Blu-Ray Review: J.D.’s Revenge

JDR_AV110Automatically calling Arthur Marks’ J.D.’s Revenge a mere “blaxsploitation” film before viewing the end result actually puts it in the wrong category because it works a bit more outside that box you’ve put it in. Sure, it’s got a mostly black cast, some violent bits, blood and some nudity to draw in genre fans. But it’s also a supernatural revenge flick that kind of makes sense despite a few plot elements that fall on their faces. I wouldn’t call it a “pure” horror film per se, but I can see some folks who tend to freak out over mysticism in their movies falling for the film’s attempts to frighten them whenever it gets the opportunity.

That said, you do have to feel sorry for poor Isaac Hendrix (Glynn Turman), a law student in New Orleans who ends up getting hypnotized while out on a night of fun with his wife Christella (Joan Pringle) and another couple. That hypnosis somehow summons up the spirit of the late J.D. Walker (David McKnight), a not so nice street hustler type with a scar on his face and a penchant for straight razors as a means of protection. J.D. wants in on Ike’s scrawny body so he can finally take revenge on the man who killed him and his sister, Betty Jo. Naturally, vengeful spirits tend to not care much about collateral damage, so Christella is the first victim to Ike’s possessed form as she’s in the wrong place when J.D. materializes and takes over.

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Blu-Ray Review: Werewolf Woman

WerewolfWoman_BRWith most exploitation films, it’s best to jump in cold and hang on for dear life because over-scrutinizing every frame can mean missing out on what a film really has to offer. Flaws and logic gaps are commonplace as many genre films tend to be rushed (or pay homage to earlier rushed flicks) and rely on copious nudity, sexual content, and/or graphic violence to make their points. Of course, that’s probably one reason why they’re so appreciated by those of us with time to spend watching as many as we can fit into out libraries. You know who you are, so wave that flag proudly, pal.

On the other hand, a film like Rino Di Silvestro’s 1976 Werewolf Woman (aka The Legend of the Wolf Woman, among other titles) demands to be scrutinized (warts and all) because under that copious nudity, et cetera is a film whose director fully believed in the subject matter (Clinical Lycanthropy) and yep, decided to tackle it head on as a full on exploitation flick. While it’s a film that’s got quite a nasty, depressing bite to it when all it said and done, you can kind of see through all the sleaze that the director was trying to slap some sort of psychological depth into the proceedings.

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Taxi Driver Turns 40: “A Real Rain” Returns to Theaters Internationally in August

(thanks, Park Circus!)
 

This is beautiful news. That said, I hope that “international” re-release means we’ll see this here in North America. This is one of those films I’ve wanted to see on the big screen in a nicer print than I’ve previously seen and this trailer sure looks spectacular. We shall see. In my opinion, this is a film that needs to be bucket listed if one considers him or herself a movie lover.

George Crumb: Voice of the Whale – Soul Music of A Different Sort

And now, ladies and germs… it’s time for a little dose of culture for today:

MVD7499D crumb 

“I feel intuitively that music must have been the first cell from which language, science, and religion originated.” – George Crumb

George Crumb: Voice Of The Whale
coming to DVD on June 24th (MSRP: $19.99)

 

Robert Mugge’s 1976 portrait of renowned composer George Crumb featuring a performance of his composition “Vox Balaenae”

In 1976, “music filmmaker” Robert Mugge created his first music-related film. Titled GEORGE CRUMB: VOICE OF THE WHALE, it was a strikingly original, 54-minute portrait of Pulitzer Prize-winning and Grammy-winning composer George Crumb.

To celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary (it was first broadcast over PBS on June 6, 1978), MVD Visual is making available a newly remastered version on DVD, transferred to HD from the original 16mm film and lovingly restored. Now that you’re curious, go click this link to see a tiny bit of the film and if you like what you see, go order away at your leisure. Or faster than that if you prefer.

Blu-Ray Review: The Premonition (1976)


 

AmericanHP_AV043As with The Witch Who Came From the Sea, the second film in Arrow Video’s mostly great American Horror Project Volume 1 collection isn’t really a traditional genre flick at all. Robert Allen Schnitzer‘s 1976 film, The Premonition is more of a visually intense psychological thriller with a supernatural theme running through it.

Don’t go into this one expecting gallons of blood and guts all over the walls and floors, folks. The film is a more deliberately paced thriller with a somewhat complex “child in danger” plot that seems to have been rewritten over another idea for a competent family drama of the week TV movie. Continue reading

Humor: A Vote For Iris Steensma Might Start Some More Fireworks

“I got some bad ideas in my head.”

 

taxi_driver_ver2_xlgWhile it’s still an example of great American film-making and a must-see movie, I’ve been having a recurring dream of a Taxi Driver followup for quite some time. As in over 20 years of random story ideas hitting me in the dream-space or while strolling around NYC. The city has changed so much since the film’s 1976 release, but in a (not so) weird way certain elements have cycled back into that film’s bleak version of the city, citizens, and some of the politics around them.

