Blu-Ray Review: Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns BRIf ever there was a film where the title tells you everything you need to know while also telling you it’s a film you kind of need to see out of sheer curiosity, it’s Killer Klowns From Outer Space. yeah, yeah, I know a lot of you hate clowns in real life and nope, this film probably won’t be the one to endear you to the red nose and greasepaint cause. That said, if you love great practical effects, practical jokes, bits of stop motion creativity, 80’s gore FX and one damn catchy main theme song, this one has all those and more.

Arrow Video has once again pulled out all the stops with this restoration, adding a ton of special features that add to the big top thrills and chills. If you’ve never seen this one before, it’s worth checking out because it’s great for a few laughs and still works as one of those films that didn’t need a sequel (although there have been a few rumblings about one over the years).

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Blu-Ray Review: Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso_AA001Movies that make you want to see lots of other movies are a very good thing, especially if those movies you end up seeing are plenty you’re going into cold knowing you’re going to like them thanks to that one film that introduces you. Speaking of cold, guess who’s laid up with a bad one and is banging out his work from a partially prone position? Anyway (*cough!*), Cinema Paradiso is one of the all-time greats for such a cinematic education because it’s such an excellently crafted film that it’s worth watching a few times because of all the note taking you’ll very likely end up doing. I’ll save you a tiny bit of time and point you to this IMDB listing which should open up quite the rabbit hole to disappear into for a bit.

Arrow Academy’s solid restoration of the original 124-minute Cannes cut and the extended 174-minute Director’s Cut will fit nicely into your collection and as you can probably tell, is absolutely worth a purchase. Writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore’s film is one where every shot is effortlessly composed and there are moments where you’ll find yourself mildly to moderately in awe at the perfect camera placement that fits in flawlessly with the music (by Ennio and Andrea Morricone). The film is mostly told in flashback as a famous director Salvatore Di Vita (Jacques Perrin) returns to his childhood home after 30 years away upon hearing an elderly friend has passed away. We learn that Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) was a projectionist at the titular theater as well as a mentor to the younger Salvatore (or Toto, as he’s called) from the age of six (Salvatore Cascio) to his teens (Marco Leonardi).

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Random Films of the Week: A Little New Year’s Cleaning

Yeah, Happy New Year and all that stuff. I figure I’ll post more than I did last year even though I got sick and was out of action for a month or so which led to a bigger backlog that I’m still wading through. My plans to write up and pre-load posts went south thanks to that, but I think with my health getting better (albeit temporarily) I’ll try and tackle stuff slightly differently on occasion. Or: Eh, I’ve been watching a ton of movies in no particular order, so you get to pore over a few quickie capsule recommends.

Stormy Monday_AV093Stormy Monday – Mike Figgis’ first film was this stylized bit of 1988 brilliance that featured Sean Bean, Melanie Griffith, Tommy Lee Jones and Sting, plus a pretty darn neat jazz score by the director. The neon-soaked Newcastle setting features some of Roger Deakins’ lovely cinematography that makes this a total treat to watch. It’s more or less a noir gangster flick with some solid performances and an overall sense that something bad is going to happen what with all the tense glowering and some romantic notions that make for a bit of conflict as things progress.

I actually hadn’t heard of this film other than seeing a trailer way back before it was initially released in theaters. I didn’t think it was for me back then, but thanks to Arrow Video, I’ve been proven quite incorrect. Expect a fine director’s commentary from Figgis along with a few cool bonus features on this BD/DVD combo that make this a nice surprise to discover if you’ve never seen or heard of it until now. Amusingly enough, this pairs well with Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire thanks to both films mixing reality and fantasy elements (although Figgis gets the edge and the edgier performances overall).

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Blu-Ray Review: Slugs

SlugsAV066Speaking of stuff that creeps around gardens you can accidentally squash, let’s talk about Slugs for a spell, shall we? The late Juan Piquer Simón’s hilariously awful, intensely gory horror flick is one you’ll love or hate intensely in part thanks to some pretty wretched acting that actually clashes with the rather awesome icky practical effects work by Carlo De Marchis.

Just like the director’s notoriously nasty Pieces, you’re getting a film that’s not going to let you out of its grip even though the absurdities pile up to the point where your brain starts spinning inside your skull. Then again, Pieces was (and is) totally nuts for a few more reasons I’ll leave the braver of you out there to discover at your leisure. But yes, let’s talk about Slugs for a spell, shall we?

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Random Films: Robo Vampire Makes My Monday More Tolerable…

(thanks, andybluefox!) 

Well, the plasterer is at lunch for an hour (yes, he left before noon!), so there’s a pause in today’s nightmare. In the meantime, after taking some more pinup photos of the wreckage in the kitchen, to keep my sanity level somewhere close to normal I’ve been catching up on some bad movies. Godfrey Ho’s 1988 howler Robo Vampire made my morning thanks to it being even worse (and much funnier) than its title suggests. Swiping badly from Paul Verhoeven’s stellar Robocop is bad enough to dismiss this without even watching it. But toss in hopping ghosts (wait, how does a cyborg fight ghosts outside of some seven-year old kid’s notebook scribbles?), mercenaries, long water torture scenes and slow, dull “chases” and editing that makes the film seem like three or four movies spliced together and you get an instant classic. Well, “classic” in that “How the hell did this ever get made?” manner. Seriously. I’ve seen student films with better quality EVERYTHING than this clunker.

