Monday, July 10, 2017

Documentary Filmmaker Ron Small’s Ashton Harrison: The Road To 24 Races To DVD On Aug. 22 Courtesy Of Anchor Media Group

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Anchor Media Group, with sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, will be revving it up on Aug. 22 with the DVD debut of documentary filmmaker Ron Small’s Ashton Harrison: The Road to 24.

As Ashton tells it, the speeding tickets were mounting up and her father said enough was enough, but instead of grounding her, he enrolled her in a series of courses at the Bondurant Racing School.   Basically, he was telling his 16-year old kid, if you are going to drive fast, you are going to it the proper way!   Such a dad!

It is now six years later and this young woman of just 22 is a professional race car driver in a world dominated by men … she gives no quarter and asks none as it is pedal to the metal in Global Mazda MX-5 Cup series.  Come follow her and the GB Racing team on the circuit … special appearances include John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports, fellow racers Roger Mandeville and Jim Downing, Racing Analytics Crew Chief Shea Hughes and Jason Bondurant of the Bondurant Racing School.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
And follow the on-track action as she competes at Barber Motorsports Park, Sebring, Road Atlanta, Road America, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Atlanta Motorsports Park.

When Ashton is not on the track, she donates her time to rescuing animals from kill shelters … Macy, Crimson, Lilly and Brush (three dogs and a cat) all call Ashton mom!

Bonus goodies included with the DVD release of Ashton Harrison: The Road to 24 are extended racing footage and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The Film Detective Readies Five New Film Restorations For Release On DVD This Coming July 18

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The Film Detective has plans for five new film restorations that will be heading to the collectible DVD market on July 18 … so let us get right to it with a look at these new selections.

Director Vin Moore’s 1934 film release of Flirting with Danger stars Robert Armstrong (fresh from his successes as Carl Denham in King Kong and The Son of Kong) as Bob Owens, an explosives expert, who is worried that his buddy, William “Lucky” Davis (played by Jimmy Cagney’s brother, William Cagney) might be signing his own death warrant by marrying the lovely Marian (Marion Burns — The Dawn Rider, Paradise Canyon).

His reasoning is that being married will cause him to lose focus in this dangerous profession of “mixing” new explosive combinations … “dames and dynamite” simply don’t mix.   A series of forged letters concocted by Owens and his buddy Jimmy (Edgar Kennedy) lead to Marian breaking off the engagement.   Their buddy is safe!!!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
The trio end up in Central America on an assignment for the Duplex Gunpowder and Dynamite Manufacturing Corporation (where Marian works as a secretary) and in short order they develop a new explosive and Owens is tricked by Jimmy into proposing marriage to Rosita (Maria Alba — as Nadji in The Return of Chandu), a cabaret dancer.   Oh how the worm turns!

Marian arrives to investigate monkey business at the local Duplex plant, which is promptly blown up … and the boys are the chief suspects!
Also on the way to retail come July 17 is director Howard Bretherton’s 1939 comedy, Irish Luck.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyFrank Darro stars in the first of a series of eight highly successful Monogram Pictures that teamed him with Mantan Moreland.  Here he plays Buzzy O’Brian, a bellhop at the Hotel Royale, who fancies himself something of a detective … and his sleuthing skills are quickly put to the test when an attractive young woman by the name of Kitty (Sheila Darcy — as the Dragon Lady in Terry and the Pirates) starts asking questions about a hotel guest named Mr. Porter.

In no time Mr. Porter is dead, a mysterious telegram points in Kitty’s direction, but Buzzy figures that she is just too cute to be a killer.   With the help of the hotel’s janitor, Jefferson (Mantan Moreland), he starts investigating “the case” of the murdered Mr. Porter.  
Irish Luck is a wonderful, breezy comedy — and a fun murder mystery — and you can see the immediate chemistry between Darro and Moreland. 

Rounding out the July 18 DVD film restorations from The Film Detective are Loser's End (1935, a rare Jack Perrin Western), The Oklahoma Cyclone (1930, early sound Western with Bob Steele) and Paradise in Harlem (1939, directed by Joseph Seiden and starring Frank Wilson).

Arrow Video Preps 2K Restoration Of Director Mario Bava's Erik The Conqueror For Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Release On Aug. 29

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Arrow Video, with domestic sales and distribution support provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has added a new Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack 2K restoration (from the original camera negative) of director Mario Bava’s 1961 adventure saga, Erik the Conqueror (1963 for the domestic English-language theatrical release), to its Aug. 29 release calendar.

OK, the history might be a little muddled, but the Vikings are raiding England (prior to 1066) and one of the princes is captured and raised by an English queen during a raid in 786.   We flash-forward 20 years and the kid, Erik (George Ardisson — Juliet of the Spirits, Django Defies Sartana, etc.) is now an English duke and his brother, Eron (Cameron Mitchell) is, by virtue of a fight to the death, the head of the Viking invaders.  

