May the 4th Needs a Fifth, I Think

Yeah, yeah. I kind of don’t like the over-celebrating thing when it comes to some stuff I appreciate, but that’s the way things are these days. Still, a little tribute is in order to a film that deserves it (well, in its original format), so here’s mine.

Perspective from an old fart who knows stuff: There was not a hint of internet nor the sort of over-speculation we suffer though today way back in 1976 when I was sitting in a movie theater and saw this teaser for the first time:

(Thanks, thecoolman!)

I vaguely recall being really curious about this upcoming film because it looked completely different than anything I could recall seeing (hey, I was only 12 at the time), yet it seemed really familiar in a few ways to stuff I’d seen on the local PBS station. At that point, I had zero idea of what a homage was or a way to grasp that George Lucas was borrowing from the past to create his own futuristic adventure (what was curiously, set in the distant past). Anyway, I noted the non-date and filed the film away in the memory banks as something to look forward to seeing. Those school friends I knew were either not interested at all or worse, had a low opinion of sci-fi films that extended to books and comics of the period. So only a rare few of the kids I knew even cared about this film before and to some extent, after it was released.

The most amusing modern thing in regards to this teaser is the Official Star Wars YT channel has an (intentionally?) embarrassing low quality teaser while other non-official sites have not only better quality ones, but one that’s been redone to include footage found in the actual release print. Granted, while MUCH prettier, I find that clip problematic because it’s redone history that erases the fact that the teaser was supposed to be cruder thanks to the film still being nowhere near completion a about a year out from its eventual release date. Sure, film fans didn’t know this and other that tiny bits (VERY tiny) of information dropped in a few sci-fi mags of the era. But that all changed as 1977 rolled around and more info as well as the successful Star Wars comic book appeared. I avoided the comic for a while, but eventually collected most of its run over time, enjoying a good deal of what I was reading (including stuff now FAR outside the current canon)

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ALIEN @ 40(-ish) Still Has It (…Mostly)

ALIEN 40

A bit late to the party, but I have my reasons…

So, I waited a few days to post this to more or less commemorate the day I went to see ALIEN some 40 years ago. I was 15, and I took the day off from school to hoof it down to Times Square just to see this on a larger screen than was available in the Bronx. Or, I probably went downtown because I didn’t wan to be caught walking into or out of a theater there showing it. Or both. Anyway, it happened and as with Star Wars before that, I’d say my cinematic life took an upswing thanks to some fine film-making that recalled things I’d seen in the past. Ridley Scott’s direction was impressive, the cast was great and what more can be said about the production design and art direction that combined a few distinct art styles you’d think wouldn’t mesh together at all into something so… beautiful to look at?

(Thanks, Moviepilot Trailers!)

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Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE: 4K, 3 Ways, On the Way in November

ZOMBIE_MP

If I’m not mistakes, we got a load of these posters in the NYC subways as well when the film was initially released in the US. I’d kill for a few to sell off now. Uh, figure of speech, that.

 

Yum. If you’re an old coot like me (or old enough to remember), this pair of TV ads for Lucio Fulci’s horror masterpiece, ZOMBIE. Hey, even though I was 15 at the time, they both kind of sunk into the memory like a… well, like a zombie munching on some fresh brains. I didn’t actually see the film until a few years later thanks to a friend who had it and a bunch of other horror flicks on a VHS tape he’d put together and, yeah, it was worth the wait.

Between the jump scares and general relentlessness when things got going, Tisa Farrow (Mia’s sister) getting it in the eye like Moe Greene, but slower and with a rather pointy piece of wood (ouch), a zombie versus shark scene (no pirates, sorry… but that’s a real shark!), and the classic line delivery early on: “Hey, watch out for the sail!” that kind of starts off this gore-fest in the most comic of manners before things get grim. Yes, there are slow stretches, but the film delivers all the goods when it counts from the icky to the just plain weird (conquistador zombies, ftw!).

 

 

Anyway, the fine folks at Blue Underground and MVD Entertainment Group are releasing not one, not two, but THREE 4K cover variants of the film, newly remastered in 4K and set to crawl your way on November 27, 2018. Actually, there are a whopping SIX variants total when you add in the older 2K BR and DVD versions on the BU site listed here, here, and… wait a sec… HERE. Collect ’em all!

