Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Eureka! Entertainment to release BLACULA – THE COMPLETE COLLECTION on Dual Format BD/DVD 10/27 - FIRST TIME IN HD!


Eureka! Entertainment to release BLACULA – THE COMPLETE COLLECTION, the funkadelic, fangadelic Soul Cinema sensation, on Blu-ray as part of a Dual Format (BD/DVD) edition on October 27th 2014

Eureka! Entertainment have announced the release of BLACULA – THE COMPLETE COLLECTION. Urban action and fatal attraction give rise to a groove from beyond the grave in this funkadelic, fangadelic Soul Cinema sensation! The eternally cool William Marshall puts a fresh spin on the age-old legend of the vampire, condemned to wander the earth with an insatiable lust for blood. Features a soundtrack from the influential conductor, composer and record producer, Gene Page, which is now considered a cult classic and collector's item to record enthusiasts. Eureka Entertainment are set to release BLACULA – THE COMPLETE COLLECTION on Blu-ray, a world premiere for both films in HD, as part of a Dual Format (BD/DVD) edition on October 27th 2014.

BLACULA Original Theatrical Trailer http://youtu.be/ZuKRMT9TxeU
SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM Original Theatrical Trailer http://youtu.be/XgDxA-F_vLc

SYNOPSIS:
In 1780, African Prince Mamuwalde (Marshall) pays a visit to Count Dracula in Transylvania, seeking his support in ending the slave trade. Instead, the evil count curses his noble guest and transforms him into a vampire! Released from his coffin nearly two centuries later by a pair of luckless decorators, Mamuwalde emerges as “Blacula,” one cool, dressed to kill, dude strollin’ the streets of L.A. on a nightly quest for human blood and fine women!

In Scream, Blacula, Scream Blacula lives, and only the legendary Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) has the power to deep-six his reign of terror. William Marshall returns as the noble African prince turned bloodthirsty fiend in this hair-raising sequel to the terrifying hit Blacula! This time, it’s voodoo power versus vampire fury when Willis (Richard Lawson), the son of the late high priestess, seeks revenge on the cultists who have chosen his foster sister Lisa (Grier) as their new leader. Hoping to curse Lisa, Willis unwittingly resurrects Blacula’s earthly remains and lets loose the Prince of Darkness and his freaked-out army of the undead!

DUAL FORMAT EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
• GORGEOUS New high-definition presentation with progressive encodes on the DVDs
• New and exclusive introduction to the films by critic and author Kim Newman
• Trailers for both films
• Optional English SDH
• A 32-page booklet with new writing by Josiah Howard, reprints of original Blacula ephemera and rare archival imagery




SPECS
Label: Eureka
Release Date| 27 October 2014
Certificate| 15
Run Time| 170 min.
OAR| 1.85:1 OAR
Picture| Colour
Genre| Horror
Director| William CRAIN / Bob KELLJAN
Year| 1972 / 1973
Country| USA
Language| English
Subtitles| English SDH (Optional)


Kino Lorber and Redemption Release 'The Last Step Down' on DVD September 30th

Kino Lorber and Redemption Films Release the grindhouse classic THE AST STEP DOWN plus ultra-rare vampire sex film BLOOD LUST

Erotic horror double-feature
available on DVD September 30th

Kino Lorber and Redemption Films are pleased to announce the DVD release of THE LAST STEP DOWN, a thrilling, pulpy horror film directed by Lawrence Ramport that blends Satanism with the counter-culture attitude of the early '70s.

This double-feature set, which also includes Russell Gay's rarely seen Carmillaadaptation, BLOOD LUST (a stylish vampire sex film originally released exclusively to the 8mm market), arrives on DVD September 30th with a SRP of $29.95.

Synopsis:
The recent revival of interest in 1970's grindhouse cinema has unearthed some bizarre and seedy films, but none are as shamelessly exploitive as these two entries in the softcore horror genre.  THE LAST STEP DOWN observes the initiation of several voluptuous young women into a satanic cult.  With its zoned-out actors and lethargic plot, THE LAST STEP DOWN is a cynical reaction to the counter-cultural fascination with the occult in the early 70's, reducing the worship of the Prince of Darkness to a prolonged humping-and-groping session.

Also included is Russell Gay's ultra-rare BLOOD LUST, an especially salacious (and unexpectedly stylized) adaptation of Le Fanu's Carmilla.


