Monday, March 23, 2015

Well Go USA's Sword Of Vengeance Heads To DVD And Blu-ray On May 26

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
With the violence and royalty infighting of The Game of Thrones being such a draw these days, it is only natural that filmmakers are drawn to this historical period — with liberties liberally taken — as a rich source to be mined for tales of valor, double-dealing and swordsmanship.

Such is the case with news from Well Go U.S.A. this week that director Jim Weedon’s Sword of Vengeance will making its DVD and Blu-ray bow come May 26.   A limited theatrical break is also planned (to raise critical awareness) beginning on Mar. 20.

This swiftly-paced tale introduces us to a mysterious warrior with no name who is simply known as the Shadow Walker (played by Stanley Weber … perhaps best known as Juan Borgia in the Borgia television series).    He is cast out from the Norman invaders and soon finds himself in league with a beautiful woman named Anna (Annabelle Wallis — as Jane Seymour in The Tudors cable series, plus such films as Annabelle, X-Men: First Class, etc.), the widowed bride of the Saxon leader.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAfter a bit of bickering and blustering among Anna’s followers — can this stranger be trusted sort of stuff — their differences are put aside and the Shadow Walker organizes this dispirited band into a fighting force that is ready to take on the superior forces of the Earl of Durant (Karel Roden) and his toady sons, Artus (Gianni Giardinelli) and Romain (Edward Akrout).   Blood will flow and no quarter will be given!

Something Big Is Coming From Warner Bros. Home Entertainment: All The Release Signs Point To It

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Whenever you see a major studio get busy with announcements for TV series on both DVD and Blu-ray — plus some tasty film vault promotions — you can all but take it to the bank that a major theatrical release is being positioned for delivery to the home entertainment market place during the same time frame.

It is never a smart marketing and publicity play to bury the lesser product announcements with the splash of a mega-hit heading to DVD and Blu-ray.   So you get out in front and then swing for the fences.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has director Clint Eastwood’s $340 million-plus monster hit, American Sniper, in inventory and judging from the flurry of TV and Blu-ray catalog announcements these past couple of weeks we can fully expect to see an announcement any moment that will place American Sniper at retail somewhere between mid-May and the first week of June.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeySo what are these “canaries in the coal mine” tips?   Beginning with the early June Blu-ray promotions for such film delights as the John Wayne Western Collection (June 2) and The Golden Year Collection: 1939 (June 9) and this week’s selections of TV collections … every indication is there that American Sniper will get its marching orders next week.

In the meantime, Major Crimes: The Complete Third Season (a four-disc set) will be ready for fans on May 26 and Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Fifth Season (also a four-disc set) will follow on June 9.

Also streeting on June 9 will be Blu-ray (two discs – with UltraViolet) and DVD (three-discs) sets of author William Brinkley’s inspired post- apocalyptic naval series, The Last Ship: The Complete First Season.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyBonus nuggets include “The Making of Last Ship” featurette, cast interviews and a Comic Con Panel session.

On the theatrical front, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment also announced this past week that writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s (Oscar nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay — his fourth writing nomination and no wins yets) off-kilter film adaptation of author Thomas Pynchon’s 1970s-period crime novel, Inherent Vice, will be ready as DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack offerings on Apr. 28.

The ARR is 137 days and domestic ticket sales were $8.1 million.

Los Angeles-based detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (played by Joaquin Phoenix) is pleasantly surprised to fine Shasta, his ex-girlfriend (Katherine Waterston … as Emma Harrow in the Boardwalk Empire cable series), at his doorstep one day with a doozy of an assignment.   Her current paramour (Eric Roberts) is worth bucko bucks and is being set-up by his current wife (Serena Scott Thomas) and she needs Doc’s help to thwart her scheme. 
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
A walk in the park, right?   HA!   Think L.A. Confidential meets Chinatown, with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas thrown in for atmosphere and you are in the right quadrant of the universe for what goes down in Inherent Vice.

Bonus features include four featurettes — “Los Paranoias,” “Shasta Fay,” “The Golden Fang” and “Everything in This Dream.”

Olive Films Preps A Blu-ray Edition Of Farrah Fawcett's Extremities For May 19 Release

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Olive Films announced this past week that four new Blu-ray product offerings will be retail-ready on May 19 (DVD editions of all four films will also be available).

Leading the charge is director Robert M. Young’s 1986 film adaptation of the William Mastrosimone’s off-Broadway stage play, Extremities, starring Farrah Fawcett as the victim of a sexual predator, with James Russo as “Joe” (reprising his stage performance … plus in such films as Beverly Hills Cop, The Box, The Ninth Gate, etc.) as her attacker.

A cat-and-mouse game of terror ensues when Marjorie (Farrah Fawcett) finds that her attacker from the previous week (the police were no help) has come knocking at her door.   With rape and murder as his agenda, she manages to overcome him (bug spray can be so handy) and tie him up.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
It is about that this time that her roommates return (played by Alfre Woodard and Diana Scarwid) to see the home-invader a prisoner and the place a shambles.   Since Marjorie has already seen how the legal system works, she decides to take justice into her own hands.    Her roommates want this to be over with and want to call the cops … and therein lies the dilemma.   The wily Joe quickly begins to play the roommates off against each other and perhaps before the night is out his one victim will become three!

