Monday, April 18, 2016

Vinegar Syndrome Preps A 2K Restoration Of Rudy Ray Moore's The Human Tornado As A Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack On May 31

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, The Human Tornado, Ralph Tribbey
Vinegar Syndrome is back on May 31 with two new 2K film restorations showcasing golden cinematic treasures from the 1970s — both releases will be Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs.

On Apr. 26, Vinegar Syndrome will be releasing Rudy Ray Moore in Dolemite, so how fitting is it that the sequel to that blaxploitation gem, director Cliff Roquemore’s The Human Tornado, is one of the two restorations (from original 35mm film elements) that will be on the release calendar for delivery to fans on the last day of May.

When Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore) is caught offering sexual pleasure to the wife of the local sheriff (J.B. Baron), he has to take it on the lam … he was lucky, the wife and deputy, who was order by the sheriff to “shotgun” the two naked lovers, were not.   

He heads out to Los Angeles, where he discovers that Queen Bee (Lady Reed) is once again in trouble with the mob … this time a thug by the name of Cavaletti (played by Herb Graham).   So it’s clear to our hero that the mafia must be vanquished and he must keep a sharp eye out for the racist sheriff who is out to kill him.   Kill Dolemite?   I don’t think so!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, The Human Tornado, Ralph Tribbey
Bonus features include the making-of documentary, “I, Dolemite Part II,” a commentary track featuring Mr. Motion (actor Jimmy Lynch) and Rudy Ray Moore’s biographer, Mark Jason Murray, and the option to view the German-dubbed version of the film, Der Bastard.

The second 2K film restoration is director Ray Danton’s 1975 horror film, Psychic Killer.

Poor Arnold Masters (played by Jim Hutton — whose popular whodunit, Ellery Queen, was in its first season when Psychic Killer was released theatrically), he is a mister milquetoast who gets shipped off to an insane asylum for a murder he didn’t commit.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Psychic Killer, Ralph TribbeyTwo things happen that change all of this … first, his mom dies and second, a fellow nut job just happens to have the power to do something with his mind that is called astral    

Next thing you know Arnold is out and has the ability to kill those he holds responsible for his incarceration.   All with his mind … and no power on earth can stop him!!!

In addition to Jim Hutton — who was a hot commodity with the aforementioned Ellery Queen series — the cast of Psychic Killer also included Julie Adams, Rod Cameron, Neville Brand, Nehemiah Persoff, Whit Bissell and Paul Burke.   

The director, Ray Danton had been an actor since the early 1950s and was just starting out as a director … so he called his friends (nice way to assemble a top notch cast on a micro budget).

Bonus features include a trio of featurettes — “The Danton Force,” “The Psychic Killer Inside Me,” and  “The Aura of Horror.” 
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, The Human Tornado, Ralph Tribbey

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Psychic Killer, Ralph Tribbey

Wild Eye Releasing Selects May 24 For The DVD Debut Of Director Jeff Leroy's All-Carnage Thriller Grand Auto Theft LA

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Grand Theft Auto LA, Ralph Tribbey
Wild Eye Releasing has added director Jeff Leroy’s all-action — no, make that “all-carnage” — thriller, Grand Auto Theft LA, to its May 24 DVD release slate.

Vixen (Mahogany Zachary, who also co-produced), Katie (Isis Velazquez) and the rest of their girl-gang are what you would call gamers of the first order.   Give’em a joystick, fire up the TV and they can score with the best of them.   

But these are not just game-playing sweeties.  Angels from Los Angeles, their game-playing is not just for fun; not for time-killing kicks … but a little practice for the real thing.   Vixen has decided that they are ready to rock and roll for the absolute control of the “Calles de Infierno” section of the city … so give them a gun, a machete or a knife and they are ready to rock and roll with the cartel for control of these very mean streets.  

If you want violence and chicks who can more than handle themselves in any street fight, then Grand Auto Theft LA will be right up your action alley come May 24!!!  

