Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Monday, August 17, 2015
Your first impression, and it will be a lasting one, is that writer/director Johnny Markussen is having a blast with his way-way-over-the-top zombie tale, titled appropriately enough, Absolute Zombies.
With an eye towards some Halloween-season viewing fun, Absolute Zombies is due out on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing on Oct. 27.
We’ve all seen our share of zombie plague movies. The end of the world, zombies — hoards of them — on the prowl for fresh (living) human flesh and the few left living battling moment by moment just to stay alive and avoid being the living dead’s next meal. There are good ones; bad ones … and everything in between.
George Romero’s 1968 release of Night of the Living Dead is the touchstone for zombie flicks and everything on the screen since then has flowed out from that 96-minute masterpiece. Slow zombies, fast zombies, zombie love affairs, zombie cures, zombie resurrections, you name it and filmmakers have tried it.
Now enter Norwegian filmmaker Johnny Markussen, who must have seen his fair share of post-apocalyptic flesh-gnawing tales, and decided instead to make the equivalent of the Barbarella of space-themed movies for the zombie crowd. Absolute Zombies is, like Barbarella, a comic book adventure, which finds one of the survivors, Edwige (Silje Reinåmo — Thale) — Markussen’s “Barbarella” equivalent in that she is both eye-candy and capable of handling herself in a zombie attack (a backstory has her as a gun-for-hire) — on a mission to find Boris (T. Benjamin Larsen), a Russian tycoon who appears to be responsible for the zombie outbreak.
With her is her former mentor Franco (David Allen) — it is now clearly a love/hate relationship — and a deaf mute (Hanna Jenny Stark). She is on a mission to find Boris (does he have a cure?) and in do so must avoid the zombies and two squirrels that are unhinged and enjoying the sport of zombie hunting (and anything that crosses their path).
Wild Eye Releasing’s Absolute Zombies is a zombie thriller like no other and Oct. 27 can’t come soon enough for genre fans looking to have a good time in a zombie alternate universe.
Paramount Home Media Announces A Trio Of Full-Series DVD Collector Sets For Delivery To Retailers On Nov. 3
With an eye towards gifts during the holiday season, Paramount Home Media announced a trio of complete collection sets that will be retail-ready on Nov. 3.
The First Lady of comedy, Lucille Ball, will be available in collectible packaging on that first Tuesday in November in the 33-disc DVD set titled, I Love Lucy: The Complete Series … all nine seasons (from the fall of 1951 until the final goodbye in May of 1957) are included here. That’s 181 laugh-filled episodes!!!
If your gift-giving plans are for someone who, “Boldly goes where no man has gone before,” then you need look no further than the 25 disc collection of Star Trek: The Complete Original Series – Remastered. All 80 thrill-packed adventures are showcased here, including the original pilot, “The Cage,” starring Jeffrey Hunter as Capt. Christopher Pike.
And last, but by no means least, Nov. 3 brings fans of David Duchovny the 14 disc set of Californication: The Complete Series.
Cinema Libre To Release Director Chad Kapper’s Post-Apocalyptic Sci-fi Thriller Rotor DR1 On DVD On Oct. 20
Drones are in the news every single day. It’s a hot topic. From combat usages to numskulls buzzing passenger jets landing and taking off at major airports. There are even cool prototypes for hikers — pull it out of your backpack, fire it up and with a Go-Cam receiver you can scout the trail ahead. Very cool.
Cinema Libre announced this past week that they will have some drone action of their own on Oct. 20 with the DVD debut of director Chad Kapper’s post-apocalyptic thriller, Rotor DR1. Kapper started this as a webisode project — much like a classic serial, with cliffhangers and the like — and generated ten chapters for online viewing and he has now edited it into a feature-length film.
A virus outbreak has ravaged the planet’s population, but delivery drones — with life-saving vaccines — continue to make their point-to-point deliveries. It all seems quite pointless as the virus has run its course. Survivors, and a teenager named Kitch (Christian Kapper) is one of them, try to avoid roving gangs and have taken to scavenging the delivery drones for their power supplies and other materials.
As the story evolves, Kitch is followed by a drone (the DR1) one day and hits upon the idea of using it to search for his father. Another teen, Maya (Natalie Welch), hooks up with him to go on his wasteland quest. But first they have to overcome the threats of 4C (Tom E. Nicholson), the leader of one of the gangs, who have also adapted the drones for their own purposes.