Ah well. Everything exists for a reason, I suppose. This crazy flick just kept me laughing through the continuing (and seemingly never ending) mess that is my apartment. I suppose I should thank Mill Creek Entertainment somewhere in all this because I’m too lazy and busy to seek out and download all those public domain flicks I paid ten bucks for and still consider that a steal because that’s time and bandwidth money I didn’t need to waste. Back in a bit…

Mr. Hoskins Checks Out…

(thanks, FilmsActuTrailers!) 

I’ll do a proper RFToW for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? this coming weekend, but here’s a clip to remind me (and you, and you and you and you!) of how the late Bob Hoskins nailed it but good in playing his cheap detective so well against all those ping pong balls on sticks and other stuff on set, probably wondering what the hell he was doing while hoping the animators and tech folks could make the movie work. They did and it’s a classic for the ages.

 
I’d also recommend Hoskins in Mona Lisa, The Long Good Friday, and Hook for starters. Anyway, I think I’ll have a drink later as a toast to one more great actor lost to time…

READS: One Of My Favorite Books Is BACK Where It Belongs…

Palm of the Hand StoriesI’ve had three copies of Yasunari Kawabata‘s wonderful Palm of the Hand Stories since 1988 and all three (one hardcover, two paperback) have vanished. Well, I gave two away and the third one vanished during a move and I never got around to replacing it. So when I saw this hardcover copy for under two dollars last week on eBay it was go time. No, not “Go” time – I’ve never learned to play that classic strategy game… oh, you know what I mean. Anyway, I’m happy it’s back in my possession and nope, you can’t borrow it. Pick up your own somewhere and dive in. Kawabata’s short stories are lovely little slices of life’s moments and at 238 pages, it’s a pretty quick read you’ll go back to time and again. And before you ask why it’s called “Palm of the Hand Stories”, get your mind out of that gutter and consider that they’re all only a few pages long, silly. Anyway, that’s my recommend for the week. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some catching up with a few old friends to do…

Random Film of the Week: PRISON

Prison_MPLet me tell you, kids… Scared Straight has NOTHING on Renny Harlin’s PRISON. Hell, If they showed this released in 1988 flick on TV and in schools, instead of some hard-timing losers screaming at kids about staying out of trouble, I’d bet you a hot nickel that the rate of incarceration in America would be at an all-time low. Seriously, this film is SO messed up and mean and shot in an actual closed prison with actual inmates from another joint so there’s a solid sense of verisimilitude here that’s amplified into the haunted realm by the ghost of an executed killer out for some bloody reeeee-venge.

This film is also important for a few reasons horror and fantasy fans should appreciate. For one, it got Harlin the job directing Nightmare on Elm Street 4 which was his “big” American genre film break and led to others over the years both good and bad. It’s also Viggo Mortensen’s first movie appearance in a leading role and we all know where his career went as the years went by. As for this nugget of methodical madness, it’s a pretty effective blend of genre jail flick and atmospheric horror featuring some nicely gory moments plus one of the funniest random deaths I’ve ever seen in any film… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: Bulletproof

(thanks, H83tr3d!)  

Bulletproof (1988)Some movies are SO incredibly bad that it’s hard to hate them when you’re nearly dying from laughing so hard at and with them. 1988’s not quite epic action (yet must-see if you love really terrible films) masterpiece, Bulletproof is one of those films for a whole load of reasons from having Gary Busey as its star to the tricked out (and stupidly large) Thunderblast tank that looks as if it was designed by a room full of 12 year old boys with a box of plastic model tank kits he’s after once it’s stolen and taken to Mexico or something.

Actually, the brain-frying plot isn’t even important as much as watching Busey as Frank “Bulletproof” McBain blow away “butthorns”, survive all sorts of death threats and attempts, try hard to get the girl and even play the saxaphone at one point. You’ll probably start grinning less than two minutes in and once the laughs start, they’ll be hard to stop as one scene tops another for sheer overkill or just plain “WTF did I just watch”-ness. Of course, seeing Busey in too-tight jeans running around shooting up the scenery might put you off your food, but just watch the bodies fall or avert your eyes if you feel the need to…

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Random Film of the Week: Killer Klowns From Outer Space

 
 

If you hate clowns for any abnormal reason, this film will probably freak every bone in your head out of your skull while making you laugh so much that you might fall off the couch and break something else. Granted, despite a bit of blood and gore it’s not really “scary” at all, but it does bring the laughs faster and furiously than some horror flicks that take themselves too seriously. The Chiodo Brothers (from up here in the Bronx, yeah!) cooked up this 1988 flick and while it didn’t become an “instant” genre classic or box office hit, for those lucky enough to catch it in theaters and later on home video, it was one of the more offbeat blends of horror, sci-fi and humor of the decade. I can recall laughing at the title before I saw this, thinking it was pretty dumb (but hey, it actually fits perfectly) and yep, I would have expected the film to be pretty dumb as well had I not been a fan of The Chido’s special effects work in another 80’s “B” film Critters, itself a bit of an underrated gem. Anyway, those Killer Klowns in the title are yes indeed, from Outer Space (their ship looks like a circus tent) and they’ve landed in tiny Crescent Cove for a midnight snack that just so happens to include the population of the sleepy little town… Continue reading