THE LAST STEP DOWN/BLOOD LUST
DVD Street Date: September 30, 2014
DVD SRP: $29.95
DVD UPC: 738329134624
Technical Specs:
1970 * 70 minutes * English * 1.66:1, 16x9 * Color * Not Rated

THE LAST STEP DOWN
US 1970 Color 70 Min. 1.66:1
A.P.E. Productions
Directed by Lawrence Ramport
Screenplay by Arthur Allen and Phil Miller
Photographed by Edward Claire
With Olivia James, Beatrice Stolen, Uschi Digard, Michael Valentine,
Neola Graef, Terri Johnson, Michael Donovan O'Donnell

BLOOD LUST
UK 1979 Color 15 Min. 1.33:1
Mistral Films
Directed by Russell Gay

*While not pornographic, the films on this disc feature extensive scenes of sexual activity and are intended for a mature audience.*


Day 
of
 the 
Mummy starring
 Danny
 Glover
 rises
 on to 
DVD
 10/20 
from 
Image
 Entertainment UK


DAY OF THE MUMMY (2012) 

THIS
 HALLOWEEN 
IT’S 
MUMMY’S DAY

DAY
 OF
 THE 
MUMMY
 COMES 
TO 
DVD 
OCTOBER
 20th 2014


Release Date: October 20th 2012
Running
Time:
 77
 Minutes
Certificate:
15
Audio:English 
Dolby
 Digital
 2.0 
and 
5.1 
Aspect
 Ratio:
16:9 Widescreen 

Egypt: 
the
land 
of 
the 
Pharaohs, 
a 
place
 steeped
 in 
history 
and 
legend.
 But 
those 
who 
come

in
 search
 of
 riches
 beware,
 something
 lurks
 among
 those
 tombs,
 something
 that
 cracks

bones 
and
s pills 
blood,
 something
 that
 will
 stop 
at 
nothing
 to
 guard 
what
 belongs
 to
 them.
Day 
of
 the 
Mummy starring
 Danny
 Glover
 rises
 on to 
DVD
 on
 20 October 
2014
from 
Image

Entertainment.

Jack
 Wells 
arrives 
in 
Egypt 
in
 search
 of
 famed
 diamond,
 The
 Codex
 Stone.
 His
 journey
leads
 him
 to
 a 
team
 of 
archaeologists
 who 
are
 exploring 
the 
recently
 discovered
 tomb
 of 
the 
cursed
 King
 Neferu.
With
 his
 centuries
 old
 slumber
 disturbed
 by
 timeless
 human
 greed,
 the
 King
 rises
 from
 the
 dead
 with 
a 
blood‐lust
 that 
cannot
 be
 staunched 
and 
a
 raging
 fury
 that 
will
 shred 
flesh
 from
 bone,
 bringing 
terrible,
 tormented 
death 
to 
all 
who
 dare
 witness 
Day
 of
 the
 Mummy.


MARK OF THE DEVIL Uncut BD/DVD to be released in the UK UNCUTon 9/29 from ARROW VIDEO

http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/image/cache/data/MARK_OF_THE_DEVIL_2D_BD-500x500.jpg
MARK OF THE DEVIL (1970) 

DUAL-FORMAT BD/DVD RELEASE  SEPTEMBER 29th 2014

Arrow Video is thrilled to announce the UK Blu-ray and DVD release of Mark of the Devil, once proclaimed as “positively the most horrifying film ever made”, Mark of the Devil finally arrives uncut in the UK on 29th September 2014 with both English and German audio tracks.

With Mark of the Devil, writer-director Michael Armstrong created a bloody and brutal critique of state-funded brutality and religious corruption with a doomed romance at its centre. The use of real torture implements, which Armstrong had found in the Mauterndorf Museum, added to the realism of the picture and made it all the more shocking and the violence unpalatable. In America Mark of the Devil was distributed with the marketing gimmick of a free sick bag provided for every patron.

In the UK the BBFC were obliged to sit through the entire uncut film and deemed it “vicious and disgusting.” They recommended that a certificate be refused entirely and provided a list of required cuts to make the film acceptable for an X certificate.

