one or the other. In Chato's Land ‒ an allegory to the Vietnam War ‒ Charles Bronson's halfbreed huntsman only takes to killing once his adversaries take their little cat and mouse game off

Gun the Man Down (1956) Blu-ray Review: Fleeting Oater Fodder, But Still Fun

Producer John Wayne gives newbies James Arness, Angie Dickinson, and Andrew V. McLaglen a chance to strut their stuff.
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When it comes to following in the footsteps of a larger-than-life actor, it can be pretty darn hard to get a foothold ‒ especially when the actor is none other than John Wayne. But when someone like John Wayne has already taken a liking to you, well then you're a shoe-in for sure. A year after Wayne had recommended his equally gargantuan western counterpart to star in a new television series entitled Gunsmoke, James Arness apparently found himself at that awkward "You owe me one, pilgrim!" moment when The Duke's production company needed a star for their forthcoming theatrical cowboy

Chato's Land (1972) Blu-ray Review: A Million Ways to Die Hard in the West

Charles Bronson is turned loose for the first time in a marvelously bleak western now available from Twilight Time.
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By the time 1972 rolled in, Charles Bronson was already 51-years-old and had been making moving pictures for 21 years. And yet, it wasn't until Charles Bronson made a splash in Sergio Leone's 1968 epic Once Upon a Time in the West that he finally became a truly "bankable" name in the US. Here, in the dusty wake of his westerns shot in Spain, Bronson finally made his "official" domestic starring role debut in a western ‒ shot in Spain ‒ which took perhaps just a tad bit of inspiration from his Italian cinema phase. Cast as a half-Apache character

Doctor Butcher M.D. Blu-ray Review: Ready to Make House Calls Once Again

Severin Films presents a spectacular two-disc, two-movie version of one of 42nd Street's most legendarily notorious offerings.
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If you were one of the lucky lads or lasses who "matured" amid the days of VHS rental outlets, you know how exciting it could be to hunt for something truly extraordinary on the shelves of your local mom and pop store. Sure, the big time stores carried their own fair share of fun flicks, but those corporate suits almost always folded when it came to stocking their boutiques with more controversial filmic offerings. And when it came to being controversial, there was perhaps no greater ground to cover than that which was located in the horror section. Why, even

Twilight Time Presents: Sprawling Epics, Sidney Poitier, and a Serial Killer?

Five films from both film and real life history alike make their High-Definition debuts.
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From the rise and fall of great lands to the genesis of new ones, and a few odd points in-between, Twilight Time has all bases of great storytelling covered in this assortment of features from their March 2016 lineup. Here, we pay our respects to filmic adaptations of true historical accounts of the lives (and sometimes deaths) of the grandiose, the humble, and the downright dangerous. We being in a time and place far removed from contemporary society (though the political situation hasn't changed all that much, when you think about it), with a tale of some minor footnote of

The Angry Hills (1959) DVD Review: The Precursor to the 007 Franchise?

Ever wonder what might have happened had James Bond been born an American and started out in World War II? The Warner Archive Collection may have the answer.
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The late great production designer Ken Adam left behind a legacy which no mere mortal could ever live up to. The immaculate lairs he designed and constructed for Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb as well as several monumentally iconic James Bond movies ‒ whether they were in outer space, underwater, or inside of a dormant volcano ‒ have since gone on to astonish and inspire, with plenty of room left over for parody to boot. But shortly before the German-born award winner started designing his first 007 set on Dr.

The Whip Hand (1951) DVD Review: RKO Sets its Sights to Start Seeing Red

The Warner Archive Collection uncovers a fun little flick about reeling in one big Commie plot.
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There are many ways a film can become outdated. Our increasingly advancing world of technological wonders has made countless science fiction films archaic. Obsessions with keeping fit have resulted in reanimated individuals with rigor mortis able to run in zombie movies. Shifting political and economic winds have turned allies into enemies in stories of war. But of all the things which date a motion picture, none has the ability to alienate quite as much as employing a current trend or popular saying in a feature. Mullets may have been "in" at one fashionably challenged point in time (see: hipsters) ‒

Edge of Doom (1950) DVD Review: Can Dana Andrews Save Farley Granger's Soul?

Samuel Goldwyn's one and only film noir is also the bleakest irreligious religious movies in history.
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Prolific filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn left this world in 1974 to start issuing malapropisms in the world beyond, he had personally produced no less than 139 films, to say nothing of the motion pictures he had distributed, presented, or even lent his assistance to for other filmmakers around the world. And yet, with titles such as Wuthering Heights, The Best Years of Our Lives, and These Three under his belt, Mr. Goldwyn only ever made one film noir. And just like many of his other successes, the seldom-seen 1950 noir Edge of Doom, has the distinction of being one of the

These Three (1936) DVD Review: Kids Say the Darndest Things

The Warner Archive Collection outs Lillian Hellman's first filmic adaptation of a once-controversial play.
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Even before the Hays Office began enforcing the content of motion pictures in 1934, certain things just weren't permitted to be said aloud in public. One such topic was that of homosexuality (the more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?), which was completely illegal to mention in public when playwright/screenwriter/activist Lillian Hellman's play The Children's Hour first debuted on Broadway in 1934. Due to the critical success of the stageplay, however, local authorities in New York City decided to be lax regarding their own law (again, some things never really change, do they?). Alas, the story's subject

Too Late for Tears / Woman on the Run Blu-ray Reviews: At Long Last, Lost Noir

Two forgotten mysteries, each with their own dark histories, get definitive makeovers in these must-have releases from Flicker Alley.
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There is nothing quite so overwhelming as being utterly unable to control one's situation. Despite all of our best efforts, we remain powerless to stop the unseen forces of time and fate. All over the planet, archaeologists have discovered the remains of vast cities and civilizations which have either been buried away by the sands of time or destroyed by cruel acts of fate. For those of us who like to refer to ourselves as film buffs, similar disasters and overall bad bits of luck have obscured many a motion picture. And while the ultimate uncovering of a previously lost

The Return of a Man Called Horse Blu-ray Review: Harris Whispers. He Screams. He ACTS!

The oft-ignored sequel from one of cinema's lesser-explored trilogies gets a High-Definition makeover.
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In 1970, a simple tale of A Man Called Horse galloped its way onto the silver screen to shock audiences across near and far. With the Hays Production Code demolished and the MPAA now in full effect, filmmakers were at last able to make sprawling western adventure epics replete with gore and nudity. Because, well, after all, that's what made the Wild West so darn wild. Alas, Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch had beaten the film to the screen (and fared much better at the box office), so copious amounts of violence (by the standards of the time) weren't entirely

Twilight Time Presents: From the Dark to the Way Too Light

What do two film noirs, three westerns, one failed Charlton Heston adventure epic, and one of the worst giallo movies have in common? They've all seen the light of Blu-ray.
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A timeless, tiresome proverb tells us it is darkest before the dawn, and we have all surely met that one idiot who is always more than happy to impose some form of such an idiom upon you whenever things aren't looking overly bright for you. Fortunately, there is no lack of lighting in this sextet of moving picture offerings from Twilight Time. In the instance of the two film noir titles included in this lot ‒ Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) and a re-issue of The Big Heat (1953) ‒ the lighting is always perfect. When we're in the great

Charlie Chan 3-Film Collection DVD Review: Honorable Circle, Now Complete

Confucius say: 'Last of previously unreleased titles from franchise finally find way to disc. Hell, yes.'
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It's usually easy to say exactly where a film franchise begins. Universal Studios' Jaws (1975) movies officially started with Steven Spielberg's Jaws (though we can see early traces of the film's formula on display in Spielberg's Duel) and came to a hilariously anticlimactic conclusion in Jaws: The Revenge (1987). However, numerous foreign-made "sequels" and outright ripoffs have managed to confuse people who evidently find it difficult to differentiate the real deal from a school of blue fish. In the case of another film franchise ‒ that of the Charlie Chan legacy ‒ it truly is difficult to pinpoint what began

Twilight Time Presents: Dramatic Epics from Time (and Even Space!)

An infinite number of stars. Six movies. Positively no refunds.
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Whether you attended only one week of high school or an entire day in the food and beverage industry, you're more than highly likely to be aware of something called "drama." Generally, it's a toxic element of life, which many of us tend to ignore (or at least pretend to when you really, matter-of-factly thrive on it). But when it comes to the moving pictures, the drama has a tendency to be much more fulfilling. Not because it's healthier (though technically, it is, since we don't actually have to live it), but because there's a darn fine chance it has

Killer Dames: Two Gothic Chillers by Emilio P. Miraglia Blu-ray Review: Killer Queens?

Arrow Video places two more (partly) forgotten gialli on the map in a box set that some folks will kill for.
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Following in on the high, blood-stained heels of their previously-released gialli box set, Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercoli, Arrow Video has once again assembled a mini ensemble to two dissimilarly similar titles from a somewhat forgotten Italian genre filmmaker. This time, we are allotted the opportunity to discern (and maybe even dissect) two unique thrillers from the realm of movies fueled by sex, violence, funky fashions, even funkier music, and J&B Scotch aplenty, both of which were helmed and brought to fruition by one Emilio P. Miraglia. Much like Ercoli ‒ whose films were made and distributed

Blood Bath (1966) Blu-ray Review: Alternatingly Bloody Good and Awfully Bad Stuff

Arrow Video brings us the ultimate release of the Roger Corman horror film best known for its bizarre and convoluted production history.
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Within the grand scope of filmmaking, there is perhaps no greater force than that of editing. If you take a peek at some of the deleted and alternate scenes from George Lucas' original Star Wars, you may bear witness to some truly dreadful moments which were, thankfully, excised during a frantic last minute editing session ‒ as overseen by people other than Mr. Lucas himself. You see, sometimes even the main driving force behind a feature really doesn't know what to keep and what to snip out. On the flip side of the coin, there have been more than a

When Everything is WAC: A Visual Buffet from the Warner Archive

From one of Lucille Ball's first big roles, to one of John Carradine's last, this assortment of odds and ends from the Warner Archive Collection has it all.
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Since its humble inception at the beginning of 2009, the Warner Archive Collection has been paying its respects to many hard-to-find motion pictures which would be otherwise unavailable to classic movie buffs everywhere. And, much to the delight of the aforementioned grouping of folks who have had more than their fair share of ultra-sleek CGI-laden popcorn movies we pay a questionable lump of dough to see once in a theater packed full of people who still have yet to learn the fine art of cinema etiquette (seriously, turn your phones off, kids!), the WAC ‒ as it is so lovingly

Dillinger (1973) Blu-ray Review: Times Were Tough, So He Got with the Times!

Arrow Video brings us John Milius' directorial debut, featuring eager performances by Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton, and Richard Dreyfuss.
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Never one to take a backseat to a popular genre, the always active brains behind the once prolific American International Pictures ‒ Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson ‒ instantly knew a moneymaker when they saw (or thought of) it. Even after Arkoff's production partner left to form his own company in 1972, only to unexpectedly leave this world from a brain tumor a few months later, Sam Arkoff continued to switch on that proverbial green light to many a low budget offering from seasoned industry professionals and total wannabes alike. And it was in July of 1973 that

The Stuff (1985) Blu-ray Review: The Thing Nightmares Are Made From

Larry Cohen's comical, horrifying look at rampant commercialism, American gluttony, and corporate greed gets another chance to creep around thanks to Arrow Video.
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As a screenplay artist, Larry Cohen has many a unique offering under his literary belt. The New York-born auteur first started writing mysteries for television when he was only in his early twenties, and his god (told me to) given knack for penning thrillers soon found him cranking out teleplays for cult airwave favorites such as Branded, The Invaders, and Columbo during the '60s and '70s. Then, during the early '70s, Mr. Cohen was permitted to expand his filmmaking résumé with a directorial debut in the realm of a present subgenre phenomenon: blaxploitation movies. As a result, Larry was also

Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercoli Blu-ray Review: Arrow Strikes Giallo Gold

From deadly strolls about in High Heels to casual executions committed at Midnight, this two-fer from Arrow Video USA is sure to make a killing among fans of classic Italian thrillers.
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Though born in the early '60s, only a few short years before various forms of psychedelic and sexual revolutions began to spin a seemingly stuck planet in circles far too fast for even God to fathom, the giallo film truly started to roll about freely once the 1970s came to pass. The titles were unabashedly long and lurid; the storylines both baffling and beguiling; the murders downright bloody, yet immeasurably inventive. These were the thrillers ripped straight from Italy's sleazy pulp fiction crime novels boasting distinctive yellow (or, "giallo," if you will) jackets which kept moviegoing audiences glued to their