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Arrow Video November Releases: No Turkeys Here!

arrow video logoWell, November will be nice and bloody come Turkey Day and into December thanks to these three Arrow Video releases. If you’re not watching the sportsball games on that day, why not plop down on the sofa with some horror flicks to keep your eyes wide open after that high dosage of tryptophan and too much pie you’re eaten?

Here’s a look at what’s on the way:

the-initiaton_av071 THE INITIATION [Blu-ray] (11/8) SRP: $34.95

HERE’S TO BEING YOUNG… STAYING YOUNG… AND DYING YOUNG.

Marking TV star Daphne Zuniga’s debut in a leading role, The Initiation ranks among the finest of the college-based stalk-and-slash flicks – now finally restored in glorious High-Definition!

Kelly’s new sorority has a special initiation ritual in store for her – an after-hours break-in of her father’s department store. But what begins as a night of harmless college fun turns sour when, once inside the enormous mall, Kelly and her fellow pledges find themselves locked in for the night… with a deadly intruder stalking the corridors.

Arriving in 1984, The Initiation might have been late to the slasher party, but, alongside the likes of The House on Sorority Row and The Mutilator, it remains one of the stronger entries to emerge in the latter days of the slice-and-dice boom.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Uncompressed PCM Mono Audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues
  • Sorority Saga – a brand new interview with writer Charles Pratt, Jr.
  • Pledge Night – a brand new interview with actor Christopher Bradley
  • Dream Job – a brand new interview with actress Joy Jones
  • Extended Scene
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Original Screenplay & Production Schedule (BD -ROM Content)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn

First pressing only: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver

More below the jump… that’s where they belong, mua-ha-ha-haaaaa…

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Blu-Ray/DVD Review: Contamination

Contamination MVD7368BRUp until a few years back, I’d never considered Luigi Cozzi’s sci-fi and fantasy films anything more than hilariously terrible pastiches of far better films. But getting older and mellower has made me take a fresh look and appreciate them a lot more, warts and all. I’m finding that while somewhat hampered by budgetary constraints and packed with some truly laugh-worthy visual effects, there’s an earnestness and respectable amount of passion in them that makes up for most of the inadequacies.

Yes, Star Crash still makes me cringe and the two Hercules films are more overly colorful comic book reworkings gone haywire of classic mythology. But you can clearly feel the director’s intent on making movies from the heart even as they bust your gut from unintentional and intentional laughter.

Contamination, Cozzi’s 1980 gorier “homage” to Ridley Scott’s classic Alien has gotten an excellent Blu-Ray restoration thanks to Arrow Video. Not only do you get a lovely AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer in 1.85.1 widescreen, there’s a great set of old and new interviews with the director and Maurizio Guarini of Goblin (who did the film’s score) as well as a fun look at other Italian genre flicks that swiped ideas from blockbusters. As for the film itself, as I hadn’t seen it for over 30 years, it was certainly a fun and bloody trip down memory lane as well as something of a love letter to New York City where some of the establishing shots were films.
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Random Film of the Week(end): Malibu High

Malibu High MP 1979In the storied pantheon of “High school girl goes bad, turns to prostitution and murder to make ends meet, meets end tragically” films, Irvin Berwick’s 1979 exploitation classic Malibu High is probably the “best” of the bunch. Well, I’m not sure “best” is the proper word to use for a film this bizarre, but you genre fans know what I mean.

That cute poster on the left makes it look like a typical pre-80’s sex comedy flick packed with lowbrow laughs. But man, is it oh soooooooo misleading. Yes, there are laughs to be had here and plenty of them. But the film’s general tone straddles the line between parody and interesting attempts to be serious with breathtaking results… Continue reading

ALIEN 35th Anniversary Blu-Ray/DVD: If You’re NEW to This Flick, It’s A Must-Buy…

Alien 35 (Custom)Hmmmm. I’m not sure I need another version of ALIEN for my library, but this 35th anniversary limited edition features a a reprint of the excellent Alien: The Illustrated Story comic and all-new, collectible art cards along with the 1979 original cut and 2001 director’s cut of the film. As this is one of my favorite films of any genre, I’ll probably cave in and pick this up at some point once there’s a price drop just to add it to the other sets I have here.