Altogether the required cuts amounted to 2,100 feet of film; approximately twenty-four minutes running time.  However, despite being awarded an X certificate, Mark of the Devil never received a theatrical release in the UK. In 1993 Redemption Films resubmitted the uncut film with cuts still demanded which amounted to more than four minutes. Described by the BBFC as a film whose “primary urge is with the dynamics of inquisitorial torture”

Another ten years later a DVD was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment which was also cut, although by only 38 seconds. Three cuts were made to the scene in which the blonde woman is tortured on the rack. The cuts removed her naked breasts as it was an unacceptable combination of sexually titillating and violent images under the BBFC guidelines at that time.

This means that finally, after more than forty years, the full-blooded, full-frontal version of Mark of the Devil can be released onto an unsuspecting UK public making its UK Blu-ray debut on 29th  September 2014 in a newly restored transfer with a host of extra features including an audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell, an exclusive feature-length documentary, Mark of the Times, which looks at the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies. The documentary will feature contributions from Michael Armstrong, Norman J. Warren (Terror), David McGillivray (Frightmare), Professor Peter Hutchings (author of Hammer and Beyond) and famed film critic Kim Newman.

Other special features included on the disc include, Hallmark of the Devil, which sees author and critic Michael Gingold looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas and Mark of the Devil: Now and Then which looks at the film’s locations and how they appear today.

The disc will also feature interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schöner and Herbert Lom. Alongside this, the Blu-ray will also feature outtakes, the original theatrical trailer, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys and a sizable collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Anthony Nield, plus an interview with Reggie Nalder by David Del Valle, all illustrated with original stills and artwork.

SYNOPSIS
A bloody and brutal critique of religious corruption, Mark of the Devil sees horror icon Udo Kier (Flesh for Frankenstein, Suspiria) play a witchfinder’s apprentice whose faith in his master (Herbert Lom) becomes severely tested when they settle in an Austrian village. Presided over by the sadistic albino (a memorably nasty turn from Reggie Nalder), the film presents its morality not so much in shades of grey as shades of black.
Written and directed by Michael Armstrong, who would later pen Eskimo Nell, The Black Panther and House of the Long Shadows, this classic shocker has lost none of its power over the years – especially now that British audiences can finally see it in one piece.

SPECIAL FEATURES
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements – available uncut in the UK for the first time!
- Optional English and German audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Newly translated English subtitles for the German audio
- Audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell
Mark of the Times – exclusive feature-length documentary from High Rising Productions on the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies, featuring contributions from Michael Armstrong, Norman J. Warren (Terror), David McGillivray (Frightmare), Professor Peter Hutchings (author of Hammer and Beyond) and famed film critic Kim Newman
Hallmark of the Devil – author and critic Michael Gingold looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas
- Interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schöner and Herbert Lom
Mark of the Devil: Now and Then – a look at the film’s locations and how they appear today
- Outtakes
- Gallery
- Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Anthony Nield, plus an interview with Reggie Nalder by David Del Valle, all illustrated with original stills and artwork

SPECS
Release Date: Monday 29th September 2014
Certificate: 18
Formats: Blu-ray and DVD
Language: English / Geran
Running Time : 108 minute
Number of Discs: 2
Region: A/B (Blu-ray)1/2 (DVD)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: 1.0 Mono



Sunday, September 14, 2014

HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS - THE PRODUCER'S CUT (1995)

HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS - THE PRODUCER'S CUT (1995) 

from
THE COMPLETE COLLECTION 15-DISC [DELUXE EDITION]

Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment / Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Video: 1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1:78:1)
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles: English
Director: Joe Chappelle
Cast: JC Brandy, Paul Rudd, Donald Pleasance, Mariah O’Brien, Leo Geter, Devin Gardner, Mitch Ryan

One of the Holy Grails for Halloween fans for years has been the infamous Producer's Cut of HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995). After test screenings of the film didn't go so well the meddlesome Weinstein's at Miramax ordered re shoots which included more gore to punch up the death sequences and trimming out a lot of the Cult of Thorn stuff with a completely different finale which was choppy, you could tell it had been stitched together. This new version ended up being what we watched in cinemas and the original version became known as the producer's cut and has widely been available for years via a bootleg dubbed from a crappy third-generation VHS source - but no more! 


We we're lucky enough to get a preview of the HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS - PRODUCER'S CUT from the new HALLOWEEN - THE COMPLETE COLLECTION 15-DISC DELUXE EDITION from Anchor Bay, so enjoy a small taste of the set which is released on September 23rd...

HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS PRODUCER'S CUT much as the theatrical cut picks-up six years after THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS which ended with Michael and Jamie Lloyd being abducted from the Haddonfield Police Dept. by the mysterious Man in Black. We pick-up with Jamie (
JC Brandy, KINDRED: THE EMBRACED) who is now 15 and pregnant  and being held against her will by the Cult of Thorn and impregnated by dear old Uncle Mike... that's right, this one goes the incest route! That was implied by the theatrical cut but here we have some black and white flashbacks that confirm it - sort of gross.  Naturally the incest baby is born on Halloween and the Cult of Thorn mark the baby with the Thorn rune and intend on having Michael sacrifice the child. Before this can happen Jamie and the baby escape the cult's underground compound with the help of a sympathetic cult member who dies shortly after when Meyers who rams her skull against a sharp implement protruding from the wall. With Michael not too far behind Jamie steals a pick-up truck but not before Myers  snaps the neck of the vehicles owner. She stops off at a bus depot to alert the authorities from a payphone but when she can't get through she opts instead to call radio shock-jock DJ Barry Simms (Leo Geter, NEAR DARK) and pleads for help on-air from Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) who  just happens to be listening. Knowing Michael will catch-up with her she leaves the child in the bus depot bathroom before continuing. Expectantly the Cult of Thorn and Myers catch-up and force her off the road where she crashes into a pumpkin patch and is stabbed by Myers. Jamie's discovered just barely alive and taken to the hospital but the baby remains safe, at least for now. 

Also listening to DJ Barry Simms that night was Tommy Dolye (Paul Rudd, KNOCKED UP) who was the boy Laurie Strode babysat in the first film. Now an awkward young man Tommy is  consumed with Myers. Playing back a recording of Jamie's desperate phone call (which he conveniently recorded) he manages to traces her whereabouts to the bus depot and finds the infant in the restroom.  At the local hospital where Tommy encounters Dr. Loomis and the two start trading Myers theories and the two join forces. Tommy lives across the street from the infamous Myers home which is currently inhabited by relatives of the Strodes.

The Strode family living at the Myers home are Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan, STAKE LAND), her young son Danny (Devin Gardner), teenage brother Tim (Keith Bogart), mother Debra (Kim Darby, BETTER OF DEAD) and a shit-turd of a father John (Bradford English, WOLF). Playing into the Cult of Thorn mythology is young Danny who is having visions of the Man in Black telling him to "Kill for me". It is revealed by the creepy babysitter Mrs. Blankenship that a young Michael Myers also heard voices telling him to kill before he murdered his sister. 


Eventually Kara, Danny, Tommy and Loomis cross paths and converge and Tommy explains what the Cult of Thorn is and we sort of piece together what they're end game is. Turns out that most of the Smith's Grove Sanitarium staff are cult members lead by Dr. Wynn (Mitch Ryan) and they intend for Michael sacrifice the baby and for Danny to sacrifice his own mother - it's up to Tommy and Loomis to stop the madness.

The film starts off strong with an authentic Midwestern Halloween feel about it, there's some great sets and the atmosphere throughout that are evocative of the season with jack-o-lanterns and kids in costumes, the setting just feels appropriate. The Myers mask is one of the better variations since the original film - this one is creepy. Director Joe Chappelle (PHANTOMS, TV'S FRINGE) keeps things on track with some decent kills and some nice atmosphere, this is a pretty great looking Halloween entry.

Far from a perfect film there are plenty of things that irk me about it.  Let's start with Michael burning the image of the Thorn rune into a stack of hay which is stupid but you  might be able to chalk that up to the handwork of the cult. I hated the introduction of the Man in Black in the previous film and I didn't care for it here either. I didn't mind the Cult of Thorn mythology but the spur-wearing MIB is just silly. A scene with Tommy stopping Michael in his tracks my having him step into a circle of rune stones is just laughable. Paul Rudd had yet to go onto success following CLUELESS when he took on this film and doesn't quite have the acting chops but he does weird-guy pretty well enough, at least he;s not as awful as the kid who played Danny, oh-boy.

