Monday, March 20, 2017

The Film Detective Preps Ten New Film Restorations For Mar. 21


DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Detective has ten new film restorations waiting in the wings for DVD delivery on Mar. 21.

Priced to own is a new restoration of actor-turned-writer/director Coleman Francis’ 1961 atomic age sci-fi thriller, The Beast of Yucca Flats, starring former professional wrestler-turned-horror icon, Tor Johnson (made famous by Ed Wood with such films as Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space).

Johnson stars as Joseph Javorsky, a Soviet nuclear scientist who has defected and arrives in the United States with a cache of top secrets.   Before he can make the handoff, he is ambushed by KGB hitmen, but manages to escape into the vast atomic testing grounds at Yucca Flats, Nevada.   

As with Lt. Colonel Glenn Manning in director Bert I. Gordon’s 1958 sci-fi gem, The Amazing Colossal Man, Javorsky is also exposed to heavy amounts of radiation.   Instead of growing into a mutated giant, he is transformed into a super-human killing machine; his brain gone — insane — he just wants to kill, kill, KILL!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAlso on the DVD release docket on Mar. 21 from The Film Detective is director Walter Colmes’ 1945 World War II mystery, Identity Unknown, starring Richard Arlen as one of four possible soldiers … his three buddies were killed — burned beyond recognition and their dog tags were scattered about.   He has no memory of the dive-bombing incident and the army has no idea which one of the four soldiers he might be.   That’s your set-up, as the confused Arlen heads home on a military transport ship.

Once in port, he takes it upon himself to go to each of the homes of the four men to possibly discover who he is … but during the confusion, the army thinks that he has deserted (that’s a bit of a red herring to build suspense).    

At each stop he impacts the live of the people he meets, often in unexpected ways — he even finds romance in the form of Sally (Cheryl Walker — Murder is My Business, Stage Door Canteen, etc.), the widow of one of the dead men.   The end has a twist … he isn’t any of the four dead soldiers.

Another surprise in the mix is the 1935 Monogram Pictures film adaptation of Edward Eggleston’s popular 1871 novel, The Hoosier Schoolmaster, starring Norman Foster, Fred Kohler, Jr. and Charlotte Henry as the woman they both have an eye for.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyOther films in the Mar. 21 release mix include not one, but three starring Roy Rogers — the 1948 Western, Grand Canyon Trail (with Roy Rogers as Roy Rogers and co-starring Jane Frazee), In Old Cheyenne (1941, Roy is a newshound onto a big story; Joan Woodbury co-stars, plus Gabby Hayes) and also from 1941, Bad Man of Deadwood (with Roy as trick shot Brett Starr … with Carol Adams and Gabby Hayes).

Rounding out the film restorations are The Great Flammarion (1945 film noir entry directed by Anthony Mann and starring Erich Von Stroheim as the title character, with Mary Beth Hughes and Dan Duryea), The Great Mike (1944, starring Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer and Robert 'Buzz' Henry), The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (1959, starring Steve McQueen) and writer/director Newton Arnold’s 1962 horror tale, Hands of a Stranger, starring Paul Lukather, James Noah and Joan Harvey.

FilmRise Teams With MVD Entertainment Group On May For The DVD Release Of Writer/Director Jim Hosking’s The Greasy Strangler


DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
FilmRise, with home entertainment sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has two DVD releases lined up for delivery to retailers during the month of May.

First up on May 9 is writer/director Jim Hosking’s ultra, ultra — one more ULTRA — strange horror (comedy), The Greasy Strangler, starring Michael St. Michaels and Sky Elobar as father and son operators of a “disco walking tour.”   Seriously, Ronnie (St. Michaels) and his son, Brayden (Elobar) are Los Angeles based tour guides for a fad that died in the 1970s … but that’s another story. 

One day, one of their customers, whose name is Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) — a rare creature, who is arguably as odd as they are — catches the eye of Brayden.   Now most women, well, make that most human beings, find Brayden odd, so it comes as something of a surprise when she confesses an interest in him as well. Carnal love follows. 

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Meanwhile, Ronnie, who seems to be bordering on dementia — one look at him tells you that there’s something that is just not right with him.   He too takes a liking to Janet, who responds to his advances … carnal love follows.