Rotor DR1 is fascinating, not only for the storyline, but also for Kapper’s effective use of new drone prototypes — not only is he a filmmaker, but he is the founder of Flitetest.com — throughout the film. Like we said, very cool.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Film Chest Media Group Preps The Double-Disc DVD Release Of Rock ‘n Rhythm Collector’s Set For Delivery To Retailers On Sept. 29
Before Dick Clark hit his stride in 1957 with his national television broadcast of American Bandstand, promoters had three choices. They had radio; the rock’n roll stations that dotted the land.
They had tours — road trips playing before live audiences. And they had theatres.
Television was a relatively new medium following the war, but theatres were in their golden age. Everyone went to the movies!
On Sept. 29 Film Chest Media Group will deliver a trio of mid-1950s theatrical concerts on the double-disc DVD release titled Rock ‘n Rhythm Collector’s Set.
The first in the collection is producer Ben Frye’s 1955 film, Rock 'n' Roll Revue. Joseph Kohn served as director and DJ Willie Bryant was the host. On the venue were Duke Ellington and His Orchestra performing “The Moochie,” Big Joe Turner knocking out “Okimoshebop,” Dinah Washington delivering “Only A Moment Ago” and Nat ‘King’ Cole crooning “The Trouble With Me Is You.” The concert concluded with Larry Darnell’s “What More Do You Want Me To Do” and The Clovers delivering their 1954 hit with “Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash.”
Rock 'n' Roll Revue was a perfect program filler — television variety in the decade that followed would pattern themselves after this type of theatrical release (which was actually filmed for television, but actually reached a wider audience theatrically).
Next in line is Rhythm and Blues Revue, which also teamed director Joseph Kohn with MC Willie Bryant.
The tune list included the likes of Cab Calloway’s “Minnie The Moocher,” Count Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump,” the Delta Rhythm Boys rendition of “Dry Bones” and Nat ‘King’ Cole is on hand once again with a lively presentation of “Calypso Blues.”
Another rock impresario to take advantage of the moment was Alan Freed, who is credited with the term “rock ‘n’ roll” … a recording artist and DJ, his career would come crashing to an end within a couple of years over “payola” and he’d be dead at the age of 43 from acute alcoholism. But for a brief moment he toplined in five films, including director Will Price’s 1956 theatrical feature, Rock, Rock, Rock!, which combined the elements of a variety concert with the barebones of a plot.
Film Chest included this minor gem that stars a 13-year old Tuesday Weld as a teen in need of a new dress and her father will have nothing to with it. We said “barebones” … the plot was just an excuse to sting a series of musical performances together.
These include: Jimmy Cavallo & His House Rockers delivering the title song, “Rock, Rock, Rock!,” a young Connie Francis singing “I Never Had A Sweetheart” and “Little Blue Wren,” Chuck Berry knockin’em dead with “You Can't Catch Me” and The Moonglows with “Over and Over Again.” It has quite the soundtrack!
Midnight Releasing’s Brain Damage Films label whisks us back to 1989 and the Halloween midnight screening of Sleepover Slaughterhouse, Part 3, which is just part of the fun with director Josh Hasty’s creepy Honeyspider. It will be heading to DVD on Oct. 13 … just in time for some home entertainment Halloween-season viewing fun for genre-fans.
The focus of attention of this horror tale is Jackie Blue (Mariah Brown in her film debut), a college student who earns some extra scratch by working at the local movie theatre. The theatre just happens to be having its annual midnight “Halloween Horrorthon” and she’s working the midnight shift … on her birthday no less!
If the truth be known, our girl Jackie is down in the dumps and celebrating both Halloween and her birthday are the things least on her mind this autumn evening. Her parents are going through a messy divorce, her college professor (played by Frank J. Aard — April Fool's Day, Horror Story) has been extra creepy of late and someone has left her a surprise in her car … and a tarantula too!
As the evening progresses it isn’t long before Jackie becomes ill, something just isn’t right tonight. Is she hallucinating? Is there really someone moving throughout the darkened theatre knifing the paying customers to death? As her unease grows, she becomes physically ill and starts vomiting up spiders; big hairy tarantulas actually.
She must be going insane, right? Is it all an illusion? Has Professor Lynch slipped her something? Is the masked killer coming for her? Relax, sit back and enjoy Honeyspider and all will become clear by the closing credits of Sleepover Slaughterhouse, Part 3.
Bonus features include two commentary options — one featureing director Josh Hasty and the second from writer/producer Kenny Caperton — and the music video titled, “The Ghost in You.”
Full Moon Features Jess Franco Collection Promotion Continues On Sept. 29 With The DVD Debut Of Blue Rita
In June it was Jess Franco’s Jack the Ripper, July yielded Barbed Wire Dolls and on Sept. 29 Full Moon Features returns with the domestic DVD debut of cult filmmaker Jess Franco’s Blue Rita.
