Saturday, September 30, 2017

POPCORN (1991) (Synapse Films Special Edition Blu-ray)

POPCORN (1991) 

Label: Synapse Films 
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: R
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround, Original DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles  Mix Included)
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Mark Herrier
Cast: Jill Schoelen, Dee Wallace, Ray Walston, Malcolm Danare, Tom Villard

In Popcorn (1991) we have a group of college students who belong to a film club, it is decided that they need to have an event to raise awareness about the club on campus, while brainstorming ideas student Toby D'Amato (Tom Villard, One Crazy Summer) pitches an all-nite horror movie marathon at the abandoned Dreamland movie theater. The pitch goes over well and the students and their teacher,  Professor Davis (Tony Roberts, Amityville 3-D), give the dilapidated cinema a quick makeover with the help of Dr. M (Ray Walston, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), the eccentric owner of a local film memorabilia shop. Turns out theater has a tragic history, it was once the site of a screening of the movie 'The Possessor' by avant-garde director Lanyard Gates, the leader of some sort of acid-freak film cult, during the screening he performed the last act of the film live on stage, killing his family in front of a live audience before sending the theater up in flames, apparently dying in the ensuing inferno.

The plan is to screen three film, all of which are in the William Castle gimmick-driven schlock vein, we have 50's era atom-age monster movie 'The Mosquito' in Project-O-Vision, Tohoe-esque Asian import 'The Stench' in odoriffic Aroma-Rama, and the sci-fi thriller 'The Amazing Electrified Man' in Shock-O-Scope! The gags include a giant prop mosquito which will buzz the audience from above, pumping green stinky fog into the cinema and attaching electrical buzzers to he bottom of certain theater seats - thee are all plays on real-life William Castle gimmicks, the shock-seats are straight out of The Tingler (1959), which is awesome. 

While prepping the theater they find a short film reel containing Gate's film 'The Posessor', while watching it student Maggie Butler (Jill Schoelen, The Phantom of the Opera) realizes that the scenes from the film are straight out of her nightmares, becoming obsessed with finding out why she's dreaming about this murderer's movie. The night of the horror-thon the audience shows up in force in the best sort of midnight movie way, the moviegoers are rowdy and in full costume, but during the screening the film students are being killed off one by one by a mysterious face-changing stranger.

There's a fun cast college teens, who for the most part are very likable and fun; we have horny stud Mark (Derek Rydall, Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge), wheelchair bound Bud (Malcolm Danare, "Moochie" from John Carpenter's Christine), Cheryl (Kelly Jo Minter, The Lost Boys), the very cute Tina (Freddie Marie Simpson, A League of Their Own), goofball Leon (Elliott Hurst) and the sassy Joannie(Ivette Soler).

We are lead to believe that Lanyard Gates has returned, possibly from beyond the grave, and somehow Maggie and her mother Suzanne (Dee Wallace, The Howling) figure into proceedings. This is such a weird role for Wallace, a rather tiny and innocuous character, the poor woman has one of the worst short-cropped haircuts I've seen her in, it's made in the late 80s so their plenty of bad fashions on display but her hair is the worst offender - I hope she didn't cut it just for this role. The killer is a chameleon of sorts with an arsenal of prosthetic faces he uses to impersonate the teens he has killed, his identity is a nice twist I did not see coming, but when I watch a movie I rarely try to guess who it is, I just go along for the ride, and in this case it caught me off guard, and I liked it.  

SPOILERS AHEAD! Turns out that Villard's character Toby is the culprit, and I won't go into all the motivations, but I will say that Villard is wonderful in the role, he's goofy and not at all scary, but he plays the role with such good camp, it's sort of a Freddy Kruger  wisecracking role, I love his delivery, it plays like Phantom of the Opera in a way, but over-the-top, his manic personality swinging wildly. I love it when while disguised as another character he goes to kill Joannie, but when she confesses her love for his his alter-ego he just cannot do it, he see he's conflicted about it, and he spares her, it's a fun little moment, it is out of the ordinary. END SPOILERS! 

The movie seems to be channeling some other earlier slasher films, two in particular were brought to mind, we have touches of the The Initiation (1984), with some remembered dream-sequences and a fire, and the face-switching culprit reminded me a bit of Happy Birthday To Me (1981), it doesn't steal anything but there are some similarities there if you're looking. Something the movie lacks though is bloodshed, as with most late-80's/early-90's slashers the gore it toned way down, but there are some nice set-ups and death sequences, but with no real gore-payoff, which is certainly a detraction. Making up for that is some good atmosphere and a cast of character you can actually like, plus the whole 50's schlock and 80's slasher mash-up is just good fun.  

