Monday, June 12, 2017

The Film Detective Sets Five New Film Restorations For The Collectible DVD Market On June 13

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Detective will be ready on June 13 with five new film restorations for the DVD collectible market.

So let’s get to it!   We begin with writer/director Robert Tansey’s 1946 film adaptation of James Oliver Curwood’s best selling novel, God’s Country.  

This outdoor adventure stars Helen Gilbert (The Falcon Takes Over, The Secret of Dr. Kildare … who was married to none other than Johnny Stompanato in 1949 when he was murdered by Lana Turner’s daughter) as Lynn O'Mally, who lives with her uncle (played by William Farnum) at a remote trading post in the California redwoods with her half-wolf dog Powder.   She is at one with the forest.

Arriving in this picturesque setting is a man named Lee Preston (Robert Lowery), his guide, “Timber” Cross (Si Jenks) and their tag-along companion Old Tarp (Buster Keaton).   Lee takes an immediate liking to Lynn … but there are problems in “God’s Country” as Preston is the lam for a manslaughter beef and across the lake from the trading post is Howard King (Stanley Andrews) and his ravenous logging company, King Lumber Company.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
King has his eye on Lynn’s side of the lake and tricks Preston into helping him with his    King is so low that he even shoots Lynn’s pet bear cub!

So will Lee and Lynn find happiness?  Will the law catch up to Lee?  Will the dastardly King pull off his land-grab?   There’s a lot to reckon with in this taught little indie adventure film.

Also on the June 13 release calendar is filmmaker Robert C. Dertano’s 1954 youth-run-wild thriller, Girl Gang.   This is a remarkable film for the period as it deals with heroin addiction, marijuana as a gateway drug, prostitution, a gang-rape initiation, armed robbery and murder.  All-packed into a swiftly paced 63 minutes!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyIn the film’s opening sequence a quartet of young women beat senseless a motorist and steal his car, which they deliver to “Joe” (Timothy Farrell — Glen or Glenda, Dance Hall Racket, etc.), who runs girls, drugs and stolen cars.   

His immediate goal is to get his latest “girlfriend” — June (Joanne Arnold) — hooked on “H,” and insists that “Doc” (Harry Keaton), a physician who has had his license revoked, show her how it is done.   He refuses, but soon she is high as a kite anyway … and so too is Joe’s partner, Jack (Lou Monson), who has quickly turned the stolen car into a pile of cash.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyInto this den of thieves comes a rich high school girl by the name of Wanda (Mary Lou O'Connor), who is slumming, but she is quickly introduced to drugs and then gang-raped by Joe’s minions.   The drugs and “initiation” make Wanda a member in good standing in Joe’s “girl gang,” so a gas station stick-up is planned, but it goes south and poor Wanda doesn’t survive the night!   

Wow, if ever there ever was an exploitation film that screamed “drugs are bad,” this is it … Girl Gang, would make a perfect double-bill with Reefer Madness!

Rounding out the June 13 selection of new film restorations heading to the DVD are Chinese Mack, Gorilla Ship (1932, starring Ralph Ince as Captain “Gorilla” Larsen and Vera Reynolds as a woman he rescues at sea) and The Gunman From Bodie (1941, directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and starring “Rough Riders” Buck Jones, Tim McCoy and Raymond Hatton).

The Secret World of Alex Mack Leads Mill Creek Entertainment's Aug. 1 DVD And Blu-ray Release Calendar

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Mill Creek Entertainment was out with news this week relating to its first wave of August price-to-collect DVD and Blu-ray product offerings.

Leading the way on Aug. 1 is the six-disc collection of The Secret World of Alex Mack, starring Larisa Oleynik (The Baby-Sitters Club, 10 Things I Hate About You, Third Rock from the Sun, etc.) as an ordinary junior high school kid with super powers.
This ahead-of-its-time series ran for four seasons (a Nickelodeon production) and generated a total of 78 episodes.

Alex lives with her parents and older sister in the fictional town of Paradise Valley, Arizona, which is dominated by the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant, run by the sinister Danielle Atron (Louan Gideon).   It is here that a secret weight-loss concoction has been developed, GC-161, and it will become the source of Alex’s many powers (for example, she can turn herself into a blob of mercury — think: the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
While heading home from school one day an incompetent truck driver (John Nielsen) loses control of truckload of 50-gallon drums containing GC-161, nearly runs poor Alex over and slams into a fire hydrant.   One of the drums is damaged, covering Alex in goo and the gushing water both spreads the nasty stuff all over Alex and eventually washes away the evidence as well.   

