Blu-Ray Review: BASKET CASE

Basket Case_LE_AV119“What’s in the basket? Easter eggs?”

Absolutely, lady, absolutely. Wow. Sometimes you get hit in the head by a fly ball you didn’t see coming and it’s actually a good thing. I didn’t know Frank Henenlotter’s still hilarious and unnerving 1982 feature BASKET CASE had gotten a superb MoMA restoration last year until I overheard two guys talking about it and I just had to walk up and ask if it was true. It indeed was and now thanks to Arrow Video, you can get yourself a copy of this cult horror hit and see what the fuss is all about. Or just see it again as a fully restored masterpiece of low-budget movie making madness.

If memory serves me correctly, I actually saw the film for the first time way back during its initial 1982 run at the Waverly theater, but I think it was the disappointing edited version that came off as a bit crueler and cruder. I say “think” because it was a midnight showing and I recall falling asleep at one point and missed about 10 or so minutes. Oops. A few years later, upon renting the unrated version on VHS (I think it was from one of the legendary Kim’s Video locations in NYC), I was shocked to see footage I hadn’t recalled and the film was actually much funnier than I’d remembered.

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Blu-Ray/DVD Review: The Aftermath

The Aftermath VCIThere’s a great bonus on the BR/DVD version of The Aftermath that’s well worth watching before you see the main event. That would be the 1973 student film, The Night Caller, directed by Dan Gilbert and inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short story, Night Call, Collect. The same guy who co-wrote and stars in that main event, Steve Burkett, also plays the lead in this short and it seems the plot is something of an expansion of a few ideas from the short as well as some of Burkett and co-writer Stanley Livingston’s own work.

That said, this shot in 1978/released in 1982 film was also something of a passion project for Burkett, as it was made for not a whole lot of money (and it shows), features a few of Burkett’s friends and family members along with the always fun to watch Sid Haig as the film’s main, mean villain. On one hand, it’s not the greatest action film you’ll ever see. However, it’s a case of a killer “B” flick with an oddly effective sting that happens to wear its battered heart on its bloody sleeve.

Burkett plays Newman, an astronaut returning to Earth after a lengthy journey with two others, Mathews (Larry Latham) and Williams (Jim Danforth!). They can’t contact anyone on the planet and after an explosion, the ship crash lands in the water somewhere near Los Angeles. Williams is killed and initially, Newman thinks he’s the sole survivor until Mathews washes up shortly thereafter. The men spend a harsh night outdoors where they’re attacked by crazed and somewhat violent (zombie-like?) mutated savages and it’s only when the dawn breaks they find out there’s been a big ol’ nuclear war while the men were away that’s wiped out a good chunk of humanity.  So much for that homecoming parade, right?

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A Few THINGs To Remember…

Hmmm. Apparently, Donnie Boo-Boo (aka The Original Orange Julius Caesar, among other not so nice things) didn’t get the memo, but yeah, he’s quite the royal dope when it comes to being “presidential.” Or “professional”, for that matter. Anyway, here’s one thing that can happen when you interact with some Norwegians under the perfectly wrong conditions:

 

(Thanks, Wennie Wowney!)

 

All joking aside, I’d take him seriously except even as the self-proclaimed “least racist person” (PROTIP: when one has to point out one is not a racist after saying, doing and promoting racist stuff on a regular basis for decades, it’s a clear sign that one is indeed, a racist), he’s even dumber than you think. I’m betting a nickel he’d choke on his chicken dinner if he found out the fact that Norway’s tax returns for everyone are made public knowledge and are searchable. So there’s that. Perhaps someone from Norway can let him know this as I know he’s sure as hell not going to listen so some brown guy from NY who didn’t vote for him.

Finally, I’m all for anyone at all wanting to come here to America to seek their dreams, but at this point, a transgender Norwegian former Christian turned atheist (who’s not infected by an alien parasite) just popped up to the top of my “Now THAT would be interesting!” list of potential citizens I’d love to meet.

-GW

Mail Call: #TBT Edition

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An early Christmas gift for myself, arriving in time to rescue a bumpy week. Yep. Review incoming – stay tuned. Thank you, Vinegar Syndrome! That packing job was superb and the shipping was super quick. Now, I need to get my grubby paws on that DVD catalog set of yours so I can poke at a few other releases for the library here.

Liquid_Sky

 

Back in a bit.

-GW

Liquid Sky: Vinegar Syndrome’s Big Blu Surprise

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Yes (and it’s about time). Throw out those blurry DVD and VHS rips, people. It’s high time for an upgrade after all these years as cult classic Liquid Sky is finally coming to Blu-Ray in remastered form. All you need to know is straight from the press release Vinegar Syndrome sent my way:

The flash preorder is scheduled for THIS THURSDAY September 28th at VinegarSyndrome.com. It will run for 24 hours, starting at 12:00 AM EST ’till 11:59 PM EST. There will be three different purchase options:
• LIQUID SKY
• LIQUID SKY + (2) Secret Black Friday Blu-rays
• Just the (2) Secret Blu-rays

We can’t reveal what the secret Blus are, but we can say that both are highly-requested direct-to-video horror films that were shot and finished on film and have never been available in film sourced editions. One is making its DVD and Blu debut and the other is making its Blu-ray debut, but no past editions of either have been film sourced.

LIQUID SKY comes to Blu-ray in a special limited edition package this Black Friday at VinegarSyndrome.com!

Slava Tsukerman’s new wave, sci-fi masterpiece, LIQUID SKY will be making its worldwide Blu-ray debut during our Black Friday sale (November 24th-27th), EXCLUSIVELY on VinegarSyndrome.com in a special limited edition package!