Through some clever double-dealings, Sir Rutford (Andrea Checchi), an English nobleman, betrays Erik, who ends up as a Viking prisoner — he nevertheless has time to fall in love with a Viking woman named Rama (Alice Kessler), who just happens to be the twin sister of Daya (Ellen Kessler, Alice’s twin sister in real life) … she, in turn, is in love with Eron.   

So we have brother against brother, but they don’t know that they are brothers.   And we have twin sisters in love with the brothers.   Bring it on!   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyBonus features include viewing options for both the original Italian-language audio track or the English-dubbed domestic theatrical version (which, as mentioned, arrived on these shores two years after being released in Europe), commentary by author Tim Lucas (“Mario Bava – All the Colors of the Dark”) and the featurette titled “Gli Imitatori” (a comparison of Erik the Conqueror with director Richard Fleischer’s 1958 box office smash, The Vikings, starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment To Release Director Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant To The Home Entertainmnet Marketplace On Aug. 15

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Head’s up, we are going to bury the lede here (because the history of the film franchise series in question is a worthy starting point)!

You have your alien creatures … they leap forth from their leather-like egg pouches, implant themselves on your face (affectionately dubbed “facehuggers”), implant an embryo, which gestates and bursts through the unlucky host’s chest.  Brilliant!

We were introduced to this creature — this ALIEN — back in 1979 by director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Dan O’Bannon in Alien … which signaled the arrival of the kick-ass heroine Ripley (Sigourney Weaver).   The egg-laying queen was a force to be reckoned with in filmmaker James Cameron’s 1986 sequel, Aliens.   Alien3 in 1992 was a disaster and Alien: Resurrection (1997) was an end-of-cycle “monster movie.”   

When you have a creature this magnificent you simply can’t let it go, so the studio followed this original cycle with director Paul W. S. Anderson’s 2004 crossover, Alien vs. Predator, which was a solid reboot of the series, but the follow-up in 2007, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, was a dark muddled mess.   This left the Alien film franchise homeless once again.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
And that brought us full-circle back to filmmaker Ridley Scott, who delivered in 2012, Prometheus, “a prequel” to the series.   It was a magnificent new branch to the series — everything, however, seemed so much more advanced than the original film, even thought it is a prequel.   No matter, it worked and series fans loved it.

One more thing, in parallel to the alien creature, the original film, Alien, also introduced us to a member of the crew (played by Ian Holm), who was an android.  He (it) malfunctioned and was a somewhat creepy counterpoint to the terror of the alien creatures that the crew of the Nostromo had to battle.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThe “synthetic” life form, played by Lance Henriksen, turned hero in Aliens and then was dropped as a component of the series in all subsequent iterations. 

That was until Prometheus, which reintroduced the android to the series in the form of the malevolent David (brilliantly portrayed by Michael Fassbender), who is well-aware that he (it) is far superior to the human beings who created him … and intends to do something about that!

Who is the greater terror … the alien creatures or the creature of our own making?

Now to the lede … 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment announced this passed week that director Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant, the sequel to Prometheus, will be heading to the home entertainment marketplace as a three-SKU product offering on Aug. 15.

The ARR is a quick-to-market 88 days and domestic ticket sales currently stand at $73.7 million.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Planned for release are a stand-alone DVD edition, a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo Pack.

Fassbender is back as David, and in a duel role, he also plays Walter, the good android (it is all in the programming, you know) and a member of the crew of the “colony” ship, Covenant (a more Spartan version of the Avalon from Passengers).   They are bound for a new planet when they get a distress call and the ship is diverted to investigate.

You know it.  I know it.  We all know it.   Diverting to an unknown planet in answer to a mysterious transmission can only lead to disaster for all involved (the crew members are, of course, the new “victim pool”).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeySo what has David been up to?   And what of Shaw (Noomi Rapace) … she survived the massacre of her crewmates, what was her fate (oh, you do not want to know).

Alien: Covenant really delivers.  And goes right to the heart of it: Which is more terrifying, the monsters we create; the ones right here at home … or the monsters that might be lurking out there in the vastness of space?   It’s humans versus android versus alien creatures and the ending leaves it open for another edition in the Prometheus offshoot of the venerable Alien film franchise series (expect it in theatres in 2019).

As to bonus goodies, filmmaker extraordinaire, Ridley Scott, provides commentary, there are a dozen deleted or “extended” scenes, there’s a making-of documentary titled “Master Class: Ridley Scott” and two additional multi-part featurettes — “USCSS Covenant” and “SECTOR 87 - PLANET 4.”

Wolfe Selects Aug. 22 For The DVD Debut Of Documentary Filmmaker Sara Jordenö’s Kiki

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Wolfe announced this past week that documentary filmmaker Sara Jordenö’s Kiki, the award-winning look at the New York City vogue scene some 26 years after Jennie Livingston’s landmark film, Paris is Burning, will be making its DVD debut on Aug. 22.

The film opened at Sundance in January of 2016 and has spent the last 18 months on the road, working the festival circuit to rave reviews and more awards than you can shake a stick — including Best Documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival.   