She soon realizes that the chemical bath has given her an odd assortment of “super powers,” which she is not really willing to use to their full extent as she is just trying to fit into junior high school.   These super powers, along with Atron’s attempts to track down the kid (the truck driver never reveals Alex’s secret) to experiment on her are the main story arcs. 

Darris Love is Alex’s best friend, Ray … and Jessica Alba got her start in this series as Alex’s junior high school rival.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAlso on the Aug. 1 release calendar are both DVD and Blu-ray editions of director Kevin Connor’s 2006 pirate adventure mini-series, Blackbeard, starring Angus Macfadyen (as Robert the Bruce in Braveheart) as the legendary West Indies English pirate who terrorized the seas with his 40-gun frigate, “The Queen Anne’s Revenge.”   

This presentation is part-fiction, part-fact, filmed in Thailand, with an elaborate set constructed specifically for the series and populated with cast members that include Richard Chamberlain, Mark Umbers, Jessica Chastain, Stacy Keach and Rachel Ward.

Rounding out the Aug. 1 DVD selections is the two film set titled Matrimony Double Feature, (priced at just $9.98) which includes director Bud Yorkin’s 1967 comedy, Divorce American Style, teaming Dick Van Dyke with the late Debbie Reynolds as the always-fighting Harmons, and director Fielder Cook’s 1968 film release of How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life, which Dean Martin and Stella Stevens.

And Aug. 1 also will see the release of the three-disc, 40-episode animated collection of Jumanji: The Complete Animated Series, which is timed to take full advantage of the media hype surrounding the forthcoming Christmas theatrical release of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, starring Dwayne Johnson.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Director Andrew Cohn's Riveting Night School Documentary On DVD Aug. 8 From Oscilloscope Laboratories

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Oscilloscope Laboratories will be releasing documentary filmmaker Andrew Cohn’s Night School theatrically on June 9 (for the a limited run) … the film opened on the film festival circuit at the Tribeca Film Festival in April of 2016 and worked throughout the balance of last year and into this year.   

The critics have raved about the film and its life-changing story and the awards have piled up along the way, including the Jury Prize at the Bend Film Festival, Best Documentary Feature at Heartland and more.   On Aug. 8 the cycle will be complete with the DVD debut.

Andrew Cohn could have picked any big city public school system, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, you name it the pattern is the same, but he zeroed on Indianapolis and three courageous black high school dropouts who have learned the hard lessons of the real world and now look to complete their basic high school education against long odds.   Cohn spent a full year tracking their progress.

His subjects are Greg Henson, who saw easy money in dealing drugs, but now has to raise a daughter and has the remnants of a criminal record that hangs like a dead weight around his neck; Shynika Jakes, who dreamed of becoming a medical professional, but instead finds herself working in fast food … and lastly, we have Melissa Lewis, a 50-something mother and grandmother who survives the day to day with menial jobs.   

Without an education there is no future.  They’ve learned this the hard way.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAll three of Cohn’s subjects are black.   Their only advantage is that they speak English … can you imagine three limited-English speakers in the same boat?  No education, no skills and limited English, where is the future?

All three have returned to adult school — night school — in an effort to expand their horizons.   Is it a false dream?   An illusion?   Maybe, but for Greg, Shynika and Melissa they know that without the effort there will be no change.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Night School is a riveting film that can easily be regarded as a dramatic feature film … we have empathic characters and a story arc that demands and holds our attention.   Bonus features include commentary from Emmy-winning filmmaker Andrew Cohn, who is joined by cinematographer Zachary Shields.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Arrow Video Tabs Aug. 22 For The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Launch Of A New 4K Restoration Of Writer/Director J.S. Cardone's The Slayer

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Arrow Video, with domestic sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has tabbed Aug. 22 for the release of a new 4K restoration (from the original camera negative) of writer/director J.S. Cardone’s 1982 slasher film with a twist, The Slayer.   

Arrow Video will be bringing this cult gem to market on Aug. 22 as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.

