Saturday, February 16, 2013

Magnolia Home Entertainment Has The ABC's Of Death Ready For May 21

There are times when you just spot something that catches your eye and you go, “Oh, wow, that’s interesting.”   To set up the “Oh, wow” of this piece, you have be something of a genre fan who has seen — and adores — those marvelous horror anthologies of Amicus Productions that were released during ‘60s and early ‘70s.   

Films like The House That Dripped Blood, Tales from the Crypt, Torture Garden and Asylum are the touchstones; the best examples for this segment of the horror film spectrum.   Each film contained three, four, sometimes five different stories that were all somehow interconnected.   

Now comes word that Magnolia Home Entertainment has the ultimate in horror anthologies planned for both Blu-ray and DVD on May 21.  This would be … a drum roll would be appropriate here … The ABC’s of Death.   Not three.  Not four or even five, but 26 horror tales (one for each letter of the alphabet) blended together in one motion picture (a theatrical push is planned for Mar. 8 to help raise awareness).

The ABC’s of Death has to be some sort of record.  Not only for the number of stories (each about death), but for the number of directors and writers recruited for just one film. 

As a theatrical experience (clocking in at 123 minutes), The ABC’s of Death might be a bit overwhelming, but on either Blu-ray or DVD there is that wonderful viewing option of being able to pick and choose the letter of the alphabet that pleases you … from A (Apocalypse) to B (Bigfoot) … and all the way to X (XXL), Y (Youngbuck) and Z (Zetsumetsu).

Bonus features include commentary options for each of the A through Z short films, plus several of the filmmakers have submitted behind-the-scenes of making-of featurettes.  Exclusive to the Blu-ray SKU are additional short films that were submitted, but didn't make the final cut. 

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oscilloscope Laboratories Sets Wuthering Heights For Blu-ray and DVD on Apr. 23

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
On Apr. 23, Oscilloscope Laboratories will deliver DVD and Blu-ray editions of Oscar-winning filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s film adaptation of Emily Brontë’s only — but classic — novel, Wuthering Heights (she died at age 30 almost to the day one year after the book was first published late in 1847).

The ARR is an even 200 days and the box office take from the film’s limited major metro run was $96,889.

For anyone reading the novel (yes, college assignment), the nature of Heathcliff’s heritage is alluded to as gypsy-like and of lowly station, which suggests origins of mixed-race lineage.   He’s found an orphan on the streets of Liverpool and little is known of his parentage … Mr. Earnshaw took him in, adopted him and treated him as a son; he didn’t seem to care.

The classic 1939 film version of Wuthering Heights, from director William Wyler and starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon, sets this issue off to the side somewhat and was far more concerned with the sexual nature of Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship — and how to tone it down, but keep the implications politely there for the audience of the day.

Writer/director Andrea Arnold (Oscar-win for 2005 short film, Wasp, plus has twice won the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize — Fish Tank in 2009; Red Road in 2006) drops all of the pretense with the casting of newcomers Solomon Glave and James Howson as younger and older versions of Heathcliff.   

 She goes even further by bringing into sharper focus the hateful (jealous) relationship between Hindley (Lee Shaw, also in his film debut) … which becomes one of master and slave (of course the tables are turned as time passes).  

England of the day (mid 18th Century) is not picturesque, but a filthy place — except, of course, the nearby moors.   The passion between Heathcliff and Catherine (played by Shannon Beer and Kaya Scordelario) is there, but as with the novel, it is a dance of love, lust and tragedy.

Bonus features are highlighted by the newly-prepared “Video Essay with Film Critic David Fear of Time Out New York.”

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Millennium Entertainment's Spiders Invade On Mar. 12

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
For genre fans the name Tibor Takács is well-known and synonymous with horror and above all, the creepy crawly!   Mutant rats, mosquitos run amok, giant snakes, demons unleashed from hell itself and giant creatures from the sea … all have been fair game for Takács over the years.   

About the only homage to ‘50s sci-fi creature features that he has tackled yet is something with a giant mechanical beast … give him time, you can see it now: The Revenge of Kronos!
Word arrived this week that Millennium Entertainment has tabbed Mar. 12 as the DVD and Blu-ray (3D/2D viewing options) for his latest rampage, Spiders!

