Monday, April 10, 2017

The Film Detective Readies Ten New Film Restorations For DVD Release On Apr. 11

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Detective has ten new film restorations ready for delivery on DVD on Apr. 11.

Leading the charge is director — and that is always a subjective evaluation — Denis Sanders’ summer of 1973 sci-fi thriller, Graveyard Tramps (aka: Invasion of the Bee Girls).

Are we looking at a satire of the woman’s rights movement of the 60s and 70s?   Or, could it just be what it is, a make-a-buck sci-fi tale using sex as something akin to an alien invasion “death ray?”   

In the end it just doesn’t matter the reason, this is a rare gem that is to be savored … the short-lived theatrical distributor Centaur, who also gave us Switchblade Sisters, Girls Are for Loving and Naughty Nymphs, was responsible and when you consider these Invasion of the Bee Girls stable mates you might just have your answer.

They are dropping like flies at Brandt Research, a government-sponsored research facility, so it falls to government agent Neil Agar (William Smith — The Losers, Chrome and Hot Leather, Grave of the Vampire, Scorchy, etc.) to investigate the ever-increasing body count of male researchers and local town’s people — all male!   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyIt is, of course, a diabolical invasion led by the beautiful Dr. Susan Harris (Anitra Ford — The Big Bird Cage, The Longest Yard), who is secretly building an army of human female-bee mutants who drive men to their deaths with their sexual prowess.   When Harris tries to mutate Agar’s new love interest, Julie (Victoria Vetri — When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth), it is now or never.   So it is bring Harris down and end her plans of world domination, for once the alluring Julie is fully mutated Agar knows that he will be a goner!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Also on the Apr. 11 film restoration list from The Film Detective is director Henry King’s 1934 film adaptation of French writer Jacques Deval’s 1931 novel, Marie Galante, which teamed a pre-MGM Spencer Tracy with French actress Ketti Gallian (a short-lived Hollywood film career included Under the Pampas Moon and smaller parts in Shall We Dance and Kurt Neumann’s 1937 film release of Espionage before returning to France).

The story has Gallian’s character, Marie, accidently kidnapped from her French village, who then travels by steam ship to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, where she bails.    Lost and confused in a strange land, this beautiful waif heads south and eventually ends up in the American-controlled Panama Canal Zone, where she wanders into an international conspiracy.   

It’s agent Crawbett (Tracy) to the rescue as he is also onto a plan to trap the American fleet in the canal locks.  No one else would believe the ditzy French girl, but he does.   Fleet saved!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAlso from 1934 is director Frank Strayer’s haunted house mystery, The Ghost Walks, which features the likes of John Miljan (who played Custer in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1936 film release of The Plainsman) and June Collyer (A Face in the Fog, Murder by Television, etc.) in a breezy story that will keep you guessing.

On the Western front on Apr. 11, we have Wagon Wheels (1934, Randolph Scott and Gail Patrick), the Three Mesquiteers ride in Hit the Saddle (1937, Robert Livingston, Max Terhune and Ray “Crash” Corrigan … and Rita Hayworth), Luck of Roaring Camp (also from 1937), In Old Colorado (a 1941 Hopalong Cassidy entry starring William Boyd) and writer/director Alan Le May’s 1950 film release of High Lonesome starring John Drew Barrymore.

Rounding out the selections are the film version of 1932 serial, Hurricane Express, featuring a very young John Wayne, and director John Brahm’s 1944 noirish Guest in the House, starring Anne Baxter and Ralph Bellamy.

Paramount Home Media Tabs June 6 For DVD And Blu-ray Editions Of Director Director Ernest R. Dickerson’s Juice: 25th Anniversary Edition

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount Home Media announced this past week that director Ernest R. Dickerson’s 1992 crime drama, Juice, will be getting a fresh look on June 6 with both DVD and Blu-ray 25th Anniversary Editions.

Omar Epps (as Dr. Foreman on the House television series) made his screen debut as Q, one of four young men from the streets of New York City’s Harlem area, who against his better judgment goes along with his friend Bishop (Tupac Shakur) into robbing a local bodega. 