The release will feature an all new, director and cinematographer approved, 4k restoration from the original camera negative, along side loads of extra features, among them interviews with director Tsukerman, star Anne Carlisle, cinematographer Yuri Neyman, production designer Marina Levikova, among others. Plus never before seen outtakes and production stills, and more!

Womderful. I fully expect this to sell out and fast and I’m betting Vinegar Syndrome does as well. We shall see, of course.

-GW

Jerry Gets His Curtain Call…

Ugh. I was in bed the entire day thanks to not feeling so hot, but now that I’m up and find out Jerry Lewis has left the building, I’m wanting to go crawl back under the covers for a bit. Anyway, the first film that sprung to mind that I think you should catch was The Bellboy, written, directed and starring Jerry as Stanley, a silent bellhop hardly working at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. It’s weird and funny as hell with a few fun cameos and a corker of an ending.


 

There’s way too much to say about the man from his comedic talents (and some fine dramatic work in film and on TV) to his charity work that a great deal of today’s younger folks probably have little to no idea about (those MDA telethons used to be wonderful family time gatherings back in the day).

I suppose I could say a few more words, but it’s late in the day and I’m gathering a few thousand other writers have popped their own opining up. Me, I haven’t yet read my email since yesterday evening. Anyway, go watch some of his work at some point if anything just to see how remakes often don’t do the originals much justice.

-GW

Blu-Ray Review: The Slayer

The Slayer_AV101Well, hell. The Slayer actually surprised me with how good it was and once again, Arrow Video drops the microphone with a stellar print of this eagerly awaited slasher with some nice bonus features. While the film has its share of flaws, it’s got a small and interesting cast that’s not made up of the usual sex-starved teens getting killed off by the slasher of the week. Okay, it’s more mature adults getting killed off, but hey, it’s a step up in any event.

The film also predates A Nightmare on Elm Street in having its fiend just so happen to do its dirty work as its wide-eyed female lead sleeps. While probably not at all an influence on Wes Craven’s masterpiece, it’s impossible to watch the film without making a connection somewhere along the line.

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Loving The Alien: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

 

The best film directors are master manipulators who can magically transform an entire theater audience into a group of happy to sappy sapient lemmings or wide-eyed marionettes easily controlled from start to end credits. Their best films have the masses cheering the heroes, hissing at the bad ones, empathizing with the downtrodden and generally feeling whatever emotion a scene calls for. Yes, there are exceptions to this non-rule (too-likeable villains, swapping out all attempts at sympathy for more explosions and eyeball rolling plot twists you can see coming 20 minutes before they occur). But when you get right down to it, you know your cinematic needs are being taken care of when certain directors are at the helm.

Or, as an old friend once said:

(thanks, svofski!) 

In other words, this is a Spielberg film, folks.
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Blade Runner 2049: Wake Up… Time To Cry

(Read in Deckard’s voice):

I woke up late and with a headache. This teaser was waiting for me like a cat sitting on my chest with a freshly killed canary in its mouth as a present. Of course, that cat and the canary were from the dream I had last night, but that’s not important. Did you know you can’t accidentally step on a cat in a dream because it’ll always get out of the way? Of course, you can definitely step on an origami unicorn, which is kind of painful if you’re getting out of bed at 3am to go to the bathroom. Ow. Someone keeps leaving those damn things around the house in the strangest places. I found one in a sealed bottle of whisky last week. If it’s Gaff, he’s got some talent… and a weird sense of humor…

Yeah, that makes no sense because I never thought Blade Runner needed a proper sequel. We shall see, though. This teaser copies the languid pacing and gritty future noir tone of the original and yes, seeing an old Ford pop out of the shadows in a grin-worthy sight. That said, if he’s the sole link to the first film cast-wise, it may feel a bit awkward to younger viewers who never saw it or somehow don’t get what the connection is to Gosling and his funky coat. Oh, you can stop doing that Deckard voice now. It was only for that fake quote. I actually did wake up late, though. Off to find some coffee – back in a bit.

-GW

More From The Vaults: Found Object Fridays

Hey there- here’s some more random stuff I unearthed from the vaults while my PC was out of action for a few days earlier this week. I ended up making more of a mess “cleaning up” than I did when I left all those bins and boxes alone. But I did find some nice things I knew I’d kept for assorted good reasons. Enjoy the quick trip down memory lane!

Kurzrok Casper
 

If I recall correctly, this sketch was gotten in a rather oddball reverse double back-flip manner at a Creation Con back in 1981 or ’82. I was minding a friend’s table at the show while displaying some of my (lousy) artwork and a man walked up and started looking through my stuff. We chatted for a bit about comics and when he told me his name was Al Kurzrok, I was thrilled because I remembered the outstanding lettering he did for Marvel on Doctor Strange back in the late 60’s. When I noted that to him and asked for an autograph, he asked me for a sheet of paper and did this quick sketch. That was a big day-maker for me back then.

Outland Press Kit 

Heh. Back in 1981, a dot matrix printout sure looked “futuristic”, so here you go: The press kit for Peter Hyams‘ sci-fi flick OUTLAND. The film is basically High Noon in outer space with Sean Connery playing the Gary Cooper part. High Noon is a better film by far, by the way. That said, it does have some suspenseful moments (and a few exploding heads, eww), Frances Sternhagen gets the best part and lines in the film and there’s a great Jerry Goldsmith score worth tracking down.

All that and like many of Hyams’s best films, there’s a nice foot chase that perks things up at just the right moment.

Outland Press Kit 2 

I have a lot more ancient history here, but I’ll pull the plug on this installment before I end up making an even bigger pile of stuff in the home office. No need to have to sleep curled up in a closet because there’s way too much stuff on the bed and floor, right?