The Film Detective Restores Roger Corman's The Terror For Delivery To Fans As A Blu-ray Edition On May 31

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, The Terror, Ralph Tribbey
There are legendary films that belong in any serious film collector’s library.   Sure, you can count Citizen Kane, The Godfather (I and II), Wizard of Oz, Casablanca … the list goes on and on, but you get the idea.   There are just certain films that are keepers!   

One of these “keepers,” which wasn’t a blockbuster, would have to Roger Corman’s 1963 chiller, The Terror.   

Word arrived this week that a new HD transfer will making its way to Blu-ray on May 31 through the restoration efforts the Film Detective.   Grab all of those PD DVD (and even VHS) versions that you might have collected over the years and toss’em … the Blu-ray is here!

These are reasons why The Terror is a must-have keeper:

First, Roger Corman, Francis Ford Coppola, Monte Hellman, Jack Hill and even Jack Nicholson all had a hand in shooting the film (partly because Corman, who always with eye out for production budgets, was using the set from The Raven, which was in the process of being torn down while they were still filming).  That’s an impressive list of filmmakers!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, The Terror, Ralph Tribbey
Next, the film stars Boris Karloff (who was available, as legend has it, for just three days … and was run-ragged during that period as The Raven set came down around his ears), Jack Nicholson (a Corman regular during the early 1960s), Dick Miller (another Corman player), Jonathan Haze (Seymour from Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors) and Sandra Knight (ex-wife of her co-star, Jack Nicholson, who would also appear in Blood Bath, before retiring — she came back for a cameo in the Corman-produced 1990 film, The Haunting of Morella).

And just for kicks, footage from the film was used in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1968 film release of Targets, which also featured Boris Karloff (the drive-in sequence, you’ll understand).  Bogdanovich also began his film career as part of Corman’s circle.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, The Terror, Ralph Tribbey

Wolfe Selects June 14 As The DVD Debut Date For Director Shonali Bose’s Margarita With A Straw

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Margarita With A Straw, Ralph Tribbey
Kalki Koechlin is a name that is not likely to be familiar to American audiences.  She is a star in her native India — in the world of Bollywood cinema — but she almost didn’t land the pivotal role of Leni in director Anurag Kashyap’s 2009 film, Dev.D (an adaptation of the Chatterjee novel “Devdas”), because she “wasn’t Indian.”   

Such is the conundrum of Kalki Koechlin, an international beauty, born to French parents in India.  Raised in India, fluent in Tamil (plus English, French and Hindi), educated, talented and a gifted actress ... a Bollywood star.   Three-times nominated for IIFA Awards in the Best Supporting Actress category — the equivalent of our Oscars.

On June 14, Wolfe will give domestic audiences a chance to see her shine in director Shonali Bose’s international film sensation, Margarita With a Straw.  That’s the street date for the award-winning DVD debut of a film that will make you a fan of Kalki Koechlin, not because she is a Bollywood beauty, but because she is a gifted actress. 

In Margarita With a Straw she plays Laila, a college student attending Delhi University, who is afflicted with cerebral palsy.   Wheelchair-bound, she is nevertheless a talented writer with a flair for alternative music compositions, who has her heart broken when she is rejected by a fellow student that she has fallen in love with.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Margarita With A Straw, Ralph TribbeyYou see that it is hopeless — take one look at her — you feel for her, her body contorted, but her brain alive; her beauty shines through.   So when an opportunity to spend a semester abroad presents itself (at NYU) she jumps at it.   Her mother, Shubhangini (Revathy — Thevar Magan, Kizhakku Vasal), goes with her to Manhattan to help her navigate this foreign culture; this alien world.

This is your set up.   Filmmaker Shonali Bose brings our poor, physically-challenged young woman to a foreign land … where she might rightly find herself alone and isolated.   Instead, she meets another student, a blind woman named Khanum (Sayani Gupta) from Bangladesh — in India their paths would never cross.

