Even to contemporary animation fans caught up in the neverending sea of anime, the Rankin-Bass brand is both familiar and holy. Best-known to the majority of the masses as the company which produced two of the most iconic perennial holiday treats ever made ‒ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman ‒ Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr.'s love for family-friendly fantasies stretched beyond the borders of commercialized Christmases. In fact, they were the fellers responsible for the original animated versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and Return of the King in the late '70s and early '80s ‒
The Warner Archive Collection clears the runway for this neglected Rankin-Bass animated fantasy.
Cargo puts a refreshing spin on the zombie genre and is anchored by a career-best Martin Freeman performance.
When it comes to films depicting the zombie apocalypse, we see the same repetitive formula: Survivors must fight for their lives against the undead and try not to get infected. The latest entry in the zombie film genre, Cargo, demonstrates that same formula but puts a whole new spin on it. Yolanda Ramke, who wrote and co-directed the film with Ben Howling, has crafted a story about fatherhood set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse and it is packed with both horror and heart. Cargo follows the story of Andy (Martin Freeman) and Kay (Susie Porter), an Australian couple
This week's cool things include a couple of Humphrey Bogart films, another Stephen King novel, Bob Dylan, and more.
As mentioned last week, my in-laws were in town this week, also as mentioned they put a damper on my pop-culture consumption. In the early evening hours, we tend to play games or chat or do some activity other than sit in front of the TV. After I put my daughter to bed, some times we'd throw a movie on but usually there was this awkward space in which we’re all sitting around not knowing what to do. Then, of course, there is the fact that they are older and more conservative and many of the things I want to
Frank Henenlotter's feature debut comes on a ridiculously stuffed Blu-ray, a must for any fan.
My conscience tells me I have to recommend this release, because it is a superb home video version of Basket Case, with an absolutely comprehensive set of bonus features, impeccable video and soundtrack (mono and thankfully not upconverted into fake surround) and something that should thrill any fan of the movie or series. But the entire aesthetic of Basket Case rebels against the archival perfection of a Blu-ray release. This is the sort of movie that should be seen in a seedy little theater where you'd never use your credit card. It has '70s (or, more accurately, early '80s) New
I've done this nine years and picking what to watch at the fest never gets easier.
Although I am fortunate enough to attend both events, I am disappointed that CinemaCon and TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) are both occurring next week. I have to leave Las Vegas Thursday morning, missing out on the final day of movie studio presentations and on the pre-TCMFF activities that will take place on Wednesday. Hopefully, I'll make it in time for Meet TCM at Club TCM, so I can ask how the staffers react to the social media outage that their programming has generated over the past year. Thursday Since I am not attending the official Opening Night selection, The
The Warner Archive Collection revs up the gas for Jeff Burr's controversial buzzer.
Bridging the gap between pure psychological horror with a touch of humor and gore into something polarly opposite isn't an easy task. And there is no better example of that in the realm of scary movies than New Line Cinema's maligned 1990 slasher sequel, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Though technically an '80s flick, Jeff Burr's 1990 contribution to the famous film franchise ‒ which still exists today via an occasional, unnecessary reboot every couple of years ‒ became an instant target for fans and foes alike. Several years before, the Cannon Group released Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw
Take a ride on the nightmare merry-go-round with Arrow Video’s excellent restoration of the Chiodo brothers’ cult classic.
During the 1990s, my father and I had an annual tradition on or near Halloween. Whenever Killer Klowns from Outer Space came on the television, we would stop whatever we were doing and watch it. We didn’t have cable back then, and my parents still don’t to this day. Oddly enough, we also never owned the movie on VHS or DVD. But one of the local stations (CBS, I believe) would air it each year as Halloween drew closer. I think it was always being shown during the middle of the day on a weekend, when the network had no
The Warner Archive Collection brings us two excellent transfers of two contrasting tales starring the great Paul Newman.
Lew Harper is back on the case ‒ twice over ‒ in these two new Blu-ray releases from the Warner Archive Collection. Adapted from Ross Macdonald's literary adventures of Lew Archer (because who in their right mind could take a character named Archer seriously, especially now?), 1966's Harper brings us a misadventure of a modern-day Southern Californian private investigator. Seemingly inspired by every classic detective from books to film alike ‒ and every bit as cynical, to boot ‒ the role was brought to magnificent life on-screen by the one and only Paul Newman (The Hustler). Nine years later, Newman
Not quite what you've come to expect from a Fathom Event, but was still worth attending.
