Friday, April 5, 2013

VCI Entertainment Sets Two From Director Kurt Neumann For A June 4 Debut

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
VCI Entertainment scores with a trio of film vault treasures heading to DVD on June 4.

The spotlight is on director Kurt Neumann, a filmmaker who was somewhat unfairly tabbed as a B-movie maker, but the low budgets he was saddled with and the quick-turnarounds would be the envy of any studio today.   He could work in any venue/genre … and do it well.

Consider this, Kurt Neumann was in the vanguard filmmakers that delivered sci-fi films in the early 1950s, specifically with his collaboration with blacklisted scripter Dalton Trumbo on the June of 1950 film release of Rocketship X-M — the film literally set off a 15-year cycle of forward-looking genre films that included the likes of The Thing, When Worlds Collide, The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds (and more, many more).   

During the same post-war period he directed/co-produced four Tarzan films, some terrific Westerns, some cutting-edge social dramas and capped off the decade with such gems as She Devil, Kronos and The Fly.  

In 1953 he returned to a post-war Germany (where he was born) and shot two films simultaneous — one in English (with American stars) and the other in German (with German actors) … and again, he worked with a screenplay in collaboration with Dalton Trumbo.  

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
This is the film that VCI Entertainment has ready for a DVD launch on June 4, the English-language version, Carnival Story, starring Anne Baxter (nominated twice for Best Supporting Actress — All About Eve and The Razor’s Edge, winning in the latter, but deserving for both), Steve Cochran and Lyle Bettger.   

This sexually-charged quasi-noir defies the norm of the period in that the traditional role of femme fatale has been flipped.  The imperfect Willie (Anne Baxter) finds the charms of sociopath Joe (Steve Cochran) to be irresistible, even after Frank (Lyle Bettger) offers her redemption and a loving future.   

Joe toys with her; can have her whenever he desires … she is weak.  Murder follows in the wake of her moral failure and Joe’s unrepentant lust and intrigues.  Audiences at the time hated Cochran for his performance (but would adore women doing exactly the same thing in film noirs of the period — go figure) … there was no pity for Baxter either.   

The German-language film was titled Circus of Love and starred Curd Jürgens (whose career took off the following year with The Devil’s GeneralAnd God Created Woman, The Enemy Below, etc. quickly followed) and Eva Bartok.   The German actors appeared in bit parts in Carnival Story and the American stars did uncredited cameos in the German-language version.

DVD & Blu-ray Release ReportAlso from filmmaker Kurt Neumann on DVD on June 4 is his 1952 film adaptation of Irving
Shulman’s novel “The Square Trap, which was released as The Ring in 1952.   This is a film so far ahead of its time that it is virtually an undiscovered arthouse gem.

Tommy (Lalo Rios) is an East Los Angeles up-and-coming boxer … he sees it as his only path out of being stereotyped as just another Mexican.  His manager (Gerald Mohr) and trainer (Robert Osterloh) treat him with respect and friendship, but they too see him as a vehicle for their own purposes.   

Get this, his girlfriend, Lucy, is none other than future star Rita Moreno (Best Supporting Actress for the 1961 film, West Side Story).

The Ring is social commentary in a bottle … vintage 1952.

Rounding out the June 4 release schedule is 1936 “New Spain” 12-chapter serial adventure, The Vigilantes are Coming.   It’s 1840, the 300-year tranquility of the Alta California rancheros are in turmoil … revolution in Mexico, Russian aggression from the northwest and the expansion of the United States from the east have created a volatile mix.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
General Burr (Fred Kohler) allies himself with the Russians and their emissary, Count Raspinoff (Robert Warwick) and quickly does away with any opposition.  Returning from a mission with Fremont, Don Loring (Robert Livingston) discovers his land confiscated and his father murdered.   Unable to take on Burr and his minions head-on, he creates a Zorro-like character called The Eagle and begins to pick away at the Burr/Raspinoff alliance.

The Republic serial, co-directed by Ray Taylor and Mack V. Wright, plays it a little fast and loose with the actual historical events of the day (a little early on the gold rush aspects; the Colt revolver wasn’t perfected until 1847 … details, details), but delivers plenty of action and in many ways pays homage to the Valentino’s 1925 silent classic of the same name as Don Loring's mysterious masked crusader, The Eagle.