Harken back to the days when Leo G. Carroll was busy at work in the desert creating a giant tarantula in director Jack Arnold’s 1955 chiller, Tarantula,   It was all with good intentions of course — as part of an experiment to increase the food supply of the planet (tasty spider tidbits ... hmmmmm, yummy).   This noble work all went to hell when the beast got loose.

Apparently, the Russians are up to something out there in space.  Using the weightless environment to genetically tinker with this or that — all with good intensions of course!   In any case, the space lab that was the focal point for this highly suspect bit of arachnid experimentation is in meltdown mode with the creatures running loose.   

The good news is that they are quarantined out there in space and the food supply is all but exhausted (that would be the crew).  The bad news is that this drifting hunk of space junk got clobbered by a decent-sized meteorite and the remnants are heading for a splashdown in New York City.

There is one sure way to get New Yorkers really ticked off … tell’em that subway is a mess and that there will be delays.   That’s the dirty job that falls to a transit supervisor named Jason Cole (Patrick Muldoon — Starship Troopers, Arrival II … plus Takács’ Ice Spiders in 2007), who draws the seemingly routine assignment of figuring out what just smacked into BMT Broadway Line and is jamming things up.

In one of those “small world” coincidences, Jason’s estranged wife (Christa Campbell) shows up from the health department and gums up the works.   Discoveries are made and before long all hell breaks loose, but help from the military seems to be counterproductive (and with a good reason).   

It’s left to this bickering couple to fend off the invasion — save their daughter in the process — and get things back to normal as quickly as possible.   Best of luck with that!

Spiders delivers, there are some nice jolts here and there and the other-world beasties live up to their billing (and in 3D too boot).   Millennium will have fun with this one!

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Universal Studios Adds Les Misérables To Its Mar. 22 Release Calendar

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has added director Tom Hooper’s magnificent film adaption of the beloved Boublil and Schönberg stage musical, Les Misérables, to its Mar. 22 release calendar.

This Friday street date is also home to Universal’s This is 40 (announced last week).
The ARR is a near record-breaking 87 days — only Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, at 85 days, made the transition from theatrical venues to the home entertainment market place at a quicker pace for any film grossing in excess of $140 million.  The current box office-take stands at $143.9 million.

Les Misérables will arrive as a two-SKU product offering (which leaves open a collector’s edition later in the year).  There will be a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (complete with UltraViolet) and a stand-alone DVD edition.

With eight Oscar nominations (Feb. 24 is the nationally televised awards extravaganza), including Best Picture, Les Misérables is in the thick of it.  The fan base was not disappointed and Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine is the next best thing to a lock for Oscar gold — both Hathaway as Best Supporting Actress and Daniel Day Lewis in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln seem to be the sure bets this year.

As to Best Picture … the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are not normally prone to voting for musicals in that category (only Chicago in the past 45 years has gotten the nod).   

Although, Les Misérables is more than just a musical — it is also a powerful and well-told story of human failings and redemption — nevertheless the smart money seems to be gravitating towards Argo as the most likely candidate for Best Picture laurels this year.  

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Samantha Barks as Éponine
As to Les Misérables, the film presentation is near flawless, with the aforementioned Hathaway shining brightly, but so too did Samantha Barks in her show-stopping performance of “On My Own” as Éponine — simply breathtaking in her delivery.   

Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean), Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) and Eddie Redmayne (Marius) all did yeoman work in their familiar roles … Russell Crowe seemed a bit miscast (isn’t the stage version of Javert, that most of us are familiar with, tall, dark, gaunt-even and foreboding?), but he nevertheless delivered when called upon.

The close-ups — that some critics harped-on — were a conscious decision by director Tom Hooper (winner of the Best Director Oscar for The King’s Speech two years ago) in order to capture live performances from his actors (as opposed to the more common playback and lip sync method often used in this type of film).  It was a good trade-off that gave some of the scenes an incredible emotional (for the audience) punch.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway star in Les Misérables
As to bonus nuggets being served-up by Universal Studios, both the DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions include commentary from director Tom Hooper, plus there are three production featurettes — “The Stars of Les Misérables,” “Creating the Perfect Paris” and “    The Original Masterwork: Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.”

Exclusive to the Blu-ray presentation are four additional production featurettes — “Les Misérables Singing Live,” “Battle at the Barricade,” “The West End Connection” and “Les Misérables on Location.”