The Walking Dead (TWD) has been a ratings juggernaut for the last eight seasons. While it has declined some over time, it still finishes near the top every year. And with this success, AMC network continues to add to the franchise. First, it was an after show called The Talking Dead where host Chris Hardwick discusses with various cast members and fans about the episode that just premiered. Then, there was Fear The Walking Dead (FTWD), which is a show set in the same universe that follows another group of survivors. Along with these variations on a theme, the premieres
“Our mission is to make it easier for content creators to showcase intriguing programming that reflects this generation’s rich diversity,” said Founder and Executive Director Cary Grant.
Press release: MissionFest, a new multicultural film festival, will bring together content creators, industry executives, and fans at San Francisco’s The Midway July 19-21, 2018 to promote, discuss, and support inclusive and culturally-diverse film, series and digital short-form programs. In today’s fragmented media environment, consumers have a vast number of content outlets to choose from, and mainstream platforms struggle to accurately represent the world around us. It is harder than ever for creators of inclusive, authentic storytelling to stand out. “Our mission is to make it easier for content creators to showcase intriguing programming that reflects this generation’s rich diversity,”
"This may be the shark just waiting to be jumped." - Shawn
In which The Walking Dead sees the wrath of Kim and Shawn. Kim: It's over, and by "it's," I mean The Walking Dead series. And by over, I mean for the season as well as the "war" on the show. I certainly have thoughts on it and you bet your sweet ass I’m going to share them. This will go down in history as the absolute worst season finale in all of The Walking Dead history. Like everything else they have done this season, what should have been an amazing and incredible end to this chapter was just some bullshit
Spielberg surrounds himself with an incredible cast and crew for an average story.
While The Post boasts an incredible cast and crew overflowing with legends, the actual movie fails to hold much interest. That’s almost entirely due to the script, a yawner about the brave actions of The Washington Post staff in reporting on the leaked Pentagon Papers condemning U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The topic is a clear and at times a heavy-handed allusion to today’s charged political climate regarding news agencies and government medling, but it’s just not very compelling as a feature film. We already know how the story plays out, and it's presented with precious little drama and no direct
Kino Lorber Studio Classics unburies Paul Henreid's butchered, noir-esque tale with Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule.
Misunderstood in its own time, forgotten in the next, Paul (Casablanca) Henreid's thriller A Woman's Devotion never had an opportunity to deliver its message to audiences when first released in 1956. Instead, the Republic Pictures production was ushered onto screens with a decidedly deceptive ad campaign cashing-in on the film's leads ‒ Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule ‒ who had recent appeared in a successful stage adaptation of the classic melodrama, Picnic. Needless to say, it wasn't the best method to promote a minor film noir-esque title concerning a World War II veteran with a really bad case of Post-Traumatic
Time Life and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame give home audiences front row seats to the four most recent incredible induction ceremonies
Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Time Life to award three lucky readers the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert Blu-ray, which goes on sale April 24 and is currently available for pre-order. For those wanting to learn more, the press release reads: Each year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors rock music's pioneering figures during a prestigious, black-tie ceremony. As the Hall of Fame enters its third decade, it's these singular induction ceremonies -- featuring the biggest names in classic rock from the '60s, '70s, and '80s - that have become nearly as iconic as
Didn't I write this already?
Do you ever have one of those days where you thought you did something, are absolutely sure of it, are so sure there really isn’t any need of double checking that you did it, only to later realize you didn’t do it at all? Yea, that was me, today, with my Pick of the Week. This weekend I think I must have looked through this week’s new releases thought about what I would pick, what I would say about that pick, and then promptly killed my web browser without actually writing anything. Somewhere in the fogginess of my brain I
These Criterion titles might affect your summer-vacation budget.
In July, Criterion plans on releasing five new titles. The first is Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood, a six-movie collection featuring work by Josef von Sternberg and actress Marlene Dietrich. That will be followed by Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham; King Hu's Dragon Inn; Steven Soderbergh's sex, lies, and videotape; and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death. Read on to learn more about them. Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood (#930) out July 3 Tasked by studio executives with finding the next great screen siren, visionary Hollywood director Josef von Sternberg joined forces with rising
The folks at Kino Lorber Studio Classics do a real Grade-A job with one really B-Grade 3D movie.