Yeah, Fox is pretty much jabbing us in the wallet with this one, but the price isn’t bad if you shop around and at least the new extras are different and worth checking out if you have to have EVERY bit of memorabilia. Between this and Alien Isolation arriving on the same day, I have the feeling that a whole new set of fans will be made for this absolute classic sci-fi/horror hybrid. The cranky older fans who think this one’s a double dip with a few bonuses surely won’t be buying this re-re-re-re-release, if my poking around on a few film boards is any indication. Those geezers are just too smug to see that somewhere in the world, someone STILL hasn’t seen ALIEN and yeah, they might be wanting to get this because it’ll be their first time experiencing this still near-perfect film…

ALL THAT JAZZ & All That Jazz You Need To See, Thanks To The Criterion Collection!

Bob Fosse’s 1979 semi-autobiographical musical masterpiece finally gets the Criterion treatment and if you’ve not see it yet (or have and it’s been a while), NOW is, as they say… the TIME. This is one of those one of a kind films that while not exactly an autobiography, is about the director’s own struggles, vices and other issues, cutting very close to the truth of his wild life on many levels. Compare this to the formulaic pap most Hollywood biopics have turned into over the decades and it’s no wonder this one makes plenty of lists of people’s favorite films. Of course, it also made me never want to do more than five things at ones, kept me away from drugs and smoking, so it’s also kicking it as a cautionary tale. Yeah, I’ll get to writing up a Random Film of the Week on this one in a bit – I actually want to see this new transfer to check out how good a job was done on it first. To the backlog you go, Gideon!

Review: DEVO – The Men Who Make The Music/Butch DEVO & The Sundance Gig

MVD6055DFun fact: There are three live performances of “Uncontrollable Urge” on DEVO – The Men Who Make The Music/Butch DEVO & The Sundance Gig from 1978, 1996, and 2003 respectively and both the dynamism and choreography haven’t changed a bit. Granted, the younger DEVO was a slimmer, trimmer band way back when that first LP was released, but the more spud-like shapes of the band-mates doesn’t slow them down one bit when it comes to delivering what’s still one of their most memorable hits.

If you’re new to the band or maybe not so new but haven’t yet seen them live, this set of eyeball and ear searing old stuff will show you DEVO’s originality and rather special craft that’s kept fans around through think and thin. With a new tour and cool crowdfunding project happening, MVD is helping bring these guys to a new audience that needs to listen to something other than the radio-ready junk that sells in lower and lower numbers each year…

MVD Visual has done up a VERY entertaining DVD here that’s a combination of the long out of print 1981 VHS tape (DEVO – The Men Who Make The Music) and a complete 1996 reunion concert given at that year’s Sundance Film Festival along with two bonus DEVO clips from a pair of MVD’s other DEVO video discs. The Men Who Make The Music is a bizarre “documentary” of sorts that combines six 1978 concert tour clips, the two videos from 1976’s “The Truth About De-evolution” and three music videos (from the band’s first LP) as it spools out the story of the band dealing with music industry pressures of the time. In all the weirdness, I’m gathering the band may have been having some issues with Warner Bros. Records trying to control it to some extent… or perhaps this was all done as a send-up of this sort of thing common to the industry. In any event, it’s a hoot to see the young spuds, Booji Boy and General Boy “face off” against Rod Rooter and pretty much not follow his dopey orders to stick with those yellow jumpsuits. Continue reading

Alien Trailer: 20th Century Fox Nails This Throwback Thursday Classic You Should Absolutely Own…

 
I have no idea how many times I’ve seen ALIEN since 1979, but it’s one of my favorite films, period. I’d written about it briefly but never in depth because there have been so many other and better dissections of Ridley Scott’s classic that the only thing I have to offer is SEE IT if you haven’t. The cool thing is it’s been released in so many formats that you can find it almost anywhere for whatever you have that plays legally purchased films. Of course, 20th Century Fox wants you to buy it from them HERE, so feel free to do that if you like. Personally, I’d want to grab the first four films in either the ALIEN Quadrilogy or ALIEN Anthology box sets, but if you just want to be scared out of your wits with the best entry in the franchise, go with the first one.

And yeah, I know it’s Friday, silly. I started this post last night but the internet was hating me at home because it vanished for about an hour or so and it was after midnight by the time it came back from wherever it went.