Tuesday, May 5, 2015

OLIVE FILMS JUNE 9TH RELEASES - BLAXPLOITATION BONANZA!

COFFY (1973, action): Pam Grier became a staple of early 1970s blaxploitation films by playing bold, assertive women, starting with Jack Hill's Coffy. Her character was advertised in the original trailer as the "baddest one-chick hit-squad that ever hit town!" Grier's role was noted as being the first African-American female to headline an action film.

FOXY BROWN (1974, action): Pam Grier teams up once again with Coffy director Jack Hill in this blaxploitation follow-up that was filmed in an astounding 17 days.

FRIDAY FOSTER (1975, action): “Wham! Bam! Here Comes Pam” and with that Pam Grier is back in action as Friday Foster.

HAMMER (1972, action): Former football-player-turned-actor Fred Williamson’s off-the-field nickname was “The Hammer.”

A Pam Grier fan, director Quentin Tarantino would pay homage to her blaxploitation roots when crafting the film Jackie Brown for Grier. Jackie Brown took clear inspiration from films like Coffy and Foxy Brown.

COFFY (1973)


Starring:
PAM GRIER (Foxy Brown, Fort Apache The Bronx, Jackie Brown, Something This Way Wicked Comes)
BOOKER BRADSHAW (The Strawberry Statement, Skullduggery)
ROBERT DOQUI (Nashville, Short Cuts)
SID HAIG (The Devil’s Rejects, Jackie Brown)

Directed by: JACK HILL (Foxy Brown, Switchblade Sisters)

YEAR: 1973
GENRE: ACTION
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH
LABEL: OLIVE FILMS
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 90 min
RATING: R
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio, Color
AUDIO: Stereo
DISC: 1

SYNOPSIS:
Pam Grier (Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown) stars as Nurse “Coffy” Coffin in the mother of all Blaxploitation films, Coffy.

Coffy is a one-woman vigilante force, out to even the score with those that have hooked her sister on drugs. Using her feminine wiles (along with deadly weaponry), Coffy sets about ridding the streets of low-life drug dealers, pimps, deviants and society’s scum in the kick-ass action film Coffy.

Jack Hill (Foxy Brown, Switchblade Sisters) directs Booker Bradshaw (The Strawberry Statement, Skullduggery), Robert DoQui (Nashville, Short Cuts) and Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects, Jackie Brown) in Coffy starring Pam Grier (Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown).

COFFY DVD SRP: $24.95
COFFY BD SRP: $29.95

FOXY BROWN (1974)


Starring:
PAM GRIER (Coffy, Fort Apache The Bronx, Friday Foster, Jackie Brown)
ANTONIO FARGAS (Conrack, Car Wash)
PETER BROWN (Merrill’s Marauder’s, Teenage Tease)
SID HAIG (Coffy, Jackie Brown)

Directed by: JACK HILL (Coffy, Switchblade Sisters)

YEAR: 1974
GENRE: ACTION
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH
LABEL: OLIVE FILMS
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 92 min
RATING: R
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio, Color
AUDIO: 5.1
DISC: 1

SYNOPSIS:
Foxy Brown (Pam Grier, Coffy, Jackie Brown) is “a whole lot of woman” and more. Just you wait and see.

Seeking revenge for the murder of her government-agent boyfriend, a government-agent, Foxy goes to any means necessary - even posing as a prostitute to infiltrate a modeling agency that’s a cover for sex trafficking - to bring the killer to justice.

Foxy Brown co-stars Antonio Fargas (Conrack, Car Wash), Peter Brown (Teenage Tease, Merrill’s Marauder’s), Terry Carter (Brother On The Run), Sid Haig (Coffy, The Devil’s Rejects, Jackie Brown) and is directed by Jack Hill (Coffy, Switchblade Sisters).

FOXY BROWN DVD SRP: $24.95
FOXY BROWN BD SRP: $29.95

FRIDAY FOSTER (1975)


Starring:
PAM GRIER (Coffy, Jackie Brown, TV’s The L Word)
EARTHA KITT (The Emperor’s New Groove, Erik The Viking)
YAPHET KOTTO (Alien, Blue Collar)
GODFREY CAMBRIDGE (Watermelon Man, Cotton Comes To Harlem)
SCATMAN CROTHERS (The Shining, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest)
CARL WEATHERS (Rocky, Predator)

Directed by: ARTHUR MARKS (Class of ’74, Detroit 9000)

YEAR: 1975
GENRE: ACTION
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH
LABEL: OLIVE FILMS
TOTAL RUNNING: 90 min
RATING: R
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio, Color
AUDIO: Mono
DISC: 1

SYNOPSIS:
Based on the syndicated newspaper comic strip of the same name, Grier stars as intrepid photojournalist Friday Foster. No sooner has she been warned by her boss that her personal involvement in the stories she’s shooting will not end happily,Friday witnesses the attempted assassination of a prominent African-American figure and the murder of a friend.

Why is Friday the target on the hit list? What does she know? Teaming with private detective Colt Hawkins (Yaphet Kotto, Alien, Blue Collar), the search for answers will lead them to a startling and action-packed finale.

Directed by Arthur Marks (Class of ’74, Detroit 9000), based on his story, Friday Foster features supporting performances by Godfrey Cambridge (Watermelon Man, Cotton Comes To Harlem), Eartha Kitt (Boomerang, The Emperor’s New Groove), Carl Weathers (Rocky, Predator), Scatman Crothers (The Shining), Ted Lange (TV’s The Love Boat), Jim Backus (TV’s Gilligan’s Island, Mister Magoo).

FRIDAY FOSTER DVD SRP: $24.95
FRIDAY FOSTER BD SRP: $29.95

HAMMER (1972)


Starring:
FRED WILLIAMSON (M.A.S.H., Black Caesar, Hell Up In Harlem)
BERNIE HAMILTON (The Swimmer, TV’s Starsky and Hutch)
VONETTA MCGEE (Blacula, The Eiger Sanction)
WILLIAM SMITH (Any Which Way You Can, The Frisco Kid)

Directed by: BRUCE CLARK (The Ski Bum, Galaxy of Terror)

YEAR: 1972
GENRE: ACTION
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH
LABEL: OLIVE FILMS
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 91 min
RATING: R
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio, Color
AUDIO: Mono
DISC: 1

SYNOPSIS:
Former football player Fred Williamson (M.A.S.H., Black Caesar) brings his athletic prowess and acting chops to the role of B.J. Hammer in the street-smart, action pic Hammer. A boxer on-the-rise, Hammer is asked to throw a fight by the local Mob who have figured prominently in his success. His moral dilemma hits close to home when the life of his girlfriend, Lois’ (Vonetta McGee, Blacula, The Eiger Sanction) is put in jeopardy.

Rounding out the Hammer cast are Bernie Hamilton (The Swimmer, TV’s Starkey and Hutch) and William Smith (Any Which Way You Can, The Frisco Kid) in the Bruce Clark (The Ski Bum, Galaxy of Terror) directed film.

HAMMER DVD SRP: $24.95
HAMMER BD SRP: $29.95


Scream Factory Presents Ghosthouse (1988) & Witchery (1988) on Blu-ray June 30th


GHOSTHOUSE (1988) / WITCHERY (1988) 
On Blu-ray June 30, 2015

Clown dolls. Witches. Hasselhoff. What more could you want? Prepare yourself for one of the most bizarre double bills imaginable with Ghosthouse and Witchery! Released in Italy as part of the infamous La Casa series, these two highly unusual horror films come to Blu-ray on June 30, 2015 from Scream Factory.

Your tour of terror begins with Ghosthouse, in which a group of visitors to a seemingly-deserted home find themselves tormented by demonic spirits – including one particularly freaky little girl and her creepy clown companion. Soon, our hapless heroes find themselves powerless to conquer the evil of the Ghosthouse – where death holds the mortgage and if you move in… there’ll be Hell to pay!

Then, a new address brings new frights as the immortal David Hasselhoff and The Exorcist’s Linda Blair turn up the terror in Witchery. When a terrible storm leaves a motley assortment of people stranded on an island resort, they soon find they have more to worry about than not packing rain gear! A horrible witch unleashes her wrath on the unwanted visitors – and no one is safe from her unquenchable thirst for death!

Ghosthouse. Witchery. A duplex of doom, brought to you on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.

SPECIAL FEATURES:


GHOSTHOUSE
· Theatrical Trailer

WITCHERY
· Theatrical Trailer

Shout! Factory will continue to present the on-going SCREAM FACTORY™ home entertainment series in 2015 with specific release dates, extras and key art. Fans are encouraged to visit Shout! Factory’s website (www.ShoutFactory.com), follow the brand on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ScreamFactoryDVD) and Twitter (@Scream_Factory), and view exclusive video content on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/ScreamFactoryTV/Home).


THE FOOD OF THE GODS (1976) / FROGS (1972) DOUBLE FEATURE

THE FOOD OF THE GODS (1976) / FROGS (1972) 
SCREAM FACTORY DOUBLE FEATURE

Label: Scream Factory 
Release Date: May 26th 2015 
Region Code: A
Rating: PG
Duration: 88 Minutes, 91 Minutes 
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1), (1.78:1)  
Director: Bert I. Gordon, George McCowan
Cast: Ida Lupino, Pamela Franklin, Marjoe Gortner, Belinda Balaski, Jon Cypher, Ralph Meeker,  Judy Pace, Ray Milland, Joan Van Ark, Adam Roarke, Sam Elliott, Lynn Borden

THE FOOD OF THE GODS (1976)

Pro footballer Morgan (Marjoe Gortner) and his pals are hunting on a remote island off British Columbia when one of them are attacked by enormous wasps the size of a small dog with wings. Morgan and the others don't witness the attack and are unaware of the oddity of the death, aside from the unusually swollen corpse. When the autopsy indicates he was injected with a near impossible amount of wasp venom Morgan and his friend Bryan (Jon Cypher) return to the island to find some answers. Once there they stumble upon a small farm house in the woods where Morgan is attacked by an 8 ft. tall rooster that's kept out in the barn, just narrowly avoiding having his eyes pecked out by the gigantic cock.

Mrs. Skinner (Ida Lupino), the elderly owner of the farm,  after some prodding reveals that she and her husband have found a substance bubbling up from the Earth, ome goo with the consistency of runny oatmeal which when eaten enables the animals to grow to an unnatural size, as evidenced by the 8ft rooster. Morgan puts two and two together and deduces that wasps must have eaten the substance and are loose in the area,  but Mrs. Skinner refuses to believe that their discovery could be something awful, what she doesn't know is that Mr. Skinner was torn apart by a horde of flesh-crazed rats who have also eaten the magic growth substance. 

Now we have Morgan and Bryan on the island in addition to a young couple expecting a child plus an unscrupulous owner of a dog food company who is bent on obtaining the substance for his own profit, alongside his somewhat adversarial bacteriologist assistant. Not completely sure why the owner of a dog food company needed a bacteriologist on staff but I do know that white-afro wearing Marjoe Gortner needed a love interest and she fit the bill. 

The idea of giant-sized animals and insects ingesting a strange substance who attack humans on a remote island might sound familiar to anyone who watched director Bert I. Gordon's Empire of the Ants (1971) just a few years earlier. The campy special affects are achieved through various means to varying degrees of success, a series of miniatures sets with real rodents that are hilarious, full size puppets, and a series of composite shot effects, which may not be the most impressive but are a lot of fun, particularly if you love bad movies or are nostalgic for these awesome creature-features from the '70s.

I love love love this film and always have and I always will, it's just a blast and hard not to enjoy for the cult-classic that it is, a movie loaded with giant-sized wasps, chickens, worms and a horde of deadly rodents who lay siege to the farmhouse. I just cannot get enough of this one and I am damn happy to see it get an HD release from Scream Factory with some new extras and improved A/V.   

The Food of the Gods shares space on a single-disc Blu-ray with the eco-terror Frogs, the HD transfer offers up improved clarity and detail over the standard-def DVD, which should be no surprise. Not the most impressive eye-popping 1080p on the market but for an almost 40 year old b-movie this one looked pretty solid. The English LPCM 2.0 audio is nicely balanced with no distortion, optional English subtitles are provided. 

Special features include a brand new Audio Commentary With Director Bert I. Gordon moderated by Kevin Sean Michaels, a fun interview with Actress Belinda Balaski whom recalls actress Ida Lupino informing the director she had written her own death scene and was leaving the set in a few hours, having to scramble to get the scene finished before she left. Additionally there are radio spots, a trailer, a photo gallery and trailers for Empire of the Ants and Jaws of Satan, also available as a double-feature from Scream Factory 

Special Features
- New Audio Commentary With Director Bert I. Gordon
- New Interview With Actress Belinda Balaski (12 Mins) 
- Radio Spot (1 Min) 
- Photo Gallery (4 Mins) 
- Theatrical Trailer (1 Min) 

FROGS (1972)


Frogs is one of those films I caught on TV quite a bit in the early '80s but could just never get into at the time, an environmental horror film starring Sam Elliot sans his signature mustache, which was weird. Elliot is wildlife photographer Pickett Smith who is canoeing around the bayou snapping pics of wildlife and pollution when his canoe is overturned by the wake of a careless speed boater. The speed boat circles back around and pulls him from the water, inside are Clint (Adam Roarke) and his sister Karen (Joan Van Ark), whom invite him back to their island estate for some celebratory fun, as they're celebrating not just the 4th of July but the birthday of their wheelchair bound grandfather Jason Rocket (Ray Milland), a stubborn southern man. 

Soon after the creatures of the bayou seemingly begin to rise up against humanity, beginning with a deadly snakebite in the swamp.  In very short order the birds, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, alligators, snapping turtles and frogs are hunting the humans. The movie is a classic example of '70s slow-burn cinema from start to finish, deliberately paced with some decent tension and creepiness punctuated by a few death scenes involving swampy critters with an attitude.  

Sam Elliot's Pickett Smith is the voice of reason among the humans, but for the most part his warnings to vacate the island fall on deaf ears, particularly the patriarch Jason Crockett who is one grade a stubborn son of a bitch. The kills sequences are fun with some cool shots of frogs gathering in great numbers outside the family mansion, which is sort of creepy but only to a point. There are venomous snakes hanging from trees, and a pretty cool scene of tarantulas descending from the mossy canopy onto a victim who has immobilized himself with a shotgun blast to the leg, while it's not quite up to par with that one scene in Lucio Fulci's The Beyond is is creepy. 


I just happen to enjoy a good slow-burn and creature features, but this one is pretty damn slow with most of the scenes of animals stalking their prey just clips of snakes or spiders spliced into a scene separate from the victim, which hurts it, but there's no denying the building sense of dread and creepiness of this one, but it never quite pans out in the end. While I didn't care for it much as a youth it has grown on me quite a bit, but I can see how many would rather watch paint dry, it's slow. 

The disc from Scream Factory looks good, a definite step up over the MGM DVD from a few years back with improved depth and clarity, skin tones are accurate, but some compression issues take away from the overall score, not too shabby, but not a stunner. The English LPCM 2.0 audio  is clean and well-balanced, again not a stunner, but probably true to the source material and free of distortion, optional English subtitles are provided. 

Special features include a 10-minute interview with star Joan Van Ark who is candid about the film, her love of the director and he obvious pleasure of working alongside Sam Elliot. Funnily she mentions that she is often mistaken for co star Lynn Borden, and is often presented photos of Borden to sign. Other extras include a trailer, a radio spot and a photo gallery. 

Special Features
- New Interview With Actress Joan Van Ark (10 Mins) 
- Radio Spot (1 Min) 
- Photo Gallery (3 Mins) 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) 

I am loving these Scream Factory double features which seem to be carrying on the b-movie tradition of the classic MGM Midnite Movies double-features, they're not all golden nuggets of cult-cinema but they are certainly entertaining slices of b-movie cinema and I am happy to see them being preserved in HD. The Food of the Gods is the clear winner of this double feature, director Bert I. Gordon mad quite a few entertaining movies and this is one of his best he made. Both films have decent PQ and we get some new interviews and an audio commentary on top of that, for the right price this is a fun double-feature of angry and over sized critters. *** 3/5

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

BLIND WOMAN'S CURSE (1970)

BLIND WOMAN'S CURSE (1970) 


Label: Arrow Video
Rating: A
Region Code: A
Duration: 85 Minutes 
Audio: Japanese LPCM 1.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Cast: Meiko Kaji, Hoki Tokuda, Makoto Satô
Director: Teruo Ishii


Synopsis: Akemi (Kaji) is a dragon tattooed leader of the Tachibana Yakuza clan. In a duel with a rival gang Akemi slashes the eyes of an opponent and a black cat appears, to lap the blood from the gushing wound. The cat along with the eye-victim go on to pursue Akemi’s gang in revenge, leaving a trail of dead Yakuza girls, their dragon tattoos skinned from their bodies.

This is a strange one, a weird blend of a bad ass female Yakuza film and a cat ghost story (which s apparently a thing in Japan) wrapped up in a tale of vengeance and violence, one that is not easily categorized. The movie begins with an excellent stylized fight sequence with Akemi and her Tachibana Gang battling adversaries Goda Gang during a torrential downpour. The dragon-tattooed Tachibana are in fine form, but Akemo accidentally blinds Aiko (Hoki Tokuda), the sister of Boss Goda with her sword, afterward a black cat appears begins to lick the blood pouring from the blinding wound. The entire opening credit sequence is fantastic, rain-soaked and action-packed with effective use of still frames, it's a very stylish sequence bursting with color and violence.  


After the bloody battle Akemi is imprisoned for her crimes, when she is released three years later she resumes her role as the leader of the Tachibana Gang but now faces opposition from rivals Gang Boss Dobashi (Toru Abeand) the the Aozora Gang lead by the smelly Aozora (Ryohei Uchida). She must also contend with the fact that one of her own are conspiring against her with a rival boss. However, she is aided by a bad ass warrior named Tani (Makoto Sato) who aids the Tachibana in their battles throughout the neighborhood, enforcing his own brand of justice. 

The blinded woman from the start of the film reappears at a freaky sideshow as a knife thrower, and not long after members of Akemi's gang are found dead with their dragon tattoos skinned from their backs. Akemi is convinced that she has been cursed following the appearance of the black cat, a creature that has haunted her dreams for since the accidental blinding. The spooky black cat's reappearance gives the film a strange supernatural vibe, even if it's not fleshed out in a satisfactory way I appreciated the mash-up of genres. 

The Blu-ray from Arrow Video looks fantastic, bold colors and sourced from a great looking print. The Japanese LPCM 1.0 Mono audio presentation is decent, not the cleanest presentation you could hope for on Blu-ray with some minor instances of distortion along the way but overall is damn decent Blu-ray edition of Blind Woman's Curse (1970) which is making it Blu-ray debut in North America here from Arrow Video. 

Bonus features are pretty slim by Arrow Video standards but are nothing to scoff at, beginning with an info packed audio commentary from noted Japanese film scholar Japser Sharp, who also wrote the liner notes for the Impulse Picture's Nikkatsu Collection DVDs. There's also a theatrical trailer for the film, four more trailers for Nikkatsu film starring Meiko Kaji, plus a reversible sleeve of artwork and a collector's booklet with new writing on the film. 

A weird and confusing tale of female Yakuza revenge with some supernatural elements and some fantastic imagery. Admittedly I didn't quite follow everything the first time around but I enjoyed it quite a bit just the same, was even better the second time around, a very entertaining revenge film laced with betrayal and some supernatural charms. *** 3/5

EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2014)

Label: Scream Factory / IFC Midnight 
Release Date: May 12th 2015
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 101 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Colin Minihan
Cast: Michael Ironside, Freddie Stroma, Brittany Allen, Anja Savcic, Jesse Moss, Gil Bellows, Melanie Papalia

Extraterrestrial (2014) starts off with a frantic young woman (Emily Perkins) who arrives in a panic outside a rural convenience store just as they've close up shop for the night. Seeing a phone booth nearby she runs to it and frantically dials for help, as she is doing so  the booth's light flicker on and off and in a brilliant burst of light she disappears, not just her but the entire phone booth. The next scene features the store clerk admitting to the local sheriff (Gil Bellows) that while he may have a history of ingesting hallucinogenic drugs what he saw that night was some seriously freaky shit. It's a nice start and felt very much like an X-Files episode, which is quite appropriate.  

Next up we meet a young college couple, April (Brittany Allen) and her boyfriend Hyle (Freddie Stroma), whom are off to April's family's cabin in the woods. She's going out to the cabin to snap a few pics of the property for her mother who is selling the property following her divorce. Unexpectedly tagging along for the weekend getaway are Seth (Jesse Moss) and his girlfriend Lex (Anja Savcic) plus April's best friend Melanie (Melanie Papalia). The three pile into an SUV and head off to the rural properly for a weekend of fun, we have the typical assortment of 20-something shenanigans, a montage of illicit fireworks, drinking and smoking weed and some relationship turmoil thrown into the mix. So far we have a group of five young people and a cabin in the woods, we're on pretty familiar territory and there's not much new under the sun and we sort of know where we're headed... until a fireball falls from the sky exploding into the nearby forest.

Drunk and curious our group arrive at the scene of the crash where they discover not a meteor but a UFO straight out of Mar's Attacks! Furthermore they find a set of alien footprints leading off into the woods in the direction of their cabin. Unfortunately for them they do not just jump into their car and head get the Hell out of there, of course not, instead they head back to the cabin which just happens to be the same direction as the alien foot prints seem to have been headed. What I sort of love about this film is that the  Vicious Brothers are not out to reinvent the alien encounter film, instead they cram a lot of familiar tropes and mash it up with a cabin in the woods movie, and it's pretty effective stuff. 

Beginning with the characters we have a a typical cross-section of 20-somethings, April and Kyle are a sweet young couple experiencing some relationship troubles, they each have some minor depth to them which makes sense since they are the main characters. Their three friends are rather annoying from the start, especially Seth, but even he managed to grows on me before the inevitable body count begins,he suffers a particularly painful dismemberment and anal-plunging at the hands of the aliens. Separate from the group of friends we have the weed-growing neighbor played by the always awesome Michael Ironside, a 'Nam vet with a penchant for conspiracies who doesn't appreciate any sort of intrusion on his property. I only wish we had more of him but what we do get is pretty awesome, he adds some flavor to what is really a minor character. Additionally we have Gil Bellows as the local Sheriff and his deputy investigating the strange disappearance at the start of the film, they have a great scene in the squad car when they encounter one of the aliens, which is very memorable and a bit gory. 

It's a low-budget movie but looks great, shot on Red HD cameras the film is surprisingly polished with some nice locations and great lighting, you can see the tiny budget onscreen with loads of production value, quality digital effects and some great atmospheric lighting. Visually this one top notch production, major kudos to the production team for what they were able to get onscreen. The aliens look very good, again they're not reinventing the wheel here and keep with the standard large-eyed greys familiar to us in everything from Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind on through to the X-Files. 


At one point we arrive on the alien ship, which broadens the scope of the film, giving it a Fire In The Sky vibe by way of the Matrix, quite a feat for a low-budget movie but they pull it off well enough with scenes of slime covered cocoons and the not-unexpected bloody anal-probing, we get a nice balance of sci-fi and horrific gruesomeness throughout.

A fun watch, a mix of sci-fi and horror tropes mashed-up in a way that is fast paced and entertaining, even the love story that figures strongly into the finale didn't feel too forced. The inclusion of the Magnetic Fields tune "Book of Love" is a nice counterpoint to the nihilistic ending, which is dark, and includes an possible homage to the X-Files character Cigarette Smoking Man along with a great government cover-up to top it off. 

Audio/Video: The Blu-ray from Scream Factory  and IFC Midnight is solid with a crisp HD image with strong color saturation and black levels, a top notch presentation. The English 7.1 DTS-HD MA is powerful and immersive, the bombastic low-end blast that announces the arrival of the alien spacecraft was intense and rattled my shelves, plus the soundtrack featuring Crystal Castles, Magnetic Fields and Elton John among others sounds terrific.

Bonus content on the disc begins with an audio commentary with the Vicious Brothers and actors Brittany Allen And Melanie Papalia, The breezy commentary features the Vicious Brothers chime in from time to time with technical talk about lens choices and creating the many effects for the film, but mostly it's just commenting on scenes with anecdotes about making the film. Additionally there are a collection of deleted scenes, a making of featurette and a trailer for the film, plus additional trailers from IFC Midnight. Non disc extras include a slipcase and a reversible sleeve of artwork, which I always appreciate. 

Special Features
- Audio Commentary With The Vicious Brothers and Actors Brittany Allen and Melanie Papalia
- Deleted Scenes (7 Mins) HD
- The Making Of Extraterrestrial Featurette (8 Mins) HD
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins)

- IFC Midnight Trailers ( 6 Mins) HD 

Loved this one from start to finish, a spunky sci-fi horror mash-up with some quality special effects and a good cast. Proof that it doesn't have to be an original idea to give it a recommend, just entertaining, which this certainly is. *** 3/5 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

LORD OF THE FLIES (1990)

LORD OF THE FLIES (1990) 

Label: Olive Films
Release Date: April 28th 2015 
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Harry Hook
Cast: Balthazar Getty, Chris Furrh, Danuel Pipoly


Synopsis: Lord of the Flies stars Balthazar Getty (Lost Highway) in an adventure tale based on the classic novel by William Golding. When an aircraft carrying a group of military school cadets is forced to crash land in an uninhabited Pacific jungle, it is survival of the fittest, man against nature, and boy against boy as sides are drawn when the hunters become the hunted.

I was still a sophomore in high school when Harry Hook's Lord of the Flies adaptation came to the cinema. At the time I just happened to be reading William Golding's source material novel for a class assignment and having just finished the fantastic novel I was pretty stoked to see a big screen adaptation. At the time I was unaware of the 1963 film and as such my viewing was not skewed by a comparison of the two films, just on the novel, and I loved it.


It was a harrowing viewing marked by the surprising savagery of children left to their own devices far from the eyes of parents and teachers. Now, looking back through the years in the aftermath of numerous school shootings in a post Battle Royale era the savagery of the kids is far less surprising, it's almost expected. 


While the original was shot in black and white this more contemporary version was shot in the tropics and is a feast for the eyes loaded with picturesque beaches, luscious green jungle and a stunning array of blue vistas and iridescent sunsets, on just a purely visual level this is quite an attractive film from the first frame on through to the last, the gorgeous natural beauty is a nice counterpoint to the darker savagery.

Watching it now I can see that the unfolding drama suffers the same shortcoming as the '63 original, the young cast is a bit spotty in places but not awful, they're just young, inexperienced cast. Getty and Furrh are solid in their respective roles, and Pipoly as Piggy is good, but this time around I found him rather annoying, which is by design. he comes off as weak and whiny despite being well intentioned, it's easy to see why he grated on the nerves of the other boys. His demise is brutal, even more so than in the original film, a death which traumatized me as a youth, still packing quite a wallop even now.


Piggy of course is not the only victim of the adolescent savagery which erupts on the island, both the pilot of the downed aircraft and another cadet fall victim to their sharp-tipped wooden spears, the cadet is speared repeatedly by his fellow cadets in the dark of night, having mistaken him for a monster they believe to inhabit the island. 



The story is pretty solid, children turned into savages without the constraint of society and the rule of adults. This adaptation follows the same template as the original film with only some minor updating beginning with the kids being American military cadets as opposed to British school children. Their arrival on the island is a bit more fleshed-out, the original movie started with Ralph and Piggy already in the island following a series of still frames, this version begins with a slightly artful underwater sequence before the kids arrive on the island together. Not all the updates are for the better though, around the campfire a kids name drops the '80s sci-fi sitcom Alf of all things, which sort of horribly dates it.

The Blu-ray from Olive Films looks pretty great, presenting the film with a 1080p HD transfer in the original widescreen aspect ratio sporting a fine layer of fine film grain. Colors are vibrant and the black levels are decent with some nice shadow detail with a modest amount of depth and some fine detail. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 English audio is solid, blending the tropical sounds of the island, dialogue and composer Philippe Sarde's score seamlessly and well-balanced, a very nice A/V presentation all around. Unfortunately there are no bonus features on the disc whatsoever but the disc's audio-visual merits are quite nice


While the '90 version lacks some of the depth of the original it does manage to stay close to the original story and in my opinion slightly improves upon it in certain respects, with a gorgeous array of tropic beauty and more visceral savagery on the part of the unruly kids, which make for quite a thrilling watch.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

BREAKING GLASS PICTURES TO RELEASE 'WHITE RABBIT' ON DVD MAY 12

Britt Robertson, Sam Trammell and Nick Krause Star in White Rabbit
 
"..strong performances and impressive cinematography.." - The Hollywood Reporter
 
Breaking Glass Pictures will be releasing White Rabbit on DVD May 12, 2015. Directed by Tim McCann, White Rabbit is a psychological thriller starring Sam Trammell ("True Blood," The Fault in our Stars), Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride, Tomorrowland), Nick Krause (The Descendants, Boyhood) and Ryan Lee (Super 8, Goosebumps). Following in the tradition of Gus Van Sant's acclaimed Elephant, this intense drama follows a bullied high school student's descent into madness.
 
Nick Krause, who starred opposite George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in The Descendants, plays a troubled teen that has been tormented by visions since his alcoholic father (Trammell) forced him to kill an innocent rabbit while hunting as a boy. Now that Harlon (Krause) is a bullied high school student, his undiagnosed mental illness is getting worse. He begins to hear voices and his imagination encourages him to carry out violent acts. Things begin to look up when Julie (Robertson), a rebellious young girl, moves to town and befriends Harlon. But when she betrays him, the rabbit along with other imaginary comic book characters taunt him into committing one final act of revenge.
 
White Rabbit made its world premiere at Zurich Film Festival and saw its North American premiere at the 2014 Catalina Film Festival where it won Best Feature Film. The film also won Best Cinematography at Chelsea Film Festival and Best Actor (Krause), Best Supporting Actor (Trammell), and Best Supporting Actress (Robertson) at the Boston Film Festival. White Rabbit was released in theaters and VOD on February 13th