Made during that glorious 3D movie boom of the early '50s, Monogram Pictures' The Maze is cinematic evidence that filmmakers would try just about anything to hop on the three-dimensional bus. The final film in which the legendary William Cameron Menzies (The Whip Hand, Invaders from Mars, Gone with the Wind) served as both director and production designer, The Maze stars another icon of '50s sci-fi and horror films ‒ the great Richard Carlson ‒ as an accent-less Scotsman who goes from a high-profile social feller with a loving fiancée to being a reclusive oddball after his equally eremitic uncle
Book Review: The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic by Richard Sandomir
A well-researched book that gives you the nuts and bolts of how one of the first major movie biopics was made.
Field of Dreams, The Natural, and Bull Durham may be the first movies that come to mind when you think of baseball, but the first classic baseball film, The Pride of the Yankees, was made in 1942. The story of Yankees’ great Lou Gehrig, who played in 2,130 consecutive games until he developed - and later died of - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), starred Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, and Walter Brennan, and is considered the first blockbuster sports movie. The climax of the movie is Cooper’s reenactment of Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man in the World” speech before his retirement, which is
After an marred first release, VCI's second check-in to this Horror Hotel with Christopher Lee checks out.
Revisiting a classic horror movie you loved as a kid after you've aged a bit can always be a tricky thing to do. It had been at least 20 years since I last cast eyes on The City of the Dead, which I initially discovered via a fuzzy ol' Public Domain VHS copy in the early '90s. Needless to say, when it came time to see the movie again after all that time, I was rather worried that the experience would not be the same. Fortunately, just like the eponymous village itself, time has done very little to age the
This week's cool things mostly include things I reviewed for this site.
Last week, I noted that I had started several things and not finished them. My hope was to talk about them this week. As it turns out, I still haven’t finished some of them (damn, Andrei Tarkovsky movies are long) and the ones I did finish weren’t very good (I’m looking at you Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Sacha Guitry). Next week, my in-laws will be in town which will further much with my ability to watch the things I want to watch. Unexpectedly, I still managed to watch and read some cool stuff this week. And away we
Robert Bloch and Freddie Francis' unique, offbeat thriller finally hits home video thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
If you ever wondered what might happen if Columbo had been born in England, you needn't look any further than the 1966 Amicus production of The Psychopath. A joint effort between American author/screenwriter Robert Bloch and Britain's famed director/cinematographer Freddie Francis, the rampant success of Bloch's Psycho obviously paved the way for this tale of murder, revenge, and creepy dolls. One of several titles unfairly unavailable on home video for entirely too long, this almost-forgotten thriller from England's other horror studio ‒ Amicus Productions ‒ has finally found its way to Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. After
John Ashley and Pam Grier highlight this hilariously cheesy slice of Filipino rip-off cinema.
When fans of sleazy exploitation movies get together to discuss their favorite contributions to bad filmmaking from the Philippines, Eddie Romero's name is rarely left out. In fact, the late B-movie guru from the same country that brought us national treasures like the films of Weng Weng is undoubtedly one of the "best" known directors to hail from the country, thanks to a series of mind-numbing mad scientist flicks from the late '60s and early '70s informally referred to as the Blood Island movies. Following the conclusion of the aforementioned series, the late Mr. Romero found himself cranking out a
Fassbinder's mythic performance fuels this vicious depiction of West German's social malaise.
When the legendary Rainer Werner Fassbinder died in 1982 at the age of 37, he really did leave behind an amazing body of work. He lived a hard life of drinking and drugs, but that didn't stop him from making films about human fragility and emotion. Also, he didn't just direct films. He also acted in many of them. His boorish, devil-may-care persona began with his 1969 feature debut, Love is Colder than Death, but it didn't reach its apotheosis until one year later in director Volker Schlondorff's controversial 1970 adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's 1918 debut play, BAAL. Fassbinder brilliantly
A newly restored print makes this classic silent film even better.
