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 Review: Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno

Inferno_AA023Sometimes, life can be a mystery… and sometimes, you kind of know what you’re getting into but still step into that trap door straight to hell.

In 1964, stoked after the huge box office success of Dr.Strangelove, Columbia Pictures was poking around the film world looking for something guaranteed to be the next big movie and had the wild idea to extend unlimited funding to a new project directed by the great Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, Diabolique). Based on some striking test footage, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno was, for all intents and purposes, going to be an innovative and mature film that had the potential to make millions for the company while making an even bigger star out of Sissi trilogy star Romy Schneider. Three weeks into production and 185 cans (about 14 hours) of film later, one of the main cast members quit, three production separate teams of 150 people were out of work, and Clouzot had a heart attack that ended up shutting production down for good.

Those cans of film were sitting somewhere in France for decades thanks to the insurance company that ended up with them, but thanks to the obsessive persistence of Serge Bromberg and a meeting with Clouzot’s second wife in an elevator, we have this somewhat spectacular documentary (co-directed by Ruxandra Medrea) that sheds a bit of light on the destined to fail project. While the documentary is quite amazing, you’re in no way getting anything close to a completed version of Inferno despite all that footage that was shot. Most of it was camera tests of actors, loads of exterior tests, and visual effects shots galore in assorted states of completion. All of it was silent, although parts of a separate soundtrack were found and added into the documentary along with parts of the script read/reenacted by Bérénice Bejo and Jacques Gamblin. That said, there’s a lot to absorb here, but the overall takeaway seems to be “Here’s what happens when you throw money at a problem and it doesn’t solve itself, folks.”

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Blu-Ray Review: The Apartment

The Apartment BRI’d forgotten Billy Wilder’s forever brilliant The Apartment was a perfect seasonal movie for those of us isolated types looking for a lift as well as anyone else who has cold and loathsomely lonely winters. Granted, the first time I saw it (I think I was maybe 10 or 11), I was too young to understand much of what was going on. During these darker days as I age none too gracefully, Jack Lemmon is sort of my spirit animal, so this five Academy Award-winning film has become a personal favorite.

Poor C.C. Baxter (or “Bud” to some) toils away at his data collection job at a huge New York City insurance firm, often keeping late hours with no overtime thanks to his nearby apartment being used as a hot spot for a trio of philandering company executives, Mr. Dobsich (Ray Walston), Mr. Eichelberger (David White), and Mr. Vanderhoff (Willard Waterman). Baxter is hoping to climb the corporate ladder a bit faster by doing this (yes, he even has a calendar to keep track of who gets his place and when). But he’s also so accommodating that he even cleans up afterwards and takes suggestions from his cheating superiors such as restocking his liquor supply and buying cheese crackers without asking for a dime in return. Things get even more complicated after the big boss Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) gets wind of Baxter’s bachelor pad and dangles a big promotion over his head if he can get access to the place for his own affair. Baxter agrees to the trade, but finds out that Sheldrake is romancing Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the cute elevator girl he’s been chatting up.

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Blu-Ray Review: BAT PUSSY

batpussyBDSo, let’s talk (or at the very least, read) about porn for a hot minute. It exists and has existed for centuries (cue up appropriately humorous yet historically inaccurate clip), so like it or else, you’re bound to stumble across it in some form or another.  Some sort of cosmic and karmic justice was certainly in play after I saw the disappointing Justice League, as when I arrived home there was a copy of BAT PUSSY fresh from AGFA sitting in my mailbox, purring away like a brand new Mother Box. Ping, ping, ping….

There was also a Blu-Ray screener of PULP in that padded cell envelope, but that’s not porn and it’s a more fun to watch film I’ll get to in its own review (it’s another winner from Arrow Video, if you really need to know in advance). As I wasn’t expecting this (I’m on the list to get a few screeners, but didn’t get a press release for this one), I was definitely surprised. That said, I didn’t watch it right away thanks to being mentally worn out from that silly comic book film and its too funky flaws.

Something like a dozen hours later (and way too early in the morning for this sort of thing), I finally sat down to watch it with my thinking cap off and an open mind. Which lead to me ending up wearing a second pair of pants, a tinfoil cap, and needing to pop my eyeballs out with a plastic spoon and soak them in peroxide afterwards. Let’s just say this film won’t excite anyone unless they’re really weird, you won’t go blind from watching this (although you may wish you had) and you’ll probably avoid sex for a few weeks just out of sheer horror from the 55 minutes of this slice of restored to 2K cinematic history. Paradoxically, you’ll somehow very likely fall off something from laughing and cringing simultaneously while calling up a friend or two with a cryptic “Oh, you HAVE to see this!” blurting from your lips. Yes, this film has that kind of effect.

NSFW trailer below the jump (but it’s language, not nudid-ity that’s going to tingle your ears, folks!)

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Liquid Sky: Vinegar Syndrome’s Big Blu Surprise

Vinegar Syndrome logo.jpg

Liquid Sky VS.jpg

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 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 + (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!

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 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.


Blu-Ray Review: The Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer BR Ha. Way back in 1970 or so, someone should have told newbie director and pizza shop maven Tom Hanson that the Zodiac Killer has a far better chance to be caught alive during a screening of Dirty Harry than dead asleep at Hanson’s eyeball-rolling (yet pretty potent on occasion) The Zodiac Killer. While the film has some genuinely scary moments in replicating some of the more infamous murders, it’s also loaded with chuckle-worthy performances and a couple of hilarious made-up deaths that might have you choking on your popcorn.