The best take away for me were the three movies-within-a-movie segments directed by Alan Ormsby, spot-on homages to the schlock of yesteryear, a scene of a giant mosquito sucking the brain out of a man's head is a particular highlight with his face caving in as the insect empties his skull with its over sized proboscis. If you loved "Mant" from Joe Dante's Matinee (1993) you should have a retro-blast with these. 

Aside from the lack of slasher gore there are a few other problematic areas, the movie has a bit of an identity crisis happening, while this is a straight-up slasher horror-comedy, but there are scenes with Dee Wallace that imply clear supernatural overtones, which then go absolutely nowhere. Then there's a confusing body on an altar during the final scene that confounded me, and a death in the bathroom stall where apparently the kid is killed by one of the "stench" bombs, seemingly killed by the gas emitted, but also blown up by it!?! I'm assuming these are relics of having two directors on the film, as the film was begun by Bob Clark collaborator Alan Ormsby (Deranged), who directed all of the movie-within-a-movie stuff, but he was replaced a few weeks into it by Porky's actor Mark Herrier, so maybe piecing it together something was lost in that assembly, but regardless I find the finished film to be a fun watch. 

Audio/Video: Synapse Films, god bless 'em, spent years restoring 90's slasher Popcorn, and the wait and has been worth it. What we have a brand new 2K of an archival interpositive, painstakingly restored by Don May Jr. and the Synapse team, the early 90's film stock wasn't the best but they've worked some restoration magic for this release, the images looks quite nice. There's a nice layer of grain,  the movie is splashed with color and garish horror visuals, both awful and awesome late-80's fashions, and it look great in HD. The colors are vibrant, and the image has some modest depth and clarity, details look good, skin tones look accurate, I'm very happy with the presentation. Audio on the Blu-ray includes both English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo and a newly created 7.1 surround mix done by Synapse Films, with optional English Subtitles. 

Onto the extra we begin with a new audio commentary with Director Mark Herrier, Stars Jill Schoelen, Malcolm Danare, and Special Makeup Effects Artist Mat Falls, moderated by Kristy Jett from Fangoria. A fun group commentary, everyone is having a blast recalling working with the cast and crew, their tie in Jamaica, pointing out specific scenes and how certain things were achieved onscreen. They also speak of the situation that ended with original director Alan Ormby being replaced by Mark Herrier, but apparently Clark was a very hand on producer, sort of like Stephen Spielberg and Tobe Hooper on Poltergeist, it's an interesting story, and the commentary, though a bit hectic at moments, is a good listen. 

We also get nearly hour-long making of retrospective from Red Shirt Pictures with interviews from Director Mark Herrier, Stars Jill Schoelen, Derek Rydall, Dee Wallace, Malcolm Danare, Ivette Soler, and Elliott Hurst, Special Makeup Effects Artist Mat Falls, Composer Paul Zaza, and Distributor Executive Jonathan Wolf. Of special note to me was how they go into more detail about Ormsby being taken off the project, how he shot the very cool movie-within-a-movie segments, what a hands-on producer Bob Clark was, and what it was like to be an actor on a film that lost it's director and lead actress three weeks into the shoot. Also discussed is  Tom Villard's admission to director Herrier that he was HIV positive at the time, dying just four years later from AIDS related pneumonia

Additionally there's a six-minute interview with actor Bruce Glover (Chinatown) who appears in the "The Amazing Electrified Man" movie-within-a-movie segment. Apparently he was not a fan of Ormsby and his experience making it, but still enjoys his work on it. 

We also get a selection of trailers, TV spots, and a still gallery of images from the film. Synapse Films also has a 2-disc limited edition steelbook version of this release, that as of writing this review is still available from the Synapse website, and features exclusive artwork by Justin Osbourn/Slasher Design, and a collectible booklet with Liner Notes from Michael Gingold. This standard edition Blu-ray release does not include the booklet, but it comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, the a-side is the original skeleton/mask artwork, the b-side featuring an alternate artwork option by Chris MacGibbon. Notably elements from Justin Osbourn's Steelbook artwork can be found on the Blu-ray disc and the back cover of the Blu-ray sleeve. This release is also available as a DVD version. 

