The Running Man 06/11/19

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

Sir Carol Reed takes on a movie about insurance fraud in sunny Spain — with a great trio of actors for 1963. Laurence Harvey scams an insurance company and looks forward to continuing to beat the system in a happy life of chicanery; Lee Remick finds her affections turning to Alan Bates, an insurance man who might also be on vacation, or might have come to uncover Harvy’s crime. How does Harvey hide out while waiting for the big payoff in Málaga? He buys a huge white convertible too big to fit through the streets! On Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
06/11/19

The Bostonians 06/11/19

The Cohen Group
Blu-ray Collector's Edition

Henry James novels have made terrific movies; this precise, strongly-felt adaptation expresses interior feelings that James — the master of ambiguity — may not have intended, yet seem essential to the story. A dynamic young female public speaker transfixes all around her, and is taken in and mentored by an activist for the women’s movement. But will a conventional, confining, repressive romance undo a perfect political relationship? The Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala combination does a powerful book full justice; Vanessa Redgrave got the awards attention but it’s also one of the best films by Christopher Reeve.. On Blu-ray from The Cohen Group.
06/11/19

CineSavant Column

Tuesday June 11, 2019

Hello!

The Lincoln Center in New York is hosting a tend-day screening series based on a new book by J. Hoberman Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan. I’ve read Hoberman’s An Army of Phantoms and The Dream Life; they’re a fascinating, detailed combination of movie criticism and history that I’m ready to read again. For him the ’60s began with Sputnik and ended with Watergate, and he marks the 1980s as happening between the Bicentennial and the Iran-Contra Affair

The film series runs between August 23 and September 3 — and the choice of films being examined is excellent. From Conan the Barbarian (John Milius) to Walker (Alex Cox), with stops for Cutter’s Way (Ivan Passer), Gremlins (Joe Dante), Videodrome (David Cronenberg), Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis), True Stories (David Byrne), River’s Edge (Tim Hunter), Robocop (Paul Verhoeven) and They Live (John Carpenter) and about ten more.

We’re hoping to be able to review the new book here at CineSavant.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday June 8, 2019

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Blue Velvet 06/08/19

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

David Lynch’s first non-period non-fantasy is more weird and twisted than his mind-trips into other dimensions, distilling creepy perversity and deranged terror from the underworld of hometown, U.S.A.. Kyle MacLachlan returns from Arrakis, supported by Isabella Rossellini, Laura Dern, and Hope Lange, and terrorized by Dean Stockwell and especially Dennis Hopper, as the hopped up drug fiend Frank. Crime, mutilation, sex slavery!  No, it’s not the life story of Trailers from Hell’s fearless reviewer Charlie Largent. David Lynch attacks his sordid storyline and scary characters with style, spirit and his peculiar brand of intense creativity. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
06/08/19

A Patch of Blue 06/08/19

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Sidney Poitier’s films of the 1950s and ’60s almost always put a statement about race in the forefront, and even when the message was obvious, his work as ambassador across the race divide made a big difference. This sweet tale of a possible romance across social barriers came at a time when interracial pairing was still illegal in some states. Poitier is his sweet self, but the film was stolen by young Elizabeth Hartman, a major talent with a tragic life story.. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
06/08/19

CineSavant Column

Saturday June 8, 2019

Hello!

Welcome to ‘The Blues’ edition of CineSavant reviews. We chose the combination of movies with Blue in the title because… it just worked out that way. Gary Teetzel serves up the links today, gleaned for our perusal, with the questionable interests of CineSavant readers in mind.


First up, Gary says, ‘Blink and you’ll miss him.’

Go down to the forty-three second mark in a British Pathé ‘Sunday Pictorial Garden Party’ newsreel from 1951, for a brief glimpse of a familiar horror star. The newsreel is called Seeing Stars. I guess I’ve been watching a lot of vintage Brit productions on TCM, as I recognize more of these English actors than I thought I would.