As still-photography technology developed and exposure times dropped, the idea of taking a series of photographs and piecing them together to form a moving picture began to percolate in the brains of some of the world’s greatest minds. In May of 1887, a Frenchman, Louis Le Prince, created the first motion-picture film, Roundhay Garden Scene, which consists of a few seconds of people walking in a garden. Others tinkered with similar devices but they were all bulky and unreliable, and the images came out poorly. In 1891, Thomas Edison created the Kinetograph, which took a series of instantaneous photographs on
Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut is a slick and entertaining fact-based feature.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is known for having his characters spout out lines of dialogue as fast as a typewriter in constant motion. They speak intellectually and, for the most part, have some intense conversation laced with a moment of humor for levity. After his departure from The West Wing in 2003 (he still received credit for being the show’s creator until its ending in 2006), and a flop in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sorkin has put most of his focus on recounting true stories of flawed people taking giant risks in their industries. Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg
She talked about bringing the authentic relationship between the two main characters to life, the filmmaking aesthetics, and the backstory behind the screenplay as well.
Abortion is a topic that feels as if it is rarely discussed on film. We’ve seen films about failing marriages and pregnancies before. But it is rare to get a film that depicts certain complications of pregnancy that some couples face. However, 20 Weeks dares to touch on the hot-button topic of abortion and it does so in a nonjudgmental manner. Anna Margaret Hollyman and Amir Arisan play Maya and Ronan, a couple that is faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to abort their unborn child when they discover that he has a severe birth defect. The
"Let me fill you in on what happened in this episode: absolutely nothing nearly as exciting as it should have been." - Kim
In which Kim and Shawn ruminate on the penultimate episode. Kim: Well, here we are. This was the penultimate episode of the season. According to Merriam-Webster, the word ultimate itself comes from the Latin word for “last, final, or farthest.” The pen- part of penultimate is simply the Latin prefix that means “almost,” so the word literally means “almost last.” There’s also the word penult (pronounced PEE-nult), which means “the next-to-last member of a series,” or “the next to last syllable of a word.” In the word presentation, for example, the accent or stress is on the penult. Another related
Mill Creek pounds out a few more nail-biters from Britain's famed house of horror.
Precisely a year-and-a-half to the day since their first two double feature releases, Mill Creek has returned to the House of Hammer once more for another hefty dose of classic '60s thrills and chills, Britannia-style. This time around, there's a heavy focus on some of the less-remembered (but nevertheless, good) titles from the famed studio, many of which were previously seen on DVD by Sony under various Icons of... sets. The first double feature offering from Mill Creek opens with 1963's Maniac. Back in the glorious analog days, trying to find a copy of this one usually resulted in a
A stirring look at how life’s greatest challenges forge who we become.
Cinema Sentries has teamed up with Shout Factory to award one lucky reader The Tribes of Palos Verdes on Blu-ray, which is also currently available on DVD. For those wanting to learn more: Surf’s up in paradise. The 2017 feature film The Tribes of Palos Verdes, starring Jennifer Garner, Maika Monroe, Cody Fern, Justin Kirk and Alicia Silverstone, comes to Blu-ray on April 10, 2018, from Shout! Factory, in conjunction with IFC Films. Nine minutes of deleted scenes are included as a bonus feature. When teenage Medina (Maika Monroe) moves with her family to the picture-perfect paradise of Palos Verdes,
It's a big week full of interesting new releases.
The first words out of my mouth--er, keyboard, this week was going to be that I’m a huge Paul Thomas Anderson fan. Then I looked at his filmography and realize I’ve not seen his last three films. I am very much a fan of his first five films (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood). But somewhere along the way I seem to have stopped watching him. It started with The Master, his sort-of take on Scientology with Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing the charismatic leader of a crazy cult. When it came out, it
While not a traditional western, The Outlaw does enough right to make it an entertaining watch.
The Outlaw was produced and directed by Howard Hughes (with some uncredited directing at the beginning of the production by Howard Hawks). It is one of the more unusual westerns in cinema and not just because it is notable for introducing Jane Russell and her cleavage to audiences. The characters include legendary names of the old American West, such as Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday. The story places them in a traditional heterosexual love triangle while at the same time a more subtle homosexual love triangle is occurring with some of the same characters. Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) comes
Grease is still the word.
Every month, Fathom Events and TCM present a classic movie for the big screen. Nearly every month, my wife and I go. Normally, I grab my passes without even asking her. When Grease was announced, I asked her if she wanted to see it. I was reluctant about it. She was excited. Passes were secured. On the day of, neither of us were particularly thrilled. We kept coming up with excuses to not go. I first caught Grease sometime in the mid 1980s as a junior high kid. I was flipping through the channels on the little TV in my
I enjoyed this movie so much more than the live action film.