What I love about Synapse film, aside from their excellent audio/video presentations and commitment to the highest quality film preservation, is that they do these attractive Steelbooks version, but then come out with a more affordable standard Blu-ray editions for fans who might not be into collectible (and expensive) limited releases. I myself have had this damned film on a hand-written list of movies I keep in my wallet for over ten years, a list of films I haven't seen to want to own, but I've refused to buy the long out-of-print (expensive) Elite DVD version. When Synapse Films announced a few years back that they has acquired the right to it I was beyond excited. That said, I wasn't about to fork over fifty-dollars for the Steelbook version, not because it wasn't worth it the dough, but because I am sort of cheap, I'm not a Steelbook collector, and I have three kids and a mortgage have to have priorities. Though I will say I did pre-order their forthcoming Steelbook version of Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977) immediately, because, well, you need to have priorities... sorry kids, no allowance this week.

Special Features: 
- All-New 2K Scan of an Archival 35mm Interpositive
- All-New Blu-ray 7.1 Surround Sound Mix Supervised by Synapse Films (Original 2.0 Stereo Mix Included)
- Audio Commentary with Director Mark Herrier, Stars Jill Schoelen, Malcolm Danare, and Special Makeup Effects Artist Mat Falls moderated by Kristy Jett from Horrorhound, FearNEt and Fangoria. 
- Midnight Madness: The Making of “Popcorn” featuring interviews with Director Mark Herrier, Stars Jill Schoelen, Derek Rydall, Dee Wallace, Malcolm Danare, Ivette Soler, and Elliott Hurst, Special Makeup Effects Artist Mat Falls, Composer Paul Zaza, and Distributor Executive Jonathan Wolf (57 min) HD 
- Electric Memories – An Interview with Actor Bruce Glover (7 min) HD 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (1 min) HD
- Television Trailer and TV Spots (6 min) 
- Still Gallery (7 min) HD 
- Blu-ray Reversible Cover Art by Chris MacGibbon

Synapse Films' Blu-ray of Popcorn (1990) looks and sounds wonderful, this 90's slasher certainly has more of an 80's vibe than it's release date would indicate, and while it has some issues I found it a fun homage to the schlock of yesteryear framed in a fun slasher story. It's well-directed, all things considered, and has a fun cast of characters, I love it a bunch. It's great to see this get such a terrific Blu-ray release, it went beyond my expectations, both as a comedic slasher film and as a special edition release.  

Friday, September 29, 2017

FLATLINERS (1990) (Special SteelBook® Edition Blu-ray Review)

2-Disc SteelBook® Special Edition 

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: A/1
Duration: 114 Minutes
Rating: R
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt

Synopsis: Arrogant med school student Nelson Wright (Kiefer Sutherland), convinces four of his medical school classmates — Joe Hurley (William Baldwin), Dave Labraccio (Kevin Bacon), Randy Steckle (Oliver Platt) and Rachel Manus (Julia Roberts) — to help him discover what lies beyond this mortal coil by medically inducing death. As Nelson drift into a sort of afterlife once his heart and brain activity seek he experiences a vision of a child he bullied to death years earlier. Once resuscitated he continues to experience vivid waking nightmares of Billy who not only haunts him but causes him bodily injury. Nelson does not share the strange experience  at first - other than to say there's something out there - and soon four of the five have flatlined and are experiencing they're own waking nightmares which seem to have followed them from the afterlife, 

I caught this sci-fi thriller in in theaters in the Summer of 1999, having been drawn in by the trailers and the inclusion of Keifer Sutherland who I was a huge fan of from his turn in The Lost Boys  (1987) and thought was the coolest dude ever. I also recognized Kevin Bacon from White Water Summer (1987), so I was in right away. Now 25 years later watching it I was sucked right back into the story such as it is - med students risking it all to answer that eternal question - is there an afterlife? 

Set at a strangely Gothic looking medical school with high vaulted ceiling and apparently undergoing a remodel - there's plastic and sheeting draped everywhere and it's one Hell of a drafty space. The classrooms where the students dissect medical cadavers are so dark they appear lit by candles with the Mario Bava-esque lighting casting a blue, green and red pallor on everything - whether it makes sense or not! Obviously director Joel Schumacher is going for a slightly surreal, nightmarish quality, so abandon all sense of realism at the front door, you can always count of Schumacher ti make a visually pleasing film, even if the story seem underdeveloped/fleshed out. 