Ten films are planned for eventual release during Full Moon’s Jess Franco Collection promotion — all made in conjunction with producer Erwin C. Dietrich — and with the release of this English-dubbed version of Blue Rita (aka: Das Frauenhaus) Full Moon has reached number three in the series.
This one has to be seen to be believed as it is a cross between Cold War spy thriller, a torture dungeon horror flick and a kinky soft-porn romp. However you describe it, Blue Rita is certainly pure Jess Franco.
Rita is both a lesbian and a communist agent, who runs a nightclub in Paris, where the wealthy and influential flock. When she spots any wealthy male it is time for seduction, torture and out-and-out thievery. But Interpol is on to her and her latest lover, Sun (Dagmar Bürger), could be the key to bringing her lethal operation to an end.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Celebrates 40 Years With A Sept. 22 DVD And Blu-ray Promotion From 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment
Let’s do the time warp again!
It is hard to comprehend that 40 years have passed since Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Meat Loaf, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell moved through their paces in the ultimate midnight movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment announced this past week that The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 40th Anniversary Celebration will be released as newly minted Blu-ray and DVD product offerings on Sept. 22.
Back in 1975 I was running theatres and these included the Strand in Ocean Beach and The Ken in Kensington (both in the San Diego area), as well as The Wilshire in Fullerton and the Balboa Theatre in Newport Beach. These were all arthouses and this Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien collaboration seemed to fit right in, so we started running the film as a midnight attraction, which proved to be quite rewarding.
There was just one problem, 20th Century-Fox had only struck a few 35mm prints and didn’t see much future for a film that the studio brass at the time clearly didn’t understand.
We tried “bicycling” the Orange County print that we had between the Wilshire in Fullerton down the freeway in the dark of the night to the Balboa.
We started before midnight at The Wilshire and when the first 20-minute reel finished it was dispatched to the Balboa, where the film started there after midnight and had a full reel of “stuff” (Bambi Meets Godzilla, etc.) to kick off the show — that bought some time.
The same process took place for our San Diego print. We started at the Ken and delivered the film reel by reel to the Strand in Ocean Beach.
It was a logistical nightmare, so we abandoned the Ken (which solved the noise complaints) and stuck with just the Strand. The same for Orange County, we dropped The Wilshire and just played it at the Balboa Theatre. Problem solved.
And then the studio, despite our success with the midnight showings, wanted the two 35mm prints back. After some haggling, we agreed to pay for two 16mm prints — yes, we paid for our own prints — to secure a continued run. Over three years of Friday and Saturday midnight showings followed before I exited the world of exhibition and moved into the early years of home entertainment (VHS and Beta).
We had bumper stickers made up and handed them out at the early midnight showings … it was so cool to see cars pass by on the freeway with one those The Rocky Horror Picture Show bumper stickers proudly displayed. My children were raised on the film and know the songs by heart … “It’s just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. With your hand on your hips.”
The film is so much fun and this 40th Anniversary edition from 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment is entirely faithful to that spirit. Both the DVD and Blu-ray SKUs contain the UK and domestic theatrical cuts of the film.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray SKU is commentary from creator/writer Richard O’Brien (aka: Riff Raff), who is joined by Patricia Quinn (aka: Magenta). Additionally, there are outtakes, a pair of deleted musical numbers — “Once in a While” and “Super Heroes” — a “Rocky-oke: Sing It!” interactive-feature, an alternate opening and more, much more!!!
Writer/Director Boaz Yakin's Emotional Max Earns An Oct. 27 Street Date For DVD And Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Product Offerings
Writer/director Boaz Yakin’s Max opened theatrically in late June and from the early box office results it should have been gone from theatres by mid-July. And yet here we are in August and the film continues to reach audiences by word of mouth.
There was some early buzz a couple of weeks ago that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment would be releasing Max as DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs editions at the end of September, but the definitive word arrived this past week that the street will instead be Oct. 27.
Ticket sales have grown and grown to where they now stand at $40.8 million. For the record, the ARR works out to 123 days for that Oct. 27 release date.
This is one of those feel-good films that you would normally see as an MOW on the Hallmark Movie Channel, but in the hands of filmmaker Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans, Uptown Girls, Safe, etc.) Max rises to full theatrical status and it packs one hell of an emotional punch.
Max is a military dog working with Marines in Afghanistan. His handler and best friend is Kyle, who we get to know ever so briefly before Max is injured while alerting his patrol about hidden explosives. Kyle is killed and Max is returned stateside, but his future looks dim.
Cutting between this early action are the comings and goings of Kyle’s family — his father Ray (Thomas Haden Church), his mom Pam (Lauren Graham) and his insolent little brother Justin (Josh Wiggins). Justin has a gigantic chip on his shoulder and is completely unmotivated.