Make no mistake, ladies and gents. This isn’t a “great” film by any means. But thanks to AGFA and Something Weird Video, we have a nice 4K restoration that still retains a certain grainy, grimy charm. Well, about as “charming” as you can get in a film explicitly meant to taunt and catch a notorious serial killer.

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Blu-Ray Reviews: A Handful of Arrows for the Holidays

Ho, and Ho-Ho. It’s been quite a year here, but that’s not why I’m here babbling on my keyboard. You need some more movies to watch, I’m sitting on a stack of them that needed to get written up and this post is my way of attempting to get you to spend some of that disposable income you’re trying to hoard in that mattress. Anyway, I see your quiver is half empty there, Robin Hood. Here are six Arrow Video Blu-Rays of note to nab either direct from MVD Entertainment or your favorite video selling emporium. Lock up the kids for most of these because it’s the birds and the bees plus some bloody good and badness going on below.

Requiescant_AV022Requiescant (MSRP: $39.95): Carlo Lizzani’s 1967 spaghetti western (also known as Kill & Pray) gets a ton of mileage from its religiously-raised orphan turned dead-shot gunfighter (Lou Castel), but it’s also working a political agenda that’s somewhat fitting in this current climate of careless Trumpeting. Kicking off with a massacre of border-bound Mexicans (one of whom survives to become Castel’s priest/gunman), the movie switches gears to a rescue mission that doesn’t go exactly as planned before it drops back into weightier territory.

While mostly bloodless and only slightly comical, the film lets Castel carry the picture despite the presence of director Pier Paolo Pasolini in what’s an extended cameo as a revolutionary leader of sorts. He’s got a memorably manly visage, but Castel’s more innocent good looks and his ways with a firearm are going to keep your eyes on him throughout the film. You can choose from Italian or English versions of the film (both impeccable 2K restorations) with two interviews and a trailer rounding out the special features. Like Arrows other westerns released in the US in the past, this one’s a cult classic that comes highly recommended. Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: Stray Cat Rock: The Collection

Stray Cat Rock_AV008As a slice of Japanese cinema of the early 1970’s, the five films that make up Arrow Video’s Stray Cat Rock Collection make for quite a quintuplet of quickly made flicks influenced by American biker films of the previous decade. Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe and Toshiya Fujita, the films feature the same cast members but are actually mostly unrelated other than in their thematic elements.

“Youth gone wild!” and “Crime Doesn’t Pay!” seem to be the orders of the day here as the series was created by Nikkatsu to compete with rival Toei’s popular Delinquent Boss films. So there’s male and female gangs, exploitative violence, not as much sex or nudity as you’d think (but it’s certainly there), a bit of slapstick, a random concert and more. While there’s plenty of seedy and salacious content, some of the trailers included advertise the films partially as comedies, which is amusing in and of itself. In other words, some viewers will need to approach this set with a wide open mind because what constitutes “comedy” here might seem a bit humorless or just plain strange outside of its home country. This is a good thing at the end of the day as expanding one’s cinematic horizons is a core reason to watch films you’ve never seen previously.

The overall tone of the films will probably seem scattershot to some viewers used to movies that stick to a certain predictable style from start to finish. For all the raging delinquency, drug use, wild dancing, sex and violence on display there’s also a lot of karmic retribution and negative actions leading to more and worse reactions for some characters. This makes the collection a really intriguing set of films that, warts and all make for some pretty cool “B” movie bliss. As usual, some excellent transfers and nice bonus material round out this Arrow Video release and make it a must for collectors. Continue reading

Shout Factory Thaws Out 1990’s Captain America (And Its Camp Awesomeness)…

I remember seeing this at a convention and being floored at how cheesy some parts were but overall, it being really fun it was to watch. Cap with those wings on his head straight out of the comic book, battling the Red Skull and a bunch of Nazi creeps worked well for what it was, but of course, Marvel buried this budget flick for ages soon afterward. It’s actually not bad at all and LIGHT YEARS better than the terrible TV series that ran for a short time in 1979. Then again, it seems that Cap has gotten better with age in terms of his film and TV appearances. The most recent flick was sheer fun from start to finish and even the video game kinda-sorta based on that flick wasn’t half bad, warts and all. Anyway, if you loved that new Cap flick and want to check out one that’s in the same vein, defintely hit up Shout Factory’s site and grab this comic book flick if you like your heroes imperfect yet still able to put a boot up the butt of the bad guys

Game of Thrones Season 2 DVD/Blu-Ray: In Case You Missed It, Don’t Duck This Time…


Thankfully, the fine folks at HBO who get these season sets out KNOW that not everyone likes streaming (or CAN stream) shows they missed, has a DVR or hell, just doesn’t have HBO at home for whatever reason. So yes indeed, if that’s YOU and you’re not watching Season 3 just yet, here you go. Granted, everyone else is laughing at you at this moment, but not too loudly. You’ve seen Season 1 already and KNOW where the pointy end goes… Poke, poke. *Ouch!* Poke, poke, poke… *Ouch, ouch!!*… OK, OK – I wasn’t laughing!