Monday, November 9, 2015

The Film Detective Announces 26 New Film Restorations For The DVD Market Place On Nov. 10

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Detective returns to the DVD market place on Nov. 10 with 26 newly restored film collectibles that will have film buffs and library-builders ready to fill those gaps and/or upgrade their film holdings.   So let’s get right to it …

Prolific ‘50s screenwriter and B-action film producer Jeff Pollexfen made one of his rare directing appearances with the 1956 sci-fi thriller Indestructible Man.  This Allied Artists product stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as Butcher Benton, a condemned murderer whose body is sold secretly to Professor Bradshaw (Robert Shayne) — a mad scientist of the first order — who injects the cold corpse with a secret formula and then runs massive amounts of electricity through Butcher’s body.   

 The result, a man who is seemingly indestructible, who has vowed revenged on those who sold him out … he hunts them down one by one without mercy!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeySpeaking of mad scientists, from 1942 we have director Sam Newfield’s The Mad Monster, starring George Zucco as Dr. Cameron, a genius who has been rebuked by his peers, his career is in ruins ... and payback is on his mind.   

It is World War II and our goofy mad scientist has come up with an idea for an army of super-human wolves.   His subject turns out to be his man-child gardener (played by Glenn Strange) and the formula works, but with tragic results as a young girl falls victim to the now ravenous wolfman.  

No matter, the formula works and that means that those who ridiculed him are doomed!!!   Anne Nagel stars as Zucco’s daughter, with Johnny Downs on hand as both her boyfriend and reporter assigned to the strange death of the little girl.   Soon they suspect that dear old dad is at the bottom of the brutal murders … no one is safe!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Also on the sci-fi front from the Film Detective on Nov. 10 is director Roger Corman’s summer of 1960 end-of-the-world thriller, The Last Woman on Earth.   Filmed on location in Puerto Rico, con man Harold Gern (Anthony Carbone), his latest trophy bride, Evelyn (Betsy Jones-Moreland), and Gern’s shyster lawyer, Martin (played by future Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne — Chinatown in 1975) have chartered a boat and are on a seemingly uneventful dive.   When they surface, they find the shipper dead and only the remaining air in their tanks keep them alive.   

Once ashore the oxygen levels return to normal and they soon discover that they just might be the last three humans left on the planet.   Two men, one woman … do the math, soon the planet will be populated by just two (who survives?).   

Of note — Leave it Roger Corman to get the maximum out of a location.  Carbone, Jones-Moreland and Towne also starred in Creature from the Haunted Sea, which was shot at the same time and released theatrically the following summer.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyOn the action front we have the World War II spy thriller, The Adventure of Tartu (directed by Harold S. Bucquet — he directed most of the Dr. Kildare films for Metro Goldwyn Mayer), starring Robert Donat as a British officer sent to Romania, where he assumes the persona of a ruthless Nazi sympathizer, Captain Jan Tartu.   It is then on to Czechoslovakia to destroy a Nazi gas plant, but the entire plan soon falls apart — he is not only in danger of being discovered by the Nazis, but the Czech resistance has marked Capt. Tartu for death! 

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The game’s afoot as Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) is on the case in director Roy William Neill’s summer of 1945 mystery, The Woman in Green.   A beautiful woman, named Lydia (Hillary Brooke), leads Holmes and Watson (Nigel Bruce) on a merry chase through the streets of London in a mystery that revolves around a series of seemingly random murders.    But, are they really random?   With the sinister Prof. Moriarty (Henry Daniell) involved, you can bet that there is a method to his madness!

Also on the Nov. 10 release schedule are The Milky Way (1936, starring Harold Lloyd), director Kurt Neumann’s 1956 release of Mohawk (teaming Scott Brady, Rita Gam and Neville Brand) and director Phil Karlson’s 1949 outdoor thriller, The Big Cat (featuring Lon McCallister, Peggy Ann Garner, Preston Foster and Forrest Tucker).

For a complete list of Nov. 10 re-mastered DVD releases please see page 19.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Writer/Director Tony McNamara's Ashby Arrives On DVD On Jan. 5 From Paramount Home Media

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Writer/director Tony McNamara’s Ashby will be available on DVD this coming Jan. 5 from Paramount Home Media.