Give credit to filmmaker J.S. Cardone in this debut effort (he would go on to direct such genre fare as Shadowzone, The Forsaken, Wicked Little Things, etc.) for taking the slasher motif in a different direction than you initially expect.  The ending leaves you in doubt (deliberately so) as to whether you’ve been experiencing horrors in some sort of dream world; a real horror show populated by some monster from the Id ... or, the protagonist is simply bat-shit crazy and has totally lost it.   Or, yes, OR!!!   There’s a slasher afoot; a serial killer.   The point is that you are never really sure.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
It starts off innocently enough with Kay (Sarah Kendall) and her wealthy husband, David (Alan McRae), along with her brother, Eric (Frederick Flynn) and his wife, Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook), being flown to a remote island (filmed in and around Savannah, Georgia and nearby Tybee Island) for a vacation getaway.   The pilot of the plane, a creepy guy named Marsh (Michael Holmes), no sooner gets them there and then he bails, saying that a hurricane is coming.

Stranded, the “victim” pool — and genre fans know this element well — settle in to their vacation hideaway and soon discover that the island has been abandoned. 

We also get a bit of a backstory about poor Kay being prone to nightmares.   So there’s your set up for The Slayer — a victim pool, a storm on the way, an abandoned island, a creepy guy (who may just be a red herring) and one of the cast members with recurring nightmares — violent nightmares.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey 
Sure enough, one by one by one they die horrible deaths.   A shadowy figure is responsible.   Is it crazy Kay?   Is it Marsh, who has returned to polish off a collection of helpless victims?   Or, is it something else … something unseen?  

Bonus goodies include newly prepared video sessions with the cast and crew.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Paramount Home Media Preps Four TV-On-DVD Series For Delivery During The Last Two Weeks Of August

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount Home Media announce four TV-on-DVD complete season releases  — with a release window during the last two weeks of August — this past week.

First up on Aug. 22 is the six-disc DVD release of Blue Bloods: The Seventh Season, starring Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Len Cariou and Sami Gayle as members of the New York City Reagan clan … a true crime-fighting family.

All 22 episodes are presented in the collection, with bonus goodies that include deleted scenes, production featurettes and a gag reel.

Also streeting on the same date is NCIS: Los Angeles – Season 8.   This too is a six-disc set showcasing all 24 episodes starring Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Rush, Eric Christian Olsen, Renée Felice Smith, Barrett Foa and Linda Hunt.

Bonus features include commentary on episode 18, titled “Getaway,” by Renée Felice Smith and Barrett Foa, deleted scenes and featurettes.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThe following week, Aug. 29, Paramount returns with the six-disc DVD full-season collection of NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Fourteenth Season.  Gibbs is back (Mark Harmon), but Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) is gone (family issues surfaced during the final episode of season 13 … but he landed the lead in Bull – the first season is due out on DVD from Paramount on Aug. 15).

Bonus features include selected episode commentary and production featurettes.
Rounding out the TV-on-DVD selections is the Aug. 29 release of Elementary: The Fifth Season.

All 24 case files (episodes), featuring Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson (Lucy Liu) are spread over a six-disc set … just last month CBS renewed the series for a sixth season, which is good news since the fifth season ends with a cliffhanger (don’t you just hate it when a series ends on a cliffhanger)!

Bonus features include a gag reel and featurettes.

VCI Entertainment Announces 2K Restoration For Hal Roach's One Million B.C. • Blu-ray And DVD Editions Available On July 25

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
There is hype — Hollywood hype — when it comes to films that are flights of imagination.   In other words, take it with a grain of salt if the title of the film screams One Million B.C. and just happens to star Carole Landis and screen newcomer Victor Mature (he had a small role in The Housekeeper’s Daughter the year before this adventure classic was release in 1940).   

VCI Entertainment announced this past week that One Million B.C., a Hal Roach film production released theatrically in the spring of 1940, will be available as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings on July 25.   It has been given a 2K restoration from the film’s original 35mm negative for this home entertainment launch.

One Million B.C. is a Hollywood curiosity by any standard.   An excellent read for some of the backstory details on the production and casting of the film can be found in Richard Lewis Ward’s 2005 book, “A History of the Hal Roach Studios.”   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Hal Roach handled the direction (with Hal Roach, Jr. doing some of the second unit work) and assembled a cast that included Carole Landis, whose film career to that point did not hold a candle to her personal life — love affairs with both Busby Berkeley and Darryl F. Zanuck — Victor Mature, who had made his film debut the previous year in the aforementioned The Housekeeper’s Daughter (also a Hal Roach production) and Lon Chaney, Jr., who also starred in the Hal Roach production of Of Mice and Men (nominated Best Picture, but for some odd reason Chaney’s performance was ignored in the Best Actor category), which opened in New York City in December of 1939 to qualify for Oscar consideration and then went wide in January of 1940.