That’s your set-up: Tragic death of Kyle, moody younger brother and an injured and emotionally devastated animal. Max looks as if he will have to be put down as he doesn’t seem to be able to cope with the loss of Kyle (the church services are guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye, so have the Kleenex at hand). But just as all seems lost he bonds with Justin and the healing process — for both of them — begins.
There’s a backstory that comes into play, which gives Max and Justin a chance to be heroes, but the real impact of Yakin’s film comes from the interaction between the four-legged It’s a beauty.Marine and his new friend.
Bonus features include a pair of production featurettes — “Working with Max” and “Hero Dogs: A Journey.”
In other release news this week … Maisie goes solo. Released in May of 2012 as a five-film collection, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced this past week that Ann Sothern’s first five films in the Maisie Ravier comedy film series — Maisie (1939), Congo Maisie (1940), Gold Rush Maisie (1940), Maisie was a Lady (1941) and Ringside Maisie (1941) — will be available as single-DVD releases on Aug. 18.
Well Go USA To Release DVD And Blu-ray Editions Of Writer/Director Yi’nan Diao’s Stylish Murder Mystery, Black Coal, Thin Ice, On Sept. 29
Well Go U.S.A. will be releasing both DVD and Blu-ray editions of writer/director Yi’nan Diao’s stylish murder mystery, Black Coal, Thin Ice, on Sept. 29.
The winner of the prestigious Golden Bear for Best Director at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival, filmmaker Yi’nan Diao’s Black Coal, Thin Ice takes a different path than the epic historical dramas or the high-tension action films coming out of Mainland China these days (all with top-notch production values we might add).
This noirish entry follows the efforts of disgraced detective Zhang Zili (Fan Liao — Chinese Zodiac, Ocean Flame, etc.) to both gain redemption and to solve a five-year old case that was his undoing during his first attempt.
In the film’s prologue we meet Zhang as he launches into the investigation of a serial killer who likes to chop up his victims and scatter their body parts within coal shipments. What message is being sent proves elusive and Zhang botches the investigation … fellow officers die and his career is at an end.
Now skip ahead five years and our fiendish serial killer is back at it. Zhang is a drunk, barely hanging on as a rent-a-cop, but he sees in the new round of body part shipments a path to his salvation and jumps at it. If he could just solve the case all would be right with the world again.
His path leads to a dry cleaners and a woman named Wu (Lun Mei Gwei — Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, Girlfriend Boyfriend, etc.), who seems very much out of place. He sees in her a connection between both series of murders … and is strangely, perhaps fatally, attracted to her.
Black Coal, Thin Ice is presented in Mandarin with English subtitles.
Video Service Corp. teams with MVD Entertainment Group on Aug. 25 for the double-disc DVD release of Portlandia: Season Five.
All ten episodes from the fifth season (2015) of this Emmy-winning sketch comedy series created by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein will be available for fans to enjoy.
This is one of those cable-based series that is noted for its steady stream of comedy guest stars and this season is no exception as the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Paul Reubens, Steve Buscemi, Anna “Skyler White” Gunn, Justin Long, Seth Meyers, Olivia Wilde and more take their turn in Portland’s alternative universe.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Confirms November 3 As The Street Date For DVD And Two Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Editions Of Director Pete Docter's Inside Out
Last week Amazon and other online retailers began offering DVD and Blu-ray editions of director Pete Docter’s latest animated smash, Inside Out, for delivery on Nov. 3. Walt Disney Home Entertainment was mums the word on whether that was a good date or not … so we held off on posting it.
This week they confirmed a three-SKU array of products for that Nov. 3 street date — there will be a stand alone DVD, a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and an “Ultimate Collector’s Edition,” which is a three-disc Combo Pack that features two Blu-ray viewing options (3D and 2D versions of the merriment).
The ARR is 137 days and this Pixar production has pulled in $335.4 million in ticket sales. Can you spell F R A N C H I S E for Riley and her five emotions?
And, you can bet that the Oscar battle will certainly match Universal’s Minions against Disney’s Inside Out come Feb. 28 of 2016 (note to Academy members: Any Minion mouthing the words Bee Doo Bee Doo is better than the tedium that Neil Patrick Harris managed to inspire).
As to bonus features for Inside Out, there will be commentary from director Pete Docter (Oscar-winner for UP) and co-director Ronaldo Del Carmen (his debut), plus director James Ford Murphy animated short film Lava.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray SKUs are the newly-prepared animated short film titled Riley's First Date?, plus seven production featurettes and a quartet of deleted scenes.