Saturday, September 15, 2018



SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE 13TH SEASON (2018) / TAG (2018) / TARANTULA! (1955) / OCCUPATION (2018) / BLAST (2018) / CRAZY SIX (1997) / GHOST STORIES (2017) 

This week we have some new releases from Warner Bros. by way of the long-running Supernatural, an Ed Helms comedy about long time friends, an atomic aged creature feature, a trio of ghost stories and a pair of pretty generic action-thrillers...

The long-running TV series SUPERNATURAL returns with The Complete Thirteenth Season on Blu-ray+Digital from Warner Bros. containing all 23 episodes plus a wealth of cool bonus content sure to please fans of the series. This season the brothers Winchester must do battle with Lucifer's all-powerful son who poses an apocalyptic threat to the world. I am not die-hard fan of the show in that I don't actually tune in every week or even binge watch it, it's more of a watch when I can sort of thing, but this season had an event that pulled me right in, the "Scoobynatural" episode, wherein the Winchester's after battling a plush dinosaur are literally sucked into an animated episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? which was frigging awesome, featuring the return of Matthew Lillard (SLC Punk) as the voice of hungry stoner Shaggy, this episode alone is worth the purchase in my opinion. Fans of the show will be very pleased with HD presentation and should enjoy the hours of bonus content including deleted scenes, behind-the-stuff (including a fun look at the Scoobynatural episode) and a gag-reel. 

Also from Warner Bros,. comes the based on true-life comedy TAG (2018) about a group of friends who have been playing an annual game of tag for thirty years, it sounds too weird to be real but apparently this is based on reality. This is what I like to call an Ed Helms Comedy, the man seems to be in about every ensemble comedy lately, and that's not a bad thing, I like him a bunch and this semi heart-warming comedy was good stuff. This years tag event takes them to some crazy places, one of the friends is getting married and rumor has it might be his last game of tag with his long-time friends, it also happens that his guy (played by Jeremy Renner (Avengers)) has never once been tagged in thirty years of the game, so Helms character along with his way too involved wife (Isal Fisher, Wedding Crashers), is out to finally tag the mate before it's too late. If you like ensemble comedies this one has loads of appeal and more than it's fare share of rib-tickling funny business, also starring Jon Hamm (TVs Mad Men), Jake Johnson (Neighbors), and comedian Hannibal Buress (Blockers). The Blu-ray+DVD+Digital release includes deleted scenes, a gag reel and a featurette about the guys who inspired the movie. 

Fans of black and white atomic-age creature features should absolutely check out the Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon) giant-spider flick TARANTULA (1955) out now on DVD from Umbrella Entertainment! Arnold in my opinion is a bit of an unsung director in the world of science-fiction cinema, he brought us such notable movies as The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and It Came from Outer Space (1953), he's not praised often enough, just Creature from the Black Lagoon should have cemented his place as monster movie royalty, but this spider movie is another goodie in his filmography worth checking out. Here we have Dr. Deemer (Leo G. Carroll, Strangers on a Train) experimenting on animals in the Arizona desert, he's been working on an irradiated serum which promotes unusual growth in the animals, sure enough a lab fire sets one of his oversized tarantulas loose on the unsuspecting community and before you know it a hairy 100-foot tall arachnid is running amok. We also have a local physician Dr. Hastings (John Agar, Revenge of the Creatureinvestigating a mysterious rash of human and cattle deaths, the smarmy doc has a crush on Dr. Deemers hot new lab assistant Stephanie (The Black Scorpion). There are scenes of the authorities finding large white pools of an unknown substance, I always laugh when Dr. Hastings just sticks his finger into the pool of goo and tastes it, surmising that yup, that's insect venom of some kind, never mind that the amount he licked off his finger like it was frosting on a beater would have killed a hundred men! The spider effects in this one are pretty cool-looking, and keep an eye/ear out for an uncredited Clint Eastwood as the squadron leader who dumps a load of napalm of the eight-kegged freak! 

