Gremlins 4k Ultra HD 09/28/19

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
UltraHD + Blu-ray + Digital

The exclusive 4K Ultra-HD club welcomes a worthy new member, Joe Dante’s evergreen horror comedy (and Christmas delight) about a cute furry critter and its 2nd-generation horde of scaly, impish demons. These aren’t Gremlins from the Kremlin, but homegrown domestic terrorist monsters, and Dante contrasts their killer antics with a sentimental parody of small town America. No CGI … You will believe that the animatronic rascals can multiply like rabbits, break dance, and run amuck! Starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Keye Luke, Frances Lee McCain, Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Judge Reinhold, Polly Holliday and Belinda Balaski. On 4K Ultra-HD + Blu-ray + Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
09/28/19

Popeye The Sailor the 1940s Volume 3 09/28/19

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

From reviewer Charlie Largent: the third and last installment of the softer, color Popeye of the 1940s comes to BD fully restored — some are even in Polacolor, an alternative system to Technicolor. The slur-talking swab is back trading punches with Bluto over the hand of Olive, in colorful locations. She even runs for President in one cartoon. WAC says these 17 cartoons were released in 1948 and 1949. With Laurence Olivier and Eleanor Roosevelt as the voices of Popeye and Olive, respectively (is anybody there?). On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
09/28/19

The Major and the Minor 09/28/19

Arrow Academy
Blu-ray

This can’t-lose comedy is ace writer-director Billy Wilder’s first solo directing credit; he and writing partner Charles Brackett concoct a side-splitting crowdpleaser guaranteed to secure his Hollywood future. Ginger Rogers was never more adept, playing a fake 11 year-old in a farce that’s both code-iffy and censor proof; Ray Milland shines as well with the limitlessly clever and witty screenplay. Don’t forget to ask why Charles Boyer hates women… and look out for Diana Lynn, the terrific teenage comedienne that Wilder found before Preston Sturges did. With Rita Johnson and Robert Benchley; on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy.
09/28/19

CineSavant Column

Saturday September 28, 2019

Hello!

CineSavant jumps into a higher gear to cover more of the season’s desirable discs… let’s see if I can keep up the pace.

I’ve been loitering around Mark Throop’s Movies ala Mark page again … and liked the tone of this short review for a favorite late-night turnip, Ray Kellogg’s The Killer Shrews. Mark’s droll point of view is always entertaining. His perspective on older pictures is much like my own, and heck, what egotistical reviewer wants to consider contrary opinions?  To squelch the rumors, let me just say that despite the presence of theatrical luminary Baruch Lumet in the cast, this is not a sequel to the famous Shakespeare play. (neither is the picture above ↑ of Mr. Lumet)

I DVR Killer Shrews from Turner Classic Movies every couple of years or so, just in case some incredible transfer shows up. It’s a smartly- conceived provincial Z-picture, and it would be a fine candidate for a Blu-ray revival. To see it restored, I’d even sit through its co-feature The Giant Gila Monster again. I know what you’re thinking, that’s dedication.


A few of the weird, notorious and more arcane corners of Classic Eurohorror are finally seeing the light of midnight on Blu-ray. Announced from Severin Films in October is something promising — the original Italo-German horror picture Werewolf in a a Girl’s Dormitory, which we readers of Famous Monsters early on learned was originally given the even better title Lycanthropus. I reviewed a mushy Retromedia DVD back in the day, and the dank image and bad dubbing of the U.S. version couldn’t disguise the film’s potential, or remove the appeal of leading lady Barbara Lass. So I’m hoping for the best. It has to be at least as good as Atom Age Vampire or The Vampire and the Ballerina. It shares a writer with the second film, Ernesto Gastaldi.

Severin has a product reel, with several promising Lycanthropus images viewable, about 35 seconds in: Severin Films October Trailer. Writer Gastaldi appears in a video interview, and a photo comic is said to part of the package. Correspondent John Black told me that the goofball song “The Ghoul in School” might be on the alternate American title sequence, but a Severin spokesperson has posted that it could not be included. Extras from the old DVD will be present, including an audio commentary with David Del Valle hosting actor Curt Lowens.


Lastly, some talented folk have concocted a full colorization, audio dub (including dialogue) and remix job on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, ‘borrowing’ the latest transfers with snippets from the rescued Argentinian footage. The re-visualization goes much farther than Giorgio Moroder ever dreamed of going — although I have to say that I kept waiting for a disco cue to pop up.