Granted, it’s never (ever!) going to happen unless the stars are in order (on a few fronts, ha and ha-ha) and some other key people think it’s a good idea. It’s not (at all), but Hollywood has done far worse updates of other films (for better or worse… mostly worse in my opinion). Nevertheless, I’m getting this silliness off my chest and out of my head so I can clear up space in the grey matter filing cabinet. Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: To The Devil… A Daughter

To The Devil A Daughter MPSwiping bits from Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist while leaving a “Why the hell am I watching this again?” aftertaste, To The Devil… A Daughter manages to be a pretty bizarre and somewhat unintentionally 1976 funny horror film from Hammer Studios. From what I understand by poking around a few books and online, the UK film industry was in a bit of a mess when this mess was made and it shows in a few key areas. Granted, you do get Christopher Lee in a scenery-chewing performance for the ages (including a brief nude scene performed by a double!) and Richard Widmark making a payday and playing an occult writer turned cranky old action hero long before Liam Neeson.

Yes, you also get a too young Nastassia Kinski flailing about and screaming as if possessed (well, she kind of is) in her part as a fallen “nun” and trying too hard to keep up with the other more experienced cast doing their own screaming and flailing about. Yes, the film is also notorious for the infamous bloody baby demon hand puppet molestation and a shot near the finale of her fully nude. While some genre fans may groove on that little detail, for some new viewers those elements will just come off as creepy central.. and not in a good way, either. Continue reading

Back on Track! Mostly! Maybe!

(thanks, DukeBoy01

OK, in case you missed it, in yesterday’s episode I thought it was Wednesday and almost messed up an appointment I had today (the ACTUAL Wednesday) and tomorrow (the day after today, actually). SUSPENSE! Actually, I wasn’t entirely at fault, as the lady on the radio news station said it was Wednesday at one point, I got an email about an appointment that said tomorrow (today!) was Wednesday and that stupid dream I had after I fell asleep too late early Tuesday morning made it seem as if I’d gotten stuff done all day, gone home and went to sleep. So, yeah – I was more than shocked to find out around 7PM or so yesterday that my time traveling wasn’t real after all and nope, none of the work I’d done in my sleep carried over to the real world. Crap. I need to fix that one of these days. Or maybe not sleep at all whenever possible. Er, sorry about that train sized hole in your wall, folks. I was looking for something cool to catch your eye in this boring post and that was the first thing to come to mind…

Anyway, we now resume out regular broadcast, already in progress… (or: Man, I have a LOT of catching up to do!)

Random Film of the Week: A*P*E

(THANK YOU, Geno the Giant!!!) 

APEOK, I’ve been a bit busy and not keeping up with getting more of these RFotW posts up as I’d like when I’d like to, but here’s a case where having a huge backlog of future posts might be a good thing. I looked at my long (and growing) list of films and instead of randomly selecting one, picked the first one on that list and thankfully, didn’t need to go far to track it down. I wanted a trailer, but the first thing I found was the full movie, always a good thing when it’s legal.

On the other hand… this particular post is about the horrifically terrible and stupid Korean King Kong pastiche that is A*P*E, so you may not agree at all. Then again, it’s hard to hate a film so bad it starts off unintentionally hilarious, gets a tiny bit “serious” turns into a parody of the film and genres it’s trying too hard to copy then goes back to (sort of) being serious at its finale. Yeah, A*P*E swings both ways and then some. Yes, that’s the full film above – pull up a chair or couch and make sure you’re sitting close to the floor, as you may fall off whatever you’re sitting on a few times…

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Random Film of the Week: Logan’s Run


 

logan's run aWhen 2001: A Space Odyssey set the bar for visual effects back in 1968, movie studios around the globe kept trying to reach that level of polish and for the most part failed miserably. Outside of a few major and minor sci-fi hits and misses in theaters (Marooned, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun and Silent Running pop off the top of my head) and on TV (those bits of Gerry Andersen’s UFO and Space: 1999 that work), it wasn’t until the release of Star Wars that a major studio film had a visual aesthetic genre fans could glom onto almost universally for sheer “wow” factor. Granted, when Logan’s Run was in its production phase, I’m betting it sure looked “futuristic” to the very hard working teams building that huge model of the city and domes, the set and costume designers and yes, the visual effects crew, actors and director. Hell, it certainly impressed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, as a special Oscar was awarded the film at the 1977 Academy Awards. Of course, George Lucas and ILM made that award all theirs the next year in a film not predicted to do all that well by a few people (Lucas included)…

Still, that didn’t help matters much in my case, as even as a wee bairn of eight years of age, I knew Logan’s Run was going to be enjoyably junky thanks to the TV commercials and rainbow on those posters I saw in subway stations. Interestingly enough, it actually popped up on TV about a year later (an amazingly fast time for a major Hollywood film), and while I was fascinated by some elements, to my mind it still looked cheap and the story (which I didn’t know was even more edited for TV) was hard to follow. Naturally, even though I didn’t like the film much, I ended up watching every episode of the 1977-78 CBS TV series and just like what happened with Planet of the Apes on the network, it managed to be dumber than the film, but easier to follow once I figured out that nothing would happen to the leads because they needed to be around for next week’s show. But I digress…
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