At first her mother is upset, not that Khanum is from Bangladesh (that is problem enough, but we are in Manhattan, so you deal with it), or that she is blind (one blind, one in a wheelchair … how does that work), but that she is a woman.  Despite her misgivings, she has never seen her daughter so happy. 

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Margarita With A Straw, Ralph Tribbey
For Margarita With a Straw to work — and it is a beautiful film — you must accept Koechlin’s performance.   She can’t be just an actor acting, rather she must be the character of Laila.  You have to believe or the film simply doesn’t work.  Of note, in interviews it has been revealed that Shonali Bose’s sister suffers from cerebral palsy, so her understanding of the affliction and what she expected from Koechlin has been translated to the screen flawlessly.   

Like we said, when Wolfe brings Margarita With a Straw to the DVD market place on June 14 you will become a fan of Kalki Koechlin.  She is an amazing talent.

The film is presented in Hindi and English (a mix), with English subtitles throughout (Laila’s slurred dialogue is often hard to understand).  As a bonus, there is a behind the scenes featurette.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Margarita With A Straw, Ralph Tribbey

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The KimStim Collection And Icarus Films Team For the June 21 Domestic DVD Debut Of Charlotte Rampling's I, Anna

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, I Anna, Ralph Tribbey
The KimStim Collection, with sales and distribution support provided by Icarus Films, announced this past week that writer/director Barnaby Southcombe’s film adaptation of Elsa Lewin’s 1987 mystery novel, I, Anna, will be available on DVD this coming June 21.

The streets of New York of the 1980s have been updated to those of modern London in this neo noir thriller adapted for the screen by Southcombe (Footballers Wive$: Overtime, Waterloo Road, etc.) as a showcase for his mother, Charlotte Rampling.   

The film sensation of 1970s with her cutting-edge roles in such films as 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Zardoz, The Night Porter and more, did not receive her first Oscar nomination until this past year for her performance in 45 Years — which is due out on DVD and Blu-ray on June 14.   

In I, Anna, she plays Anna Welles, a lonely woman with “issues,” who may, or may not, have been involved in a brutal murder.   Bernie Reid (Gabriel Byrne), the detective assigned to the case, becomes enamored with her style, her elegance and her beauty — as men so often do in film noir tales — and, being lonely himself, falls in love with her. 
As events unfold, and she begins to experience repressed memories, Reid is trapped between doing his job and sheltering the woman he has fallen in love with … who just might have a screw loose.  

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, I Anna, Ralph TribbeyThis stylish, psychological tale — with its beautiful cinematography — worked the festival circuit in Europe, Asia and Canada (with wins at the Viareggio EuropaCinema festival and the Vancouver International Film Festival, among others), had a brief theatrical run in selected markets overseas, but failed to find theatrical representation in the domestic market.   

The KimStim Collection has come to the rescue and the timing for this Charlotte Rampling star-vehicle is spot-on with 45 Years arriving in the home entertainment market at the same time.  Rampling and Byrne fans will not be disappointed.

FilmRise Selects May 6 For The DVD Debut Of Documentary Filmmaker Amy Berg's Janis: Little Girl Blue

DVD & Blu-ray Releaes Report, Janis: Little Girl Blue, Ralph Tribbey
On Friday, May 6, FilmRise, with sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, will release on DVD documentary filmmaker Amy Berg’s Janis: Little Girl Blue, a stirring tribute to rock icon, Janis Joplin.

Narrated by singer-songwriter Cat Power, the film arrives with an ARR of 161 days and ticket sales for this documentary during its theatrical run totaled an impressive $402,249.

Bonus features include four featurettes — “Big Brother Acapella,” “Avalon vs. The Fillmore,” “Influences” and “Walk of Fame Ceremony.”

Mill Creek Entertainment Targets July 5 For Two Double-Feature Blu-ray Releases Featuring The Films Of Film Promoter Par Excellence William Castle

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
On July 5, Mill Creek Entertainment will double-up with a pair of Blu-ray double-bills showcasing the films of director and film promoter par excellence William Castle.