Twilight Time Presents: Our Own Personal Freedoms

A quintet of moving pictures that are guaranteed to hear your prayers (or at least be your friends when you're feeling unknown and all alone).
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Everyone strives for a little more room to breathe in this world. Some seek solace far away from others on islands previously unexplored by man. Others, beget into dystopian lies, defy omnipresent eyes around them in order to discover the truth. Still more are simply born with their own freedom, albeit one that is easily taken away with the mere flick of a trigger. To further illustrate this endeavor, I submit to you this collection of Twilight Time offerings (initially released in December of 2015), which take us into all of the aforementioned mysteries of personal freedoms ‒ and then

And Then There Were None (2015) Blu-ray Review: And Then There Was Yet Another

There can be only one. But is this much-anticipated (and greatly needed) BBC miniseries event truly 'it'?
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Of all the stories written and published by Britain's crowned queen of mysteries, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None has had the privilege of being adapted, staged, filmed, re-adapted, re-staged, re-written, re-published, remade, and ripped-off more than any other tale in the literate world. And it stands to reason that it should: it is, after all, one of the most ‒ if not the most ‒ successful mysteries ever published. Originally published in its native country with a far less respectable title taken from an 1860s blackface song (you may look it up at your discretion and leisure), the

John Carradine Goes Fishing DVD Review: Oh, the Horror

After nearly 70 years of anticipation, the documentary nobody ever asked for is unearthed from the sands of tides ‒ and it still stinks to high heaven.
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By the time Fish Story had been shot, scored, and pasted together for its (presumably very limited) theatrical debut in 1947, the recently-added category for Best Documentary in the Oscars was only five years old. And, upon even the most casual, non-committed viewing of Fish Story ‒ which has recently been rediscovered after nearly 70 years of obscurity and released on DVD-R via budget label Alpha Video under the more "marketable" moniker of John Carradine Goes Fishing ‒ it's easy to see why this documentary never found its way to the Academy for award-worthy approval. Granted, a good part of

Wild Bill Hickok Rides / Roughshod / Station West DVD Reviews: Girls Run the West

Three 1940s westerns ‒ each with a stronger-than-usual female presence ‒ make their home video debut courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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If there is one department the American film industry was certainly not lacking a sufficient output of during the first half of the 20th century, it was westerns. With the days of the Old West only a few pages back in the history book at the time, vast barren landscapes of wide open spaces and rustic rural settings ‒ most of which were replaced by strip malls, condos, and other forms of "progress" before the millennium came to a close ‒ it was fairly easy to see why so many cowboy pictures were manufactured: they were cheap, and audiences ‒

American Horror Project, Vol. 1 Blu-ray Review: In One Word, 'Yes!'

Arrow Video USA's most ambitious undertaking yet is worth its notable weight in gold.
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As a guy who has become slightly worn out from watching mostly B-grade movies for the majority of both his adolescent and adult lives, it can sometimes be difficult to truly jump up and down for joy over an impending release of vintage flicks which have been buried by the sands of time. Nevertheless, my excitement managed to pique and I was instilled with a great deal of giddiness upon learning of Arrow Video's American Horror Project earlier this year. And as it turns out, my enthusiasm was completely justified, for the first installment of this potentially life-changing series has

The Serpent and the Rainbow Blu-ray Review: When You're Craven Zombies

Wes Craven's noble attempt at returning the walking dead to their deep religious roots receives an HD makeover from Scream Factory.
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In this day and age, wherein masses of mindless individuals with no ability to properly implement the usage of the words "literally" or "ironically" in sentences, and who instead oversaturate conversations with superfluous adverbs where there don't need to be any (and, sadly, you don't know who you are), there's another saying that has only grown to become irritably irksome to hear: that of the many references to the "zombie apocalypse." Why, in less than ten years, the saying has miraculously become older than the walking dead in motion pictures themselves. But it wasn't always about dead folk rising from

Pray for Death (1985) Blu-ray Review: More Revenge of the Ninja? Fo' Sho!

Arrow Video unsheathes yet another B-movie featuring '80s martial arts icon, Sho Kosugi.
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Sho Kosugi has always been something of a special hit-and-miss performer in the world of B-grade martial arts movies. Although he had appeared in several films prior to his official "debut" role as the bad guy in Cannon Films' 1981 epic Enter the Ninja, it wasn't until said feature that he became "recognized" as an actor with a most effective screen presence. In fact, were it not for the fact that Sho seemed to only pop up in several notably low-budget (read: bad) ninja movies that were completely indistinguishable from one another (most of which have grown to become cult

Bad Boy (1949) DVD Review: You Make Us Feel So Good

The Warner Archive Collection asks 'Wha'cha gonna do?' about this juvenile delinquent problem.
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Of all the subgenres of exploitation filmmaking, the field of Juvenile Delinquency is perhaps the most neglected. In a weird way, it is fitting, considering the subjects of such features (and many short films, to boot) were usually just as ignored by their onscreen parents. And in the instance of 1949's Bad Boy, the casting of renowned World War II veteran Audie Murphy (in his first starring role) as a troubled youth with a bad temper and no sense of remorse for his many antisocial behaviors is only more appropriate. Though Murphy had received every military combat award for valor

Fatherland (1986) / Sense and Sensibility (1995) Blu-ray Reviews: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Two transitionary tales from the West make their HD debut from Twilight Time.
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Transitioning into a new environment is never an easy task, as is evident in two entirely different European motion pictures now available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time (and which were originally released as part of their November 2015 lineup). In fact, diving into each film proved just as intimidating for yours truly, who had spent so much time reviewing classic B westerns whilst reveling in the unartistic works of Z-grade hacks such as Jerry Warren in his spare time, that neither title seemed to "call out" to be viewed. But such are the perils and pitfalls of being an aging

The Littlest Hobo (1958) DVD Review: The Dogs Must Be Crazy

The Warner Archive Collection unleashes one of B moviedom's greatest unsung canine performers in this weird critter noir.
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A stranger wanders into town and, amid the prejudices and fears of many locals, changes the lives of people before the unknown individual exits just as swiftly as they appeared. Such a scenario has been seen and heard countless times before (many of us have indeed encountered such characters in our life stories), but in the instance of 1958's The Littlest Hobo, the "stranger" factor is upped considerably by making its protagonist one cute, very talented German Shepherd. Yes, The Littlest Hobo is essentially another Lassie clone (also see: the Warner Archive's recent release of My Pal Wolf) manufactured to

My Pal Wolf DVD Review: Dog Gone Girl

Child actress Sharyn Moffett has to learn how to cut one's wolf loose in this forgotten RKO ditty, now available from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Sometimes, you never know what the true premise of a motion picture may turn out to be. This can be particularly relevant when it comes to old B movies ‒ wherein even a man taking a leisurely stroll down to the corner market for a pack of cigarettes can end with an overzealous example of religious superiority, all but demanding viewers go to church that Sunday. Why, even a simple family movie about a little girl and her pet dog can begin as one kind of tale before it ultimately transforms into something wholly other. And wouldn't you just know

Shadows and Fog Blu-ray Review: or, Smoke and Mirrors

Even with an unmistakable style and fine supporting cast, Woody Allen's final Orion Pictures production is a bittersweet one indeed.
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In several respects, the release of Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy in 1982 marked the beginning of two pivotal points in the career of Woody Allen. Not only was it the year he began releasing a new motion picture each and every year ‒ a tradition (or obsession, perhaps) that continues to this day ‒ but it was also his first film with Orion Pictures, a company with which he would find backing and distribution for his next eleven projects. It was during his Orion constellation that Allen made a number of homages to classic film genres (and

The Doughgirls DVD Review: When Girl Comedies Didn't Need Fart Jokes

The Warner Archive Collection unveils a vastly underrated WWII comedy about three groomless brides, with scene-chewing support from Eve Arden and Charles Ruggles.
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In those glorious, long gone days before female-driven movies like Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids (to say nothing of the forthcoming Ghostbusters spin-off, I'm sure) began infecting cineplexes near and far with stories that relied too heavily on such surefire ticket-selling gimmicks such as fart jokes, an assembly of some of American cinema's finest actresses was something worth taking note of. Particularly when said actresses weren't necessarily "comediennes" per se (and didn't "let one" for the sake of a laugh). Such a formula can be seen at work in the Warner Bros. 1944 comedy The Doughgirls: a tale for the ladies

Scorpio (1973) Blu-ray Review: A Different Kind of Zodiac Killer

Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon shoot the breeze ‒ and just about everything else in sight ‒ in Michael Winner's oft-criticized (but still enjoyable) espionage flick.
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Following on the heels of his previous action film, 1972's The Mechanic with Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent, British filmmaker Michael (Death Wish) Winner reunited with the star of his first American project ‒ the one and only Burt Lancaster ‒ for a similarly-themed tale of espionage, double-crossin' secret agents, paid assassins, and looped dialogue. The result was 1973's Scorpio: a title that may have been carefully chosen to subtly associate audiences with yet another action film ‒ 1971's Dirty Harry, wherein Clint Eastwood matched wits (and barrel sizes) with a Zodiac-patterned serial killer named "Scorpio." And while Scorpio's limitations

Never a Dull Moment (1950) DVD Review: Why You Never Say Never

Irene Dunne and Fred MacMurray do their best with subpar situational comedy material in this recent obscurity from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Based on the 1943 book Who Could Ask for Anything More? by composer Kay Swift ‒ best known to today's "classic" music enthusiasts (read: people who hang out in jazz bars) as the composer of the timeless standard "Can't We Be Friends?" ‒ 1950's Never a Dull Moment finds Irene Dunne as Kay Kingsley: a fictionalized variation of her real-life counterpart, who, as our story opens, is a popular singer/songwriter in bustling New York City. During a charity rodeo event (in NYC) she helped to organize, she catches the eye of a simple, widowed father of two cowboy/rancher named Chris

Broken Lance Blu-ray Review: The Open Range (Robert) Wagnerian Opera

Twilight Time presents the Oscar-winning western remake that inspired even more movies.
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While it isn't entirely uncommon for a contemporary film to be remade into a western (it's much more common to see a western remade into something modern, or sometimes, even futuristic), it's extremely rare to see different filmed versions of the same story from the same screenwriter. The second of four adaptations (three being cinematic, the other made for TV) based on Pulitzer Prize winner Jerome Weidman's I'll Never Go Home Any More (1949), 1954's Broken Lance was the second time the original story had been transformed for the silver screen by Philip Yordan (King of Kings, El Cid) ‒

Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 9 DVD Review: Bogart's Face and Bette Davis Eyes

The Warner Archive Collection ups the ante with their latest release of Pre-Code rarities, adding a fifth bonus flick into the fray.
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While the bulk of the Warner Archive Collection's output varies on the whole, there are numerous riches lurking within the corners of the Warner/MGM vaults that hail from a time before classic Hollywood censorship took hold. As such, every time another Forbidden Hollywood set rears its head from the dusty confines of our filmic past (read my assessment of the previous set here), I can't help but wonder what sort of treasures lie in store for classic movie enthusiasts. For their late 2015 release of Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 9, the folks at the WAC decided to not only treat us

It's in the Air (1935) DVD Review: Benny and the Debts

The Warner Archive Collection unties a rare Jack Benny comedy featuring the even rarer sight of Ted Healy playing the stooge.
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A melting pot of old vaudevillians and rising wisecrackers from all over the map, MGM's 1935 comedy It's in the Air finds inspiration from several forms of thieves within the confines of civilized society: advertisers, confidence tricksters, and the IRS. Here, the great Jack Benny stars as a con man in the big city who dreams of retiring from what he calls a living and reuniting with his beautiful estranged wife, but who is actuality stuck with that jestful sally of a fraudster Ted Healy as his running mate. And run, they do ‒ especially once Internal Revenue Service agent

Man-Proof DVD Review: Pidegon Shoots Down Tone Deaf Loy

The Warner Archive Collection unveils an uneven war of the sexes dramedy featuring an unbeatable cast.
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We all know the story: boy finds girl, boy finds another girl to run off and marry, first girl gets drunk at boy's wedding. And that's just the beginning of Richard (Jailhouse Rock, The Scorpio Letters) Thorpe's 1938 B-romance (no, I did not say "bromance," brahs), Man-Proof. Here, the one and only Myrna Loy ‒ diving into her work in order to fight the still-fresh pain of losing her friend, legendary sex symbol Jean Harlow ‒ stars as a surprisingly headstrong for the late 1930s lass named Mimi Swift, daughter of prominent American romance novelist Meg Swift (Nana Bryant), who