Whether Les Misérables wins Best Picture or not, this film presentation is an absolute keeper that will be played again and again during the coming years.   Universal Studios Home Entertainment will be moving tonnage on this one … a true evergreen!

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Monday, February 11, 2013

Face 2 Face From Wolfe Video On May 14

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Here is an observation, for what it is worth.   Have you noticed that sometimes the simplest of stories can be the most interesting; the most profound.   A screenwriter might labor for some period of time to put words on a page that in the end seem forced and contrived … it just doesn’t work.   How many movies have you sat through where you rolled your eyes and thought, “oh please.”
For award-winning filmmaker Katherine Brooks (Loving Annabelle, Waking Madison, plus television work that included The Osbournes, The Real World and Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica) the inspiration for her latest film, Face 2 Face, came while recovering from an admitted drug overdose and emergency surgery.   
Wolfe Video has selected May 14 as the DVD release date for Katherine Brooks’ feature-length documentary, Face 2 Face.

Bedridden and suffering from addiction issues, Brooks logged onto Facebook one day and noticed that she had close to 5,000 friends, but hadn’t had any physical contact with anyone is some time — she reported that no one came to visit her during her recovery.  But she had all of these “friends;” almost all of them were strangers.  A successful filmmaker, she nevertheless felt isolated, depressed and very much alone … a subject that she had written about in Waking Madison.   

As the story goes, in a moment of inspiration she posted to Facebook that the first 50 of her “friends” that responded to her invitation for her to come and spend a day with each of them in a “face 2 face” would make her list.   It took all of nine minutes for 50 responses … the story was cast.    

All she had to do was finance it (accomplished in less than two weeks after posting the idea to Kickstarter — over 800 backers and twice the estimated budget) and then get out of her bed and go visit the “friends” that she had never met.

On the surface, Face 2 Face may sound narcissistic and self-indulgent, but that’s not what ended up on the screen (sure, there are elements there, that comes naturally when it is a first person narrative).   Instead, Brooks got sober, got well, quit smoking and met some very interesting (and sometimes strange) “friends” on her countrywide crisscross journey of over 11,000 miles.   

There are some keen observations that seem so vary obvious … a hug; a simple conversation is far more valuable to the human spirit than all of the technology that we’ve managed to surround ourselves with (and in the process, isolate ourselves).

Face 2 Face may not be for everyone, but it does make for some interesting viewing … sort of a reality documentary (a chronicled road trip) that is always fascinating on two levels.  First, the people she meets (there are some strange rangers out there who are spending way too much of their time with social media), and secondly, for the changes — the healing — that takes place for the filmmaker herself as a result of her “unexpected” journey.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Sunday, February 10, 2013

VCI Entertainment Unearths The Name Of The Game Is Kill For DVD On Apr. 2

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Oh yes!  The truth is that anything is possible in the world of home entertainment!   And VCI Entertainment proves just that on Apr. 2 with the more-than-exciting news that was announced this past week … the thought-to-be-lost psycho-thriller, The Name of the Game is Kill, has been unearthed, remastered and is ready for its DVD debut.

Jack Lord, who hadn’t hit it big yet with Hawaii Five-O (that would come later in the same year as the theatrical release of The Name of the Game is Kill, 1968), stars as an Eastern European drifter who is picked up out in the Arizona desert (filmed in around Jerome, Arizona) by a beautiful young woman named Mickey (Susan Strasberg — Picnic, The Cobweb … and as Sally in The Trip opposite Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern and Dennis Hopper — damn, what a cast!) and taken to the family-run gas station.

Once there he meets Mickey’s sisters, Diz (Collin Wilcox — To Kill a Mockingbird, Catch-22, etc.) and Nan (Tisha Sterling — Coogan’s Bluff) and their “mother” (played by drag legend T.C. Jones — Head, 3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt).   With eyes for Mickey, he’s bit slow to pick up on the nuttiest of the whole operation, but eventually begins to suspect that the girl’s father might have met with a sad ending, especially when no one seems to be able to keep their respective stories straight about what happened to dear old dad.

If you enjoyed the shenanigans of Norman Bates in Psycho (1960) or Miriam in Homicidal (1961), then you are in the right part of the desert for what goes on at Mickey’s gas stop … the question is will Symcha (Jack Lord) survive the “experience!”

