Blu-Ray Review: Doberman Cop

Doberman CopYou may (or may not) confuse Doberman Cop with Wolf Guy for some reason and nope, I’d not fault you one bit if you haven’t seen either film and draw that incorrect conclusion. The former film has nothing to do with the latter other than both films were adapted from popular manga and greatly transformed as a result by their respective writers and directors.

In the case of Kinji Fujusaku’s 1977 flick, it’s a far better made movie once again featuring Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba doing his own stunts, loads of violence (but less nudity) and a weird dip into supernatural detecting as a means of solving a series of serial killings. While crackling with a crazy energy, there are a few logic gaps if you pay close enough attention between Fujisaku’s trademark hard-boiled violence that don’t harm the film, but the narrative suffers as a result.

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Blu-Ray Review: Wolf Guy

Wolf Guy_AV088 (Large) While comic book movies are a dime a dozen these days, it’s a pretty damn expensive enterprise launching one of those overblown popcorn flicks to an increasingly jaded audience. The funny thing is, sometimes the el cheapo route works best in delivering pure bang for a lot less bucks. But of course, we’re stuck in the era of major studios refusing to do anything on a small scale without wrecking it with interference of some sort by throwing either too much or not enough money into marketing depending on the project’s potential.

Which is kind of why Wolf Guy makes for such a stupidly thrilling alternative to the current Hollywood template. Japanese film studios had been adapting all sorts of manga for years, so Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 film isn’t all that special. In fact, it never rises above pure exploitation fodder where you flip your brain off and hang on for dear life. But the over the top (in-camera) gore effects, copious nudity, and totally bizarre plot make it a crazed breath of fresh air that’s worth a look. Granted, you’ll want to watch the special features just to get your money’s worth as this film isn’t going to win any awards for making much sense.

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Blu-Ray Review: The Bird With The Crystal Plumage

Arrow BirdAmong other things that showed up in the mail while I was hospitalized for about a month was an absolutely stunning 4K Blu-Ray conversion of Dario Argento’s first film, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage courtesy of Arrow Video.

Packed with bonus features (including a new interview with Argento) and physical goodies collectors will love, this limited edition joins Arrow’s other giallo as another essential worth tracking down. While the film is the director’s tamest horror flick, it still packs quite a memorable visual punch thanks to some creative camerawork, cinematography by the great Vittorio Storaro (The Conformist, Apocalypse Now) and a few genuinely terrifying moments that still shock today. Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: Corruption


 

As mad scientist flicks go, Corruption is something of a forgotten classic in its own crazy manner. You get the great Peter Cushing out of his usual period piece horrors playing a successful plastic surgeon in a more modern 60’s setting, some surprisingly shocking (by mid 60’s standards) content and a laser gone haywire in a finale that may elicit some chuckles from forward thinking Star Wars fans. If you’ve ever wanted to see Cushing go full-tilt, over the top into scenery chomping territory, this one won’t disappoint one bit. While there are some slow expository moments here, the overall film is an interesting slice of horror that while not wholly original, ends up being pretty memorable on a few fronts.

(Thanks, groovemaster!)
 

After the swingin’ credit sequence, we meet Cushing’s Sir John Rowan and his pretty younger fiancée Lynn (Sue Lloyd) at a pretty raucous party. While the good doctor struggles with the mingling, Lynn, who just so happens to be a model, is in the middle of an impromptu photo shoot when Rowan rushes up to stop the snapping away before his squeeze loses all her clothes. Before you can say “Watch out for that hot studio lamp!”, Rowan accidentally knocks said lamp over and it lands on poor Lynn, burning half her face. Ouch! Fortunately, she’s engaged to a very capable plastic surgeon, right? Unfortunately, conventional surgery won’t work this time, so Rowan decides to use Lynn as a guinea pig to try out a little something he’s been working on in secret.

If you’ve seen Georges Franju’s Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without A Face), you can probably guess things up to a point, For everyone who hasn’t, Répétez après moi, s’il vous plaît:

“What could POSSIBLY go wrong?”(dot dot dot) Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: RAIDERS!

Adobe Photoshop PDFAs “making of” documentaries go, RAIDERS! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is pretty darn great. However, as a friend I watched this Blu-Ray with noted, “It’s kind of missing something important…” to which I had to ask (as I was thinking the same thing) exactly what he thought that was. The answer was of course, the actual fan film itself.

Yes, you get snips, clips and blips of the film with deleted scenes here and there, plus more as bonus features (which are all excellent). But as fine as all that is, not seeing the end result of 7+ years of work ends up making for a tremendous tease more than anything else. Granted, I knew there were some good (legal) reasons why it’s not on the disc. Then some smart poking around led me to this official website where yes, you can actually buy a DVD or digital download of the film as well as some other cool merchandise that includes actual props from the seven years in the making fan flick.