The Mad Genius / The Great Man Votes DVD Reviews: Unburiedmore

The Warner Archive Collection digs up two forgotten starring vehicles of cinematic titan, John Barrymore.
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What's in a name? These days, not a whole heck of a lot. We've witnessed the offspring, the grandchildren, and various poor relations try to follow in the footprints of their much more famous ancestors. The result? Filmic outputs that have, more often than nought, wound up as experiments on Mystery Science Theater 3000 or lampooned in equally lamentable Hollywood in-jokes such as Bowfinger. And while the bulk of modern actress Drew Barrymore's nominations are mostly in association with her unforgivable multiple appearances in movies starring Adam Sandler (and which are commonly limited to MTV Music Awards and Golden Razzies),

Murder in the Private Car DVD Review: A Pre-Code Mulligan Stew

Wisecracking Charles Ruggles and Una Merkel highlight this odd comedy-romance-mystery that is as outdated as rail travel itself.
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An out of control railroad car inhabited by a loose gorilla and runaway madman, and crazy madcap comedy are the ingredients that make up the mulligan stew of early cinema that is known as Murder in the Private Car, now available for the first time on home video from the Warner Archive Collection. An oddity from engine to caboose, the 1934 Pre-Code offering from MGM finds one of America's premium forgotten comediennes, Una Merkel, as its leading wisecracking lady, who is joined on-screen by another unremembered great of the silver screen, Mr. Charles Ruggles. The weird part about that, of

Hitler's Madman / Hitler's Children (1943) DVD Reviews: A Double Dose of Propaganda

The Warner Archive Collection unveils two similarly dissimilar movies from the movie industry's "rushin' front."
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Maybe it was the surprise release of Triumph of the Will on Blu-ray from Synapse Films that inspired them. Or the rise in popularity for certain presidential candidates and the decidedly questionable policies they employ about (among other controversial ideals) what to do with refugees. Perhaps it was a combination of both ‒ we may never truly know. But for whatever reason, the Warner Archive Collection decided now was the time for all classic B movie audiences to come to the aid of the anti-Nazi party with two World War II propaganda films from 1943: the MGM-released piece Hitler's Madman,

Blood Rage (1987) Blu-ray Review: Because Florida

Cult cinema's perennial Thanksgiving slasher flick finally finds a home for the holidays.
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American school history books used to (and probably still do) paint a pretty picture about Christopher Columbus and a certain genocidal invasion by foreigners that would later be celebrated as a holiday known as Thanksgiving. A certain famous old television commercial would have you believe a serendipitously accidental collision between two young guys resulted in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups being born. Now, what happens when you take the great taste of Thanksgiving and combine it with the subgenre of regional horror? The answer: a seasonal slasher flick that was shot under two different names in 1983, and then released in

Wild Bill Elliott Western Collection DVD Review: The End of an Era

The last of the hard-hitting, two-fisted B movie cowboys takes his final ride off into the sunset in this eight-film set from the Warner Archive Collection.
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From the moment Bill Elliott made his earliest known appearance on celluloid in 1925, he garnered the interest of grumpy old studio executives and giddy young bijou patrons alike for his rugged looks and ability to throw a punch or pull out a pair of six-shooters in a flash. Indeed, the Missouri-born personality hailed from a rural upbringing; a trait that came in most handy once Columbia Pictures spotted and cast the two-fisted man's man in his first starring role ‒ the 15-chapter serial The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok ‒ in 1938. From thereon in, Elliott appeared in

The Strangler (1964) DVD Review: There's Always the Son

The great Victor Buono stars as a bastardized Boston serial killer, now available from the Warner Archive Collection.
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With school shootings occurring almost daily within the confines of the American border, and acts of terrorism (domestic and otherwise) filling in the gaps between the thousands of Star Wars-related posts on our social media feeds, the once-feared serial killer seems to have become somewhat (and I phrase this as delicately as I can, folks) "passé." To think that, as recently as two decades ago ‒ just before postal workers first started to become disgruntled ‒ the unfortunate, unpredictable actions of mentally disturbed mass murderers and/or manipulatively psychopathic cult leaders would have at least garnered a swiftly-produced, exploitative television drama

Twilight Time Presents: Various Vamps, Visitors, Bats and Vats

As another dreadful holiday season falls upon us, there is perhaps no better time to re-celebrate Halloween with this line-up of killer October chillers.
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Is it Halloween again yet? Yes, while many members of the commercialized human race rants about nightmarish presidential candidates inciting hate and discontent while obsessing over stocking stuffers amidst various prevailing paranoias concerning an imaginary war on a holiday that wasn't even theirs in the first place, the rest of us are ready to turn back the clock and revel in another ‒ more entertaining ‒ Pagan celebration. You know, the one some folks foolishly perceive to literally be of the Devil itself: Halloween. And since I was so wrapped up in my real life profession of helping people become

Another Language / What Every Woman Knows DVD Reviews: The Helen Hayes Code

The Warner Archive Collection proudly presents several forgotten starring vehicles for The First Lady of the American Theater.
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Unless you're an actual resident of Manhattan itself in this day and age, it's almost hard to fathom a time when Broadway ruled the world of entertainment ‒ especially when said time was long before people could upload videos to the Interweb for all to see. Personally, I can only think of five instances in my lifetime (most of which were pre-Internet) when people were raving about something related to Broadway. Three were positive: the massive successes of The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, and The Producers. And then there were two embarrassing instances that fit in much better with

The Bat (1959) / A Bucket of Blood Blu-ray Reviews: The Film Detective Goes Public (Domain)

A new indie label releases BD-R versions of two late '50s cult classics.
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Hailing from an era where it was never uncommon to see fly-by-night video distribution labels pop up with a couple of public domain titles, it is somewhat unsurprising to still see DVDs hit the shelves that have seen the light of day a good dozen times before. When it comes to the still forming world of Blu-ray, however, public domain issues are highly unusual ‒ especially since anyone could copy the data and release the same damn thing under their own label. Providing, that is, that said material was spectacular enough to warrant copying in the first place. When a

Bobby Ware is Missing DVD Review: And Starring Neville Brand as Indiana Jones

One missing little film featuring two lost little boys has been rescued by the great big Warner Archive Collection.
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Twenty-three years after his death at the age of 71, Neville Brand remains one of B moviedom's greatest heavies. From his standout performance in one of classic film noir's most popular titles, D.O.A. ‒ in which he played a psychotic killer ‒ to his subtly magnificent starring role in Tobe (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) Hooper's less-than-subtle horror outing Eaten Alive in 1976 ‒ in which he played a psychotic killer for a change (with a hungry pet crocodile, to boot!), Brand always left his mark. One year after his dynamic performance as the leader of the Riot in Cell

Cry of the Hunted / Wind Across the Everglades DVD Reviews: Attack of the Swamp Features

Two entirely different '50s bayou flicks ‒ now available on home video from the Warner Archive Collection ‒ receive a mite good scrutinizin'.
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The strange allure of musty, humid air and untold perils that only an untamed marshland can offer has fascinated many a mere mortal ever since man first ventured into such beautiful, disease-ridden quagmires. But the equal abundance of a wide variety of life (whether it be that of an animal, plant, or parasite) is rarely examined as much as a swamp's keen ability to suck the life out of any creature with nary a lick of sense in its noggin. And so, most of the movies set in a bayou usually tend to be of either hicksploitation or monster origins.

The Brain That Wouldn't Die Blu-ray Review: The Head of No Class

The decapitated grandparent of grindhouse cinema gets a beautiful HD makeover in this, the definitive release of a true cult classic.
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Ah, the distant, slightly faded memory of a momentous moment during my wasted youth. I can still recall perusing the shelves of the long-defunct Video Outlet in rural Janesville, CA one fateful day, setting my eyes upon a large Warner Home Video clamshell of a flick called The Brain That Wouldn't Die. It was like a call to arms for a young genre lover such as myself: a film that focused on the wild notion of a mad scientist keeping his freshly decapitated fiancée's head alive in a pan while he ventures out to strip clubs to find a body

Please Believe Me (1950) DVD Review: A Romantic Comedy from Val Lewton?

The famous horror visionary's penultimate film ‒ which stars Deborah Kerr, Robert Walker, Mark Stevens, and Peter Lawford ‒ finally hits home video thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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Sooner or later in life, everyone encounters a seemingly inescapable element of disappointment. And I should know, as it happens to me every damn day, usually around the time I wake up. Ultimately however, there is always a bit of good to come out of every let down ‒ depending on one's perception, of course. For me, it's the satisfaction of knowing I'll be able to return to bed at the end of the day. For Deborah Kerr in the 1950 MGM rom-com Please Believe Me, it's the prospect of true love following a seemingly life-changing inheritance. After an aging

Twilight Time Presents: Hard Pills to Swallow and Hard Acts to Follow

From tales of vengeance to yarns of violence, this quintet of feature films shows some great men who are truly down on their luck.
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At some point or another in life, we've experienced something that can be best summed up as being that of a hard pill to swallow. Likewise, we have seen at least one thing within our own lifespans that we can safely label as being a hard act to follow. Well, for their September 2015 line-up of Blu-ray exclusives, Twilight Time has somehow managed to wrangle up films that fall under both of those two categories, be it one or the other separately, or ‒ in the rare instance ‒ both. Here, we bear witness to both life and death (but

Twilight Time Presents: Five Selections of Summer

From Peter Gallagher's superfluous face and body hair to the bloody waters of a Samuel Fuller bathhouse, this quintet has it all.
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Once again, a seemingly brief period of time has passed by, leaving in its wake a stack of movies on my proverbial workbench that is almost as long as summer itself. So it's only fitting I start my analysis of this quintet off ‒ which was made available to the public during the summer ‒ examining the titles that blatantly exploit said season. Speaking of "exploit," the term "exploitation" certainly comes to mind for many whenever Randal Kleiser's 1982 flick Summer Lovers is brought up. That, and the occasional "had me a blast" joke when people realize Kleiser also directed

The Beginning or the End (1947) DVD Review: Are You Gonna Drop the Bomb or Not?

Hollywood's first depiction of the Manhattan Project ‒ itself a bomb at the box office ‒ hits home video at last thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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"First was your firecracker, a harmless explosive. Then your hand grenade: you began to kill your own people, a few at a time. Then, the bomb. Then, a larger bomb: many people are killed at one time. Then your scientists stumbled upon the atom bomb, split the atom." ‒Eros (Dudley Manlove), in Plan 9 from Outer Space While the words of Edward D. Wood, Jr. are usually laughed at, the above passage from the late B-movie auteur's best-known messterpiece is almost as pithy as Wood intended it to be when it comes to describing Hollywood's first (and perhaps least-known) attempt

The Hoodlum Saint DVD Review: When Nick Charles Met Jessica Fletcher

William Powell, Esther Williams, and Angela Lansbury star in a forgotten footnote of film history, newly available to DVD via the Warner Archive Collection.
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Many actors often own, or are generally known as, their most famous roles. During his memorable screen time in Wim Wender's Wings of Desire, the late Peter Falk ‒ playing a fictionalized personification of his self ‒ is sometimes referred to as Lt. Columbo. Likewise, Sean Connery was hard-pressed to walk into any room without someone calling him James Bond. Whilst watching the 1946 MGM drama The Hoodlum Saint recently, it dawned on me when two of the film's three major characters shared the frame together that I was witnessing the one and only time in film history in which

Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Trilogy Blu-ray Review: Once More Around the Clock

As good as it gets. Unless you have a time-traveling DeLorean lying around and were planning on joining me at the theater back in 1985.
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The theory of time travel is a tricky one indeed ‒ especially within the confines of the filmmaking world. While some of the greatest minds on Earth may lose most (if not all) of their marbles attempting to figure out just how to achieve the much-used science fiction element of jumping from one point in time to another in real life, some of the the world's most active imaginations have figured out a way of doing it on-screen. But it can still be a very hazardous journey, as Robert Zemeckis and his writing partner Bob Gale ‒ affectionately known as

Trader Horn (1931) / Eskimo (1933) DVD Reviews: A Pair of Van Dykes

W.S. Van Dyke's early Pre-Code adventures shot in Africa and the Arctic make their digital media debuts thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.
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In today's Internet-obsessed society, wherein anything ‒ from photos of far-off exotic places to the torturing of helpless animals ‒ is just a scroll down your Facebook feed away, it is sometimes hard to imagine there existed a time when we had hardly any access to such sights. And while unpleasantries such as the latter are truly better left unseen by anyone with a sliver of a soul, there was a time when Hollywood filmmakers gladly included them in their filmed treks off to distant lands. Usually, these daring men were documentary crews, who recorded parts of the world that

Dick Foran Western Collection DVD Review: The Singing Cowboy Who Could Actually Sing

The Warner Archive Collection wants you to know Dick. And what better way is there than this?
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If the all of the westerns from early 20th Century America were to be enshrined in a museum ‒ presented in such a way that each title had its own three foot wide partition exhibiting its original theatrical movie poster directly above a small 12-inch television set that presented the corresponding motion picture in a perpetual loop ‒ the black and white B westerns (usually referred to as "oaters" by anyone with a sliver of a passion for the subgenre) would fill up a building the size of the once wild west itself. And it would be there, down one

Tremors 5: Bloodlines Blu-ray Review: There's Nothing New Under the Ground

Michael Gross returns for another direct-to-video sequel about giant killer worms that, sadly, doesn't so much as scratch beneath the surface.
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I was but a mere fresh teenager when my curiosity was first piqued by Universal Studios' Tremors ‒ starring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward ‒ back in 1990. As I recall it, I was wandering through the mall in Medford, Oregon, where a large cardboard display of the film's familiar Jaws-inspired artwork ‒ along with the memorable tagline "They say there's nothing new under the sun. But under the ground..." ‒ sat out in front of the in-house theater (this is back when there was a tiny cinema located inside the mall itself). Being a huge fan of horror and

Manos: The Hands of Fate Blu-ray Review: As Close to Perfect as It Will Ever Be

The infamous, long-standing contender of The Worst Movie Ever Made is ready to recruit new followers in this eagerly awaited release from Synapse Films.
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The manufacturing of a cult film is not something someone may intentionally set out to do. Sure, you can wrangle a few college kids together, get the coeds to show their boobs, and shoot a shot-on-video z-grade shitfest under the delusion you are making the next greatest midnight movie ever, but you will be sorely mistaken. Much like a great work or (real) art, making a cult movie requires more than an idea and a chisel. So much more. A deranged, rushed form of feverish perseverance. A complete lack of technical know-how that is superseded by sheer determination. But most

Kirby Grant and Chinook Adventure Triple Feature, Volume 3 (1949-1953) DVD Review: Chinook of the North?