It is father against son for Janet’s affections!    If that wasn’t an odd enough story (think: John Waters’ Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble … anything with Divine, Mink Stole or Edith Massey) to try and follow (or swallow), the streets of Los Angeles are being terrorized by the “Greasy Strangler,” a fiend who coats himself with grease and kills people in truly disgusting ways.    

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyOh, I guess we forgot something.   It’s important.   Ronnie is the Greasy Strangler!!!   Oh boy!

If you are looking for strange — ULTRA STRANGE — then The Greasy Strangler has to be on your must-see list come May 9!

On May 23 FilmRise returns with writer/director Patrick Johnson’s The High Schooler's Guide To College Parties

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
This teen comedy follows the exploits of Shaquille (Nate Rubin) — a loser white high school senior — who not only cannot live up to the physical expectations of someone with the moniker of “Shaq,” but he’s so low on the high school status ladder that even geeks and nerds won’t even have him.  

The solution: A party — an epic party!   Not just any beer-guzzling bacchanal, but one that even college women would sing the praises of!    Good luck Shaq, you are going to need it!

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Picks May 16 As The Street Date For The Home Entertainment Launch Of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter


DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will be bring a three-SKU helping of writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson’s latest installment in the Resident Evil sci-fi/horror series, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, to market on May 16.

This is the sixth film in the series and it is more or less a continuation of Resident Evil: Retribution (released theatrically five years ago) ... planned for release are stand-alone DVD and Blu-ray editions, plus a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo Pack presentation.

The ARR works out 109 days and ticket sales were an OK $26.8 million.  

It is interesting that the series has performed decently in the domestic market since its launch with Resident Evil in 2002 ($39.5 million), but the box office grosses have never been in the blockbuster range.   However, internationally the series has been an absolute goldmine for Sony Pictures — domestic ticket sales of $270 million, but $970 million in international markets.

With that much money on the line, it makes Resident Evil a tough film franchise to let go of, “Final Chapter” or not.  The ending of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter certainly leaves it open for another installment and if Milla Jovovich is up to doing Alice one more time … never say never!

As to bonus features, there are two featurettes common to all release configurations — “Explore the Hive” and “The Badass Trinity and the Women of Resident Evil.”   Exclusive to the 4K Ultra HD edition is the additional featurette titled Stunts and Weaponry.”

Paramount Home Media's Monster Trucks Roars Home On Apr. 11 As DVD And Blu-ray Product Selections


DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount Home Media has selected Apr. 11 as the street date for both DVD and Blu-ray editions of director Chris Wedge’s Monster Trucks, a mix of live-action and CGI animation that is one part action, one part sci-fi monster tale, one part teen romance … and all parts fun!

The ARR is 88 days and box office receipts currently stand at $33.2 million.

Not all strange creatures are maleficent.  Ninja Turtles, for example, are good guys.   And Creech, a subterranean creature that seems to be a cephalopod with the head of a shark, has a sense of humor.   Creech?    Yes, he’s the CGI star of Monster Trucks!

Tripp (Lucas Till — as Havok in X-Men: Apocalypse, X-Men: Days of Future Past, etc.) is a high school senior who has been building a truck from bits and pieces of wrecked trucks.   It lacks an engine, but it is nevertheless an impressive thing that he has assembled from this and that.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyMeanwhile, nearby oil drillers have tapped into a previously unknown “ecosystem” that brings a strange creature to the surface.   Now in your typical “bug” movie this creature would go on a rampage — killing people left and right — and the outcast teen hero, who naturally has a beautiful girlfriend, would figure out a way to defeat it and save the day.   As examples, Steve McQueen, with his girlfriend Jane (Aneta Corsaut), battled The Blob and Gene Persson, with his girlfriend Carol (June Kenney) took on The Spider (aka: Earth vs the Spider) … they both prevailed in the end.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Monster Trucks is not that kind of “bug” movie.   It’s a comedy for kids (kids of all ages to be sure).   Anyway, Tripp, befriends the creature, names him Creech, and as hard as it might be to believe, Creech becomes the engine (the “thing” under the hood) of Tripp’s “monster” truck.   And yes, Tripp has a beautiful girlfriend whose name is Meredith (Jane Levy — Don’t Breathe, Evil Dead), who helps him help Creech overcome the villains (led by Rob Lowe).