This was the last film to feature Donald Pleasance in the role of Dr. Loomis he gives it a solid go but is obviously in a very poor state of health and died shortly after the film wrapped. I loved his introduction at the top of the film and I think his exit in the producer's cut - while not perfect - is way better than the chopped finale is the theatrical version.

Things missing from the producer's cut are a lot of extra gore scenes like the head explosion of Mr. Strode and the bone protruding from the snapped neck of a victim. Pretty much the entire finale was re shot so you don't have the operating room massacre or Michael being injected with a syringe full of nitric acid, but what you gain with the Cult of Thorn mythology makes for a more complete story. This cut of the film is just more enjoyable with more atmosphere and is not as disjointed. I enjoyed the previous version of the film to a degree and I like this only a hair more, it's still not a perfect film but I do like the further exploration of the Cult and the references to the previous film with flashbacks and some exposition.

BLU-RAY:
What we have here is a new HD Master from the original inter-negative and it looks very nice with a decent grain structure that provides some nice moments of fine detail and clarity. Colors are crisp and properly saturated while the black levels offer some decent shadow detail - there's no comparison to what's been available previously - this is like watching it for the first time with new eyes .


We have the choice of English 5.1 DTS-HD MA or English 2.0 DTS-HD MA and both are strong options. Alan Howarth's score sounds great and there are some nice sound design elements which make for a entertaining surround experience. There are optional English subtitles provided. The score is different that the theatrical which included some off electric guitar flourished added to many of the scenes, this is much truer to the original Halloween score.

Just having this version on Blu-ray with superior video and audio would have been enough but Anchor Bay and Scream Factory have stuffed this release with loads of fun extras beginning with a commentary from Screenwriter Daniel Farrands and Composer Alan Howarth. Farrands speaks extensively about the original script and what ended upon screen - which is quite different even in the producer's cut.

An hour's worth of new and vintage interviews with cast and crew which go into about anything you could ever want to know about the producer's cut of the film. Noteworthy is an interview with Danielle Harris who did not return as Jamie in this one, she speaks very candidly about what transpired behind-the-scenes.

On top of the interviews we have behind-the-scenes footage shot by the screenwriter during the first week of production with some shots of scenes being set-up and a tour of the sets. There are also seven-minutes of deleted and alternate scene not featured in either cut of the film plus an electronic press kit. 





SPECIAL FEATURES:

- NEW High Definition Master from the original inter-negative
- NEW Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Daniel Farrands and Composer Alan Howarth (Producer’s Cut)
- NEW “Jamie’s Story” – An Interview With The Original “Jamie” Actress Danielle Harris (7 Minutes)
- NEW “The Cursed ‘Curse’” – An Interview With Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman
- NEW “Acting Scared “– A Look At The Film’s Cast With Actresses Mariah O’Brien And J.C. Brandy (19 Minutes)
- NEW “The Shape Of Things” – A Look At Michael Myers’ Murders And Mayhem With Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Brad Hardin And Actor George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers) (11 Minutes)
- NEW “Haddonfield’s Horrors” – The Sights of Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers With Director of Photography Billy Dickson And Production Designer Brad Ryman And Director of Photography (Additional Scenes) Thomas Callaway (10 Minutes)
- NEW “Full Circle” – An Interview With Composer Alan Howarth (7 Minutes)
- NEW Cast And Crew Tribute to Donald Pleasance (3 Minutes)
- Archival Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage (8 Minutes)
- Behind-The-Scenes Footage (approx. 30 Minutes)
- Alternate And Deleted Scenes (Not Present In Either Cut Of The Film) (7 Minutes)
- Teaser Trailer: Halloween 666: The Origin Of Michael Myers ( 1 Minute)
- Electronic Press Kit (5 Minutes)

VERDICT: 

I am not one of the fans who proclaim the producer's cut to the superior version of the the film, both versions are flawed and neither is completely satisfactory but the producer's cut is less disjointed with a clearer vision and focus with superior suspense elements. This new Blu-ray is a very nice restoration of the film and comes with a bunch of great extras. Anchor Bay were wise to team-up with Scream Factory who knocked it out of the park with their Collector's Editions of HALLOWEEN II and HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. Unfortunately this disc is exclusive to the HALLOWEEN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION [DELUXE EDITION] so you're gonna have to shell out for it at this point, though I would have difficulty believing this won't be released as a stand alone release at some point. 

Will have a review up of the BONUS DISC from the set later this week!