The Warner Archive Collection takes off to the Great White North (eh!) for another trio of Northern adventures of RCMP Corporal Rod Webb.
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Latch your pistol to a lanyard and put your best boot forward, boys and girls, because Corporal Rod Webb is back for more adventure in the Great White North. Well, most of the time, it's Rod Webb. At first, he's named Bob McDonald, but that doesn't change the fact that he is still portrayed by Kirby Grant and is accompanied in his dangerous missions by the one and only Chinook, the Wonder Dog. As to why Grant's character was randomly changed like that is anyone's guess. But then, these were films made by the now legendary Poverty Row studio, Monogram

The Invisible Monster (1950) Blu-ray Review: What Are They, Nuts?

The very first Saturday matinee cliffhanger serial hits Blu-ray, and it's THIS? I'll take it!
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Having been raised by my grandparents - proud members of the Greatest Generation - I was privileged in a way my peers were not: I learned to know of and love a variety of films (as well as television shows and radio programs) that had become nothing more than footnotes in the entertainment history books before I was even born. Fortunately for me, I was growing up within the great boom of the analog video era - when thousands of motion picture titles were finding their way to videocassette for the older generations to rediscover, hopefully gaining a new audience

Gentleman's Fate / The Phantom of Paris DVD Reviews: John Gilbert, Cinema's Forgotten Heartthrob

The Warner Archive Collection unburies several talkies from one of the Golden Age of Hollywood's many fallen stars.
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It is a sad inevitability that every era - each generation that passes - will feature a high point doomed to be forgotten come the next wave. As we move further away from the foundations of cinema, plastering over the multi-acre art deco sets of the past with small green screens in the process, more of our motion picture past is being swept under the rug. And it is here, now, as members of the Millennial generation struggle to figure out who Stan and Ollie are, that we should look back perhaps even further; to those artists that even the

Twilight Time Presents: Five Features from the Escalator of Life

"The Best Country Places in the Fabulous World," or "The Month Henry Baker Hearts Everything."
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As if they were taking a cue from the late '80s new wave musician Robert Hazard himself, Twilight Time has lassoed up another wave of feature films from yesteryear that presents civilized human beings at various stages upon what he called the "Escalator of Life." From that awkward moment in our barely-pubescent years when we first begin to obsess over people we perceive ourselves to be in love with, to that moment in adulthood when we realize things just aren't the same as they used to be. You know, like a "Change Reaction." (Yes, that was a Robert Hazard song,

The Hunger (1983) Blu-ray Review: The Longest Anti-Smoking PSA Ever

Bowie. Babes. Blood. Bauhaus. Carcinogens. That is all.
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For the most part, the world's most famous forms of monsters - epitomized by Universal's Classic Horror films as the Frankenstein Monster, The Wolf-Man, Dracula, and The Mummy - represent different stages of human development. We start out as awkward man-made creatures, only to transform into hairy beasts with a ravenous appetite as we mature. Soon comes the vampire stage - where our very innocence is lost in a (sometimes) bloody act of penetration, only to become a dreaded creature of the night (or, "experienced," if you will). Finally - and there is much ground left uncovered here - we

Gotham (2014): The Complete First Season DVD Review: Jim Gordon Steps Up to Bat

Warner Bros. and DC Comics' preboot series is good bloody fun - even if it does feature Jada Pinkett Smith.
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Being a more "reserved" nerd - one who does not attend conventions, camp out in line for things, spend time playing games, watch animated shows, or read comics - I generally do not obsess too terribly much over adaptations of famous graphic novel characters. Generally. Especially in today's filmic world of oversaturated, overhyped overhauls - which have sucked all the life out of once-sacred heroes of printed pages for the sake of other printed pieces of paper. Marvel's movie-making machine has managed to produce seventeen-gajillion motion pictures this year alone, including reboots that officials are already set to reboot once

Showdown in Little Tokyo Blu-ray Review: The Ultimate Guilty Pleasure of the 90s

"We're so far outside on this one, it's not even funny." Oh, but it is, Dolph. It is.
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In Hollywood, all it takes is one strike before you're tossed out of the game. And it usually doesn't actually have to be your own fault. Just ask Mark L. Lester, the man who brought us several '80s classics including the cult classic Firestarter, the guilty pleasure Armed and Dangerous, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger's guilty pleasure of a cult classic, Commando. The latter film almost seemed to pave the way for Lester's next foray into the world of outrageous violent action films filled to the brim with snappy lines most fifth graders cringe with disbelief: the almost legendary 1991 motion

Count Your Blessings (1959) DVD Review: More of a Curse, Really

Deborah Kerr, Rossano Brazzi, and Maurice Chevalier sink in a dreary comedy set across the English Channel.
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Anyone who has ever given online dating a shot knows full well how truly horrible a romance can go if you dive into it head first. Here, in the 1959 MGM flick Count Your Blessings, we witness the horrors of not only a rushed romance in a time before computer dating, but we also see what happens when people rush a film into production as well. From the get-go, Count Your Blessings had this certain je ne sais quoi to it that translated to my gut as "Yeah, there's a reason you've never heard of this one before." Sadly, I

Callaway Went Thataway DVD Review: Mad Men and a Drunken Hopalong Cassidy

Fred MacMurray, Dorothy McGuire, and multiple Howard Keels shine in this delightful MGM comedy.
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As the American motion picture industry first began to boom in the first half of the 20th Century, Hollywood moviemakers found it was quite profitable to go up into the hills for weeks on end - years, perhaps - and shoot one low-budget western after another. In fact, so many of these cowboy quickies - "oaters," as they are affectionately known as today - were produced, that most of them didn't even get traditional movie posters in some circuits. Instead, bijou owners near and far would display generic movie posters advertising the Tim McCoy, Tex Ritter, or Tom Mix (or

Run of the Arrow DVD Review: Samuel Fuller's Dances with Wolves

A blaring Rod Steiger and a bronzed Charles Bronson highlight a forgotten feature with an still-relevant social commentary.
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A simple surf through the today's news channels should painfully remind you human beings don't see eye to eye on a great number of things. This, of course, can lead to war and an unending hatred and fear of people whose cultures are dissimilar to our own. But if there's one thing most film aficionados and historians will agree on, it was filmmaker Samuel Fuller's ability to pen a great story - especially when it came to depicting man's inhumanity to man. With Run of the Arrow, 1957 western produced by RKO Radio Pictures (hey, check it out: it's the

Honeymoon Hotel (1964) / Come Fly with Me DVD Reviews: Sexist '60s Rom-Coms

Two more rarities from the swingin' jet-set era by director Henry Levin make their digital debuts courtesy the Warner Archive Collection.
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Not too terribly long ago - a few weeks ago, in fact - I dived into three features from the swingin' '60s, as recently unburied and released to DVD via the Warner Archive Collection. While two of said films were passable entertainment at best, the third - an abominable ice creature known as Quick, Before It Melts - was so utterly awful, it genuinely made me question as to whether or not I would be able to look another movie starring Robert Morse in the eye ever again. Sure enough, such a test arose immediately thereafter when two relics from

Spenser: For Hire: The Complete Second Season (1986-87) DVD Review: SPEN-SAH!

The criminally neglected cult ABC TV series starring the late great Robert Urich returns courtesy of the Warner Archive.
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A frequently used adage from the past likes to remind us "The more things change, the more they stay the same." This can be particularly pithy when it comes to television shows, including the numerous changes ABC's '80s private eye neo-noir series Spenser: For Hire went through during its second season. From the very opening of its second season, Robert Urich's titular P.I. experiences new changes, beginning with his old abandoned firehouse station pad - which he had moved into after his quaint top-floor apartment burned down in the first season - being replaced by a new and entirely different

Johnny Angel / Riff-Raff (1947) DVD Reviews: Double Fistin' RKO Film Noir

The Warner Archive Collection unleashes several underrated film noir gems from the iconic studio.
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Every film buff has that one particular genre that - though they may not consider it to be their favorite - will almost always be game for viewing at the drop of a hat. Especially when said item of men's apparel happens to be found on an abandoned cargo vessel adrift at sea, or is preceded by the man wearing it after both were pushed out of a moving plane. And with this duo of recent Warner Archive releases, we get just that: plus the fun little mysteries that follow. Part of a five title wave also including Two O'Clock

Twilight Time Presents: Absolute Beginnings and Bitter Endings

From Bowie to Brando to Blofelds, this selection of five fairly forgotten flicks has an awful lot going on.
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For all things in life, there is a beginning and an end. And somewhere in the middle of all that mess, there is usually a great big production number. Sometimes, we start out with a big bang. In other instances, we go out with a grand finale worthy of the ending from All That Jazz at the most, or - at the very least - Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space. Providing you're working on a really restrictive budget, that is. And while this lineup of Twilight Time releases sadly has no correlation to the magnificent offerings of Edward

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series DVD Review: Still the Best

Is it a very long DVD review? A semi-comprehensive episode guide? Why, it's all those things, and still more!
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“Open Channel D.” Perhaps you're a bona fide fan of the original. Or you've been intrigued (or perhaps let down) by the recent big screen prequel/remake. Either way, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series brings you all four campy seasons of the cult classic television series starring Robert Vaughn as quick-witted secret agent Napoleon Solo (a man who has no problem taking time out during a chase to tell a story and who has no inhibitions whatsoever with making a wisecrack at the most impromptu of occasions) and the David Hyde Pierce of his time, David McCallum as Illya

Five Came Back (1939) DVD Review: The Birth of the Disaster Film Genre

The powerful melodrama, co-written by Dalton Trumbo, makes its long-overdue debut from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Ninteen hundred thirty-nine may be remembered in the world of film as "the year that really made a killing" at the box office as far as most classic movie aficionados are concerned. That final stretch of the decade may have seen the beginning of the Second World War, but it also paved the way for such motion picture classics as Gone with the Wind, Stagecoach, and some seldom-seen flick called The Wizard of Oz. In-between the dozens of lavish A-list motion picture unveilings - featuring the likes of the Greta Garbo, James Stewart, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Basil Rathbone

The Decent, the Mediocre, and the Dreadful: The Warner Archive Revisits the Swinging Sixties

Three rarities starring David McCallum, George Hamilton, and Robert Morse resurface. But is that really a good thing?
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The '60s, ladies and gentlemen. It was a time when filmmakers and studio executives - for whatever ungodly reason - decided the implementation of corny animation, still images of goofy faces, and half-baked musical interludes would entertain older generations and the growing "mod" audience of the time alike. (And if those selling points seem ridiculous to you, just remember: people are still paying to see Adam Sandler movies in theaters today.) Of course, in many instances, it wasn't quite enough. Easily the "best" offering out of this little line-up, 1967's Three Bites of the Apple was one of several starring

White God is the Pick of the Week

Every dog has his day… (And cult movie collectors will have theirs this week!)
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As a certain Italian schlockumentary once reminded us many moons ago, it's a dog's world out there. And some distant cousins of the Italians - the Hungarians - have seen fit to impress that old adage upon us once more, with their multiple award-winning 2014 hit Fehér isten, better known in the English-speaking parts of the world as White God. Here, writer/director Kornél Mundruczó paints his audiences an ugly reminder that - despite our alleged progress when it comes to being humane towards everyone, animal or human alike - we're still just a bunch of stinkin' savages. Ignoring another timeless