Gary moves on to his next find:

“Listening to an old-time radio show while driving to work, I heard a commercial for an upcoming vintage radio documentary called Bomb Target U.S.A., which would look at what might happen if the Russkies tried to bomb the U.S.A. I was hoping for a lot of Cold War sensationalism, but it’s actually fairly dry, mostly trying to scare Americans by matter-of-factly stating that the country isn’t prepared. The ‘Past Daily’ piece is hosted by Arthur Godfrey, who also recorded official announcements to be used in the event of a nuclear attack. Yes, clearly when nuclear Armageddon is imminent, you want to hear the news from the down-home personality guy, the one with the ukelele.”

Real Generals (“Would a real General say that?”) tell about mis-identified aircraft and communication SNAFUs that make our defenses seem serious FAIL-UNSAFE. What kind of Fu Manchu / Dr. Strangelove nuclear mischief is afoot in those evil countries on the other side of the planet?   This sounds like scare stuff to inspire pictures like Hell and High Water.


And finally, as we’re both fans of Circus of Horrors, Gary was scouring old Trade Papers for notices that might enrich us about the film — you know, essential research. Exhibitors were initially told that the Anglo-Amalgamated shocker was in ‘scope, but they weren’t clued in as to how adult-oriented are the scenes with Erika Remberg (top image), Vanda Hudson (just above) and Yvonne Romain… the company clearly wanted to out-do Hammer in the girlie art department.

After the previous year’s Horrors of the Black Museum, you’d think that they’d have at least not booked a lot of kiddie matinees, where some of my friends reported that this gore-fest was better at teaching them about the Birds and the Bees. And I think American-International may have trimmed it a bit. I steal two clippings here, one a basic rave review, and another from Photoplay noting the film’s excellent pop song, ‘Look for a Star,’ that I remember being given a lot of radio play.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday June 4, 2019


Let’s talk reproductive choices before we return to 1959. CLICK on it.

Earthquake 06/04/19

Shout Factory
Blu-ray

‘I Got The Quivers in My Knee Bone!” Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, Geneviéve Bujold and George Kennedy must duck and cover to avoid the slings and arrows of everything Universal’s outraged visual effects people can throw at them. Yep, a titanic temblor hits Hollywood (must be because of our loose morals) and big name stars have their choice of being crushed to death, electrocuted, drowned, or shot by a perverted Marjoe Gortner. This 2-disc edition contains the full TV version, stretching our stamina for soap opera antics to the limit. Remember Sensurround, the low frequency audio gimmick that give patrons a rumbly in the tumbly?  The show may be tacky, but it’s definitely “Shakin’ All Oh-ver!” On Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
06/04/19

CineSavant Column

Tuesday June 4, 2019

Hello!

Yes, just one review today — time is limited this week because, because, uh, because I’ll have to explain it later. I even had to disappoint some friends going to see the new Godzillah Thrillah. But I should have two reviews up for Saturday, one of them from Charlie Largent.


But there is time to mention a new book, the Scripts from the Crypt #9 tome commemorating Son of Dracula, the Universal horror from 1943 starring Lon Chaney Jr. and directed by Robert Siodmak. As with the other SFTC books, this 300 page item annotates the entire screenplay, various articles and essays, including one by the director and another classifying Son of Dracula as ‘film noird’ (sic). The varied chapters contain a gallery of SOD- and Chaney- related film clippings, and even a breakdown of a proposed alternate sequel to Dracula, written in 1939, which may have been submitted by Bela Lugosi.

This time around Gary D. Rhodes takes top authorial billing, with the book’s major article on the film’s production. The picture may not yield as many sensational sidebar stories of other films in the SFTC series – no murders, no cast members with tragic or sordid futures — but the compensation is Son’s high quality reputation in the Universal tradition of horror. Robert Siodmak didn’t slack off because of the subject matter, but contributed stylistic graces that the industry noted, and that gave him a neat springboard to bigger films, starting with his very next thriller Phantom Lady, a full-on classic. That’s the way careers are supposed to work. Interviewer par excellence Tom Weaver scours his research files to come up with a veritable pleth… fplethor… a whole bunch of interesting and odd scrapbook trade paper announcements, newspaper and pub clippings, plus more arcane errata relating to the film and its personnel. Tom also does a bit of analysis of annotations found in the script.