The all-star 90's cast is quite good - we have Sutherland as the arrogant God-complex afflicted genius and Julia Roberts (Mystic Pizza) as a young woman obsessed with the afterlife following a childhood tragedy involving her father. Bacon is a doc with the an uncanny knack of resuscitation while Baldwin is a sex-obsessed voyeur, and each of them join in on discovering once and for all if there is an afterlife, some for fame, others notoriety and their own edification. Well, everyone except Platt who is the literally the fifth wheel in this death-obsessed journey, the only one opting not to "flatline", proving to be the annoying voice of reason choosing to remain an observer while wondering just what-the-fuck is wrong with these people?

My enjoyment of this one survived yet another revisit with the release of this Blu-ray. Sure, a lot of things that happen here are just unlikely and no reasonable person in the medical professional would probably cross these ethical lines, but this group does but just soaking it in on it's own terms this is probably my favorite post-The Lost Boys Schumacher movie - though those camp-drenched Batman entries are fun in a shit-movie sort of way. 

Flatliners is more a surreal medical nightmare than a true horror film but it's a fun 90's entry with some inspired sets and design elements and a strong star-studded cast. My one complaint would be that the film does not actually answer the question it sets up - is there an afterlife - or maybe it does and I just didn't care for the answer, either way it didn't stop me from enjoying it. 

Audio/Video: Flatliners (1990) arrives as 1 2-disc DVD/Blu-ray combo from Mill Creek Entertainment touting a new HD Transfer with "greater clarity and significant touch-ups throughout the film". Presented inthe original 2.35:1 OAR in 1080p HD with an AVC encode. To my eyes this is an certainly an improvement over their previous 2014 Blu-ray, the grain seems better managed, the image and colors are brighter, and true to the advertising the image does have better clarity and depth, they did good here with the new transfer, very pleasing. 

Despite the packaging indicating that the audio track is PCM 5.1 what we do get s a DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround track with optional English subtitles. The surround presentation is nicely immersive with the score coming through in the rear channels more so than anything else, but everything is crisp, clean, and well-balanced. Optional English Subtitles are provided. 

There are no extras on this release, I was sort hoping that MCE would have opted for new extras such as with their recent release of Shakes The Clown (1991) on Blu-ray, though I feel that was more of a director driven inclusion, but at least this one has a start-up menu as where the 2014 release did not - it features just a play and subtitles option. 

This is Mill Creek's first foray into the world of Steelbook as far as I can find, the 2-disc set features the 'creation of Adam' artwork with a clear plastic slip box cover. The plastic slip features the front cover credits and logo with the heart monitor blip design, the reverse side features a synopsis, credit, Blu-ray specifications, and thumbnail images from the film. The Steelbook itself features no text except for the logo on the spine. Opening up the steelbook you will find the 2-disc DVD/Blu-ray, plus an illustration on the inside of the Steelbook case that spreads across both sides. 

If you're a fan of this ethereal 90's thriller and crave desirable Steelbook packaging the new release from Mill Creek Entertainment is sure to satisfy, if you crave extras then this might be a flatline for you, but either way, this is the best looking Blu-ray of the film on home video right now, and it can be found for fairly cheap online. I hope it moves a bunch of units, because I'd like to see more Steelbooks coming from MCE - would love to see their Hammer and William Castle releases get a Steelbook upgrade. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Lewis Black "Black To The Future" on CD and DVD October 13th, and Vinyl December 8th


The king of the rant uses his trademark style to 
skewer anything and anyone that gets under his skin

CD and DVD each contain a different BONUS performance

"Lewis Black: Black To The Future" - 50 Min - Known as the king of the rant, Lewis uses his trademark style of comedic yelling and animated finger-pointing to skewer anything and anyone that gets under his skin. His live performances provide a cathartic release of anger and disillusionment for his audience. A passionate performer who is a more pissed-off optimist than mean-spirited curmudgeon, Lewis is the rare comic who can cause an audience to laugh themselves into incontinence while making compelling points about the absurdity of our existence. Recorded live just a few blocks from his home in New York City, watch as Lewis sheds light on this crazy, messed-up world. Also included on the DVD is a full length 50 min bonus program "The Rant Is Due: Live From Napa". On this special night, which is moderated by Lewis' amazingly funny and talented friend Kathleen Madigan, audience members at the theatre and across the Internet ask questions directly to Lewis onstage. The results are some espically hilarious Rants. Two full performance all on one dual layered DVD.