Cannibal Ferox Blu-ray Review: Umberto Lenzi's Unforgiving Subgenre Swan Song

The notorious cash-in of a craze beget by the cash-in of a cash-in makes its much-needed (?) High-Definition debut courtesy the finely deranged folks at Grindhouse Releasing.
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In 1970, with the entire world in a state of change, Elliot Silverstein's A Man Called Horse was released to cinemas. Like the environment that spawned it, the film was about a transformation: a white man named John Morgan (as played by the late Richard Harris) - captured and enslaved by a group of Native Americans - soon becomes one with the very tribe that had previously seized and humiliated him. Of course, no groundbreaking work of art goes unnoticed abroad - especially in Italy, where filmmakers were keen to cash-in on anything that generated so much as a dollar-fifty

Once a Thief (1965) DVD Review: Post-Beat America Meets the French New Wave

The Warner Archive Collection releases an excellent, atmospheric, innovative, and gritty crime drama from yesteryear. A definite must-see.
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Filmmaker Ralph Nelson was always up for something different. While the late director is best known today for bringing the world acclaimed (and often groundbreaking) classics such as Requiem for a Heavyweight, Charly, tick... tick... tick…, and Lilies of the Field, it's some of the movies he's not known for today that perhaps deserve the most attention. And one such motion picture outing is his 1965 masterpiece Once a Thief: a spectacularly gritty black-and-white crime drama written by an actual ex-convict set in San Francisco during that precariously precocious period that bridged the gap between the beatnik era and the

Signpost to Murder DVD Review: Stuart Whitman Goes Loco for Joanne Woodward

The Warner Archive Collection brings us a seldom seen psychological thriller that has trouble finding its own direction.
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In Hollywood, it doesn't take long to become typecast. Take, for example, the early career of one Stuart Whitman. Following a breakout performance as a recently released child molester attempting to exorcise his personal demons in 1961's The Mark, the recently new to the limelight Mr. Whitman found himself earning an Oscar nomination and a few meaty parts alongside John Wayne in big studio productions. But the shadow of his most famous role (of the time) remained, and in 1962, Whitman was a supporting cast member in a prison drama entitled Convicts 4. In 1964, Stuart appeared in a psychological

Slow West Blu-ray Review: Like Death, Westerns Are Universal

German-Irish actor Michael Fassbender stars and co-produces this New Zealand-made tale from the American West, which features many a Scotsman and Aussie. How's that for diversity?
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With the American western genre all but dead, this is as good of a time as any for filmmakers from other corners of the globe to try their hand at something the Italians once perfected in the 1960s: revamping it. In 2005, Australian musician Nick Cave (our deepest of condolences to you and yours, good sir) penned a screenplay for The Proposition. In 2010, the Aussies brought us a great contemporary western entitled Red Hill. Sadly, neither film really garnered enough attention stateside in order to reignite the flame of passion for the cowboy movie. Well, here we are in

42nd Street / Ladyhawke / Wolfen Blu-ray Reviews: The Musical, Magical, and Mythical

The Warner Archive Collection brings us three classic catalogue titles out of the Standard and into the realms of High-Definition.
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In continuing their fine tradition of reviving the occasional catalogue title for today's HD-savvy generations, the Warner Archive Collection has been releasing more vintage titles to Blu-ray than ever before. Recently, three classic titles from one end of yesteryear or another - the 1933 musical 42nd Street, the oddball 1986 magical fantasy/comedy/adventure Ladyhawke, and the mythical 1981 urban horror flick Wolfen - landed on my doorstep; each as far removed from the other as can be. My trio of diversity begins with the 1933 musical 42nd Street, as choreographed by the great Busby Berkeley and directed by the one and

A Newly Widened Screen, Part II: Alibis and Those Who Sympathize

The Warner Archive Collection brings us two more titles from the early days of DVD in widescreen for the first time.
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As they had done in the latter part of 2014 with several titles that truly deserved it, the folks at the Warner Archive Collection have once more taken two completely different catalog titles from the earliest days of DVD and given them the widescreen treatment they should have had back in 1998. Alas, these two titles are not on the same level as The Black Scorpion or a couple of classic Steve Martin comedies. Instead, this batch of newly widened screenings consists of movies that even I didn't rent on video when I was a teenager. And mind you, I

The Maltese Bippy DVD Review: Rowan and Martin Comedy is No 'Laugh-In' Matter

The first and only post-fame feature-length film from the classic sketch comedy hosts is a mostly dreadful horror spoof.
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During a time when five crazy Britons and one expatriate American were producing bizarre sketch comedy for the BBC, two US-born contemporaries on the other side of The Pond were running amok on national television. Thus, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (complete with a soon-to-be-dated title about the hippie revolution) amassed a huge following, launching its hosts, comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, to success status for a brief period. Naturally, no one in the motion picture business was about to let a hot commodity like Rowan and Martin slip past them; because, as anyone who has ever seen any Saturday

Twilight Time Presents: Rebellion! Turmoil! Endless Talking!

From the hormonally-charged historical wrongdoings of King Henry VIII to David Mamet's acclaimed verbal diarrhea, this batch of flicks has all bases covered.
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Once more, the folks at Twilight Time have resurrected five photoplays from yesteryear - and this time, they're not holding back on the dramatics one bit. We begin our line-up with perhaps the most epic motion pictures of epic motion pictures ever; the fact that A Man for All Seasons features a supporting performance by the one and only Orson Welles himself doesn't even enter into it, believe it or not! Rather, Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons focuses on the charisma and talents of the late Paul Scofield, cast here as Sir Thomas More. Now, for my fellow

Contamination (1980) Blu-ray Review: On Earth, Everyone Can Hear You Scream 'Rip-Off!'

The cycloptic grandpappy of ALIEN clones makes its chest-bursting, worldwide High-Definition Blu-ray debut courtesy Arrow Video.
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Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery - it's certainly the least-creative - but there are relatively few individuals out there with enough gall to market a movie of their own as a sequel to somebody else's production. Nevertheless, the annals of exploitation movie history could quite literally be lined with one-sheet movie posters of low-budget movies shamelessly retitled in an attempt to lure unsuspecting filmgoers into thinking they were follow-ups to other (better known) movies. The lengths some of these shady distributors would go to were admirable, to say the least - with my personal favorite being the

Smokey and the Hotwire Gang DVD Review: Anthony Cardoza Strikes Again!

Witness an unforgettably forgettable failure from one of low budget cinema's most notable underachievers.
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This may sound pretty odd coming from an individual such as myself, but z-grade exploitation filmmaker Anthony Cardoza is quite a bit of queer duck. While his stint with the U.S. Army during the Korean War earned him many a medal for his distinguished service to his country - including one for marksmanship - his subsequent, longer engagement in the motion-picture industry has resulted in each and every one of his projects completely failing to hit their mark, with nary an award to be seen from any direction. His brief association with cult auteur Coleman Francis, wherein Mr. Cardoza produced

Sol Madrid DVD Review: The Nutty NCIS Kojak Batman Star Trek 007 Affair

David McCallum's solo venture into the '60s spy genre is odd, compelling, and worth a look.
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As I had iterated in my ealier review of The Scorpio Letters, the latter half of the '60s were big on spy movies. The Britons essentially set the stage for a newly-revamped genre with their James Bond series, and everybody else was soon competing to create their own various fields of cinematic espionage. The craze became an all-out phenomenon in Europe, giving birth to what we call the Eurospy film today. In a way, it was a blessing. Sure, there were a lot of forgettable movies made during this time thanks to ol' supply and demand model of economics, but

Jurassic World Movie Review: A Sequel 22 Years in the Making

The fourth film in the popular series is everything that the previous sequels should have been, but never could have.
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Sequels have always been a tough market. Even as far back as the classic Universal Monster movies, filmmakers were struggling to come up with new and inventive concepts in order to keep franchises alive and kickin'. Once a World War had ended and the Atomic Age came to pass, man-made legends such as vampires or the Frankenstein monster took a backseat to reawakened prehistoric beasts. One such devil was the Gill Man from The Creature from the Black Lagoon, whose brief trilogy of films went through as diverse of a storytelling process as could be, having been discovered in the

John J. Malone Mystery Double Feature DVD Review: Pat O'Brien vs. James Whitmore

The Warner Archive Collection rescues two forgotten comedies featuring the less-than-celebrated fictional sleuth.
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The list of female mystery writers in history isn't a terribly long one. Even today, the only mysteries set in the literary world as written by women are the unexplained successes of poorly-worded tripe such as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. No, that's not my chauvinistic side poking out of my trousers. That's something anyone with even a little common sense (or taste!) can attest to. Of course, the relatively short list of lady crime writers can mostly be blamed on good ol' fashioned chauvinism itself - as it wasn't until the last century that women finally began to

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne / Island of Death Blu-ray Reviews

Much like The Damned before them, the folks at Arrow Video USA have fallen in love with some genuine video nasties.
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In Great Britain, they were banned from being made available to the public outright. In the United States of America, they usually wound up being released in a heavily altered form. And sometimes, even in their native countries, they wound up being the subjects of much controversy. I refer, of course, to those magical motion pictures that the former powers of the UK so unknowingly assigned the lovable nickname of "Video Nasties" to. Those various cannibal and/or zombie holocausts those of us who grew up without the Interwebs had to track down from mail-order companies advertised in the back of

Arrow in the Dust DVD Review: This is More Like Dust in the Wind

The Warner Archive does its best to preserve a flick where Sterling Hayden punches Lee Van Cleef, and l'il wooden Indian figures are set aflame and thrown off a ledge. And that's about it.
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Try and try as we may, that which we wish to do in the world is often limited by what we can do. Just like an old saying that implies we should stack all of that which we covet into one hand as opposed to our own human waste, the reality of our dreams isn't always as glamorous (or as sanitary). Actor Sterling Hayden was certainly one of those individuals who expected slightly more than the universe had intended of him. While he loathed acting in the moving pictures, Mr. Hayden nevertheless had to keep the dough rolling in so

Kid Glove Killer DVD Review: Van Heflin Shines in Unsuccessful Film Pilot

Is it a film noir? A political corruption yarn? A forensics investigatory piece? A rom-com? It's all these things, and more!
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Since the mid 1990s, American television airwaves (where applicable) have been periodically tuning audiences into two tremendously popular forms of drama: that of the political corruption story, and the umpteen bajillion different forensic investigation shows that have filled out a weekly broadcast schedule since 2001 alone. Prior to those years, however, we only ever saw the occasional unscrupulous administrative yarn in theaters (almost all of which starred Al Pacino, for some unknown reason); the complex science of crime solving being reserved primarily for pulp fiction books, as cinema (and later, television) patrons apparently found them to be complex, or perhaps

The Scorpio Letters DVD Review: Amusing Z-Grade Eurospy Fodder

The only thing poisonous about these letters was found in the Nielsen ratings.
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Quite often, all it takes in order to get the writing ball rolling is an idea. Just one single silly concept that can be molded and reshaped into something substantial. I know that all too well. Why, I can be standing in front of the mirror, brushing my teeth, and suddenly think of a (what I think is) great way to begin an article, and from the second I put it to virtual paper, it's all downhill from there. Of course, there is that occasional motion picture offering that many people would probably prefer the sight of someone (not necessarily

Black Patch (1957) DVD Review: A Genuinely Magnificent, Forgotten B Western

Imagine if David Lynch traveled back in time to the '50s, made a TV show, then re-edited it into a feature film to create the Spaghetti Western movement.
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Every now and then, something or someone comes along that simply surpasses all of your expectations and prompts you to ask "Where have you been all of my life?" Usually, one begs such a rhetorical inquiry of a person. Or a pet, perhaps (hey, it's possible). But in the case of the average cinephile, that sort of a question is occasionally reserved for the (re-)discovery of one of yesteryear's forgotten motion picture offerings. Being an old B movie aficionado, this means I have to wade through a lot of movies in order to find something that truly makes me want

Twilight Time Presents European Dramas, American Musicals, and Zardoz

Caution: Musicals, intense British drama, and '70s cinematic hallucinogens lie ahead.
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In addition to re-releasing two previously sold out titles to Blu-ray in brand new 4K transfers, Twilight Time has also been unleashing a lot of drama on us lately. And I don't mean that in a "fanboys are heating up on forum and Facebook posts about Night of the Living Dead again" sense, mind you; I am referring to the fact that the ever-expanding niche label has picked up pound of positively sterling drama flicks - many of which hail from that world of pound sterling itself, the United Kingdom. Of course, no good deed is left unpunished, so there

Escape from East Berlin DVD Review: Don Murray Flees Communist Oppression!