From Australia comes the alien-invasion thriller OCCUPATION (2018) which comes off as Red Dawn by way of H.G. Welles War of the Worlds with a splash of well-worn tropes from other alien invasion films thrown in for good measure. The budget on this one looks to be of good size and the technical merits are solid with some whiz-bang looking alien ships arriving in the skies, soon after humanoid alien soldiers storm the rural area and begin rounding up humans and poisoning the waters - yup, what we have here is a bunch of aliens looking for a new home and they're gonna take it by force. We've seen this sort of thing a lot through the years and this one doesn't have much more appeal than the typical Syfy original miniseries, which is sort of what this feels like, it has the feel of a TV mini-series with a few too many characters and sub-plots to keep track of, and it's overly long at 2-hours and while it didn't ruin my day watching it I know I won't ever watch it again, a classic one and done. This comes by way of Lionsgate and includes a slipcover and digital copy of the film, no extras whatsoever. If you're a fan of middle of the road alien invasion fluff like Battle For Los Angeles (2011) it might be worth a watch.

From MVD as part of their MVD Marquee Collection comes terrorist-thriller BLAST (1996), a schlocky action flick with a serious thirst to ape action-classic Die Hard (1988) right down to that hilarious artwork that shamelessly riffs on an iconic image. The film is directed by Albert Pyun (Cyborg), a man who once made fun sci-fi and action flicks like Cyborg and Dollman, but this is pretty bland stuff right here, terrorist storm an Olympic swimming complex holding the ladies swim team hostage, it's up to out hero played by Linden Ashby (Wyatt Earp) to save the day, he being a former Olympian with a sad career ending story, ugh. Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster) plays the scenery chewing villain and Rutger Hauer shows up in n a thankless cameo. The film is straight up DTV fodder from the 90's, I didn't know about then and I sort of wish I didn't know about now.  This is just bad enough you could potentially squeeze a little bit of schlocky fun out of it via the cheese-factor, but this is a bad movie, this action-stinker comes with a slipcase and no extras. 

Also coming from MVD Marquee Collection and directed by Albert Pyun comes CRAZY SIX (1997), and it's more of the same unfortunately. Starring the late Burt Reynolds, Mario Van Peebles, Ice-T and Rob Lowe who trudge through this one with the look and enthusiasm of actors who long for a time in their careers when they didn't have to take on dreck like this. Set in the Eastern Bloc we gets bad crime-family drama, awful one-liners, dreadful accents and poor performances across the board. This one also comes with a slipcover and no extras, but I would have loved a commentary with Lowe and the late Reynolds, just to find out what the fuck they were thinking when they made this one.  

If you're into old fashioned ghost stories I steer you towards the aptly titled GHOST STORIES (2017) on Blu-ray from Scream Factory and IFC Midnight. A spooky anthology of scary stories centered around the supernatural. Here we have a TV parapsychologist who is renowned for exposing the paranormal frauds on his TV show, one day he is summoned and  tasked by his aging hero to investigate three tales of the supernatural he himself could not prove to be fake, in fact he says the cases will cast doubt on the younger debunkers own skepticism. So he sets out and lays out each of the stories for us, taking us through his investigation with flashbacks to each of the cases. The first pertains to a night watchman with a scary ghost encounter, the second involves a teenager who runs over a devilish goat man on a secluded country road, and third tale involves a man whose wife is expecting a child, but he begins to encounter a poltergeist-ish sort of haunting while alone at home waiting for his wife to give birth in the hospital. All three stories are well told and finely executed with plenty of goosebumps and chilling visuals, each of the tales has an old world craftsmanship in the way they are constructed and told, however, the wrap-up left me cold, and not from fright and fear, but from disappointment. Not every film lands a fine finish, and this is one of those cases, that said I do think the three stories are quite excellent and well done, it's just doesn't stick the the landing for me. This release comes with a slipcover and a reversible sleeve of artwork, but sadly we get no extras for the film.