The Blu-ray double bills are: William Castle Double Feature: 13 Ghosts and 13 Frightened Girls and William Castle Double Features: Homicidal and Mr. Sardonicus.   The SRP for each Blu-ray double-feature is just $14.95 (before discounts at retail) and that will have genre-fans salivating as they eagerly await the arrival of July 5.

Beginning with the Halloween-season release of Macabre in 1958, William Castle went from being a B-movie line director for Columbia Pictures, where he learned his filmmaking craft under the tutelage Harry Cohn (who died suddenly of a heart attack in early 1958), to that of a film impresario who ran off a string of six horror hits in a row.   Right in the middle of this run was the summer of 1960 release of 13 Ghosts.

Castle had a knack for coming up with promotional gimmicks that garnered publicity and elevated his films beyond just B-grade exploitation fare.   13 Ghosts, used a now-you-see’em, now-you’don’t gimmick involving red and blue colored cellophane panels to see the ghosts haunting the Zorba mansion.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Counted among the cast members of 13 Ghosts is the Wizard of Oz’s Margaret Hamilton, Martin Milner — who would rise to stardom with the debut of the television series Route 66 beginning in October of the same year — Rosemary DeCamp (who had just finished a five-season run as the co-star of The Bob Cummings Show — nominated for an Emmy during the final season) and veteran actor Donald Woods (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Watch on the Rhine, etc.).

The second half of this “triskaidekaphobia” double bill is director William Castle’s summer of 1963 film, 13 Frightened Girls.   This is more of a mystery than a horror film, with the gimmick used by Castle being that of recruiting girls from different countries (which were featured in the opening scene that was spliced onto the beginning of the film for that particular country’s theatrical run) to play themselves at a boarding school in Switzerland (actually shot on location in Big Bear, California).   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyKathy Dunn is the “star” among the girls (the catalyst that moves the story along) — this was her only theatrical release and soon “retired” from the business.   Her co-stars were screen regulars Murray Hamilton and Hugh Marlowe. 

Of the 13 girls, Alexandra Bastedo (Miss England), Ilona Schütze (Miss Germany), Judy Pace (Liberia — who was actually an American), Gina Trikonis (Miss Russia — who was also an American) and Lynne Sue Moon (Miss China — likely born in England) — who all made their film debuts here — were the only ones to continue with film careers (the others, one and done).

The second double feature, William Castle Double Features: Homicidal and Mr. Sardonicus, teams two horror delights that were both released theatrically in 1961 (Homicidal was released during the summer and Mr. Sardonicus was Castle’s Halloween-season entry for 1961).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
William Castle saw the success of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and went into production with Homicidal, but it wasn’t going to be just a quickie rip-off, he had to come up with a really clever twist, so he sat down with his long-time collaborator, Robb White (Macabre, House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts … and the author of such novels as “Up Periscope” (1956), “Torpedo Run” (1962) and “Deathwatch” (1972)), and they came up with a doozy!

Jean Arless (actually Joan Marshall acting under a pseudonym so as not to give away the twist) stars as Emily, a gaunt-looking blonde who has a lust for murder.   The police suspect that a woman named Miriam (Patricia Breslin) might be connected to the grisly murder at the beginning of the film, but her alibi is strong.   Meanwhile, Miriam’s half-brother, Warren, has returned from Europe and the two of them are in line for an inheritance as Warren’s father has passed away. 

Miriam’s boyfriend, Karl (Glenn Corbett), begins to suspect that Emily, who is acting very strange, might be involved.   It gets even stranger when we learn that Warren has secretly married the creepy Emily, who is charged with the care of the elderly Helga (who knows a terrible secret, but who has had a stroke and is now mute), the woman who served as the family’s housekeeper when Warren was just a youngster.   

So how do Karl and Miriam convince Warren that Emily is dangerous?   That’s their problem.