The plot for the film cannot be taken seriously — the 1,000,000 B.C. part is pure hype — as it blends different epochs that would send paleontologists into the night screaming in agony.   We have cave people with few, if any, language skills, dinosaurs (well, lizards enlarged for the screen) and rampaging Mastodons.  It’s pure adventure, nothing more.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyWhen the film had its first “out of town” sneak previews, it became obvious to Hal Roach that the original voice-over introduction to the story wasn’t effective in setting the mood for the story that was to follow.   So he recruited faded silent film star Conrad Nagel to shoot a prologue that had him play the role of an anthropologist who was working on a dig (a treasure trove of cave painting) when a group of hikers sought shelter in his cave from a storm.   He entertains them with his musings on what the cave painting might represent.

Boom, we flash back to Tumak (Victor Mature) and his father, Akhoba (Lon Chaney, Jr.) — who just happens to be the leader of a tribe of cave dwelling people — who have a tiff over the sharing of a meal and Tumak is beaten senseless and tossed over a cliff.   The fall doesn’t kill him, nor does the Mastodon who attacks him … unconscious he floats down a river on the tree that the giant beast uprooted.

He is found by Loana (Carole Landis), a member of a group that we come to know as the Shell Tribe, and he is cared for.   Compared to his upbringing with the “Rock” people, these are highly “civilized” humans, which confuses him at first, but he eventually comes around to their way of living.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Tumak has little to no luck and gets tossed out of this group too — for reasons he can’t quite grasp — but by this time Loana has become enamored with him and joins him in his exile.
All of these events — and more — are interpreted from cave paintings!!   Either Conrad Nagel knows his stuff or he is stark raving mad.    No matter, One Million B.C. is a must-have on Blu-ray come July 25!

Of note, Hal Roach got a producer’s credit for the 1966 more famous remake, One Million Years B.C., starring Raquel Welch as Loana.   One thing is certain for both films, Raquel Welch and Carole Landis were sex symbols of their time — that mutual status far-eclipsing their common roles of Loana, prehistoric woman!

Wild Eye Releasing Targets Aug. 8 For The DVD Debut Of Writer/Director Suneel Tripuraneni’s Dead Story

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Wild Eye Releasing, with sales and distribution support provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has targeted Aug. 8 as the DVD debut date for writer/director Suneel Tripuraneni’s haunted house horror tale, Dead Story.

The first rule of too-good-to-be-true property purchases is to ask why?  Why has this marvelous country home been on the market for five long years?  But Harold (Chase Austin) and Anne (Kelsey Deanne — Calamity, Shark Lake) don’t ask that question and soon they move into their dream home (filmed on location in and around Celine, Texas … about 20 miles north of Dallas), which just happens to be haunted!

At first Anne, who is a photographer by trade, tries to capture images of the malevolent spirit, but that proves to be futile … and as the ghostly aberration manifests itself again and again poor Anne slowly begins to go quite insane (possessed, perhaps, by the ghost).   

Her husband thinks she is going nuts (her demeanor more than suggests just that), the psychologist recruited to help her arrives at the same conclusion and her nasty mother-in-law, Martha (Sheril Rodgers), all but stabs her in the back with her “I told you so” advice to her son.   
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The creeps and scares mount as a growingly unhinged heroine, coupled with a seemingly haunted house and a disbelieving support group, all point to just one thing … bloody, bloody murder and a soon-to-be new real estate listing!!!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment Readies Director Marc Webb's Gifted For DVD And Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Delivery On July 25

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment will be serving up both DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions of director Marc Webb’s family drama, Gifted, on July 25.

The ARR is 109 days and box office receipts were mixed at $24.1 million … although, with its reported production of $7 million, this will likely lead to a profitable outing for 20th Century-Fox’s Searchlight Pictures production arm.

Mary (Mckenna Grace — Independence Day: Resurgence) is a child mathematical prodigy, who is being raised by her uncle Frank (Chris Evans), but when his mother — her grandmother — (played Lindsay Duncan) thinks that the young girl is being mishandled in terms of her potential, it turns into a family battle in which there might not be any winners!

Bonus features include deleted scenes and five featurettes — “Gifted: A First Look Story,” “An Accomplished Cast,” “Inside the Equation,” “Marc’s Method” and “On Location: Gifted.”