Bonus features include commentary from screenwriter Gary Crutcher (Stanley, Superchick), who is joined by moderator Daniel Griffith, plus two featurettes — “Psycho’s Sister: Making The Name of the Game is Kill” and “Schlockmeister: Joe Solomon on Reels” — and an “Extensive Promotional Gallery” (we assume that would be a collection of posters, lobby cards, stills and promotional ads).

Also on the Apr. 2 DVD release calendar from VCI Entertainment are four sexploitation comedies being teased under the “Spring Break Film Festival” promotional banner.    

Priced at just $9.99 each are: Homework (1982, with Joan Collins), Summer School (1979, teaming John McLaughlin with Shelly Horner), Rockin’ Road Trip (1986) and Getting It On! (1983, Heather Kennedy and Martin Yost).

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Midnight Releasing's Hayride Ready For DVD On May 7

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
There’s a line from director John Ford’s 1962 Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance that goes pretty much like this: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”   That bit of frontier wisdom applies nicely to writer/director Terron R. Parsons’ Hayride, which has been set for a DVD release by Midnight Releasing … the delivery date is May 7.   

The legend in our little tale is that a deranged serial killer named Pitchfork is coming to get you.  It’s a campfire story … a spooky Halloween fable designed to give little kids nightmares.    

Also, if the true be known, it might just be a little self-promotion for the annual Haunted Hayride attraction run by a local entrepreneur named Morgan (Richard Tyson — Black Hawk Down, There's Something About Mary, etc.).  “Be careful, Pitchfork might get’ya!”   Like money in the bank … who doesn’t like to get a good jolt in the dark on Halloween?

That’s the legend, which is about to collide head-on with the reality of a serial killer named Guffin (played by Shannon Box), who has just escaped from custody during a routine transfer.   Big, insane and brutal.  

Into this mix comes Morgan’s nephew, Steven (Jeremy Ivy), a college student with his girlfriend Amanda (Sherri Eakin) in tow.  He knows the legend of Pitchfork all too well … his uncle would scare the stuffings out of him as a kid with images of the maniacal killer (he lived just down the road, you know), but what could possibly be the harm of taking the lovely Amanda out for a little jaunt through a dark cornfield on the Haunted Hayride?    

After all, Pitchfork isn’t real!   It’s a sexy thing to do!   But there is some breaking news for all involved, go ahead and tell that little Halloween fable to a couple of the local law enforcement boys doing a routine house-to-house search for Guffin.   They just got gutted and tossed into a pile of animal carcasses that this good ole’ boy has been snacking on.   Yummy … now it’s time for a hayride!

Bonus goodies on the DVD release of Hayride include commentary from filmmaker Terron R. Parsons.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Image Entertainment's State of Emergency To DVD On Apr. 16

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Image Entertainment has tabbed Apr. 16 as the DVD debut date for writer/director Turner Clay’s zombie-plague thriller, State of Emergency.

You can’t say “zombie thriller” without it immediately being followed by someone saying: “Oh please, not another damn zombie movie!”   But hold it right there, State of Emergency takes a slightly different tack on what is well-tread and all too familiar ground.   Genre-fans will be pleased with this one … and the curious should take a look as well.

A chemical plant goes up in rural Kentucky and releases a toxin into the atmosphere that attacks the central nervous system of those individuals unlucky enough to be downwind.  They are, however, not the walking dead … not dead at all in fact, just messed up with some really nasty side effects from their exposure to the chemical cloud.   These symptoms include festering, rotting skin, bright red eyes and a desire to attack and consume those not infected by the “disease.”  

We see events unfold — often through cleverly staged flashbacks — through the eyes of a local rancher named Jim (Jay Hayden — as Davis on the Battleground TV series, plus such films as House Bunny, A Warrior’s Heart, etc.).   He’s able to piece together what is going on and quickly learns that he’s inside the quarantine zone.  He also learns that painting “HELP” on the rooftop for passing military choppers to see can get him killed … he’s on his own.

There are other survivors, including a man named Scott (Scott Lilly — Fading of the Cries), who has fortified a local warehouse (be sure to check out the name on the building … that’s got to be an inside joke) with his friends Emilie (McKenna Jones) and Alex (Tori White). 
This is where the quartet will make their stand, but even if they are successful against the ever-increasing numbers of their infected neighbors who come knocking at their door, they still have to figure out a way to get out of the quarantine zone before they are zapped by “friendly” fire.