Screened in April of this year at the Tribeca Film Festival, Ashby emerged from the clutter of new film openings (23 feature films and 17 documentaries) with positive buzz and was quickly snatched up as an indie acquisition by Paramount.

Let’s say up front that it is a mixed genre script from McNamara — not quite a black comedy in the literal sense, but a comedy with moments of violence.  It’s what you would call “off-beat,” but in a good way.

Nat Wolff, fresh from Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars, stars as Ed, a high school kid uprooted and new in town with his single mom, June (played by Sarah Silverman — her casting gives you something of a clue as to the “off-beat” nature of the film; she has some terrific moments).   Ed has no friends and would like to be nothing more than a wallflower … just blend into the scenery, get through high school and don’t get punched by the jocks.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
However, events conspire against him and a class assignment leads him to his next door neighbor, Ashby Holt (Mickey Rourke), a man with 20 miles of bad road, no, wait, make that 120 miles of bad road written all over his face.   He’s got health issues (in more ways than one) and has had a checkered career that includes 93 hits for the CIA — Ashby as it turns out is a retired killer (well, semi-retired).   Nice neighbor.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThe two hit if off, Ashby toughens Ed up and Ed reciprocates by driving his mentor to visit former associates (basically a getaway driver for hits).  In the meantime, Ed meets the bespeckled Eloise (Emma Roberts — We’re the Millers, Nancy Drew, Aquamarine, etc.), learns to defend himself and discovers that he has a talent for playing football.   

Now all Ed has to do is win the girl, win the big game and not get whacked.  Who knew that high school would have so many challenges!!!

Indican Pictures To Release Director Christopher Showerman’s Radio America On DVD On Nov. 17

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
One song, that’s all it takes to rocket a hard working musician from obscurity to the national spotlight.   The Lumineers delivered “Ho Hey” in 2012 and as of today they have 137.8 million views on YouTube — the album upon which the song appears has gone Platinum.  

Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites worked for ten long years and pretty much no one noticed who they were.   One song, that all changed.

You want another example?   How about Rachel Platten!   For 12 years she was a working musician, two small albums during that period, some work in a cover band and a few gigs here and there.   And then in the spring of this year, “Fight Song,” which immediately sold over two million copies!

One song, stardom … that’s the subject of actor Christopher Showerman’s directorial debut, American Radio (he also wrote the script), which is heading to DVD courtesy of Indican Pictures on Nov. 17.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Eric (Jacob Motsinger) and Dave (Christopher Alice) work on a farm, they are wannabe rockers, but their only audience is the livestock.   Moo cow, moo … rock’on!   Their friend, Jane (Kristi Engelmann — Skyler), sets things in motion when she shows the pair a flyer for a “battle of the bands,” which naturally gets them all excited in that they can perform before real people!

Eric is the ambitious one, Dave just wants to hear their music played on the radio, that would be cool.   The “battle of the bands” gig gets them an audience with a producer, their tune is soon a single and behold, it starts to sell (a million copies and counting) … and suddenly Dave and Eric are on the road and playing before audiences of 20,000!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Is it the music, or, the fame?   That’s what these two life-long friends will soon be faced with.  Parties, groupies and all the things that can destroy everything they’ve work for.  Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll … 15 minutes and gone!

With a soundtrack (something like ten rock-out songs) written and performed by Showerman — yes, actor, producer, writer, director and musician — American Radio rings true from the humble start to the heights of stardom and the inevitable crash.   It is the music and that will bring our boys full circle.   

Indican Pictures has a solid indie pickup here … well worth a look, not for just the story and performance, but the music as well (a CD in the works, perhaps?)!

CJ Entertainment's The Piper Makes Its DVD Debut On Feb. 2

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
It seems, on the surface, to be an adaptation of a timeless fairly tale borrowed from the Brothers Grimm, but Korean filmmaker Kim Gwang-tae's The Piper goes much deeper as he builds to a horrific climax of unforgiving retribution. 

CJ Entertainment announced this past week that The Piper will be making its domestic DVD debut on Feb. 2, 2016.

The Korean War has ended and two survivors, a father (Ryu Seung-ryong) and his son traverse the landscape bound for Seoul in search of medical help for the boy.   They happen upon a village, cleverly hidden in the woods, and ask to spend the night … a simple beginning.