For a fan cut this is unusually elaborate, besting most colorized samples I’ve seen — the color design is really impressive. Just the same, with the odd voices, it takes some getting used to: MetropolisRemix. I didn’t catch any names on the YouTube post, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was surreptitiously produced at a colorization facility!

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday September 24, 2019

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The Tall Men 09/24/19

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

The legendary director Raoul Walsh hits The Big Trail one more time for a CinemaScope & stereophonic ‘big star’ cattle drive movie, dodging most cliches but taking a few squarely between the eyes. Star chemistry is what keeps them dogies movin’, with Clark Gable making it look all too easy. Frisky Jane Russell fares well, but not our favorite Robert Ryan: despite the high-profile billing, he pulls S.O.B. duty yet again. There’s no doubt about it, pilgrim … I see a whole lotta cows in this one. TT includes an isolated track for the Victor Young music score. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
09/24/19

The Mind Benders 09/24/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

This strange picture goes forth in search of a genre, mainly because its theme — the destruction of the human personality — had previously seen light only in movies about brainwashing and alien possession. The Michael Relph and Basil Dearden team may not be as slick as The Archers, but they do peg this sober Isolation Chamber drama — even if we wonder if Dirk Bogarde will start talking like Paddy Chayefsky, and then shape-shift into an ape man. The real issue here is scientific ethics, of which Bogarde’s associates seem to have zero. Taking acting honors is Mary Ure, with John Clements, Michael Bryant and Wendy Craig providing support. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
09/24/19

CineSavant Column

Tuesday September 24, 2019

Hello!

KL Studio Classics has issued a release announcement for January and February … are some some highlights. On January 7, we get The Hellbenders, Dr. Cyclops (pictured ↑), Cobra Woman, and the notorious Brit crime saga Cosh Boy aka The Slasher. January 14 brings Room at the Top, The Great McGinty and William Wyler’s The Good Fairy. For January 21 Kino lists Semi-Tough, Ulzana’s Raid and Franklin J. Schaffner’s The War Lord. And for February 4 is a trio of Spike Lee pictures, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever and Crooklyn.

To promote its upcoming Giant Godzilla Box arriving on Oct. 29, Criterion is circulating a rather amusing YouTube promo-trailer: Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954-1975. The first ‘United Nations’ newscaster on screen is, I believe, actor Victor Milian as seen in King Kong vs. Godzilla. That’s the same Victor Milian from the Orson Welles classic Touch of Evil and Joseph H. Lewis’s not-so-classic Terror in a Texas Town. You needed to know that.

And this is probably old news too, but I really enjoyed Elijah Drenner’s Dick Miller Monsterpalooza Highlight Reel, on Vimeo from a week ago. It’s pure nostalgia, and quite sentimental.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday September 21, 2019

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Local Hero 09/21/19

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Charlie Largent is just the latest to extol Bill Forsyth’s timeless tale of a transplanted Texan befriended by a smorgasbord of Scottish eccentrics (the innkeeper’s wife might be on the menu too). Animal House’s Peter Riegert is the lonely executive who finds love in a storybook fishing village and Burt Lancaster is his comet-crazy boss. Forsyth offers up a beautiful mermaid in the bargain. With Peter Capaldi, Denis Lawson and Jenny Seagrove as the might-be mermaid. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
09/21/19

Touchez pas au Grisbi 09/21/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

‘Hands off the Loot!’ Jacques Becker’s crackling Paris crime tale is a time machine to an age of Parisian tough guys in double breasted suits, who never show their cards, and mistreat women in ways the Hollywood production code would never allow. Old thief Jean Gabin’s ill-gotten wealth is threatened by the newcomer creep Lino Ventura, thanks to the treachery of a very young Jeanne Moreau; the struggle revives weapons and tactics not used since the Occupation. One of the GREAT Euro crime classics is now looking terrific in Kino/Studio Canal’s restoration. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
09/21/19

Jezebel 09/21/19

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

Which Bette Davis movies qualify for greatness?   Her flawed character doesn’t conquer all in this costume picture, and it’s historically more sensitive than Gone With the Wind. It’s also William Wyler at the top of his form, creating in just 104 minutes a rich image of a long-gone world. Southern Belle Julie Marsden is a contrary troublemaker, a flip coquette who shoots her whole life to hell with just a couple of social gaffes. The story is ‘bigger than Bette’ – the apocalyptic finale is just a side event in a fable about the nature of chivalry and honor in a flawed social structure. With Henry Fonda, George Brent, Margaret Lindsay & Fay Bainter. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
09/21/19

CineSavant Column

Saturday September 21, 2019

Hello!