The Warner Archive Collection digs up the fictionalized account of a famous digging out co-starring Colonel Klink himself.
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It's little more than a footnote to today's generation, who has an entire world of information at their fingertips, but uses their power to post shaming videos and offensive memes. But once upon a time, the Berlin Wall was the tangible equivalent of Net Neutrality, with the government on the side of East Germany taking the place of Internet censorship. Only much, much worse. From 1961 to 1989, even trying to get across to the West side of the wall without going through proper checkpoints and channels would get you a one-way ticket to the great gig in the sky

The Velvet Touch (1948) DVD Review: Shades of Columbo in the Shadow of Birdman

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off the charming, well-made film noir howcatchem starring Rosalind Russell and Sydney Greenstreet.
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Primarily, there are two types of murder mysteries. The first and foremost variety is that of the whodunit, wherein audiences are just as in the dark as to who committed whatever heinous crime is afoot, and attempt to match wits with the story's writers. Then there is that less-traveled road, that of the howcatchem drama, wherein we know who did it - because we always see them do it in the beginning of the tale - and then watch as a (usually) seasoned detective puts the pieces together. And, despite its seeming as simplistic as can be, this type of

The Stranger Collection DVD Review: The Man with No Shame Trilogy

The Warner Archive Collection dusts off a trio of strange spaghetti westerns starring the even stranger Tony Anthony.
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With the exception of those sick individuals who mimic the patterns of serial killers, most copycats can be incredibly amusing. If you've ever walked through a crowded urban marketplace to discover a suspiciously underpriced and slightly odd-looking designer handbag or watch - and you weren't dumb enough to buy whatever it was under the belief it was the real deal - you know what I mean. And how 'bout those epically awful Turkish Star Wars action figures? Or perhaps you recall that one glorious instance in recent history wherein China earnestly attempted to convince Americans of their superior Air Force

Bad Men of Tombstone DVD Review: The First of the Last of the Badmen

Barry Sullivan and Broderick Crawford team up for a fabulous, forgotten B western of high grade ore.
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Throughout both the cinematic and literary realms of the western, a common thread/title tends to appear: "the Last of the Badmen." In fact, there have been about a half a dozen movies and novels released during the last century or so to have used those very same words as their title, most of which were re-titlings of other projects, given a new name to help sell the goods. Interestingly, the first film to actually be based on a book called Last of the Badmen (as penned by Jay Monaghan) wound up receiving a new title for its theatrical release. And

Face of Fire (1959) DVD Review: Slow But Poignant Human Horror

Filmmaker Albert Band manages to pave the way for every other sci-fi and horror series ever with one simple drama now available (at last) from the Warner Archive Collection.
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Anyone not familiar with the family name of Band within the halls of the B movie archives probably shouldn't be perusing such a vault in the first place. For today's trash lovers, the formidable Band forename is Charles. If you still don't make the connection, Charles Band is a feller who not became a major player back in the early days of home video sleaze (see: Wizard Video), but who has been cranking out one cheap 'n' cheesy exploitation movie after another in recent years. But long ago, when Charles was but a wee lad, his filmmaker father Albert was

Journey to the Center of the Earth / First Men in the Moon Blu-ray Reviews: In & Out

Twilight Time explores the various space in-between the minds of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
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Previously at Cinema Sentries, I had touched upon the subject of people bad trips, courtesy of two recent Blu-ray releases from Twilight Time, Roger Donaldson's The Bounty (1984) and Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997). Here, I am continuing that thread, albeit with two adventures of a much more pleasant nature. Like my earlier article, wherein one film was set at sea and the other on land, this cinematic coupling presents viewers with a contrast: that of the exploration of inner-space and the conquest of outer space. Additionally, this pairing of moving pictures presents a similarly dissimilar echoing of science fiction

Screaming Eagles (1956) DVD Review: The Allied Artists Invasion of Normandy

The Warner Archive Collection preserves a seldom seen (but highly enjoyable) WWII quickie ripe with B movie and TV veterans.
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With every war that breaks out on Earth, whether it be global or regional, a high amount of controversy emerges with it. While today's highly cynical civilization usually prefers to silently and passive-aggressively protest about deadly conflict online via shared Facebook memes, the generations of the past - being far less bitter and much more patriotic about their country - simply found the current war they were involved in to be too sacred to talk about. Thus, during the decade that brought us the Korean War, filmmakers in Hollywood were cranking out a whole heck of a lot of World

Our Mother's House DVD Review: The Illegitimate Dawn of an Unofficial New Wave

Seven kids raised on religion, a dead mother, and a deadbeat dad. You do the math.
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Though it has never been "officially" classified in the annals of genre-specific filmdom, British cinema inducted a New Wave of horror that shyly boomed in the '70s. It was then that filmmakers such as Pete Walker and Norman J. Warren began to ditch the older, romantic, gothic offerings from the former empire's glory days of what many would gently describe as "terror films" in lieu of a much more sinister menace: man. Michael Armstrong's joint-continental horror classic Mark of the Devil is often cited as being one of the first features in this unofficial New Wave to emphasise man's inhumanity

The Bounty (1984) / U Turn (1997) Blu-ray Reviews: Twilight Time Goes South

The two best bad trips you can possibly book this season.
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Everyone has that proverbial journey in their lifetime that can only later be described as a bad trip. My second and final visit to the allegedly magical theme park of Disneyland - committed when I was but a mere '90s adolescent, and probably against my will - resulted in a four-hour search for a corndog across the vast, bastard-riddled arena for people who probably should have been sterilized at birth, along with their spoiled rotten offspring. And you might think that a corndog would be an easily obtainable article of "confectionery with added meat of dubious origin" at a place

All at Sea [aka Barnacle Bill] DVD Review: Alec Guinness in Full (Multiple) Form

The Warner Archive Collection brings us the last genuine Ealing Comedy, which also features a young (and already bald) Donald Pleasance.
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Television shows notwithstanding, the bulk of British filmmaking - that is to say, actual feature length films made especially for the cinema - have been unfairly lumped into two categories by American audiences: long, drawn-out, boring dramas, and comedies that only made viewers long for a Benny Hill rerun. And the bulk of the unfairness lies within the world of British comedy, as most of us have only ever been subjected to latter-day Carry On entries and, well, Benny Hill reruns. In fact, there have been many excellent British comedies manufactured since World War II that, thankfully, didn't feature Rowan

One Foot in Heaven DVD Review: Ass-Kickers, Shit-Kickers, and Methodists

Fredric March stars as Minister William Spence in this forgotten (but enjoyable) biopic.
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Sometimes, the whole "forgive and forget" thing just doesn't cut it. One of the more novel aspects of the seven-kajillion European westerns made during the '60s and '70s involved men of the cloth - those who had devoted their lives to preaching the word of God - flat out seeking revenge vengeance after having been wronged by their fellow man. It's plausible - even possible - given the right set of circumstances. Likewise, in the classic 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles - the film that admirably spoofed the classic style of western film that would eventually (unknowingly) give birth

Long Weekend (1978) Blu-ray Review: Nature Can Be a Real Mother

The '70s Australian eco-horror classic finally gets the treatment it deserves from Synapse Films.
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During the the last half of the '90s, I devoted the bulk of my meager existence to the video store I worked at. One day, the owner's wife brought in a lovely terrarium to sit on the large spacious corner of the checkout counter. It sat there for a long time, being admired by the occasional customer, such as an instance when a gentleman commented on its beauty and simplicity. "Yeah," I said, "now throw in a bunch of little humans and watch it go to shit." He nodded in agreement, and for good reason: we're bastards like that. No,

Solomon and Sheba (1959) Blu-ray Review: A Show with Everything (Including Yul Brynner)

A tale as old as recorded time. The script isn't that fresh, either.
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The year 1959. It was a time of luscious, extravagant widescreen productions - fueled by luscious, extravagant budgets beget by big men who were in-turn fueled by luscious, extravagant proportions of booze. As television lured audiences away from the cinemas in large droves, studios made sure to promise them the moon in exchange for their hard-earned money. And, as anyone who has ever been to the moon knows, the best way to deliver it is to not deliver it, and instead remind mankind that God really doesn't want him toying around out there in the vacuum of space like that.

Lenny (1974) Blu-ray Review: They Call Dustin Hoffman Bruce?

Yep, it's a happy kind of picture, kids. But at least you'll be able to see sultry Valerie Perrine in the buff!
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In this day and age, it seems highly laughable that the very sort of individuals we pay to openly laugh at would run afoul with the law for doing what the do best. I refer to stand-up comedians, of course, and not politicians - although, to a less intentional degree, we wind up doing the same with the latter. In fact, it was the very latter who made both the life and career of a comic in the 1960s become particularly troublesome, thus whipping up a tendentious media circus that finally wrapped up a good forty years later with a

The Big Shot / Swing Your Lady DVD Reviews: A Binary Blast of Bogey

The Warner Archive Collection delivers two entirely different sides of Humphrey Bogart, including the film he perhaps hated making the most.
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Just when you thought you had seen just about everything Humphrey Bogart ever made, along comes the Warner Archive Collection to set you straight, by pointing out that "just about everything" may only just scratch the surface. Once more, the MOD division of the studio that made Bogey a star back when the whole world was black-and-white has unburied a few rarities. Making their home video debuts here are two vastly different contributions to cinema starring Hollywood's Golden Age alpha bad boy himself, beginning with a serious crime/prison drama - something Bogart was quite good at. Then we have an

The Alphabet Murders (1965) DVD Review: Oh, My Aching Little Grey Cells!

Tony Randall makes for one of cinema's least memorable Hercule Poirots in this dire British spoof of the Agatha Christie novel.
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Along with the various adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the most celebrated - as well as imitated - fictional sleuth of the male gender in nearly every possible form of media is that of Agatha Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Brought to life time and time again by the famous face (and sometimes figure) of celebrated actors such as Peter Ustinov, Ian Holm, Orson Welles, Albert Finney, Alfred Molina, and - perhaps most famously - David Suchet, the unforgettable caricature of Poirot has been copied and infused into other fictional detectives, as well. Tony Shalhoub's obsessive-compulsive detective Monk was an excellent

Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) Blu-ray Review: A Magnificent Festering!

If you avoid certain NFL-oriented video games, does that mean you're Far from the Madden Crowd?
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Having never been a very literary-minded lad, I must confess that I did not devote quite as much of my time as a youth to that which was printed. Well, there were those issues of Psychotronic, European Trash Cinema, Filmfax, and, of course, my father's old Playboy and Penthouse magazines. I even buried my nose in the occasional movie reference item, such as several of the late great Phil Hardy's encyclopedias. Needless to say, Phil Hardy was about as close as I ever got to Thomas Hardy when it came to published materials. On film, I had seen the works

To Sir, with Love (1967) Blu-ray Review: Twilight Time Goes to School

Sidney Poitier's students have a bad reputation. What they need is a little adult education.
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By today's standards, the classic movie motif of a determined teacher reaching a group of tough, underprivileged kids in an urban school is hardly anything new. Granted, it isn't commonly seen in cinematic outings as much as it used to be, as evidenced by viral Facebook videos of inner-city youths finding out firsthand the perils of applying a fully functional taser to an article of golden jewelry (or "bling", as I believe they call it). Indeed, were Sidney Poitier's Mark Thackeray - or even Mr. Wizard, for that matter - around in this day and age to teach kids a

Stormy Weather (1943) Blu-ray Review: What an Eye for Beauty This Storm Has!

Twilight Time brings an early precursor to the blaxploitation subgenre (seriously, it is!) to Blu-ray.
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Having essentially gone through the growing up part of my wasted youth engaging in the fine art of bad film, I have encountered many different exploitation genres. Some movies were made solely to sell the element of sex. Others devised to gather a crowd of a different kind of deviants altogether, who flocked in like sheep to see just how gruesome and gory things could get at the drive-in. But of all the notable subgenres that have hailed from the annals of exploitation filmmaking, there is perhaps no greater pleasure - or perhaps guiltier pleasure - to be had than

Gone with the Pope Blu-ray Review: Duke Mitchell's Unsung Swan Song Finds a Voice

The film that takes the expression "Years in the Making" to a whole new level finally gets a chance to be seen by all.
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If Massacre Mafia Style was Duke Mitchell's antithesis to Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, the late Southern California Italian/American crooning personality's final (known) work, Gone with the Pope could very well be his own flip side to the entire world of filmmaking in general. Massacre Mafia Style was a delirious - and highly enjoyable - assault on the senses, made in the wake of the famous gangster picture, with plenty of oomph and random bits of lunacy thrown in for good measure. Gone with the Pope, on the other hand, is pretty much a feature-length film full of random bits

Unbroken (2014) Blu-ray Review: Look, if It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!