Extremities proved that Farrah Fawcett was more than just a pretty face … her performance here received high praise from film critics and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress (she lost out to Marlee Matlin for her performance in Children of a Lesser God).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Other films making up the May 19 package are writer/director Joel Schumacher’s 1999 film release of Flawless, teaming the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (four Oscar nominations, with Best Actor win for Capote) and Robert De Niro (seven Oscar nominations, with wins for Best Actor in Raging Bull and Best Supporting Actor in The Godfather, Part II) and the four-part mini-series, Peter Benchley's Creature.

And last, but not least, May 19 brings the Blu-ray debut of director Edward L. Cahn’s 1958 sci-fi masterpiece, It! The Terror Beyond Space, starring Marshall Thompson and Shawn Smith (aka: Shirley Patterson), with none other than Ray “Crash” Corrigan as the bloodthirsty creature from Mars!

The Film Chest Teams With Topic Entertainment For A Three-Disc Collection Of The Babarba McNair Show On May 5

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Chest, in association with Topics Entertainment, announced this past week that a total of 18 episodes from 1969/70 and 1970/71 seasons of The Barbara McNair Show have been restored and will be available for fans and collectors to enjoy on May 5 as a three-disc collection.

Over 12 hours of classic variety show performances are included here, with special guest stars that include Della Reese singing “Proud Mary” and teaming with Barbara McNair for “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” plus the Righteous Brothers, Johnny Mathis and the legendary B.B. King serving up “The Thrill is Gone.”

The Irish Rovers are featured with Barbara McNair in a spirited rendition of “Whiskey on a Sunday,” Lou Rawls delivers “A Whole Lot of Sunshine” and Kenny Rogers (and the First Edition) performed both “Reuben James” and “Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town.”

In addition to the musical treats, McNair is joined by the likes of Debbie Reynolds and Rich Little for some fun-filled comedy sketches.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Arrow Films Announces Two Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs For The Month Of June

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Genre fans will be jumping for joy during the month of June as Arrow Video, with sales and distribution expertise provided by the MVD Entertainment Group, has one horror and one sci-fi film restoration ready for delivery as Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs during the month.

On June 23 a new hi-def transfer of director Luigi Cozzi's 1980 alien invasion classic, Contamination, will be ready for fans to enjoy.   

It’s Alien meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers as the “seeds” of an invasion have been delivered and an unlikely trio must find the source — hidden deep in the jungles of Colombia — or this planet will have a new species at the top of the food chain.

Bonus goodies include a newly prepared video session with the film’s star, Ian McCulloch (Zombie, Zombie Holocaust, etc.) and filmmaker Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash, Hercules), plus a vintage documentary hosted by Luigi Cozzi titled Creation of Contamination.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Two weeks earlier, June 9, look for a new hi-def transfer of writer/director Jack Hill’s 1967 inbred insanity horror classic, Spider Baby (the filmmaker supervised and approved the new transfer).

Horror icon Lon Chaney, Jr. stars as Bruno, the caretaker of a trio of adult siblings —  “adult children” — afflicted with “Merrye Syndrome,” a neurological disorder that strikes at the beginning of puberty and progressively turns its victims into sexual deviants with a predilection towards unspeakable acts of violence.  

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Bonus features include commentary with filmmaker Jack Hill (The Big Bird Cage, The Swinging Cheerleaders, etc.) and actor Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects), an alternate opening sequence, an extended scene, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, a 2012 panel discussion featuring Jack Hill and actors Quinn K. Redeker (Oscar-nominated for Best Writing of The Deer Hunter, plus as an actor in such films as The Candidate, The Midnight Man, At Long Last Love, etc.) and Beverly Washburn (as Lt. Arlene Galway in the Star Trek television series) and a trio of featurettes.

As additional bonus, Arrow Video is including filmmaker Jack Hill’s 1960 short film, The Host, which also features Sid Haig.

Eagle Rock Entertainment To Release A Three-Disc DVD Collection Of War Zone: Historic Tanks & Battles of WWII On May 12

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Eagle Rock Entertainment announced this past week that the last DVD selection from its “War Zone” series will be ready for the domestic market place on May 12 as a thee-disc product offering.

Titled War Zone: Historic Tanks & Battles of WWII, the collection features over nine hours of expert analysis — supported by 3D graphics and vintage combat footage — of the evolution of World War II tanks used by both Axis and Allied sides.

There are nine segments, variously titled “Steel Tigers,” “The Battle of Kursk,” “The Battle of Normandy,” “The Ardennes Offensive,” “The Sherman Tank: The Workhorse,” etc.

Valley Of The Cycle Sluts From The MVD Entertainment Group On May 12

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
It will be a guilty pleasure romp on May 12 as the Peter Rodgers Organizations, Ltd., with sales and distribution expertise provided by the MVD Entertainment Group, serves up a double-dose of priced-to-own action flicks.  