BONUS: "The Rant Is Due: Live From Napa" - A full 50 min bonus program on the DVD only

Lewis Black: "Black To The Future": a double CD set with 2 full length stand-up comedy programs. Disc 1 contains the main program, "Lewis Black: Black To The Future" - 47 Minutes - Recorded Live in NYC - Known as the king of the rant, Lewis uses his trademark style of comedic yelling and animated finger-pointing to skewer anything and anyone that gets under his skin. His live performances provide a cathartic release of anger and disillusionment for his audience. A passionate performer who is a more pissed-off optimist than mean-spirited curmudgeon, Lewis is the rare comic who can cause an audience to laugh themselves into incontinence while making compelling points about the absurdity of our existence. Listen as Lewis sheds light on this crazy, messed-up world. Disc 2 contains a second full length program - Lewis Black: "This Should Have Been A Special" - 65 Minutes - Recorded Live at Milwaukee's historic Pabst Theater in 2016. It is the comedy set that was almost lost.

BONUS: Second disc containing a full length program entitled "This Should Have Been A Special." A 65 minute set recorded live at Milwaukee's historic Pabst Theater in 2016. It is the comedy set that was almost lost.

Lewis Black: "Black To The Future": a double album set pressed on orange vinyl with 2 full length stand-up comedy programs. Disc 1 contains the main program, "Lewis Black: Black To The Future" - 47 Minutes - Recorded Live in NYC - Known as the king of the rant, Lewis uses his trademark style of comedic yelling and animated finger-pointing to skewer anything and anyone that gets under his skin. His live performances provide a cathartic release of anger and disillusionment for his audience. A passionate performer who is a more pissed-off optimist than mean-spirited curmudgeon, Lewis is the rare comic who can cause an audience to laugh themselves into incontinence while making compelling points about the absurdity of our existence. Listen as Lewis sheds light on this crazy, messed-up world. Disc 2 contains a second full length program - Lewis Black: "This Should Have Been A Special" - 65 Minutes - Recorded Live at Milwaukee's historic Pabst Theater in 2016. It is the comedy set that was almost lost.