It was just something to do.   Get a little respect … make a statement.   So Q, Bishop, Raheem (Khalil Kain) and Steel (Jermaine Hopkins) go down that rabbit hole and by the end of the night the store owner will be dead and so too will Raheem … both at the hands of Bishop.

Friendships will tested, but once things were set in motion on this fateful evening there could be only one outcome.   Either Q or Bishop must die. 

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Bonus features include commentary from Ernest R. Dickerson, three new featurettes — “You’ve Got the Juice Now,” “The Wrecking Crew” and “Sip the Juice: The Music” — plus the vintage featurette titled “Stay in the Scene: The Interview.”

Vinegar Syndrome Announces Four Film Restorations For May 30 — The Hearse And Malibu High Lead The Way

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Vinegar Syndrome announced its May lineup of new Blu-ray and DVD product offerings this past week and there is plenty for film fans to get excited about.   So let us get right to it.

Leading the way on May 30 is the new 2K restoration (from the original 35mm film negative) of director George Bowers’ 1980 Crown International Pictures horror chiller, The Hearse.

Jane (played by Trish Van Devere — Where’s Poppa?, The Last Run, The Day of the Dolphin, etc.) inherits her aunt’s lovely old home in the country and the timing couldn’t be better.   She just went through a nasty divorce that has left her emotionally drained and getting away to the rural hamlet of Blackwood (actually shot in the Griffith Park area of Los Angeles) could be the perfect place for her to recover from her troubles. 

In theory that would be the case, but on her way to her new digs she is nearly driven off the road by a mysterious hearse and upon her arrival at the house she is greeted by Walter Prichard (Joseph Cotten), her late aunt’s attorney.   He’s not exactly the welcome-wagon as he makes no bones about wanting her to sell the place to him … sort of like, “Welcome to Blackwood, now get out!”
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

It’s just too nice a place to take him up on his offer, so stay she will.   Things start to get weird when she discovers her aunt’s diary and learns that she was a Satanist and the town’s population will now have nothing to do poor Jane as a result of her aunt’s conversion to the dark side … perhaps that offer from the creepy attorney isn’t so half-baked after all.

In any case, she gets some additional information from Reverend Wilson (Donald Hotton), which isn’t good.  Her dead aunt did not arrive at the funeral home as there was a fiery accident and both her coffin and the driver of the hearse mysteriously vanished.   Didn’t a hearse almost run her off the road, so maybe nothing is as it seems?

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
She soon discovers that the house might be haunted and that hearse keeps appearing … perhaps it is time to sell!   Just when things seem hopeless, she meets a man named Tom (David Gautreaux) and it is love at first sight.   Safe at last … or perhaps not!

The Hearse is a decent horror mystery that keeps you guessing as to whether Jane will survive the good fortune of inheriting her aunt’s home … or become its next victim.

Bonus goodies include a video session with actor David Gautreaux that is titled “Satan Get Behind Thee.”       

Also from the film vaults of Crown International Pictures on May 30 is the new 2K film restoration (all from the original 35mm film negative) of director Irvin Berwick’s 1979 sexploitation thriller, Malibu High
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Jill Lansing, in her only film role, stars as Kim Bentley, a high school senior from the wrong side of the tracks, by Malibu standards, who loses her boyfriend, Kevin (Stuart Taylor), to a well-healed trollop named Annette (Tammy Taylor — Meatballs Part II) and then goes off the deep end.   In short order she starts turning tricks for some extra cash, gets involved with the mob, becomes a hit woman (well, actually a hit teenager, as opposed to your standard “hit man”) and dies a horrible death on the beach at the film’s end.   WOW, not what you were expecting.

The previous year, Crown International Pictures had a solid hit with Malibu Beach, so this film, which started out as something quite different, ended up being released theatrically with a very similar title, Malibu High, but beyond the “Malibu” part and Crown being connected with both films, they are polar opposites.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Bonus features included commentary with producer Lawrence Foldes and actress Tammy Taylor, video sessions with both Foldes and Taylor, as well as actor Garth Pillsbury (who played Lance … the pimp who moved Kim on to bigger and better opportunities) and a Q&A session filmed at the New Beverly Cinema featuring Foldes, Taylor and actor Alex Mann (Tony, her fist pimp).   