These gems are priced to own at just $9.95 each.

First up is director Anthony Cardoza’s 1979 armored car heist, Smokey and the Hotwire Gang, starring James Keach and Stanley Livingston (best remembered as Chip from My Three Sons).

It is joined by director Gregory Vernon Jeffery’s Valley of the Cycle Sluts (originally titled Death Riders) … the Reaper (Robert Brando) leads his gang into the desert on a hunt for treasure with the law (Jason Williams — Flesh Gordon) in hot pursuit.

The Criterion Collection Announces Its June DVD And Blu-ray Release Slate

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Criterion Collection announced its June slate of DVD and Blu-ray film product offerings this past week and there are some real joys to be found among the group.

Getting right to it — in chronological order — we kick off the month (midway through) with the June 16 Blu-ray debut of filmmaker Louis Malle’s 1981 delighter, My Dinner with André, teaming Andre Gregory with Wallace Shawn and an evening of dining.

Vintage bonus features include film critic Noah Baumbach’s 2009 video session with Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, plus the 1982 BBC episode of Arena titled “My Dinner with Louis” (Wallace Shawn interviews Louis Malle).

Also starring Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn is director Jonathan Demme 2014 film release of A Master Builder (both a double-disc DVD and a Blu-ray SKU will be offered).   The ARR is 326 days and the film’s arthouse run generated ticket sales of $46,874.

Wallace Shawn has teamed with Demme to deliver a film adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s 1892 play, The Master Builder … Wallace Shawn plays the role of Halvard Solness (the title character), with Andre Gregory as Knut Brovik and Lisa Joyce as the younger woman, Hilde.

A three-film collection is also available from Criterion on June 16 that includes A Master Builder and My Dinner with André, plus Vanya on 42nd Street.

The following week, June 23, filmmaker Terry Gilliam’s 1991 film release of The Fisher King gets a full restoration (approved by the director himself) and both a Blu-ray and a double-disc DVD release.   Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges star.

Bonus features include commentary from director Terry Gilliam, a vintage 2006 video session with the late Robin Williams and newly prepared video interviews with Terry Gilliam, producer Lynda Obst (producer of such films as Interstellar, The Siege and Contact), screenwriter Richard La Gravenese (Oscar-nominated for his screenplay, whose recent work includes Unbroken, Water for Elephants and Freedom Writers) and actors Jeff Bridges, Amanda Plummer and Mercedes Ruehl (she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar here).

The other DVD and Blu-ray release on June 23 is Austrian actor-turned-director Bernhard Wicki’s 1958 breakout film, The Bridge (Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Language film … losing out to Black Orpheus).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Closing out the month on June 30 is director Bob Rafelson’s Best Picture nominee, Five Easy Pieces starring Jack Nicholson (his second of 12 acting Oscar nominations — he won in 1976 for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and again in 1998 for As Good as it Gets) and the late Karen Black (she was nominated for Best Support Actress … she lost to Helen Hayes for her performance in Airport).

Bonus features include vintage commentary from director Bob Rafelson, who is joined by interior designer Toby Rafelson, plus the 2009 documentary, BBStory.

Lastly, June 30 also sees Blu-ray and DVD editions of director Jaromil Jireš’ 1970 Czech-language import, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Tabs May 12 As The Street Date For DVD And Blu-ray Editions Of Still Alice

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
So exactly how do the rules work at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences when it comes to what is — and what isn’t — eligible for Oscar consideration?

The long-standing directing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s film adaptation of the Lisa Genova novel, Still Alice, worked the festival circuit during the fall of 2014 and then suddenly — in the teeth of the notorious Sony Pictures “hack attack” — got a mysterious Dec. 5 domestic theatrical release.   

No box office grosses were reported for this “two theatre” run, which conveniently made the film eligible for Oscar consideration.   The film didn’t “officially” open until Jan. 16 — wouldn’t that make it a 2015 film?

The reason for this sudden move in December is that during the film’s festival run there was tremendous buzz over the performance of Julianne Moore as a college professor struggling with the effects of Early-onset Alzheimer's disease.   With the world literally crashing about them, someone at the studio was still thinking strategically and had the presence of mind to organize a hasty Oscar-qualifying run for the film.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyIt worked like a charm.   Julianne Moore was not only nominated for Best Actress, but actually won the Oscar.   It was a relatively weak field of selections and Reese Witherspoon would have been the likely frontrunner without Sony Pictures clever, last minute move.   The reason the box office receipts were not reported is probably a result of literally no one seeing the film during the Dec. 5 one-week run.   Was it even advertised?

Now word arrives this past week from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that Still Alice will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 12.    The ARR for that date works out to an industry average of 116 days and domestic ticket sales were a disappointing $16.4 million. 

It will be DVD and Blu-ray to the rescue — at least people will have a chance to see the film now.

As to bonus goodies, there are a trio of deleted scenes and a pair of production featurettes — “Directing Alice” and “Finding Alice.”