Piranha 07/30/19

Scream Factory
Blu-ray Steelbook

Steelbook Limited Edition  Charlie Largent takes a dip in waters ripe with fast chompin’ toe munchin’ fishy-fishies that you don’t want to tangle with. It’s a joyful all-star Jaws rip-off: Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Belinda Balaski, Barry Brown, Paul Bartel and Richard Deacon. Also John Sayles, who wrote the darn thing. Half the fun with a Joe Dante disc is the commentary and other add-ons. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
07/30/19

Death in the Garden 07/30/19

Kino Classics
Blu-ray

La mort en ce jardin  Finally out on Blu-ray in Region A, Luis Buñuel’s beautiful color adventure is a worthy jungle tale shot through with his signature negativity — it could be titled “The Bad, The Greedy and the Faithless.” The Spanish surrealist’s filmic obsessions steered toward the anarchistic, the anti-clerical and anti-bourgeois; all of his films are political, but this is one of the few that envisions an actual revolt against authority. With the presence of movie stars Simone Signoret, Georges Marchal, Charles Vanel and Michel Piccoli, this may also be the director’s most commercial feature. On Blu-ray from Kino Classics.
07/30/19

The Reptile 07/27/19

Scream Factory
Blu-ray

Hammer’s attempt at a budget monster film for 1966 isn’t quite as good as its sister film Plague of the Zombies, but it has fine atmosphere and a couple of worthy grace notes, namely its fine actresses Jennifer Daniel and Jacqueline Pearce. Although the title monster bites some fans the wrong way, it works for this reviewer — it’s every appearance is a surprise, and for me it’s convincingly… reptilian. Also starring Noel Willman, Michael Ripper and Marne Maitland. Encoded in two aspect ratios, and including a full commentary and making-of discussion. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
07/27/19

Merrill’s Marauders 07/27/19

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Is this Samuel Fuller’s biggest production? He tries to convey the harrowing reality of a military campaign that tested the limits of endurance and punishment that troops could absorb. In his last movie, Jeff Chandler is the famed commander who must ask his special forces to march hundreds of miles in the unforgiving jungle, and then fight a pitched battle. Although Warners interfered with the final cut, it’s still a fine picture.. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
07/27/19

Weird Science 07/23/19

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Woo Hoo! We’re girl-starved teen nerds, and we’re cooking up our own living sex toy with our home computers!   John Hughes turns an infantile idea into one of his not-bad teen angst comedies, as Kelly LeBrock materializes to fulfill their wildest dreams. The idea is of course transformed into a basically benign coming-of age story … with the underlying message that we’d not all mind having Ms. LeBrock reformat our hard drive. It all begins as a bad arrested-development joke, but Hughes’ audaciousness and fine production values make this a nostalgic favorite for folk that miss their (ugh) 1980s memories. Anthony Michael Hall and Bill Paxton are standouts. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
07/23/19

Pin Up Girl 07/23/19

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

Most of us know Betty Grable from the famous pin-up copied by the cover artwork for this release; by 1944 Ms. Grable was Fox’s biggest earner, and the Armed Force’s most popular daydream babe both back home and at the front. This movie pulled in the multitudes, even though Betty doesn’t even play a model suitable for pin-up duty!  But just imagine: in almost any town during wartime with a war industry somewhere nearby, movie theaters played around the clock, with sold-out audiences, to accommodate swing shift defense workers. With Martha Raye and Joe E. Brown. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
07/23/19

Alphaville 07/20/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Jean-Luc Godard’s most accessible film retains a strong genre framework on which to hang his cinematic/poetic notions. Eddie Constantine’s intergalactic secret agent Lemmy Caution comes to ‘the capital of pain’ to find a defector, and stays to rescue lost soul Anna Karina. Is it sci-fi noir, or just an expression of pulp thriller coolness? Raoul Coutard shot it on tricky Ilford film, and Paul Misraki’s superb thriller music provides the offbeat sentimentality. “Men roam the city…” On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
07/20/19

Klute 07/20/19

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Jane Fonda reaches acting respectability and takes home an Oscar, co-starring with F.T.A. cohort Donald Sutherland in a stylish, edgy murder mystery in a new realm for film — the intimate life of a high class call girl. Fonda gets a full interview and director Pakula receives a full tribute. Charlie Largent reviews the show, and I hope we find out why it got called ‘Klute’ instead of ‘Bree.’ On Blu-rayfrom The Criterion Collection.
07/20/19

This Island Earth 07/16/19

Scream Factory
Blu-ray

“The supreme excitement of our time! Challenging the unearthly furies of an outlaw planet!” Big-budget space opera finally came to movie screens, in Technicolor and widescreen, in this irresistible kid magnet of a sci-fi extravaganza. Viewers are split on its worth, as the screenplay caroms between mind-expanding visions and puerile dialogue. But it’s the first show to capture the thrills on those pulp sci-fi pocketbook covers, and its visual poetry plays out like an intergalactic fairy tale. Two aspect ratios! No Waiting! Plus ’50s sci-fi expert Robert Skotak is on the commentary. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
07/16/19

Jet Pilot 07/16/19

Explosive Media GmbH
Region B Blu-ray

John Wayne! Janet Leigh! Nifty jet-age flying sequences! Goofy, bad-taste sex jokes! Hans Conreid as a chortling Russian army officer!   Howard Hughes’ personal fun project took seven years to make while he played games with the aerial footage. Its a highly-polished, absurd joke, but it’s certainly entertaining. See Hughes try to do for Janet Leigh what he did for Jane Russell — I assume Ms. Leigh was too shrewd to sign any long-term contracts! This German disc has excellent widescreen image and audio. On Region B Blu-ray from Explosive Media GmbH.
07/16/19