Not having been impressed by the recent live-action version, I admit the only reason I was interested in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay was because Christian Slater voices one of the characters, but it ended up being lots of fun. Amanda Waller (Vanessa Williams) is the warden at Belle Reve penitentiary. Her unorthodox methods involve forming Task Force X with inmates Deadshot (Slater), Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre), Killer Frost (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Copperhead (Gideon Emery), and Bronze Tiger (Billy Brown). This team of antiheros is required to take on missions at her direction with promises
A forgettable silent comedy is made watchable by the great Gloria Swanson, and worth buying by a terrific scene on a subway.
As the working day ends, we see tired feet marching down steps, and a pair of worn-out hands clock out. A shopgirl tries to buy her ticket for the subway but is pushed this way and that way by the hordes coming in and out of the station. Once on the train, she is jostled and pushed, pried and prodded. She spills the contents of her purse. Two men reach for the handle bars when the train moves, accidentally lifting the girl off her feet when they do. Her hat is knocked to the floor, stepped on, and smooshed. When
Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae tie the knot in this latest volume of Li'l Abner comic strips.
Al Capp’s Li’l Abner had the kind of success most comic strips only dream of. Running for 43 years, it captured the heart of pop culture long before the Marvel movies and big-screen blockbusters we have today. The strip introduced the idea of Sadie Hawkins Day into the lexicon, where in a role reversal, young ladies asked young men out for dates. Not a big deal now, but it was a major deal in the 1930s when Capp brought it into his strip. The strip turned Capp into a celebrity, with Capp presenting Kitty Pankey the title of “Sweetest Face
A nice boxed set from Arrow Academy presents four films from the popular French director.
You could say Sacha Guitry was born into the theater. His father, Lucien Guitry, was a very famous French actor who was friends with such luminaries as Tchaikovsky (Guitry convinced the great composer to write his works for Shakespeare’s Hamlet). As a teenager, Sacha began writing for the stage. He was quite prolific at it, having penned more than 120 plays in his lifetime. As movies began taking cultural prominence over the stage, Guitry stayed in the theatre feeling that silent pictures without the use of dialogue were not as dramatically satisfying. By the 1930s, he had changed his mind
Welcome these stories into your Star Trek library.
As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, "John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late '70s. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the [TV show] combined with new material such as dialogue [in word balloons], narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones." Volume 6 collects issues #15-17. “The Traveler” finds the Enterprise crew boarding a ship that's bigger on the inside,
It was a weird week determined to distract me, but I still found some cool stuff.
Last weekend, we went to Tennessee to visit some old friends for Easter. This week, Oklahoma teachers staged a walk-out in an attempt to get decent wages and more money for their classrooms. I don’t want to get to far into either of those things because I never want to write about religion or politics. I really don’t want to belittle the teachers and what they are doing in terms of how it has negatively affected my ability to consume pop culture. I do support the teachers and their important cause, but darn, if it hasn’t messed up my ability
A Quiet Place is a simplistic yet masterful gem that is destined to become a modern horror classic.
Even though just saying the title now gives me chills, I will not stay silent on how amazing A Quiet Place is. Actor-turned-director John Krasinski takes a film with an intriguing, minimalist premise and executes it with precision while directing a masterclass acting ensemble in the process. Unsettling at every single turn and gripping from the first frame to last, A Quiet Place seems destined to become a modern day horror classic. A Quiet Place is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been taken over by alien creatures who will hunt down anyone who makes sounds of any kind.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (30th Ann. Steelbook) and the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (Limited Ed. Steelbook) to Be Released by Shout! Factory
Only 10,000 of each will be available, and they are available now on Amazon and ShoutFactory.
Press release: Shout! Factory will be releasing Steelbook editions of two cult-favorite films on May 15, 2018: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (30th Anniversary Edition Steelbook), and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (Limited Edition Steelbook). Only 10,000 of each will be available, and they are available now on Amazon.com and ShoutFactory.com. Customers ordering The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (Limited Edition Steelbook) from ShoutFactory.com will receive a free 18x24 rolled poster featuring our brand new artwork, while supplies last, and get it shipped two weeks early. In Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the