Teaming with Twiggy Pucci Garcon, an LGBT advocate familiar with the culture and issues, specifically the Kiki ballroom scene, Jordenö gives an insider’s view of the New York City world of “Kiki” dance-offs and competition.   

As with the documentary filmmaking team of Anne De Mare and Kirsten Kelly’s The Homestretch (available on DVD from Icarus Films) many of the “youth of color” homeless have been rejected from their socially conservative families for the sin of being gay.   They would, sadly, rather see their teenage son or daughter on the street, fending for themselves (and all that goes with that), then to accept them for who they are.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Such is the case with Jordenö subjects, who find acceptance and purpose in the “club” competitions among the various “houses.”  It is among these “houses” that Kiki dance and ballroom events are staged, which allows the participants an opportunity to express themselves that they might not otherwise have available. 

In the end, Kiki is a celebration of life … full of vibrant images and a marvelous soundtrack that includes selections from MikeQ (DJ and founder of the Qween Beat recording label), Amorpheus, Byrell The Great (DJ and producer for the NOTORIOUS Underground Dance Scene of New York City) and Divoli S'vere (over ten years as a dancer and visual artist in the ball scene).

VCI Entertainment Selects Sept.12 For The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Release Of The 2K Film Storation Of Director Curtis Harrington's Ruby

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
VCI Entertainment has tabbed Sept. 12 for the release of a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack — featuring a new 2K film restoration from the original 35mm negative — of director Curtis Harrington’s summer of 1977 horror cult film, Ruby.   This is the restored director’s cut of the film.

This also marks the launch of a new promotional line from VCI Entertainment that is title VCI Retro Elite, which will cover re-mastered genre classics that contain loads of special features.

Ruby and this new Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack is great news, but the backstory of the original theatrical release of the film is actually more interesting than the film itself, and that’s not to slight Ruby as a horror entry one little bit.  

Curtis Harrington was the director, but Steve Krantz was the producer, and he was riding high at the time from the success of the adult-themed animation collaborations he had done with Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat) and decided to tinker with Harrington’s final product (and the subsequent TV airing).   

Of course theatre-goers at the time had no idea about such internecine warfare related to the final cut of the film, they simply went to the movies and enjoyed it.  It wasn’t until later, when David Del Valle did his two-part “Sinister Image” interview with filmmaker Curtis Harrington in 1988, that the details of the intrigue about the final cut of the film — and the film’s star, Piper Laurie’s refusal to participate in any reshoots — came to light.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyAs for the film itself, we have mobster’s lover, Ruby Claire (Piper Laurie), witnessing the murder of her paramour, Nicky Rocco (Sal Vecchio) by members of his own Dade County Gang.   Later the same evening she gives birth to Leslie.   This prologue all takes place in 1935.

We then jump ahead to 1951 and Ruby lives in a large house — a converted roadhouse, complete with a stage — with her mute daughter, who is played by Janit Baldwin, who just happened to play Violet, one of the “girls” in director Michael Ritchie’s 1972 film release of Prime Cut.  
For fans of that film, you know immediately that Sissy Spacek was Poppy, another one of the “girls” in the illicit sex trade scheme that Mary Ann (Gene Hackman) was running out his Kansas City area meatpacking plant.  Spacek would go on to star in Carrie (1976), with Piper Laurie as her demented mother.   Baldwin gets that honor in Ruby, only the twist is she is the demented one, not her mother (although mom has a few loose screws herself).

Anyway, with that six degrees of Kevin Bacon connection aside, Ruby and her daughter live in this big house next door to Ruby’s drive-in theatre, which she owns.   She employs the former members of the Dade County Gang, who are “down on their luck” after serving long stretches in prison.   These are Vince (Stuart Whitman), Jess (Eddy Donno), Louie (Paul Kent) and Barney (Len Lesser), who pretty much run everything from the box office to the concession stand to the projection of the films.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThey are soon to be dead former members of the Dade Country Gang as Leslie becomes possessed by the spirit of her father, Nicky, who has come to avenge his own murder.   The projectionist (Jess) gets strangled by film (a nice touch) and the lecherous Louie is impaled on a tree branch while trying to have his way with one of the customers (played by Crystin Sinclaire).   Vince and Ruby have to dispose of the bodies in the nearby swamp and Vince, the rational one, decides it is time to call in his old prison psychologist (Roger Davis) to help sort things out.   

Ruby is great fun, the horror touches are nice — especially in the setting of the drive-in theatre — and you get elements of Carrie and The Exorcist, in addition to a good-old mob hit, as the major plot elements. 

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Bonus goodies include the vintage commentary track with Curtis Harrington and Piper Laurie and a newly-prepared commentary track teaming David Del Valle and Adjunct Professor Nathaniel Bell, whose master’s thesis (Editor’s Note: from my alma mater, Chapman University) was on the filmmaking career of none other than Curtis Harrington (Bell also does the liner notes).

There are the two Sinister Image interviews with Harrington conducted by David Del Valle in 1988 and a 2001 video session with Harrington and Del Valle.