Angelina Jolie brings us an all too run-of-the-mill biography of WWII POW Louis Zamperini.
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Despite having seen the trailer for the film at the cinema prior to its release, it wasn't until I saw the teaser/standee artwork for the WWII/POW movie Unbroken that it stood out to me. And that was because once I saw a man standing with his back to us, holding a heavy wood beam over his head, a golden-colored and familiar-looking font spelling out the name of the film, I instantly thought of Rocky Balboa. I had every reason to, too, as the promotional artwork damn near plagiarized the cover of the more popular 2006 Sylvester Stallone sequel. When

Exodus: Gods and Kings Blu-ray Review: Cecil B. Diminished

Ridley Scott falls far from the grace of God and anyone who has ever worshipped either of the two.
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According to His faithful flock and their respective independently-produced movies, God is not dead. The concept of the Hollywood biblical epic, on the other hand, is a critically endangered species. The days of lavish productions loaded with dazzling special effects and all-star casts of white folk playing Egyptians performing in big-budget productions interlaced with a strong belief in the Christian theology throughout are long gone, having been replaced by low-budget, poorly acted, and usually mind-numbing films produced by people who are either just exploiting the faithful (see: Left Behind), or who are a few hundred thousand Hebrewites short of an

The Breakfast Club: 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: Kids Can Be So Cool

Universal re-releases John Hughes' quintessential teen dramedy just in time for a two-night theatrical re-offering.
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One of the few filmmakers who made movies about teenagers while actually having an understanding about the awkward, spotty-faced years of adolescence itself, John Hughes' second film as writer and director (and his first as a producer) is one that has successfully managed to withstand the test of time. Indeed, it is probably the quintessential American motion picture to center on high school students (from the '80s or otherwise) who are coming to grips with themselves, peer groups, and the pressures allotted to and from both. With a minimal budget, single location setting, and nothing but character development to offer,

Mark of the Devil Blu-ray Review: Say Hello to Arrow Video USA, Kids!

The movie that left its mark on the annals of exploitation advertising history inaugurates Arrow Video's new North American label.
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Nothing delights me more than seeing a new cult video label emerge in the USA. After the collapse of the (global) economy nearly a decade ago, a number of niche companies who specialized in movies I grew up only reading about or drooling over the lurid VHS labels of in mom and pop video stores as a kid disappeared. Many of them were on a winning streak at the time, too, which makes it all the more regrettable. Since then, several outfits have surfaced - with some becoming hugely popular, while others were literally the home video equivalent of a

CHiPs: The Complete Third Season DVD Review: Lay Down the Roller Boogie

Finally, the classic cop show we all love to love for all the wrong reasons returns.
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Were one to order nachos at a restaurant in the plainest, most simplistic form possible, they would most likely receive a pile of crispy tortilla eighths covered in a melted mass of dairy-gleaned and coagulated delight. "Cheesy chips," if you will. Similarly, were one to sit back and watch even one episode of a certain, lighthearted television series about the California Highway Patrol as made during the late '70s and early '80s, they might think something along the line of how cheesy CHiPs is. And yet, despite all of the bad acting, ridiculously lurid storylines, and a noticeable lack of

Massacre Mafia Style Blu-ray Review: Duke Mitchell's Godfather Antithesis

The ultra-violent cult classic from a very ambitious cabaret entertainer returns to entertain and shock once more.
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It is sometimes interesting - well, to me, that is - how many of the articles I request or wind up for review can often be "connected" to one another like a really outrageous game of Six Degrees of Separation. Not too terribly far back, I found myself diving into the Warner Archive Collection re-releases of the Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collections. Just last week, I was viewing Twilight Time's new Blu-ray issue of Roger Corman's neglected Prohibition Era gangster picture, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Believe it or not, there's more than one common denominator at play between

Love and Death (1975) Blu-ray Review: Dying is Easy. Loving is Hard.

The Woody Allen film that even Woody Allen likes gets the High-Def treatment.
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Though some people out there would just assume never hear his name ever again, there is ultimately no denying the contributions Woody Allen has made to the worlds of both comedy and cinema alike since he first starting writing gags for television in the late 1950s. Since then, he has directed 50 (count 'em, fifty) projects in addition to writing, producing, and/or starring in several dozen others. Heck, some of the classic comedians who would become the filmmaker's inspirations growing up did not have such a filmic output (even when combined in some instances). But it wasn't just the witty

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967) Blu-ray Review: Corman Slays 'Em

The movie that almost put gangsters films back on the map returns for another round (of ammunition).
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While movies like Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch and Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde generally get the most credit for being the movies that really introduced gritty onscreen violence into the movies (the former was released just months after the MPAA rating system was introduced in 1968), they weren't the first to do so. Not by a long shot. In fact, copious amounts of blood were being spilled by Herschell Gordon Lewis in his outrageous horror movies that made a real killing at drive-ins for jaded teen and rural audiences during the early '60s. The occasional big-budget Cinemascope war film

Fright Night (1985) 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review: Brewster's Thirties

Yes, it's "Still a better love story than Twilight" time.
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If someone would have told me three years ago that I would be repeating myself, well, I probably would have believed them. Indeed, when I initially sat down to work on a review for Twilight Time's 30th Anniversary Edition of the 1985 vampire horror classic, Fright Night, I nearly found myself writing the exact same words I had jotted down for my original article for the company's initial release of the film. Not wanting to repeat myself - and with little else to say on the title, I must sadly confess - I figured, since I greedily ignored my editor's

Speed (1936) DVD Review: James Stewart Returns to Reclaim His Title

The Warner Archive Collection unburies the famous late actor's first starring role, wherein he is paired with Ted Healy as a sidekick!
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In-between the vast unnecessary space taken up within the confines of the virtual world by loving tributes to reality-TV celebrities and the hateful comments left behind by internet users who are an entirely different waste of space, there are a few really cool things on the web. One thing I occasionally grin with delight at are the sight of re-imagined artwork for movies - such as the fan-made poster artwork for Ghostbusters starring iconic British horror legends Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Vincent Price (with Woody Strode jokingly tossed in as the token black guy) - and even records (a

The Murder Man (1935) DVD Review: When Spencer Met Stewart

Spencer Tracy's first starring role for MGM is supported by the feature film debut by James Stewart in this unconventional murder mystery.
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It was 1935. The Hays Office had recently begun to enforce their code of morals in film. Meanwhile, film itself was finally getting used to the whole sound thing. Projects were practically bursting from the seems of studios all around town, be it over on Poverty Row or on the lot of the more prestigious outlets. And one such outlet was MGM, where a modest murder mystery was being manufactured under the direction the man who would later bring us The Thief of Bagdad - Tim Whelan - with a script written by he and future Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Born Reckless (1958) DVD Review: My Long Hard Ride with Mamie Van Doren

A delightfully dumb ditty that is bursting with equestrian euphemisms and great B-grade bombshells.
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Though the notion of an actor or actress being a "sex symbol" had been in existence well before the someone coined the phrase in the '50s, it wasn't until that glamorous decade itself rolled around that things really started busting out all over. Quite literally in some cases - so much so that the concept of "skill" was often regarded as secondary when it came to some of America's "biggest" sex symbols, such as a legendary trio of lasses who would become known as The Three Ms in some circles: Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Mamie Van Doren. They were

Bandit Queen Blu-ray Review: A Brutal, Boring, Bolly-less Biopic

Twilight Time gives the controversial Phoolan Devi biography an upgrade. But is that really a good thing?
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As sad as this may sound to you, my earliest memories of childhood revolve around watching movies. My parents, for whatever reason, decided to take my three-year-old self to a showing of Alien when it was making its initial rounds in theaters back in '79. Eddie Parker's sorry-looking monster in Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy stands out prominently in my singular image visual databank due to a very early encounter with late night television. I had carte blanche from my guardians to rent virtually anything I wanted to at the local video stores (barring X-rated films, of course, which

Adventure in Baltimore DVD Review: Pastor Robert Young Hasn't Got a Prayer

Unhappy honeymooners Shirley Temple and John Agar appear on-screen together for the second and final time in this odd 1949 dud.
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Exactly one year ago today, America's quintessential child star, Shirley Temple departed from this world - leaving behind an iconic legacy in the world of film. Many mourned her death as the end of an era, whether it be due to her work in Hollywood as that darling little song-and-dance girl, her victory over breast cancer as an adult, her unwitting commitment to the sales of grenadine syrup in bars and restaurants everywhere, or even her involvement in politics between the late '60s to early '90s. To the slightly off-kilter people around the globe like me, however - those of

White Comanche DVD Review: 40% Cotton, 230% Shatner

The Warner Archive Collection brings us a much-needed improved print of the campy Shatner vs Shatner Euro western cult classic.
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Though many roads were constructed during the European western era of the '60s, very few paths were created that lead to fame for stardom-starved individuals on either side of the camera. And those went down such lonely, rugged trails dared not tread lightly. Providing fate was on your side, you could find yourself walking in the footsteps of Clint Eastwood - who was little more than a television actor appearing in a weekly western show before Sergio Leone opened the door to international acclaim for him. If lady luck was not guiding you along the way, however, there was the

The RKO Brown and Carney Comedy Collection DVD Review: The Lonely Quartet of a Forgotten Duo

Four highlights from the short-lived comic pairing include the final villainous teaming of Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill, as well as a newly discovered Robert Mitchum in drag!
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It is often stated that history is written by the victors. This expression (usually attributed to Winston Churchill, although without any definite evidence) holds true not only when it comes to mankind's dire obsession with the deadly serious subject of war, but also within the equally serious battlefield of comedy. While historical reference books on comedians will always include classic two-man partnerships such as Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy, there are a multitude of other acts who have been tucked away in-between footnotes of the appendix - many of which rose from the same humble vaudeville/music hall origins

Dracula Untold Blu-ray Review: Unsurprising and Unnecessary, but Unexpectedly Entertaining

Universal's unofficially official entry to their forthcoming monster series reboot actually has a bit of bite to it.
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Since that fateful day back in the late 1890s when Bram Stoker first introduced the world to Count Dracula, the vampiric vessel of villainy has grown to become one of filmdom's most frequently filmed (or even referenced) characters. In fact, he has been around for so long, that it's hard to imagine a world without him! And despite the fact that he has been killed off time and time again, he has always managed to return in usually unrelated films or franchises. In some instances, he re-emerged under a new name, such as Nosferatu, Alucard, Leighos, Drake, or Orlok (the

Ratboy (1986) DVD Review: Locke and Load

And to think all it took for us to get rid of Sondra Locke was to let her direct!
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After Clint Eastwood's career skyrocketed in the late '60s following the American release of Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy, the entire world was at the actor's feet. Soon, the now-established crowd-pleaser was making one hit after another, often for his own outfit, The Malpaso Company (later Malpaso Productions). In fact, things were looking great and running smooth for several years. And then he met an anemic actress with large, lifeless black pools for eyes, stringy long concrete blonde hair, and a frail-looking frame. Her name was Sondra Locke, and for years, she generated many protesting groans of disgust from audiences members

Cracked (2013) DVD Review: "What Lies Beneath" an Incomplete Season Set?