Kay Hughes co-stars as Doris, while Raymond Hatton is given plenty of chances to say, “That’s a good idee!” as Loring’s sidekick, Whipsaw.

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

Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Identity Thief Arrives On June 4

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Think about all of those monster budget CGI films that the studios trot out each year.   Big budget, high risk and loaded with noise and special effects.   They need to gross something like $200 million just to break even … it’s all about a bankrupt mindset that says bigger, louder and mind-numbing is better.  The actual story be damned.

So it always comes as a pleasant, even gleeful surprise, when a straight-forward two-person comedy (which is basically a couple of talented actors playing off of each other) scores mega bucks at the box office.   There is a God … and despite all the despair, God has a sense of humor.

So when Universal Studios tallies up the box office take for director Seth Gordon’s Identity Thief, the little bean counters have to have a mighty big grin on their face.  $130 million in domestic ticket sales for what amounts to a well-played; well-produced MOW.  It’s a sitcom pilot … but it is sooooo sweet.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has targeted June 4 as the street date for DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (with UltraViolet) editions of this Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy bust-a-gut comedy … the ARR comes in at 116 days.

Bonus features include a gag reel, alternate takes and three featurettes — “The Making of Identity Thief,” “Scene Stealing: Capturing the Humor of Identity Thief” and “The Skiptracer's Van.”

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunter From Paramount Home Media On June 11

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Paramount Home Media Distribution announced this past week that writer/director Tommy Wirkola’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, a very different spin on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale about little Hansel and Gretel and their encounter with the fabled witch, will be heading home as DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and 3D/2D Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack SKUs on June 11.

The ARR is 137 days and the domestic multiplex box office take was a nice $54.9 million.
What appeared to be a goofy idea for a horror tale — a fully-grown and leather-clad Gretel hunting down witches (along with her brother Hansel) — turned out to be an entertaining lark (just don’t take it too seriously).   Lots of blood, plenty of action and a film that self-important film critics love to hate.   Genre fans loved it!   And baby, that’s all that counts!!!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner
In the opening sequences we get the Brothers Grimm story and the youngsters outwitting the witch … and then we skip ahead and find the now adult Gretel (Gemma Arterton — Clash of the Titans, Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time) and her diabetic (all that candy took its toll) brother Hansel (Jeremy Renner — The Hurt Locker, The Town) are ace witch hunters.   And in their neck of the wood there are plenty of witches to tangle with.

They are good at it … and we soon discover the reason why.   The twist delivered by Wirkola cleverly sheds light on why their step-mother was so mean and nasty to them and how they are seemingly immune to spells cast by witches they battle.

Once the backstory is fully illuminated and alliances are formed, they are off to battle their most formidable witch foe, Muriel (Famke Janssen — Taken 2, House on Haunted Hill, X-Men, etc.), who will obtain power beyond comprehension if she able to perform the ceremony of the Blood Moon.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Famke Jannssen as the witch Muriel
Bonus goodies are limited to the two Blu-ray purchase options and include a trio of featurettes — “Reinventing Hansel & Gretel,” “The Witching Hours” and “Meet Edward the Troll” — plus an option to view an unrated version of the film (the theatrical cut received an R-rating, so we can’t imagine what had to be culled — graphically-speaking — to get it there).

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

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Has Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season Ready For June 4

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Best damn series on TV (cable or otherwise) these days.   Of course that’s Breaking Bad, teaming Bryan Cranston with Aaron Paul as unlikely “big time” meth dealers who have managed to survive four full seasons without getting killed (or is that whacked?).

On June 4, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will be releasing DVD & Blu-ray editions of Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season … is this the end, or will Walt and Jesse somehow survive international cartels, a snoopy relative and their new “partner,” Mike (Jonathan Banks).

As to bonus goodies, both the DVD (a three-disc set) and the Blu-ray (two discs) include commentary on all ten episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes and three featurettes  — “Nothing Stops This Train,” “The Cleaner: Jonathan Banks as Mike” and “Chicks ‘N’ Guns: Behind-the-Scenes.”   Exclusive to the Blu-ray are two additional featurettes.

Also getting a street date assignment this week from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is director Taylor Hackford’s Parker, starring Jason Statham in the title role — a double-crossed thief who sets out for revenge. 

The release date for both DVD and Blu-ray editions is May 21, which yields and ARR of 116 days — the box office take was $17.6 million.