We soon learn that the village is both infested with rats and that the villagers guard a terrible secret.   On both counts, despite its picturesque location, it is not a happy place.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The story unfolds in measured paces as the “Piper” (aka: “The Guest”) gets to know the villagers, including the alluring Mi-sook (Chun Woo-hee — Sunny), and offers his special skills to them that will drive out the ravenous vermin.    

A deal is struck, he sets about to create a mysterious potion from materials that he gathers in the nearby woods and when ready he begins to play his pipe … the rats, as legend tells, are duty-bound to follow.

He is their savior, but they quickly renege on the deal, denounce him as a North Korean spy and viciously maim him, his pipe-playing days appear to be at an end.   The third act of The Piper is especially cringe-worthy as our hero exacts a revenge that will have you hiding your eyes in terror!

The Piper is presented in Korean with English subtitles.

M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit Arrives On Jan. 5 As DVD And Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Selections Courtesy Of Universal Studios Home Entertainment

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
His filmmaking career started off with such a bang and then about midway through his 2006 film release of Lady in the Water things started to go south.  The Happening (2008), The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013) were all duds.

Of course we are talking about auteur filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, whose latest film, The Visit, suggests that he’s learned his lesson and is back to making films that his early fans can once again warm to.  

Universal Studios Home Entertainment will begin the New Year with the Jan. 5 release of DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions of The Visit, a genuinely scary horror tale complete with a “Shyamalan” twist.

The ARR is 116 days and ticket sales for this post-Labor Day theatrical release were a nice $64.4 million.

Bonus features include two featurettes — “Becca’s Photos” and “The Making of The Visit.”

20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment Tabs Dec. 15 For DVD And Blu-ray Editions Of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
There are three sci-fi series in play right now from the Hollywood Studios that are all doing well.   They cover pretty much the same ground, which is that civilization has turned to crap and the Millennials (or their equivalent) have given up their texting and social media constructs to save what’s left of the world.

From The Hunger Games to The Divergent Series to Maze Runner, our young protagonists must overcome seemingly impossible obstacles thrown at them by a social order bent on maintaining power.   Of course they succeed and do so over a series of films … the faithful return again and again to their local multiplex to see how their “alter egos” are doing.

The latest series, Maze Runner, adapted from writer James Dashner’s novel for the screen by 20th Century-Fox and released theatrically, with direction by Wes Ball, in September of 2014 scored a solid $102.4 million in ticket sales.   

Here we are introduced to Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), the last member of a group of “lost boys,” who are trapped in a walled glade that is surrounded by a seemingly endless maze (a maze filled with creatures called Grievers who kill anyone trapped therein).   As it turns out these young men are basically lab rats being experimented on by a “social order bent on maintaining power.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The sequel, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (also directed by Wes Ball), opened exactly one year later (also during the post-Labor Day period) and has pulled in $78.9 million in ticket sales (the next installment is set for February of 2017 and is to be titled Maze Runner: The Death Cure).

20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment announced this past week that they will move Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials to the DVD and Blu-ray market place in time for prime sales activity during the Christmas gift-giving holiday period.   It will be joing Fantastic Four (announced the previous week) on Dec. 15.   

The ARR is a swift-to-market 88 days.

As to bonus goodies, the DVD edition includes a gag reel and 14 deleted or extended scenes with optional commentary from director Wes Ball, writer T.S. Nowlin, producer Joe Hartwick Jr. and film editor Dan Zimmerman.

These elements are included with the Blu-ray SKU, plus two featurettes — “Jason’s Report” and the multi-part “Secrets of the Scorch” — and a multi-part examination of the film’s visual effects (with commentary by Ball), complete with a visual effects reel.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Moves Writer/Director Alex Kendrick’s Faith-Based War Room To DVD And Blu-ray On Dec. 22

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release on Dec. 22 — smack dab in the middle of the Christmas holiday mix — both DVD and Blu-ray editions of writer/director Alex Kendrick’s faith-based box office smash, War Room.

Ticket sales were a robust $66.8 million and the ARR works out to an industry average of 116 days.

As to bonus goodies, Kendrick provides commentary, there are deleted scenes and eight featurettes … exclusive to the Blu-ray SKU are two additional featurettes and the Steven Curtis Chapman music video, “Warrior.”