Damn. There went my joke about the real reason being Steven Spielberg becoming sick and tired of hipsters saying “Oh, that’s the film Raiders! was based on!” (which, yes…*sigh*… I actually overheard coming from someone’s mouth not too long ago. Damn hipsters!).

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Blu-Ray Review: The Bloodstained Butterfly

the-bloodstained-butterfly-av063Duccio Tessari’s 1971 thriller The Bloodstained Butterfly is a great entry point to the genre for those squeamish viewers curious about gialli but not willing to commit to the more violent entries known to more ardent fans. The film is part murder mystery, part courtroom drama and part revenge flick, all stylishly shot and scored to excellent effect.

It’s also a bit of a slow fuse to its conclusion, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The film’s structure where a murder is committed and witnessed, a suspect is caught, tried and jailed, but more murders take place is yes, pure TV drama stuff you’ll see on way too many episodes of whatever Law & Order series you’ve been hooked on for who knows how long. But, Tessari’s confident style comes through in every shot, making for a highly watchable viewing experience.

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Blu-Ray Review: Blood & Black Lace

blood-and-black-lace-mvd7206brThe words “Perfect” and “Essential” don’t often get tossed around here, but both describe Arrow Video’s stunning Blu-Ray of Mario Bava’s influential horror masterpiece, 1964’s Blood and Black Lace. If you consider yourself at all a horror fan, this one’s a no brainer BUY for your library or a great gift for that horror fan in your life who’s never seen Bava’s beautiful ballet of brutality.

From the eye-popping 2K restoration to every single bonus feature on the Blu-Ray, this set’s great for anyone who wants to see a truly great pre-giallo work that inspired many directors to play with elements found here and in Bava’s earlier The Girl Who Knew Too Much, a lesser, but still important work from a year earlier.

blood-and-black-lace-04

When models start getting killed in and around the Cristiana Haute Couture fashion house, the hunt is on for the masked killer and pretty much everyone is a suspect… that is, until the suspects start getting killed off. The film throws around its gorgeous use of color, stylized violence, rich soundtrack and a bottle full of vintage bubbly paranoia quite well, cooking up implausibilities as a good giallo should.

 

 

Somehow, the killer is in more than one place! Explained! How did that one person know so much about the SECRET diary? Explained! What’s up with the fuss over one girl having a shady boyfriend into drugs? EX-PLAINED! Well, sort of. Anyway, the film hits you with a lot of information at a mostly rapid-fire pace and Bava’s assured direction gets his vision onscreen at full tilt guaranteed to keep you glued to your seat until the bitter end.

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DVD Review: A House Is Not A Home

a-house-is-not-a-home_mvd8444dAs an effective horror film, Christopher (Douglas-Olen) Ray‘s chiller A House Is Not A Home is quite well made, but isn’t the scariest film you’ll ever see by a long shot. Don’t get me wrong – other than a lack of gore, it covers the expected fright bases alright and has very solid performances all around. The problem is, it sticks a wee bit too close to the films it’s influenced by to be memorable outside of a few scenes.

Referencing The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, The Entity, and a few other more modern horror flicks, AHINAH’s best trick is playing with the old Eddie Murphy joke that black people would get the hell out of a haunted house as soon as the first sign of something scary took place. In this case, the big twist is… the house here just won’t let them, and that’s AFTER it’s supposedly been dis-possessed by a voodoo priest in a lengthy process that involves a room-to-room “cleansing”. Oops.

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All Things Must Past: A Towering Tribute on DVD

all things must pass
 

Remember when Tower Records was THE place to hit regularly for everything from the latest music, to movies, books, and even clothes? I sure do. If you’re nodding and wistfully smiling, well… good. This documentary set for a 9/13 release should be on your must-watch list, then. Take a peek at that clip below and sure, hit up the MVD Shop if you want to pre-purchase it.


 

The Lost Arcade: Here Comes A New Challenger For Game Film of the Year

The Lost Arcade#thelostarcade

If you thought a documentary about a grimy New York City videogame arcade would be the last thing you’d ever be interested in seeing, take note: Kurt Vincent and Irene Chin’s The Lost Arcade is one of the best films I’ve seen on arcade history. Well, the history of ONE particular arcade known by its fans as a second home where skills were honed and lifelong friendships and friendly rivalries were built. Years in the making, this look at the legendary Chinatown Fair arcade is fascinating and moving because it focuses more on the people who played and worked there than on the games. That said, there’s plenty of game footage as well as gamers playing and talking about what they love here. In fact, it’s the passion on display when these people talk about why they play and how CF became so important in their lives that keeps this flowing from start to finish.

(Thanks, International Film Festival Rotterdam!)
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