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

Second Chorus Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack From Film Chest On May 14

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Film Chest announced this past week that director H.C. Potter’s 1940 romantic musical comedy, Second Chorus, will be heading to Blu-ray on May 14 as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.

Restored from the original 35mm fine grain nitrate print, this Fred Astaire gem (Oscar-nominated for Best Song, “Love of My Life” — losing out to Pinocchio and “When You Wish Upon a Star” — and Best Music, Score) co-starring Paulette Goddard and featuring the big band sounds of Artie Shaw, includes a before-and-after restoration comparison and a commentary track by author Tom Santopietro.

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

Vinegar Syndrome Preps Blu-ray/DVD Combo For The Telephone Book On May 7

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Vinegar Syndrome has tabbed May 7 as the street date for a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release of writer/director Nelson Lyon’s 1971 cult comedy, The Telephone Book, which had a brief in-and-out theatrical release — unless you managed to catch this at a 1970s rep house run, this is little gem has to be viewed as a lost treasure.

Sarah Kennedy (a Laugh-In regular and a few MOMs during the late 70s and then dropped out of sight) stars as Alice, a lonely young woman who falls in love with an obscene phone-caller and embarks on a serendipitous (sexual) journey to find him.

Bonus features include commentary from producer Merv Bloch, vintage radio spots and a stills gallery.

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

Indican Pictures Announces Sounds For A June 25 DVD Launch

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Writer/director Ryan Humphries’ sci-fi spoof, Sounds (aka: Sounds: Like Men in Black Chasing X-Files While Having a Close Encounter of the Wrong Kind!) will be heading to the home entertainment market place on June 25 with its DVD launch from Indican Pictures.

In a remote wooded area two couples have cozied up for a romantic weekend.  Just one problem, a meteorite has crashed to earth bringing an alien presence that could — maybe; possibly; with a luck — destroy mankind.   It’s The Blob meets Teenagers from Outer Space … and more.

One of the group, the alluring Rachel (Anna Pack), has been impregnated by the other world creature as is now host to what amounts to an egg farm — much worse than Alien or Aliens … or even Alien 3 (hard to image that anything could be worse than Alien 3).   She is now host to an ever-growing alien invasion … and is still cute (well, sort of ... if she's not wolfing up alien eggs).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Anna Pack stars in Indican Pictures' Sounds
No worries, the FBI is on the scene — Agent Styles (Richanne Baldridge) and Agent Miller (J. Peter Parker) — and the world will be saved.  Excuse us while we snicker, the world will not be saves, Styles and Miller are idiots and Rachel is now vomiting up eggs left and right.   You could run for your lives, but it would be a fruitless effort … the end times have arrived on planet Earth.

Only two things stand in the way of humanity’s total destruction — the Type 11 Second Stage Micron Focal Wave Generator or her boyfriend (who took her out to the remote cabin in the woods in the first place).   Hate to say this, but we really are doomed!

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

Warm Bodies From Lionsgate Home Entertainment on June 4

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Not since Shaun of the Dead has there been a zombie movie quite like writer/director Jonathan Levine’s film adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name, Warm Bodies.  This Summit Entertainment film production will be released as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings (both SKUs include UltraViolet) on June 4 by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

The ARR is 123 days and the box office haul is right at $65 million.

Bonus features include commentary from director Jonathon Levine (50/50, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane), who is joined by Zombie R (Nicholas Hoult — X-Men: First Class, Clash of the Titans, etc.) and Human Julie (Teresa Palmer — I Am Number Four, Take Me Home Tonight, etc.), plus there are deleted scenes, a gag reel and seven featurettes.

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

Fox's A Good Day To Die Hard Heads Home On June 4

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Yippee Ki-Yay all you John McClane fans … 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment has tabbed June 4 as the street date for Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and DVD SKUs (with Digital Copy) of his latest adventure, A Good Day to Die Hard.

The ARR is 109 days and the box office take for the film’s domestic run was a little disappointing at $66.3 million (compare that with the 2007 release of Live Free or Die Hard, which pulled in $134.5 million).

The problem appears to be the choice of John Moore as the director — he seems to be out of his element here (his last film being Max Payne in 2008) — and the script that Skip Woods (The A-Team, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) has delivered.   

 Yes, it is a Die Hard movie, but it is just not as grand as some of the earlier presentations … unless they can talk screen writer Mark Bomback into delivering yet another multi-faceted story that takes the action to another level (as he did with Live Free or Die Hard) this might be the end of the line for McClane.