BBC Video drops the ball with an unlabeled half-season set of an already canceled Canadian TV show.
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Between having lived in a small redneck/prison/crackhead town year-round, walked on Hollywood Boulevard during the summertime when tourist season is at its height, and flown across the country in coach on Delta Airlines, I am fully aware that there are mentally unbalanced people everywhere. Heck, most of the people that have spent more than three minutes speaking to me have probably concluded I fall into that category myself, but I haven't quite reached the point of running around in nothing but my underwear shouting about demons. And since I don't wear any such undergarments, the day I do will surely

Panic Button (1964) DVD Review: When Mannix Met Mansfield

The Warner Archive Collection releases the rarely-seen comedy that may have inspired a famous Mel Brooks movie.
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Considering how many times the Italian film industry has shamelessly ripped off American productions, I suppose it's only fitting (ironic, even, depending on whether or not you're a hipster and actually use that word in the right context) that the very movie which helped to launch the career of zany American filmmaker like Mel Brooks may have been derived from an Italian production. And I use the word "may" with both apprehension and caution alike because I don't think there's a single person on the planet that has a bad thing to say about Brooks, though it's very hard to

The Serpent's Egg DVD Review: The Non-Bergman Bergman Film

David Carradine sleepwalks through Ingmar Bergman's one and only (and kind of weird) Hollywood production.
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I will be the first to admit that my personal experience with the work of Ingmar Bergman is decidedly limited. In fact, it almost entirely centered around a period in high school wherein my English/Drama teacher and I would privately discuss some of our favorite movies. I would recommend something like Wings of Desire, she would in exchange assist in molding my then-artistic mindset by introducing me to Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Mind you, I was the very same weird kid who was caught casually watching Doctor Butcher, M.D. in the classroom one day when she and all of the

A Kiss Before Dying (1956) DVD Review: Just Skip the Kiss and Kill Me Already

A tepid, presumably rushed adaptation of the Ira Levin novel that is mostly notable for being a great gathering of future B movie and television actors.
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Some things simply look better on paper. Like that time I was a kid when my friend and I worked out how to cryogenically freeze a frog and later re-animate it. It all made perfect sense in our heads, and played out quite well on the board. The reality of the situation, however - involving a Ziploc bag full of water, the upper freezer half of an old brown Frigidaire refrigerator, and the open ends of a severed electrical cord from an even older lamp - only succeeded in a bit of a mess and a story that would regularly

My Old Lady Blu-ray Review: or, Secrets & Lies: The Previous Generations

Aging author/playwright Israel Horovitz finally makes his feature film directorial debut. But is he too late in doing so?
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In this great big muddled world of ours, we seem to be divided into large groups of individuals. On the one side, you have picky people who will dispiritingly say that you cannot teach an old dog a brand new trick. And then there are those seemingly rare factions of folks who will encouragingly state that it is never too late to learn. My Old Lady, the indie feature from 2014 starring Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Maggie Smith, seems to fall somewhere in the middle of that. For here, author/playwright Israel Horovitz (creator of both Author! Author! and

The Bride Wore Black (1968) Blu-ray Review: The Roots of '70s Grindhouse Cinema

François Truffaut's homage to Hitchcock makes a stunning Blu-ray debut from Twilight Time.
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While it is frequently reiterated that we are unable to take it with us, it should be noted that we do manage to take some of it along into the next life. No, I'm not attempting to wax some fruity spiritualism on you here (that's a job for those weird people handing out pamphlets in parking lots to tackle), I'm actually referring to things such as fashion and entertainment. As each craze fades out, it carries a little bit with it over into the new (usually worse) fad. In the world of music, we witnessed punk music (the real kind,

Breaking Away (1979) Blu-ray Review: How Kids Grew Up Before the Internet

Quite possibly the only movie in history to partly focus on cycling and not suck in the process.
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Following the near collapse of the American film industry somewhere between the end of the '60s and the beginning of the '70s - a semi-catastrophe brought on (mostly) thanks to lavishly over-budget and egotistical studio productions, a war in Vietnam, and something the history books refer to as the "Hippie Movement" - the few folks who were still going to the picture show seemed to demand more realism. That, or the once lavish budgets that used to be handed out to filmmakers at the drop of a hat, and which were now being frequently slashed by some now very nervous

The Purple Rose of Cairo Blu-ray Review: When Worlds Collide

Twilight Time continues its legacy of giving a damn about Woody Allen's classic, truly good movies.
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As a reasonably mature adult male who has been involved in an unending war with depression and mood swings since he was but a wee lad, I know how easy it is to seek solace from the cinema. To find a sense of purpose within the imaginary realms as designed by far-greater dreamers. I have danced the same steps as timeless American icons Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. I have romantically wooed the jaw-dropping charms of international B movie actresses like Barbara Bouchet and Margaret Lee. Espionage? Exploration? Elimination? I've done it all just by becoming immersed in a movie,

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power Blu-ray Review: "The Search for More Money"

Thoroughly mindless entertainment. Minus the whole "entertainment" part.
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A few years ago, I had the misfortune of seeing the last movie in Universal's Scorpion King legacy (which was itself a secondary subsidiary to the studio's ongoing attempt at burying Stephen Sommers' career, and was something that officially started immediately after he made his debut film with 1989's Catch Me If You Can). Fortunately, I don't remember a single solitary frame of the previous entry. In fact, I had to look up an old review of mine (published elsewhere) just to make sure that I actually did see it; it was that memorable. Well, once more, the powers that

Left Behind (2014) Blu-ray Review: Ungodly in Every Sense of the Word

A movie about people who are lost made by people who couldn't find their asses with both hands and flashlights.
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Reaching out to a target audience with a speciality motion picture is never an easy task, particularly when said target audience is intelligent or - at the very least - has expectations that scale only slightly above "public access TV production values." First, let's turn back the clock a bit to the original filmic adaptation of Left Behind (subtitled The Movie, in case its target audience was unable to distinguish the difference between a paperback book and a videocassette - which certainly wasn't insulting to their intelligence in any way) from 2000 starring former teen heartthrob-turned-evangelist Kirk Cameron. Based on

'Rebel, Rebel': Six Tales of Defiance from Twilight Time

From Streisand to Stone, controversies to conniving, this sextet offers it all.
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Since the dawn of mankind itself, there have been notable examples of individuals willing to break any rules that have been established, question whatever authority may be in command, and just try to have a good time in general - especially when it's all-but forbidden to do so. And that motif of rebellious folk is in fine form in the latest collection of movies from Twilight Time. Released in late December, this batch of six films ranges from highly acclaimed classics to somewhat forgotten features from yesteryear, as directed by the likes of Stanley Kramer, Oliver Stone, Mike Nichols, and

Holiday in Spain Blu-ray Review: Scent of a Mystery Woman

With so much work invested into a weird little gimmick flick starring Denholm Elliott and Peter Lorre, what's there not to love?
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Three-dimensional television sets with Ultra High-Definition 4K resolution. A kajllion-and-one useless apps for our increasingly useless smartphones. A vast array of challenging social networks that only go to make people vastly socially-challenged. With some new revolutionary thing we allegedly cannot live without coming 'round the bend every other week, it's easy to not fully realize we live in a world that is literally littered with nothing more than a shitload of gimmicks. More than half a century ago, studios and distributors alike were also worried the public might soon stoop so low as to pick up a book and learn

Tusk (2014) DVD Review: A Black Comedy with Humor So Dark, You Can't See It

After seeing this, I can see why Kevin Smith has never been allowed to make a Batman or Superman movie.
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There was once a point in history where many of us, myself included, felt Kevin Smith had potential. After hopping aboard the underground film movement of the '90s, the New Jersey-born comic book geek-turned-filmmaker made a big splash with Clerks (1994), next alienated critics while delighting audiences with the very crude comedy hit Mallrats the following year. But hey, that was 1995, and genuinely monumental motion pictures were few and far in-between. Next, Smith made a compromise: he delighted his critics as he alienated his audience with the not-so-romantic dramedy Chasing Amy (1997); a title that has since become the

Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 8 DVD Review: Four Films That Broke the Code

The Warner Archive Collection presents a quartet of Pre-Code classics that delve into vice with very little virtue.
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Once more, the guys and gals at the Warner Archive - along with the folks at the Turner Entertainment Corp. - have assembled another collection of rarities from the early '30s, made at a time before the Hays Office established its moralistic Production Code upon the film industry. Prior to when the Code was fully enforced in 1934, filmmakers were able to get away with quite a bit more than they would in later decades. Skin, sin, and a frequently-seen seductive grin lured audiences into theaters as easily as the various elements of vice (often without a whole heck of

A Newly Widened Screen: Two Steve Martins and a Black Scorpion

The Warner Archive Collection re-releases several classic favorites in 16x9 widescreen.
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As some of you may recall, there was once a time when television sets were great big, bulky, boxy contraptions that weighed more than an entire average American family did immediately after eating Thanksgiving dinner. Shortly before the manufacturers of these electronic babysitters began making the lightweight widescreen models we know and (possibly) love, the world was introduced to DVD; a revolutionary new home video concept wherein we could finally see digital transfers of movies we (potentially) adored in their original theatrical aspect ratios. Sadly, some early DVD releases did not bring us the widescreen video presentations we had hoped

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) Blu-ray Review: Shades of Gray

The Warner Archive Collection breathes new life into the innovative classic.
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While it certainly wasn't the first motion picture adaptation of the Oscar Wilde classic, MGM's 1945 version of The Picture of Dorian Gray did have the honor of not only being the first feature-length American version of the tale, as well as the first to employ the use of color when black-and-white was the norm (during the war, even). Fortunately, Albert Lewin's masterpiece does so sparingly. Reserving the bulk of his (black-and-white) stock so that cinematographer Harry Stradling may deliver some truly atmospheric noir-like (and Oscar winning) photography, Lewin then dazzles viewers with four very brief - but simplistically powerful

When the Wind Blows (1986) Blu-ray Review: Wild is the Wind

So, anyone for a nuclear holocaust, then?
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Not many people may remember this, but there was a lot of nuclear war going back in the '80s. Big time. All over the place! Tensions between the various powers in the east and the west began to swelter, and James Bond and many other agents from the free(er) parts of the world were rushed into action. Sometimes they succeeded, making the way for artists like Rita Coolidge to gain a hit single out of the deal in the process. Other times, however, things failed with the utmost of (in)efficiency. The world was destroyed, time and time again, inevitably paving

The Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei) Blu-ray Review: Ex-Swordsman Blues

Wait, THIS lost to "The Barbarian Invasions"? THIS?!
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It's always interesting to see the similarities between samurai films and the western. Both genres have served to inspire filmmakers from either corner of the world intermittently over the years. Sergio Leone adapted the spaghetti western classic (For) A Fistful of Dollars from Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo - a tale that itself borrowed elements from an American film noir, The Glass Key. Likewise, The Seven Samurai became The Magnificent Seven, while Sergio Corbucci's cult classic Django (the real one, kids) and just about every other influential European western eventually wound up receiving an Eastern treatment in Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django.

Flaming Star Blu-ray Review: Hunka Hunka Burning Death

Elvis Presley's best performance? Well, if such a thing was ever possible, this is most assuredly it.
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It wasn't until earlier this year, when Twilight Time released the happy, family-friendly flick Follow That Dream to Blu-ray, that I finally, willingly [citation needed] sat through an entire Elvis Presley film from beginning to end. Even then, I had to occasionally resist the urge to lift up my couch in order to read the fine print on those labels that tell me not to remove them just so I could keep my spirits up. And that is probably because there is this weird misconception about Elvis movies ingrained into my head (which is a fairly common credence that could

Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Collection, Vol. 1 & 2 DVD Reviews: What, No Sammy Petrillo?

The Warner Archive Collection re-releases the long out of print Paramount sets featuring 13 of the duo's best-known works.
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While they were once as easy to find as a pregnant woman in a maternity ward, the world of comedy duos has almost faded into obscurity since the latter part of the '50s. One one side of the ring, there were the reigning kings of comedy themselves, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, who had served both their public and country alike during World War II by making a slew of patriotic wartime comedies while raising a whopping (estimated) $85 million in war bonds. Alas, a very poor choice in accountants found the Internal Revenue Service pursuing the long-standing, legendary two-man

Judgment at Nuremberg Blu-ray Review: Picking Up the Pieces

Stanley Kramer's powerhouse post-World War II courtroom drama gets another chance to shock and delight via Twilight Time.
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We've all heard the saying "War is Hell" a million times over. Hell, there are probably over a million films that have been manufactured from all corners of the world throughout the last millennia or so that have done their very best to convey this message unto viewers. Sometimes, these stories serve as clever warning devices to remind mankind of its own mortality (and immaturity, despite its age). Other times, you just wind up with a great big mess of a cheap exploitation flick on your hands. And then there are those rare, infrequently-made movies that look past the conflicts

Dr. Gillespie Film Collection DVD Review: Van Johnson and Keye Luke Join the Fun

The last six films of the original Dr. Kildare series eerily foreshadows one of contemporary television's most popular medical dramas.
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In many respects, MGM's original Dr. Kildare Movie Collection essentially served as filmdom's first hospital show. Granted, the series was one of a theatrical nature; although television did in fact exist when the series was born, it had not yet been molded into what it would become in the '50s. Nevertheless, the various storylines and recurring supporting characters the nine films had gives the old fashioned film franchise a very likeable "modern" quality when viewed today (as it did way back when, I should add). But the series only grew to foreshadow television after its star, Lew Ayres, left the

Bunny Lake is Missing Blu-ray Review: Required Viewing is Found

The only film to ever have employed a couple of Zombies as a Greek chorus hits High-Def courtesy Twilight Time.
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As soon as the opening credits of Bunny Lake is Missing fade in following the perfunctory Columbia lady logo, it's obvious that this is an Otto (Anatomy of a Murder) Preminger film. A hand reaches up onto the completely black screen, ripping pieces of the darkness away to show us just enough for the incredible iconic work of Saul Bass to reveal the men and women responsible for this magnificent work of cinematic art. Likewise, director Preminger only shows us fractions of the light throughout this psychological thriller revolving around a missing child in London during the revolutionary mid '60s

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