Pre-order now at

Olive Signature Returns


Last year, with the launch of Olive Signature, we brought you a product of exceptional quality. Featuring superior restorations, entertaining and informative bonus content, and beautiful packaging, our intent was to bring you a product that achieves nothing short of what you should expect from us—the best.
Since the premiere of our initial Olive Signature titles—High NoonJohnny GuitarThe Quiet ManThe Night of the GrizzlyMacbeth, and Hannie Caulder—Olive Signature has undergone an evolution. Our focus has not only been how to continue to bring to you the highest quality versions of your favorite Olive Films titles, but also how to ensure the sustainability of Olive Signature.
After careful consideration, we have concluded that the only way for Olive Signature to remain viable is to release these titles in Blu-ray-only limited pressings of 3,500 units. Fans can rest easy knowing that these Blu-rays will still be available to them through our website and the same sellers as before, though as always, the only store that we can guarantee timely fulfillment through is our own, To reaffirm our commitment to you as our top priority, we are taking added precautions to combat the scalping of these exclusive Blu-rays by capping the units sold through our website at five per household. Effective immediately, you will see these changes with our highly anticipated November debuts of Olive Signature Operation Petticoat and Father Goose.
This also means that our past Olive Signature DVDs and Blu-rays will be going out of print, so act now to purchase your own.
Thank you for allowing us to explain our perspective. We know you will endorse our decision because, as fellow film fans, you recognize the importance of our shared mission to create amazing new editions of some of your favorite movies. Olive Films looks forward to continuing the work we started last year with Olive Signature, and your steadfast commitment remains essential to that effort. With your help, Olive Signature is not going anywhere -- it’s only getting better.
  • New Restoration from 4K Scan of Original Camera Negative
  • Audio commentary by film historian David Del Valle
  • “Unfinished Business: Cary Grant’s Search for Fatherhood and His Oscar” – with Marc Eliot, author of Cary Grant: A Biography
  • “My Father” – internet pioneer Ted Nelson discusses director Ralph Nelson
  • Universal Newsreel footage featuring Leslie Caron
  • Essay by Village Voice critic Bilge Ebiri
In what would be his second-to-last film appearance, screen legend Cary Grant (Operation Petticoat) is paired with the enchanting Leslie Caron (Gigi) in Father Goose, and the battle of the sexes has never been as funny or as romantic.
When boozy beachcomber Walter Eckland (Grant) is blackmailed into service as a lookout by the Allied Forces during World War II, little does he realize that his idyllic island getaway will soon become a haven for seven schoolgirls and their prim and proper teacher. Rescued by Eckland from a nearby island following an enemy attack, Catherine Freneau (Caron) and her seven mischievous charges will turn the life of the grumpy, whiskey-soaked Eckland on its ear. Adding to the fun is Trevor Howard (The Third Man) as Commander Frank Houghton, the proverbial thorn in Eckland’s side.
Father Goose, directed by Ralph Nelson (Lilies of the Field) from an Academy Award® winning screenplay by Peter Stone, Frank Tarloff and S.H. Barnett, was photographed by Academy Award winner Charles Lang Jr. (A Farewell to Arms) and features a score by Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity), which includes the Father Goose theme song, “Pass Me By.”
CARY GRANT (That Touch of Mink, The Grass is Greener, Operation Petticoat)
LESLIE CARON (Gigi, An American in Paris, Daddy Long Legs)
TREVOR HOWARD (Brief Encounter, The Third Man, Mutiny on the Bounty)
Directed by RALPH NELSON (Lilies of the Field, Charly, Requiem for a Heavyweight)
YEAR: 1964
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH (with optional English subtitles)
VIDEO: 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio; COLOR
Preorder Father Goose Signature Blu-ray
  • New High-Definition digital restoration
  • Audio commentary by critic Adrian Martin
  • “That’s What Everybody Says About Me” – with Jennifer Edwards and actress Lesley Ann Warren
  • “The Brave Crew of the Petticoat” – with actors Gavin MacLeod and Marion Ross
  • “The Captain and His Double: Cary Grant’s Struggle of the Self” – with Marc Eliot, author of Cary Grant: A Biography
  • Universal Newsreel footage of Cary Grant and the opening of Operation Petticoatat the Radio City Music Hall
  • Archival footage of the submarine USS Balao, which doubled as the USS Sea Tiger in Operation Petticoat
  • Essay by critic Chris Fujiwara
Cary Grant (Father Goose) and Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot), two of cinema’s most celebrated stars, provide the comedic pivot point in director Blake Edwards’ (The Pink PantherOperation Petticoat. It’s hijinks on the high seas when revered Lt. Cmdr. Matt T. Sherman (Grant) and the somewhat unethical Lt. JG Nicholas Holden (Curtis) team to upright the USS Sea Tiger, a flagging submarine that’s seen better days. With some dubious maneuvering (and scavenged parts), things begin to look up for the old war horse until the ship and its crew are forced out to sea by a surprise attack. Limping along and barely held together with its borrowed parts, the Sea Tiger gets some unexpected company when five stranded Army nurses are brought aboard. The game gals will prove that necessity is indeed the mother of invention, initiating a series of renovations to make life aboard the Sea Tiger livable — with the exception of the sub’s accidental pink paint job. Not only is the ship now an eyesore, but a target for both the Japanese and American forces. Adding to the fun, both fore and aft, are a talented cast of supporting players that include Joan O’Brien (The Alamo), Dina Merrill (The Sundowners), Gene Evans (Shock Corridor), Dick Sargent (TV’s Bewitched), Arthur O’Connell (April Love), Gavin MacLeod (TV’s The Love Boat), Madlyn Rhue (A Majority of One) and Marion Ross (TV’s Happy Days). Operation Petticoat’s Academy Award® nominated screenplay was written for the screen by Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin (suggested by a story by Paul King and Joseph Stone) and photographed by the great Russell Harlan (Red RiverRio Bravo).

CARY GRANT (Father Goose, The Grass is Greener, That Touch of Mink)
TONY CURTIS (Houdini, The Great Race, Some Like It Hot)
DINA MERRILL (The Sundowners, The Player, BUtterfield 8)
JOAN O’BRIEN (It Happened at the World’s Fair, The Alamo, The Comancheros)
GENE EVANS (Shock Corridor, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, The Steel Helmet)
Directed by BLAKE EDWARDS (The Pink Panther, Victor Victoria, 10)
YEAR: 1959
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH (with optional English subtitles)
VIDEO: 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio; COLOR
Preorder Operation Petticoat Signature Blu-ray

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984) (Arrow Video Blu-ray Review)


Label: Arrow Video
Region Code: A
Duration: 82 Minutes 
Rating: R
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Fritz Kiersch
Cast: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong, Julie Maddalena, John Philbin, John Franklin, Courtney Gains 

Eighties killer-kiddie classic Children of the Corn (1984) scared the living Hell out of  me when I caught in my pre-teens on VHS. I grew up in a very rural area in Upstate New York with plenty of corn fields around me, so the idea of a dark Lovecraftian force known as "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" who spurred children to kill the adults really burrowed down into my psyche and imagination in a big, bad way. Even as a kid I found the idea of kids killing all the adults rather frightening, and while the movie affects me differently now three decades later as a father and, somewhat arguably, an adult, I think this one holds up mighty finely. 