State of Emergency is part old-school (think: Dawn of the Dead), with some nice tweaks, including a twist-ending that is nicely hidden by the structure of Clay’s storytelling.

Bonus features include deleted scenes and two production featurettes.

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Green Apple Entertainment's Red Corvette on DVD Apr. 30

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Green Apple Entertainment announced this past week that writer/director Frank Lisi’s volatile mix of teenage miscalculations combined with sex, drugs and murder, Red Corvette, will be heading to DVD on Apr. 30.

The film worked the festival circuit during 2012, including a well-received rollout at the New Jersey Film Festival and nice buzz at the Philadelphia Film Festival.   Green Apple Entertainment has picked up this DreamQuest Entertainment film production and is ready to rock and roll with it.

At the center of the story is Cindy (Valerie Bauer), a high school senior who has managed to work her way into a make-up summer class for English.  She just wants the hell out of high school (filmed in around Ashbury Park, New Jersey) and knows that the only way — short of a GED — is to just buckle down and get through the class.  

She’s not stupid and has done fairly well in school, but some double-dealers pranked her into a failing grade.   As a result, she’s cut herself off from the social scene; becoming something of a loner.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Katherine Mesa and Valerie Bauer star in Red Corvette
It’s simple, right?   Just get it done — a half-dozen weeks of summer school.  How hard can that be?   No sooner does she park her lovely teenage body in her seat, when she meets Bella (Katherine Mesa — The Last Gamble, Hellfire), the school’s bad girl, who is rumored to be the daughter of some New York City crime lord.  It’s oil and water … an unlikely mix.

You can see where this is going.  Frank Lisi wouldn’t have much of a story if Cindy just stuck to her plan.   So is it English class or hang out with the cool girl that also just wants out of the place?   

First, the rumors are true, Santino (played by Frank Lisi), is a mob guy.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Santino (Frank Lisi) takes care of business in Red Corvette
Secondly, with the likes of his minions — Gino (Vinny Vella — as Jimmy Petrille in The Sopranos, plus such films as Casino, The Kings of Brooklyn, etc.) and Frankie Hats (Tommy DelCorio) — and some tasty wheels for his little princess (who likes to party!!!), it’s just a matter of time before the sex, the alcohol and the drugs get our Jersey girl into some very deep water.    

The mob, murder (dad does take care of business) and the police … that summer English class isn’t looking so bad about now!

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

Eagle Rock Entertainment's Frampton and Doobie Brothers on Blu-ray, Mar. 26

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
There was electricity in the air as Peter Frampton took center stage at the Pine Knob Amphitheatre in Clarkson, Michigan (on the outskirts of Detroit) on a sultry July night in 1999.   It was a long journey from his Humble Pie beginnings, but now some 30 years later he was at the top of his game … and packing a 16,000 venue with loyal fans.

On Mar. 26, Eagle Rock Entertainment will be reissuing on DVD Peter Frampton: Live in Detroit and at the same time making this landmark concert available on Blu-ray.

Included in the 17-song set are “Lying” (the late ‘80s song that rekindled his career — marked by near-fatal car accident among other things), “Baby, I Love Your Way,” “Show Me the Way,” “Do You Feel Like We Do” and “All I Wanna Be (Is By Your Side).”

Bonus nuggets include an interview with Frampton and unseen rehearsal footage of “Boot it Up” from the FCA! 35 tour in 2011.

DVD & Blu-ray Release ReportAlso heading to DVD and Blu-ray from Eagle Rock Entertainment on Mar. 26 is The Doobie Brothers: Live at Wolf Trap.  As with the Frampton release, Eagle Rock is reissuing the DVD edition and making it available for the first time on Blu-ray.

This July 2004 concert (the last for drummer Keith Knudsen) features an amazing 23 song set … included are: “China Grove,” “Long Train Runnin’” “Black Water” and “Jesus Is Just Alright.”

Bonus goodies include three bonus tracks — “Dangerous,” “Takin It To The Streets” and “Without You” — outtakes, “Doobie-aoke” and a pair of “Back Stage Pass” featurettes — “The Dropped Pick” and “The Family.”

To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report