There are also two short films from Lawrence Foldes, Struggle for Israel and Grandpa & Marika.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey 
On the DVD release front from Vinegar Syndrome on May 30 we find the next installment in the company’s popular “Peekarama” series.   The double-feature selection this time out are two new 2K restorations (from 35mm source material) featuring the work of director John Christopher —  Here Comes the Brides and The Pussycat Ranch, both from 1978 (which means shot on film) and showcasing the talents of Samantha Fox!

Also available on DVD on May 30 is director Fred Lincoln’s 1983 adult film homage to screwball comedy film classics, That’s Outrageous.    Jamie Gillis stars as a Paris fashion photographer who gets to work with the likes of Mai Lin, Tiffany Clark, Anna Ventura, Sharon Kane, Natasha and Franie Lomay.

Bonus goodies for That’s Outrageous include a video session with actor John Mozzer (aka: Alan Adrian).

Metal Mind Productions Teams With MVD Entertainment Group On May 5 For The DVD Debut Of Pendragon: Masquerade 20

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Metal Mind Productions, with domestic sales and distribution support provided by MVD Entertainment Group, will be unleashing Pendragon: Masquerade 20 on DVD on Friday, May 5.

Nick Barrett and his iconic band mates of the prog rock group Pendragon returned to the Wyspianski Theatre in Katowice, Poland in May of 2016 for the live concert celebration of their 1996 album, The Masquerade Overture.  

All nine cuts were delivered to their fans, which would have been plenty, but the band continued on for nearly three full hours with eight additional show-stopping favorites.   Barrett would later comment on viewing the final cut, “This DVD is probably the most cohesive performance from the band so far captured on film.”

Included in the mix are: “The Masquerade Overture,” “As Good as Gold,” “Paintbox,” “The Pursuit of Excellence,” “Guardian of My Soul,” “The Shadow,”  “Masters of Illusion,” “King of the Castle” and “Schizo,” all from the aforementioned The Masquerade Overture album.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The bonus numbers in the set were: “Nostradamus” and “Breaking the Spell” from their 1993 album, “The Window of Life;” “Indigo” (the “Pure” album from 2008); “This Green and Pleasant Land (from the “Passion” album released in 2011) and four selections from their latest album, “Men Who Climb Mountains” (2014) — “Beautiful Soul,” “Faces of Light,” “Explorers of the Infinite” and “Come Home Jack.”  

Bonus features include a video session with Peter Gee (original band member and bassist) and Jan-Vincent Velazco (the newest member of the band … on drums) and the music video compilation titled “In Bardo in Sri Lanka.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Director Richie Keen's Fist Fight On DVD And Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack On May 30 Courtesy Of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Director Richie Keen’s knockout high school-themed comedy, Fist Fight, will be heading to the home entertainment arena on May 30 as both DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions.

The ARR is 102 days and box office receipts currently stand at $32 million.

The prospect of summer vacation has driven the students at Roosevelt High School to check out academically, which leaves the faculty frustrated with their all but hopeless efforts to maintain order.   Except for one teacher, Mr. Strickland (played by Ice Cube), who is sick and tired of their pranks and bad attitude … he is a no-prisoners taken sort of teacher.

Meanwhile, Andy Campbell (Charlie Day — as Dale in the Horrible Bosses films), a fellow teacher, is just trying to run out the clock.   His wife is pregnant and the students are just noise … they will eventually go away.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThat’s the set up for Keen’s teacher-themed version of director Phil Joanou’s 1987 cult comedy, Three O’Clock High.    A school out of control, a teacher with a short fuse and another teacher who does everything possible to avoid confrontation.    Through a series of misunderstandings and student pranks Strickland ends up challenging the meek Campbell to an after-school fist fight … and the students are all for it.