The BRD Trilogy 07/13/19

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s national epic tells the story of Germany’s ‘economic miracle’ recovery through the experiences of three strong women, each resilient in a different way. The Marriage of Maria Braun takes us from the bombings to a postwar struggle for survival. Veronika Voss hangs on to her illusions of a glorious stardom that died with the Reich; she’s now the victim of opportunists. And Lola isn’t the only person corrupting an idealist come to bring fairness to the rebuilding of Coburg: even without a conspiracy, the legitimate town leaders are up to their necks in double-dealing. These are the top titles of the prolific writer-director Fassbinder, beautifully restored. Starring Hanna Schygulla, Rosel Zech & Barbara Sukowa; on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
07/13/19

Footlight Parade 07/13/19

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

This amazing Busby Berkeley extravaganza is the best choice to impress newbies to pre-Code musical madness: it is absolutely irresistible. James Cagney’s nervy, terminally excitable stage producer makes the tale of Chester Kent accessible to viewers otherwise allergic to musicals — he’s as electric here as he is in his gangster movies. Remastered in HD, the fantastic, kaleidoscopic visuals will wow anybody — we really expect Porky Pig to pop up and say, “No CGI, Folks!”  Co-Starring Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Frank McHugh & Ruth Donnelly; on Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
07/13/19

Mothra 07/13/19

Mill Creek Entertainment
Blu-ray

Toho’s fabulous, kid-safe Kaiju spectacle about the super-moth from Infant Island might be a stealth Cold War fairy tale. Kids respond to the fanciful Shobijin fairy princesses, while adults (watching the Japanese version) might catch the authors’ message about national belligerence and the abuse of Third Worlders. Greedy ‘Rolisican’ opportunists pay the price of an ancient curse. For its expression of Nature’s justice, vigilante-style, Ishiro Honda’s music-filled show stands right up there with Gorgo — and the giant Moth is also the only Japanese Kaiju monster identified as female. On Steelbook Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment.
07/13/19

Dead of Night 07/09/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

This is the big one, the original, and if you watch it under the right conditions, it’s still scary. Four directors (Crichton, Dearden, Hamer, Cavalcanti) take turns telling horror tales, all bundled together by a diabolically wicked framing story. The best ‘haunted mirror’ tale ever is here, along with what must be the original source for the entire concept in detail of Hitchcock’s Psycho. Even the music is scary. Chiller-diller Charlie Largent gives us the review run-down on the Ealing Studio’s unique contribution to world horror. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
07/09/19

Gone to Earth / The Wild Heart 07/09/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Classic cinematics from first-rank filmmakers. No ballet or heroism, so not a crowd pleaser, but Michael Powell’s original version Gone to Earth is another unique Archers creation. Jennifer Jones finally gets to chew on a character role with grit, as a natural virgin/vixen misunderstood by contrasting suitors. David O. Selznick’s revision The Wild Heart is a classic too — of unnecessary meddling. Co-Starring David Farrar and Cyril Cusack; both the Archers’ original and Selznick’s recut are included, each with a commentary. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
07/09/19

These Are the Damned 07/06/19

Explosive Media GmbH
Blu-ray

“Kinder der Eisigen Dunkelheit!”  If those words don’t give you a chill, you may be one of ‘The Damned.’ Joseph Losey’s fascinatingly morbid reflection on atomic terror was too much for England in 1961, wasn’t released in the U.S. for four full years, and then only after being shorn of nine minutes of footage. An ‘impossible’ Cold War scenario puts military authority on the same moral plane as delinquent street thugs. Losey transplants his subversive sensibility to England, and the result is one of the top political sci-fi tales of all time. The German release (“Sie Sind Verdammt”)  is fully Region-A compatible. On Blu-ray from Explosive Media GmbH.
07/06/19

Hold Back the Dawn 07/06/19

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

All hail Olivia de Havilland, America’s longest living movie star. The more de Havilland pictures we see, the more we admire her taste and judgment in roles… or is that better expressed as, the more we admire her ability to guide a near-perfect career, going so far as to defy the studios in court. This 1941 drama has director Mitchell Leisen in fine form, a smart script by Brackett & Wilder, and a central topic that’s currently quite hot: illegal immigration. Co-starring Charles Boyer and Paulette Goddard. On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
07/06/19

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 07/02/19

Disney Movie Club
Blu-ray

Hidden behind the membership-only barrier of The Disney Movie Club is a long-delayed, long-missed key feature from The Mouse, Walt’s masterful super-production of the timeless Jules Verne classic. Despite the funny songs and an annoyingly ‘ork-ork’-ing sea lion, the lavishly filmed show embraces the dark side of Verne’s vision — Captain Nemo is nothing less than an anti-Colonial terrorist, waging a one-submarine war against international warmongers. With the commanding James Mason in the role, the film’s furious politics are as impressive as the to-die-for art direction: this Disney family attraction has us rooting for the terrorist and against the Imperialist European powers.. On Blu-ray from The Disney Movie Club.
07/02/19

Le Doulos 07/02/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Auteurist film books of the early ’70s touted the crime pictures of Jean-Pierre Melville, a Yankeephile Frenchman who chose a new name for himself and embraced crime pix because he loved John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle. This tale of utter ruthlessness among thieves is one of Melville’s best. The great Jean-Paul Belmondo and Serge Reggiani leading a superior cast of underworld losers: Fabienne Dali, Michel Piccoli, Jean Desailly and Monique Hennessy. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
06/02/19