As the film reaches its climax, Castle interjects a “fright break,” where theatrical patrons have the opportunity to leave the theatre — and receive a full refund — if they are too scared to continue watching the film.   
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The reveal — the MacGuffin — is excellent and so worthy of William Castle’s reputation as a showman (the New York Times critic assigned to the film back in 1961 did not recognize that Jean Arless was a fraud and dubbed her performance “her film debut”).

The companion film on this Blu-ray release is Mr. Sardonicus, a period piece that sought to take advantage of the Edgar Allan Poe gothic adaptations that Vincent Price had with The Pit and the Pendulum earlier in the year and House of Usher (the previous year).

Castle saw the opportunity for a wholly original work when he recruited Ray Russell to adapt a screenplay of his own short story that had appeared in the January of 1961 edition of Playboy Magazine.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
It spins around the mysterious Baron Sardonicus (played by Guy Rolfe — Ivanhoe, King of Kings, The Alphabet Murders, etc.) and the efforts of Dr. Cargrave (Ronald Lewis) to find a cure for the Baron’s tortured condition (which is explained in a backstory).

The gimmick here was that the audience could choose the ending to the film — mercy or no mercy for Sardonicus.   Of course they picked no mercy (legend has it that Castle never shot a “mercy” ending — he knew what the outcome would always be).

Arrow Video To Release Four Incarnations Of Blood Bath As A Double-Disc Blu-ray Limited Edition On May 31

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Blood Bath, Ralph Tribbey
Arrow Video, with domestic sales and distribution support from MVD Entertainment Group, will be releasing all four versions of Blood Bath as a double-disc, limited edition Blu-ray collection on May 31.

History reports that Roger Corman saw an opportunity to get a Cold War espionage thriller about stolen paintings, or forgeries … or some such thing made on the cheap in Yugoslavia in 1963.   He even talks about making the deal in his 1990 book (with Jim Jerome), “How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime.”

For twenty grand, plus the contribution of two English-speaking actors, William Campbell and Patrick Magee (who had just finished Dementia 13), and one of his protégés (none other than Francis Ford Coppola) on set to supervise the script, he got Rados Novakovic to direct Operation Titian.

It was crap, so he asked Jack Hill to rework it.   Hill went down to Venice (Venice, California that is) with the likes of Corman regular, Jonathan Haze (The Little Shop of Horrors, The Terror, etc.), Sig Haig (Hill’s buddy), Playboy Playmate (June 1962) Marissa Mathes and a few others to shoot additional scenes.   Campbell rejoined the project, but wanted more money.   

This resulted in the first cut of the new film, which was titled Blood Bath, however it never saw the light of day.   Time passed and Corman took another whack at it, this time with his production assistant Stephanie Rothman as the writer and director of the project.   History records that he gave her free reign to rework both Novakovic and Hill’s versions of the film anyway she saw fit ... and she did.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Blood Bath, Ralph Tribbey

She made it a vampire movie.   So it went from a story about a forged Titian painting, to a story about a painter who kills models and disposes of their bodies, to a story about a deranged painter who actually changes into a vampire.   Campbell was done, no more re-shoots for him, so Rothman’s work-around was to simply get an actor to be a shape-shifter who was heavily cloaked and not recognizable.  The result was Blood Bath and it was double-billed with Queen of Blood and released in March of 1966 (with both Rothman and Hill created as co-directors).   

Lastly, the film was re-cut yet again for television syndication and re-titled Track of the Vampire.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Blood Bath, Ralph TribbeyArrow Video has assembled new 2K restorations of Portrait in Terror (TV syndication version of a re-edited Operation Titian) Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire from the original film elements, plus they’ve included Operation Titian (which has been reconstructed from original film elements) to round out the checkered history of this one-of-a-kind film production.

Bonus features include a newly-prepared video session with actor Sig Haig, an archive interview with Jack Hill and a newly prepared featurette titled “The Trouble with Titian Revisited,” which features Video Watchdog’s Tim Lucas updating his definitive 1990 three-part essay on the history of Operation Titian (and all the versions that followed).