The film opens on a Sunday morning in the small town Gatlin, the
adults are gathered at the local diner for their usual post-sermon breakfast when the kids rise up and massacre every last one them while creepy kid cult-leader Isaac (John Franklin, The Addam's Family) peers through the window. We get some decent carnage as the kids poison the coffee pot, hacking and slashing the adults and slicing off the proprietor of the diner's hand in a meat slicer! Now, the carnage is mostly relegated to splashes of blood but I love it when the kid with the milkshake mustache catches a face full of the red stuff! 

Three years later young couple Vicky (Linda Hamilton, Terminator) and her boyfriend Burt (Peter Horton, TV's Thirtysomething) are travelling through rural Nebraska when a young boy emerges from the corn field right into the path of their car. They put him in the car and drive into the nearby town of Gatlin, which at first seems deserted, but soon enough they discover the kiddie-only inhabitants are nothing to be trifled with, as creepy cult-leader Isaac and his evil-ginger sidekick Malachi (Courtney Joiner, The 'Burbs) capture Vicky and put her on a crucifix made of corn, to be sacrificed to their Lovecraftian lord, He who Walks Behind the Rows. 

Based on the Stephen King short story "Disciples of the Crow," this is probably the first King adaptation I saw as a kid, it was chilling to me as a kid, though now I can see it for the somewhat problematic thing that it is, padded for time to stretch the short-subject source material, adding a young girl with clairvoyant visions, but that the creepy kid cult-leader as played by John Franklin (who was 24 when he made this) still manages to make my skin crawl with his eerie sermons and odd demeanor, he has an evil precociousness that I find chilling. Then we have Malachi, whom develops a feud with Isaac over the proper way to worship their dark Lord, culminating in some treachery. 

The finale is fun piece of work, both frantic, frightful and field-burning, but the visual effects might be a bit problematic for those who weren't raised on this vintage slice of horror - they do not really stand-up to the test of time, but the scenes of He Who Walks Behind The Rows burrowing beneath the surface of the ground and the way it displaces the dirt looks very cool, and the fireball is wonderful.  To this day I cannot pass a corn field and think of this film, it's left it's mark on me for sure, a testament to the iconic nature of this one. 

Audio/Video: The Children of the Corn (1984) arrives on Blu-ray from Arrow Video befitting from a new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative. Right away you see the improvement, this is a step up from my 2009 25th Anniversary Blu-ray from Anchor Bay by a large margin, he film grain seems better resolved and more textured, looking more natural. Colors have more life and you can see a new color timing has been done, not sure if this is more accurate to the theatrical run but to my eyes it looks superior to the previous Blu-ray. Audio on the disc comes by way of an English LPCM 2.0 or DTS-HD MA 5.1, I prefer the stereo track, which has more presence and power to my ears, optional English subtitles are provided. 

Arrow Video carry over all the extras from the 2009 Anchor Bay Blu-ray (minus the trivial trivia track) which were produced by Red Shirt Pictures, and kindly offer-up a handful more new ones to make this the definitive edition of the movie. There's a brand new commentary from with John Sullivan of and horror journalist Justin Beahm, and Sullivan shows up again for a 16-min location revisit showcasing the filming locations current day.

Screenwriter George Goldsmith shows up for an interview talking about his early career as a small town investigative reporter before dropping that for screenwriting, working on Master of Kung Fu TV series and Force Five, and adapting the work of Stephen King. another cool extra is the short film "Disciples of the Crow" (1983), which is one of the infamous "dollar baby" King adaptations, this one coming out a year before the feature length movie. There are  also over fifty minutes of new interviews with Actors Julie Maddalena and John Philbin (Return of the Living Dead), all in you're looking at over three hours of extras and that's before you get two the two feature length audio commentaries! 