Bonus features, which are limited to the Blu-ray SKU, include a gag reel, deleted scenes, production diaries and a trio of featurettes — “Who’s Driving the Monster Trucks?,” “The Monster in the Truck” and “Creating the Monster Truck.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyIn other release news this week from Paramount Home Media will be teaming with CBS Home Entertainment for the May 9 release of both Mannix: The Complete Series, a massive 48-disc DVD set featuring all 194 episodes from the popular PI series starring the late Mike Connors, and Streets of San Francisco: The Complete Series, a 32-disc DVD collection featuring the exploits of San Francisco police detectives played by Karl Malden and Michael Douglas.

Lastly, May 9 also sees the double-disc Comedy Central DVD release of Inside Amy Schumer: Season Four.   All nine episodes are featured here, with guest stars that range from Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Selena Gomez and Liam Neeson to David Spade, Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Hudson … as a bonus, there are four webisodes from Schumer’s “Inside Amy Schumer Writers Room” included here.

Mill Creek Entertainment Expands Its May 2017 Release Calendar


DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Last week Mill Creek Entertainment announced its first wave of May priced-to-collect DVD and Blu-ray product offerings — a dozen in all set for a retail rampage on May 2 — and this week they were back with three new additions with a street date of May 16.

On the Blu-ray front, May 16 sees the triple-feature release of Payback Time Triple Feature, which is priced at just $14.98.   Included in this all-action mix are director Michael Miller’s 1982 action/horror/sci-fi flick, Silent Rage, starring Chuck Norris as a small town sheriff pitted against an unstoppable killer (the result of medical experimentation) and director Phillip Noyce’s 1989 mixed-genre (martial arts, samurai swords and drug dealers) thriller, Blind Fury, starring Rutger Hauer as blind Vietnam vet, who has learned to “see” with his other senses and uses his skill with a samurai sword to dispense justice!

Rounding out the trio of action-themed films is writer/director Jonathan Kaplan’s 1975 trucking-corruption film, White Line Fever, starring Jan-Michael Vincent and Kay Lenz who take on organized crime when they come up against the mob when they try to start their own trucking business.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
On the DVD release front, Mill Creek Entertainment will be having some fun with the double-disc, seven-film collection that they’ve titled Kung Fu Zombies.  Priced at just $14.98, this collection includes the 1982 theatrical release of Kung Fu Zombie (from Transmedia, dubbed in English and starring Billy Chong), Kung Fu From Beyond the Grave (another Billy Chong delight), Shaolin vs. Evil Dead (2004, starring Gordon Liu), Shaolin vs. Evil Dead: Ultimate Power (2007), Spirited Killer 2 (1997, starring Thai film sensation Panna Rittikrai as the jungle-dwelling Spirited Killer), Spirited Killer 3 (1998, Panna Rittikrai is back) and We are Going to Eat You, with Eddy Ko and Norman Chu on the case … investigating an island village full of cannibals.

Rounding out the May 16 new additions is the double feature presentation titled Dick Van Dyke Murder 101 Collection.   This contains two of Dick Van Dyke’s Dr. Jonathan Maxwell cases — Murder 101: If Wishes Were Horses and Murder 101: The Locked Room Mystery.

Cleopatra Music And Films Teams With MVD Entertainment Group For The May Blu-ray Debut Of Director Sophie Blondy’s Starlight


DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Cleopatra Music & Films, with sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has targeted May 9 for the Blu-ray debut of French actress-turned-filmmaker Sophie Blondy’s Starlight.
 
Fellini would admire this one for its visual style and David Lynch would be right at home watching this metaphorical tale of comedy and tragedy as one and the same — a two-headed coin, so to speak, which can be flipped this way and that throughout eternity, but the result will always come out the same.

On a bleak seaside landscape a circus troupe has set up their tent.   They are in something of a purgatory, where few people visit their performances and they seemingly have no will to move on.    