Friday, September 12, 2014

NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984) arrives on UK Blu-ray 9/22 from ARROW VIDEO



DUAL-FORMAT BLU-RAY + DVD RELEASE – 22nd SEPTEMBER 2014
IT WAS THE LAST THING ON EARTH THEY EVER EXPECTED

Arrow Video is excited to announce the UK Blu-ray and DVD release of Night of the Comet, the 80s cult-classic which since its initial release in 1984, has gone on to amass a legion of loyal fans with its hugely entertaining riff on the apocalyptic sub-genre of movies, paying homage to such classics as The Omega Man and The Last Man on Earth. Infact this might be the most purely entertaining depiction of the aftermath of a catastrophic event, not just in movie history but possibly... well, ever.

But what makes Night of the Comet stand out above its peers, would be its unique female lead characters, wonderfully played by Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney. This is a film driven by its female characters. It is those characters who anchor the film, who give the film the heart which makes it so much more than a string of homages: the fun is balanced by the genuine emotional connection the audience develops with our heroines. Even if they have the occasional ditzy moment, this is a very genuine portrayal of two teenage girls and the film likes both of them far too much to mock. Although much of the surface details date it to a very specific era – the tinny synth ‘n’ saxophone music and that big hair!– the heart of the film still feels fresh because its two lead characters are so well drawn, so well played and so damn likeable.

Intriguingly, for a film with such obvious antecedents, Night of the Comet has proved to be extremely influential, inspiring a number of other films which attempt the same trick of placing unlikely characters inside a foursquare genre format and sweetening the mix with humour. Most obviously, there’s Tremors (1990), in which a couple of good ol’ boys do their best to deal with an underground monster straight out of a ’50s creature feature. Writer/director Joss Whedon has professed admiration for Night of the Comet too, citing it as partial inspiration forBuffy the Vampire Slayer (1992 on film, 1997-2003 on TV). More recently, there’s Shaun of the Dead (2004). It doesn’t take much to see Night of the Comet as one of that film’s (numerous) influences, most obviously in the graceful juggling of comedy, character moments, and genuine genre thrills.

Such things are only to be expected of a film with such a pronounced cult following. If it’s smart, witty handling of the genre was a little too sophisticated to meet with general approval upon original release in 1984, then it has ensured a strong afterlife, and its reputation continues to grow. Far more than ‘just’ a pastiche, Night of the Comet both celebrates the genre and contributes to it, updating the concerns of the golden age science fiction films for a new era and a new generation. Far more importantly, it remains thoroughly entertaining; and in an age like ours, when the world again feels increasingly apocalyptic (war, terrorism, environmental collapse... take your pick), such things are welcome indeed.

The movie will make its UK Blu-ray debut on 22nd September 2014 in a newly restored transfer with a host of extra features including interviews with stars Kelli Maroney, Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Beltran and Mary Woronov. The disc will also feature an audio commentaries with writer/director Thom Eberhardt, stars Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart and production designer John Muto

Alongside this, the Blu-ray disc will also feature the original theatrical trailer, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin and a sizable collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver

Synopsis
Life can be tough when you’re a Valley girl. First, there’s making sure you’re on time for pep squad practice. Then there’s having to live under the same roof as your bitchy stepmother who, you suspect, is making it with Chuck from across the road. And then, of course, there’s having to keep on the lookout for the occasional marauding zombie hungering after your flesh!

Eighteen year-old Reggie (Catherine Mary Stewart – Weekend at Bernie’s, The Last Starfighter) misses out on the event-of-a-lifetime when she ditches watching the comet in favour of copping off with the projectionist at the cinema where she works. But this turns out to be a wise move when, the next day, she discovers that the entire population has been reduced to piles of red dust – leaving only Reggie, her sister Sam (Kelli Maroney – Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Chopping Mall) and a handful of other survivors to fend off the roving gangs of glassy-eyed zombies.

Taking its cue from classic “doomsday” movies such as The Day of the Triffids and The Omega Man (and with a healthy dose of Dawn of the Dead thrown in for good measure), Night of the Comet is an irresistible slice of Reagan-era B-movie fare which features Cyndi Lauper dance-alongs as well as some truly gravity-defying bouffant hairstyles… Well, it was acceptable in the 80s!