Dr. Robert J. Kiss follows with his illuminating breakdown of the film’s release pattern, noting that the show played both as a stand-alone item and often in tandem with the downbeat The Mad Ghoul. Gregory William Mank checks in with an article on actress Louise Albritton, whose character can arguably be described as more central than Chaney’s Dracula — her scheme to double-cross the undead king after achieving immortality makes her horror dame cross the line into noir femme fatale territory.


And hold on to your big top!  CineSavant newshound Gary Teetzel slips in a last-minute report that Scream Factory has announced yet another wholly desirable horror item for Blu-ray, 1960’s marvelous Circus of Horrors. For me this is ‘exploitative’ horror perfection, a picture that’s forthright about its sadistic thrills, which are neatly mixed up with eye-candy voyeurism and luridly colored mutilation. With so many perverse and purely evil motivations afoot, the entire enterprise is somehow ‘pruriently wholesome,’ if such a thing can be.

It stars Anton Diffring, Erika Remberg, Yvonne Monlaur, Yvonne Romain, Donald Pleasance — a veritable smorgasbord of horror fiends and dames. And if that’s not enough, it’s one of the better circus movies, too. No release date has been set but we’ll be looking out for desirable extras.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday June 1, 2019

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Warlock 06/01/19

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

As the first wave of ‘adult’ westerns began to fade, 1959 gave us a burst of genuinely adult stories about the famed lawless towns of the frontier. Henry Fonda is at his moody best in a replay of his earlier Wyatt Earp, de-mythologized as just one more self-oriented opportunist in a land where even lawmen have an angle to play. But Fonda’s gun skills are impressive, and he’s halfway to becoming the soul-less ‘Frank’ from Once Upon a Time in The West. Edward Dmytryk almost rights his capsized directing career, and Robert Alan Aurthur’s screenplay delivers both an intense drama, & great gunslinging action. The backup performances are excellent too: Anthony Quinn, Richard Widmark, Dorothy Malone, Dolores Michaels, and Tom Drake. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
06/01/19

The Snake Pit 06/01/19

Powerhouse Indicator
Region B Blu-ray

Hollywood takes a hard look at the mundane horrors of mental asylums, and Olivia de Havilland scores another career high with her portrayal of a housewife experiencing a nervous breakdown. Some people found the show scary and a few felt it was tasteless, but Ms. de Havilland’s performance is riveting, 71 years later. Anatole Litvak’s intense direction makes good use of expressionistic visual devices, without veering into dippy Salvador Dalí psycho-surrealism. With Leo Genn, Mark Stevens, Celeste Holm and scores of impressive character actresses. On Region B Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator.
06/01/19

CineSavant Column

Saturday June 1, 2019

Hello!

Scream Factory has issued a list of extras for their upcoming This Island Earth disc release, and it sounds ideal. I have a book from years ago with a long Bob Skotak essay on the film’s making, and he’s been tapped for a commentary. I imagine that by now Bob will have the answers to 500 more questions about the filming of this borderline Technicolor/Eastmancolor picture. At this level of scholarly interest we don’t often see such a sterling example of professional courtesy — I believe that Tom Weaver was offered this commentary gig, and immediately recommended Skotak as the right man for the job. Skotak’s 2015 chat track for Queen of Blood will give you an idea of the depth of his knowledge & understanding of these older sci-fi thrillers. Tom of course would have been great too.


The show will be presented both widescreen and flat, which should appease the aspect ratio vigilantes (what? No 2:1?) Especially interesting is the fact that the 3-D Archive specialists have restored the original Perspecta Stereophonic Sound audio-distribution setup… I’ll be eager to hear Bob Furmanek’s expert definition of what Perspecta was and how it was created from a mono track. This time we’ll get to see David Schecter analyze the film’s music scoring — I haven’t seen Mr. Schecter since a convention in 2000. A new documentary is present as well.

And a close associate gives us this happy thought:

“If you look on the Shout! Factory site, there are several requests from MST3K fans to include the comedy feature version. I’m glad they were ignored.”