For the sake of this review Arrow Video sent "check disc" without any of the cool packaging or artwork, so I'll share these pack shots from Arrow Facebook page - this is a cool looking release with a sleeve of reversible artwork, reversible poster, and booklet:

Special Features: 
- Brand new 2K restoration from the original negative
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- NEW: Brand new audio commentary with John Sullivan of and horror journalist Justin Beahm
- NEW: Return to Gatlin - A brand new featurette revisiting the film's original Iowa shooting locations with John Sullivan of  (16 min) 
- NEW: A Field of Nightmare - A brand New interview with Screenwriter George Goldsmith (17 min) HD 

- NEW: ...And The Corn Shall Lead Them - A Brand new interview with Actors Julie Maddalena and John Philbin (52 min) HD 
- Stephen King on a Shoestring - an interview with producer Donald Borchers (11 min) HD 
- Audio commentary with director Fritz Kiersch, producer Terrence Kirby and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains
- Harvesting Horror - The Making of Children of the Corn - retrospective piece featuring interviews with director Fritz Kiersch and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains (61 min) 
- It Was the Eighties! - an interview with actress Linda Hamilton (14 min) 
- Welcome to Gatlin - The Sights and Sounds of Children of the Corn, an interview with production designer Craig Stearns and composer Jonathan Elias (15 min) 
- Cut From the Corn - an interview with the actor who played "The Blue Man" in the fabled excised sequence (6 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (1 min) HD 
- Storyboard Gallery (6 min) HD 
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
- Short Film:  Disciples of the Crow (1983): Originally shot as Children of the Corn, this short film adaptation of the eponymous Stephen King Story was made one year before the 1984 feature version of the version  (19 Minutes) HD 
- First Pressing: Collectors booklet featuring new writing in the film.

Children of the Corn (1984) still works it's 80s killer-kids magic all these years later, a testament to both Stephen King's original story and  to the direction of Fritz Kiersch, this is a film that will be scaring audiences for years to come. Arrow Video have gone deep behind the rows of corn to unearth some awesome extras this release, on top of that the A/V presentation is gorgeous, making this easily the definitive version of the film on home video - for fans and newcomers this is the one to own. 

SEXINA (2007) (Wild Eye DVD Review)

SEXINA (2007) 

Label: Wild Eye Releasing
Region Code: Region Free
Duration: 90 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 
Director: Erik Sharkey
Cast: Adam West, Annie Golden, Lauren D'Avella, Davy Jones, Allyn Rachel, Peter Stickles

In director Erik Sharkey's private eye/pop music parody Sexina (2007) we have popstar Sexina (Lauren D'Avella) who moonlights as an Los Angeles private eye, she's currently investigating the disappearance of Professor Van Bunson, a rock star turned scientist (Cash Tilton). The plot involves a mad record mogul intent on creating an army of robotic boy bands to top the charts, said record mogul is played by none other than the legendary Adam West of the camp-drenched 60's Batman TV series, which makes him the perfect villain for this camp-drenched slice of nonsense. West proves he's a fun guy with a sense of humor just by agreeing to appear in this movie, though he mostly appears in voice over and lone scenes, a fun behind-the-scenes extras shows him doing his lines in a recording studio, it's very much a Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget sort of role. 

There's a few the subplots at plays aside from the missing scientist, we have Sexina in competition with another popstar, the womanizer douche-nozzle Lance Canyon (Luis Jose Lopez), and the story about an overweight teen's struggle in highschool with body shamers, which doesn't really align with the main feature until the finale, sewn into the storyline through an essay writing contest.  

Lauren D'Avella is fun as sexina, clearly parodying the early teen-star career of Britney Spears, showing off some ample cleavage and wearing skin-hugging body suits with some campy fight sequences - the highlight for me being when a man in a bear-suit attacks one of Sexina's witnesses from out of nowhere! This is all a light-hearted romp, it's hard to hate it because it's just so silly, even though the humor often falls flat, the dialogue is beyond cheesy, and the music is corny - the damn thing even has a Bond-esque theme song sung by Davy Jones of The Monkees fame! 

Special Features: 
- Davy Jones Sings Sexina (5 Minutes) 
- Bloopers and Outtakes (3 min) 
- Deleted Scene (2 min) 
- Behind The Scenes Footage (5 min) 
- Chris Carter plays The Blues (7 min) 
- Trailers (7 min) 

I didn't love it, and I didn't loathe it, the flick has a cheesy z-grade charm that comes through while spoofing on boy bands and pop stars, it just wasn't for me, coming across as an episode of Nickelodeon's The Suite Life of Zack and Cody by way of a CW teen sitcom - if that sounds like something you might enjoy then have it. Interestingly director Erik Sharkey also directed Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (2013) documentary about legendary poster artists  Drew Struzan, and the 2016 documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life about the first African-American animator at Disney, so the guy is multi-talented, and multi-faceted, but let's just say I prefer the guys documentaries over this camp-comedy.