Whoa, this is simply THE year for fulfilling my wish list of desirable Blu-rays. I think the tables have turned, finally — the grouping of Blus I’m anxious to possess has finally been superseded by those that have been released. The Warner Archive Collection puts a big dent in the GHML (Gotta Havit Movie List) with the marvelous, not always funny, but frequently plenty creepy horror quasi-comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers. It’s Roman Polanski’s ode to Hammer Films, Euro- art & folklore fairy tale roots, and of course Sharon Tate. I’ve saved up my story of seeing it for the first time for this release — we self-centered, nostalgic movie fans like to think we have a special relationship with pictures like this, which once upon a time were rare items.

I don’t know how I’m going to organize an end-of-year article in December… it might just be a list of all the genre favorites we’ve been given this go-round.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday September 17, 2019

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Cluny Brown 09/17/19

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Reviewer Charlie Largent is quite taken with the uncommon graces of Ernst Lubitsch’s gentle comedy of romance and women’s roles. Lowly plumber’s daughter Jennifer Jones fixes the pipes in a big mansion and becomes an important person in everyone’s life, especially European refugee Charles Boyer. This is the movie with the cosmically daffy dialogue line about ‘nuts to the squirrels,’ or ‘squirrels to the nuts’ or something. What an endearing, excellent choice for a Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
09/17/19

Soldier of Fortune 09/17/19

Explosive Media GmbH
Region B Blu-ray

(Treffpunkt Hongkong)   Two-fisted Crown Colony racketeer Clark Gable goes out on a limb to recover Susan Hayward’s husband, held prisoner in Red China. In a literal pirate vessel armed with a stolen cannon, Gable literally goes to war, risking his smuggling empire by half-kidnapping Michael Rennie’s Hong Kong cop. This lush CinemaScope action-travelogue-romance now comes off as comfort food movie viewing: familiar stars doing what they do best. It’s a German import from a Hollywood Studio whose library titles may soon no longer be licensed to hard media home video. On Region B Blu-ray from Explosive Media GmbH.
09/17/19

A Bucket of Blood 09/17/19

Olive Signature
Blu-ray

Roger Corman’s ‘sick sick sick!’ horror comedy is still a delight, and Olive’s Signature edition accompanies it with some excellent Elijah Drenner extras, including a video interview with the beloved star Dick Miller. Walter Paisley is the patron saint of underachieving artists everywhere, and this special edition has director Corman and writer Charles B. Griffith on tap to sing his praises. It is by will alone that I set my mind in motion: “Be a nose!”  On Blu-ray from Olive Signature.
09/17/19

CineSavant Column

Tuesday September 17, 2019

Hello!

Just a quick blurb today for upcoming discs — Criterion’s December titles include a title that’s legend around my household. I got to see Wim Wenders’ three-movie, 4.5 hour recut of Until the End of the World back in 1996, in a special screening. It’s his ultimate Road Movie, ‘dance around the world.’ Warners distributed the hacked-down original 2.5 hour U.S. release and wouldn’t cooperate, Wenders only exhibited his marathon triple-bill expanded version here and there, now and then… in 2001 I caught it with my family at the Cinematheque, and talked as many friends as I could into seeing it with me.

My old article on the movie was one of the more popular DVD Savant pages back in the beginning, in 1998… the piece ended up as a big concept comparison between UTEOTW and Bertrand Tavernier’s La mort en direct.

The wise Wim Wenders never let go of the films he made. When UTEOTW has reverted to his control again, Wenders did a full remaster job. It screened once on TCM, but edited in one piece, without being serialized as three separate features. I have a feeling that that’s how it might be from now on, even though the intermission breaks made us feel like we were experiencing a new kind of New Wave Roadshow. This will be a special holiday — I even like Criterion’s cover art.

Also up from Criterion in December — the amazing pre-Code shocker The Story of Temple Drake, Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy and Ronald Neame’s Tunes of Glory.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday September 14, 2019

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Circus of Horrors 09/14/19

Scream Factory
Blu-ray

Four out of five psychologists agree that something rotten is alive and well between the sawdust and the high wire in the delirious Circus of Horrors. Lame big-top horror pix are common enough, but this fiendishly entertaining delight would inspire the voyeur-sadist in MisterRogers. Anton Diffring is the steely-eyed medical maniac with a mission to populate an insane circus exclusively with cosmetically-enhanced prostitutes and criminals. And I won’t turn that into a White House joke. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
09/14/19