Bonus features are all limited to the Blu-ray SKU.  These include an “extended cut” of the film, commentary by director John Moore and first assistant director Mark Cotone, seven deleted scenes and five production featurettes.

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

Monday, April 1, 2013

Image Entertainment's The Number Station On DVD and Blu-ray May 28

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Who would have guessed that the simplest solution for passing out assignments to their operatives around the globe is being used by the stealthy CIA.    

Why they just broadcast codes that translate into specific instructions out in the open — remember those random expressions used by the British during World War II to tip off the French underground: “The cheese has green mold.”   Same thing.

That’s the concept behind director Kasper Barfoed’s The Numbers Station, arriving on DVD and Blu-ray from Image Entertainment on May 28 (a small theatrical break is planned for the last weekend in April).

Emerson (John Cusack) is a long-serving CIA operative who badly bungles his latest assignment and should be heading for the exits, but is given a last chance to redeem himself with a seemingly simple assignment.   Just sit around and guard (ie: babysit) the code announcer (Malin Akerman — Stolen, Rock of Ages, Watchman, etc.) as the CIA’s secret station in England.  Boring!

Katherine (Akerman) just sits at a microphone and says stuff like “8 – 4 – 3 – 6 – 0” and things happen.   They claim that this has been the procedure since WWII … OK, we can get behind that, it is certainly no worse than her speaking into the mic and saying in her sexiest voice, “The cheese has green mold.” 
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report

But our antenna go up almost immediately in this spy-on-spy thriller … veteran agent, bungled job and a face-saving meaningless assignment.   Hmmmm, that sure smells a lot like moldy cheese; it’s a set-up and Emerson is the patsy.   Sure enough that’s exactly what happens as their secret hideout comes under attack and he and his code announcer are suddenly in a fight for their lives!

No word on bonus features at this time.   

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

Green Apple Entertainment's Zero Dark Dirty Arrives On DVD May 14

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
The latest recruit for APCOP (American Pop Culture Outreach Program), the Pentagon’s “low profile” mission to bridge the cultural gap between the United States and Afghanistan, is none other than Belvis Bash (Alexander Loy).   That’s right, Belvis Bash!

He’s sort of a musical amalgamation of Johnny Cash and Elvis (Belvis actually plays a pretty mean guitar and sings some tasty little ditties — “Love  Man,” “Nice and Pretty” and of course that old standard, “Kabul Wobble”) and he’s on his way to the front to entertain … and more.

That’s the set up for writer/director Alexander Loy’s politically incorrect comedy Zero Dark Dirty (yes, Belvis himself), which will be heading home on DVD on May 14 from Green Apple Entertainment.

He’s given little insight into his assignment by Major Emile Hickory (Mark Metcalf — as Neidermeyer in Animal House, plus numerous TV and movie roles in the past 35 years), which is either a clever plan with ulterior motives or something designed by someone on drugs or an escapee from a mental institution (or both).   His agent, Namco Douglas (Daniel Baldwin), is no help either in sorting things out.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Alexander Loy as Belvis Bash
In any case, Belvis arrives on the frontlines and ready to do his duty.   Of course, every great singer on tour has an opening act to warm the audience up and Major Hickory has got just the sidekick for Belvis, the over-the-top Borscht Belt comedian, Samuel Stilman (Corey Feldman doing a beautiful rip on Sean Penn — think: Sean Penn as Harvey Milk only with long straggly hair doing really offensive jokes).   

With danger all around and death at any moment (from angry audiences or ruthless terrorists), Belvis still has the very good fortune to find romance, which comes in the form of May Summer (Noelle Locke), a member of an inept musical touring group that includes Frank Stallone and Quinn Gonzalez as Jean Valjean and Javert respectively.   They must have made a wrong turn at Damascus to get here.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report
Noelle Locke and Alexander Loy in Zero Dark Dirty
If everything is as it seems in Zero Dark Dirty, then Belvis has been sent on a suicide mission … but you suspect early on that there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye.   Or is that kissing the camel’s toe?   Whatever … you never know when there’s an APCOP mission afoot if there is any planning or not.  Just have fun and enjoy the jokes and sight gags.

Bonus features include a drunken director commentary (Alexander Loy and co-director Joe Walser) and deleted scenes.

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