The proceedings are managed by the ringmaster, Heroy (Tchéky Karyo), a tyrant, who is half-mad.   He lusts after Angèle (Natacha Régnier), the apply named and very beautiful wife of the circus clown, Elliot (Denis Lavant), and spends his time planning different ways to destroy their relationship and have her for himself.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyHeroy prompts the well-endowed Zohra (Béatrice Dalle), who is something of a circus gypsy, to seduce Elliott as one of his schemes … she is a circus “creature” in the purest sense; a sideshow all onto herself and a more than willing participant.  And if these characters were not odd enough, even in a dream world, hovering over all of this is the mute La Conscience (played by none other than Iggy Pop).

Starlight — strange, surreal and visually gorgeous (cinematography by Nathalie Durand — Sky, Blame it on Fidel) — is presented in French with English subtitles.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey


The Criterion Collection Announces Its June 2017 Release Calender — Peckinpah's Straw Dogs Leads The Way


DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Criterion Collection revealed its June release calendar of new Blu-ray and DVD film selections this past week.   Depending on one’s taste, you could make a case for any of the five film restorations, but personal choice at this end has to be the June 27 new 4K digital transfer of auteur filmmaker Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 film adaption of the Gordon Williams novel, “The Siege of Trencher's Farm,” which reached the screen as simply Straw Dogs

DVD and Blu-ray editions will be available.

If you are a film fan, then the connection between Sam Peckinpah and Clint Eastwood as filmmakers, through their mutual association with Don Siegel, becomes more and more an appreciation of how they learned their craft over time.   While Siegel’s film are to be admired for the workman-like quality, Peckinpah, and especially Eastwood, would take that filmmaking tutelage from Siegel to new levels.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyPeckinpah, after laboring away as an episode director on numerous television shows in the 1950s (Gunsmoke, The Westerner, The Rifleman, etc.), turned to feature films in the 1960s — The Deadly Companions, Ride the High Country and Major Dundee — and then came the summer of 1969 masterpiece, The Wild Bunch.

Disaster struck the following year (1970) with The Ballad of Cable Hogue, which had production difficulties and failed to find an audience.   That left Peckinpah on the outs with Warner Bros. and in search of a job … that arrived in the form of Straw Dogs!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyBonus goodies assembled by The Criterion Collection include the 2003 commentary track bySavage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies” – 1998), two documentary films from filmmaker Paul Joyce — from 1993, Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron and from 2003 film, Mantrap: Straw Dogs —The Final Cut — newly prepared video sessions with film critic Michael Sragow, filmmaker Roger Spottiswoode (one of the three film editors who worked on Straw Dogs) and film scholar Professor Linda Williams (Film Studies and Rhetoric at University of California, Berkeley) and archival video sessions with Susan George, producer Daniel Melnick (All that Jazz, Footloose, Altered States, etc.) and Peckinpah biographer Garner Simmons (author of “Peckinpah: A Portrait in Montage” – 2004).
film critic and writer Stephen Prince (author of “

Another film jewel included in the June DVD and Blu-ray release lineup from The Criterion Collection is a new 2K digital restoration of auteur filmmaker Nicholas Ray’s 1948 film noir adaptation of Edward Anderson’s 1937 novel, “Thieves Like Us,” which was released theatrically as They Live by Night.

DVD and Blu-ray selections will be available on June 13.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
This was a film that almost didn’t get made — it was considered too much of a downer — but then a post-war cinematic trend was catching hold and that was film noir and this film is PURE film noir!   First time filmmaker Nicholas Ray turned in a gem … he would go on to deliver such films as Rebel Without a Cause, Knock on Any Door and Johnny Guitar

Bonus features include a vintage commentary teaming Farley Granger with film historian Eddie Muller (author of “Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir”), a new video session with film critic Imogen Sara Smith (author of “In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City”) and more.

Other June DVD and Blu-ray releases from The Criterion Collection are: Ugetsu (June 6), the Marseille Trilogy (featuring three films: Marius, Fanny and Cesar) (June 20) and two silent films from Alfred Hitchcock — Lodger (silent-1927) and Downhill (aka: When Boys Leave Home) (silent-1927) (June 27).