When that MST3K theatrical feature was released, I immediately lamented that it would likely hold up a decent restoration of This Island Earth, a grim thought later confirmed by a Universal employee. Even though we had to wait 24 years, these nice restorations are a good incentive to try to stay alive and hang around for a while longer.

Talk about never being satisfied — when it comes to new hungering for vintage Sci-fi on Blu-ray, I’m truly incorrigible. All this and announcements for Alphaville, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Mothra, 4D Man, Quatermass 2 and Quatermass and the Pit!  Now all we need is a righteous Blu-ray release of Paramount’s dazzling new restoration of George Pal’s The War of the Worlds.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday May 28, 2019

It’s Bad Hair horror day! CLICK on it.

The Day Time Ended 05/28/19

Full Moon Features
Blu-ray

Long AWOL from Home Video — the last time I peeked it was an unwatchable pan-scanned laserdisc — this early Charles Band opus came at a time when the purveyor of third-class horror thrills could command a budget. A rather phenomenal list of ’70s special effects hopefuls collaborated to give the show lasting appeal, mainly by including some stop motion monsters from a parallel dimension. An average American family spends a chaotic night battling bizarre phemoneema… phelomea… stuff that’s leaked into our reality through that nuisance Sci-fi catch-all, a Time-Space Warp. A pair of big name stars twenty years past their sell-by date endure all manner of rubber critters, zipping flying saucers and green-glowing supernatural artifacts! On Blu-ray from Full Moon Features.
05/28/19

Shaft’s Big Score! + Shaft in Africa 05/28/19

The Warner Archive Collection
Separate Blu-ray releases

The two sequels to the monster hit Shaft see the light of Blu-ray, in separate WACreleases. Richard Roundtree is once again a key figure in Blaxploitation action filmmaking. In Shaft’s Big Score! he carries his righteous war against crime directly to the man; in Shaft in AfricaJohn puts paid to a new kind of slavery racket back in the Old Country. CineSavant’s zero-jive disc review is by Trailers From Hell’s main man Charlie Largent, who is indeed rumored to be a sex machine to all the chicks!  Aiding and abetting John Shaft’s mayhem are Moses Gunn, Kathy Imrie, Julius Harris, Rosalind Miles and Joe Santos, plus Frank Finlay, Vonetta McGee, Marne Maitland and Frank McRae. Separate Blu-ray purchases from The Warner Archive Collection.
05/28/19

The Andromeda Strain 05/28/19

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

Jumpin’ gingivitis!  Vicious microbes from space threaten the world, and our only hope is a team of straight-arrow scientists in an underground lab in Nevada. But the sneaky germ from the cosmos is a-mutatin’ faster than a jackrabbit, to a form that doesn’t just kill people, but totally consumes our flesh! No, it’s not David Cronenberg or Nigel Kneale, but the ultra-literal director Robert Wise that put this slick, expensive Sci-fi thriller on the screen, from the best-seller by the commercially savvy Michael Crichton. Starring Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson, Kate Reid and Paula Kelly. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
05/28/19

CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 28, 2019

Hello!

Just a bit of fun stuff today. With Godzilla King of the Monsters opening soon, friend-of-all-things Gojira Gary Teetzel rustled up some soundtrack previews, thoughtfully arranged by Kaiju character. And a couple use ‘traditional’ Toho music by Akira Ikufube and Yûji Koseki: Mothra’s Song and themes for Rodan, and Ghidorah. Plus a full cue called Old Rivals. Wait — don’t start these audio cues before you get your toys out!

We may still try to see the new feature in the bewildering promising ‘Screen X’ format, at a local Korean Theater … and Gary found a website that offers a tease of how it will look!



And if Godzilla isn’t enough fine cinematic achievement for you, Kino Lorber has announced some very agreeable extras for two of their Early Alfred Hitchcock releases. His first full-length talkie Blackmail comes with a Tim Lucas commentary, a screen test for the star Anny Ondra, and the entire silent version of the film as well, with a Mont Alto score. Murder! carries a commentary by Nick Pinkerton, a long-form docu on Hitchcock’s early pictures, an alternate ending, and an encoding of the film’s German version, with a different cast. These hits from 1929 and 1930 arrive on August 13.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday May 25, 2019

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.