Special Features
· High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by MGM
· Original 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
· Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
· Audio commentary with writer/director Thom Eberhardt
· Audio commentary with stars Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart
· Audio commentary with production designer John Muto
· Valley Girls at the End of the World – Interviews with Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart
· The Last Man on Earth? – An interview with actor Robert Beltran
· End of the World Blues – A brand new interview with Star Mary Woronov
· Curse of the Comet – An Interview with special make-up effects creator David B. Miller
· Original Theatrical Trailer
· Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
· Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by James Oliver illustrated with original archive stills and posters

SPECS

Release Date 
Monday 22nd September 2014
Certificate: 15
Formats : Blu-ray and DVD
Language: English (English SDH Subtitles)
Running Time: 95 minutes
Number of Discs: 2
Region: B
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: 2.0 Mono



Thursday, September 11, 2014

CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME (2012)

CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME (2012) 

Label: Jinga Films LTD
Region Code: ALL
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 
Director: Giorgio Amato
Cast: Stefano Fregni, Francesca Cuttica, Guglielmo Favilla, Gaia Inseng



 While THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT didn't inspire a wave of found footage cash-ins the success of PARANORMAL certainly did and in the aftermath the we had waves after wave of both studio and indie found footage films flood the marketplace, a wave on par with the no-budget zombie dreck that's clogged up Netflix and Red Box for years. Of course there are occasional moments of cleverness and inspired creativity (LAKE MUNGO)  but for every PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and [REC] there are a dozen more along the lines of THE DEVIL INSIDE and PARANORMAL ENTITY. The result if that the term "found-footage" does not fill me with enthusiasm and hasn't for quite some

Now onto the latest found-footage entry CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME (2012) coming from the boot-shaped shores of Italy, a country known for borrowing a few good ideas in the name of exploitation cinema going back to the granddaddy of all found-footage, the gut churning classic CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Here we have a young couple whom suspect a a man in the disappearance of their dear friend.  When the authorities don't follow-up on it to their satisfaction the two decide to investigate on their own. They monitor the suspects daily activities and break into his home and install several closed circuit video cameras throughout the home in strategic locations - the living room, the bathroom, bedroom and a view of the front yard and the basement. The closed circuit devices only have a certain amount of storage capacity so every few days the couple must return and pull the footage, which as you can imagine is risky business. They suspect this guy may have murdered a friend and they were lucky to get inside once and install the cameras but visiting the home repeatedly is beyond nutty. 


At first the cameras don't catch much out the ordinary - this guy leads a sad and solitary life. He comes home from work, slips on a pair of slippers and drinks a beer while sculpting his bonsai tree. He's interviewing women for a low-paying child care position which seems a bit suspect for several reasons and very slowly things start to become a bit more interesting. Eventually we observe a few more seriously events but not before I nodded off at least twice - this movie is moving in slow-motion and I was growing tired of watching this guy walk around in his undies - not that it got much better when he started walking around in the nude, nope, not at all..

I didn't think the set-up was awful but the execution is certainly faulty, so very slow and  not that much interesting happens for the better part of an hour. The couple are only glimpsed briefly - not enough to get to know them but we at least understand what they are up to and why. What bothered me was how comfortable they were inside the home pouring through drawers and personal belonging, moving furniture and frequently returning to the home time and time again. If I was in the home of someone I suspected  to be a murderer I would be trembling but these two are way to comfortable. You just know they're going to slip up and sure enough that's exactly what happens 

The minimal cast is decent but the broken English dialogue was quite a slog to get through and sounded so unnatural which was a little annoying. Without spoiling too much the film does go to some dark places which includes rape, murder and dismemberment with a fair amount of nudity which is captured on closed circuit cameras so the fine detail leaves a lot of gore and nudity to the viewer's imagination, which doesn't detract from the film at all. 

There's a brief text introduction explaining how the footage came into the possession of the authorities and is edited to include character pop-ups for each person giving their name, age and other information plus additional text pointing out fingerprint and blood evidence as if the film were edited by the authorities to be used as evidence. It's an odd sort of exposition which took me right out the film every time it popped-up. 

CLOSED CIRCUIT EXTREME moves along at a snail-crawl pace and execution is stiff. When the more interesting stuff comes around I was too far gone to care about it even a little bit, there's zero suspense to be found in even one frame of this overlong found-footage flop. SKIP IT!