Throughout the day it is on again, off again, on again … there are interventions — Holly, the school counselor (played by Jillian Bell), is absolutely hilarious in her failed attempts —the police are even called, but it is all to no avail.   The fight is on!

Bonus features for Fist Fight include deleted scenes and the featurette titled “Georgia Film Commission.”

Icarus Films To Release Director Wang Bing’s Award-Winning Three Sisters On DVD On June 13

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Icarus Films announced this past week that Chinese documentary filmmaker Wang Bing’s award-winning Three Sisters will be available on DVD in the domestic marketplace beginning on June 13.

It took him six months to document a simple story that is all too common to the rural and remote regions of China.   Poverty and the seeming indifference of the central government to the plight of its citizens — there are so many, why fret over the lives of the few.

Bing zeros in on the lives of three young girls, sisters — Yingying, the oldest who is ten, and her younger sisters Zhenzhen (six) and Fenfen (four) — in their village (Xiyangtang) in Yunnan Province (southwest China, bordering on Vietnam, Loas and Burma (aka: Myanmar)).     

Mom is gone and their father is always off looking for work.  The girl’s only lifeline is a grandfather and nearby aunt … in other words, they pretty much fend for themselves.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey 
Day in and day out the filmmaker observes their lives and in doing so shows much about the nature of life for those in rural China.   Three Sisters is certainly a film that challenges the senses.

Three Sisters is presented in Mandarin (with the local Yunnan dialect) with English subtitles.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Selects May 23 For The Release Of DVD And Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Editions Of Writer/Director Jordan Peele’s Get Out

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment did something very clever this past week that relates to how films are announced sequentially to the home entertainment marketplace.   

It goes like this, if you have a really big film — one that pulled in something like $157 million in box office receipts — you don’t want to announce it at the same time, for the same release date, with other less fortunate films.   The “little guys” disappear in that news wave.

So two weeks ago, Universal’s PR department sent out news that Matt Damon’s CGI monster flick, The Great Wall, would be available on May 23.   The ticket sales in the domestic market were $45 million, which was something of a disappointment when you consider the film’s budget and Damon’s “marquee” value.

This week, for the same date — May 23 — Universal announced writer/director Jordan Peele’s mixed-genre blockbuster, Get Out, which will be available as both DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack product offerings.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
For the record, the ARR for that date comes in at 88 days and domestic ticket sales currently stand at $156.7 million.   Not bad for a reported production budget of under $5 million.

Get Out is basically a horror film, wrapped in a mystery, with a wicked sense of humor, that manages to cover racial issues without being overly preachy … that’s a very slick tightrope act for a first-time director to navigate.   But Jordan Peele is no ordinary “first time director,” he’s the Peele of the Key and Peele creative team and he has been doing comedy, writing and acting for years … in short, Jordan Peele knows his stuff.

Example, comedy is all about timing and when you have been as successful as Key and Peele, then you KNOW timing.   Get Out is an unnerving tale that serves up perfectly timed jolts … the creepiness builds and builds as ordinary things and events take on an ominous tone as the film progresses to its terror-climax.  

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyBonus features include commentary from filmmaker Jordan Peele, plus there is the   — a creative talent this savvy will be back as the director for more films, if he wants, period.   He provides commentary for this alternate ending, as well a series of deleted scenes.   Rounding out the bonus goodies are the featurette titled “Unveiling the Horror of Get Out” and a Q&A session with Peele and members of the cast.
much-discussed original ending, which Peele sensed was wrong for the film commercially

Arrow Video Targets May 23 As The Street Date For A Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Edition Of Kinji Fukasaku's Cops Vs. Thugs

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Arrow Video, with domestic sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, will be bringing to market a new HD transfer of Japanese filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku's 1975 cutting-edge yakuza thriller, Cops Vs. Thugs, on May 23 as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack product offering.

Bonus nuggets include a commentary track featuring film scholar Tom Mes (“The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film”), a newly-prepared video session with film scholar and Kinji Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane and the featurette titled “Sympathy for the Underdog.”

Cops Vs. Thugs is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey