New on Blu: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, BAD SANTA 2

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Manchester by the Sea

Writer/Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is one of the best movies of the year, as one of the most gut-wrenching films of the year. As an individual who always steps in shit, I can relate to Casey Affleck's Lee Chandler, a man who just keeps fucking up, one relationship and emotional security at a time. There's a reason why Affleck is nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, and will most likely win at the award's ceremony on the 26th of this month. 

There's so much tragedy in MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, but impossible to not recommend because of the realness to these tragedies. It's a powerful reminder that bad things happen all the time, they can keep happening, and sometimes there's no redemption to bad choices. 

Manchester By The Sea [Blu-ray]
Starring Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Liam McNeill

Bad Santa 2

Director: Mark Waters
Writers: Johnny Rosenthal, Shauna Cross
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox, Christina Hendricks, Ryan Hansen, Octavia Spencer
Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

Ok, shut up, of course BAD SANTA 2 doesn't live up to the original, which was an unexpected hit, but I don't think they were trying to. The point of BAD SANTA 2 is just to be over-the-top filthy, and more crass the BAD SANTA while repeating the film's plot. Both were achieved. I didn't think you could top Bill Bob Thornton's asshole, no-shit giving nature, but in BAD SANTA 2, Kathy Bates going toe-to-toe with him and it's glorious. Without her, this movie would not be as fun to watch. Sure, she played a terrifying psychopath (redundant?) in Rob Reiner's MISERY, but since then, I've seen her as a pure sweetheart. To see her switch gears in her older years, taking on such a vile role, is nothing short of awesome. 

Bad Santa 2 [Blu-ray]
Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Tony Cox

Complete List of Film Reviews

LOST A LOT OF MY REVIEWS AND RE-ADDING. THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. STILL NEED TO ADD FILMS FROM ROTTEN TOMATOES AND LINK TO THE REVIEWS. PLEASE BE PATIENT, YOU WILD ANIMAL. 

I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore. 
John Wick: Chapter 2
La La Land
A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story
A Most Violent Year
Adult Beginners
Adventures of Power
Afternoon Delight
Alex of Venice
All The Light In The Sky
Amy
Animal Kingdom
Attenberg
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Bad Turn Worse
Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
Bellflower
Big Game
Birdman
Black
Blue Ruin
Blue Valentine
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography
Boyhood
Brick Mansions
Butter
C.O.G.
Ceremony
Charlie Countryman
Child of God
Cop Car
CXL
Dark Places
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Deadfall
Don Jon
Don't Think Twice
Drive
Dumb and Dumber To
Embers
Escape from Tomorrow
Foxcatcher
Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Fubar: Balls to the Wall
Fury
Godzilla
Going the Distance
Gone Girl
Grey Gardens
Gridlocked
Guardians of the Galaxy
Holy Motors
Holy Rollers
Hungry Hearts
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
I Am Chris Farley
Imperial Dreams
In the Blood
Inherent Vice
Inside Out
Iris
Jack Goes Boating
Jackass 3
Jersey Boys
Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work
Joe
Jurassic World
Just Jim
Kaboom
Kill the Irishman
Klovn: The Movie (Klown)
Let Me In
Liberal Arts
Life Itself
Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
Lola Versus
Louder Than a Bomb
Lucy
LUV
Mad Max: Fury Road
Maggie
Man of Steel
Maps to the Stars
Melancholia
Men, Women, & Children
Miami Connection
Middle of Nowhere
My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Nature Calls
Nightcrawler
Nighthawks
Oddsac
One & Two
Only God Forgives
Peep World
Pincus
Pricecheck
Prince Avalanche
Rabbit Hole
Raze
Robot & Frank
Rosewater
Rubber
Rudderless
San Andreas
Save the Date
Scream 4
Sleepwalk With Me
Smashed
Snowpiercer
Somewhere
Southpaw
Spring Breakers
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Submarine
Sun Don't Shine
Take Shelter
Take This Waltz
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Terminator Genisys
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Bastard Sings The Sweetest Song
The Cold Lands
The Comedy
The Equalizer
The Expendables 3
The Fault in Our Stars
The Gambler
The Girl
The Girlfriend Experience
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Hateful Eight
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
The Kids Are All Right
The Kings of Summer
The One I Love
The Raid
The Rambler
The Revenant
The Rover
The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta?)
The Snowtown Murders
The Spectacular Now
The Visitor
The Wailing
The Ward
The Way Way Back
The We and the I
The Wetlands
The Wolverine
Trainwreck
Trash Humpers
TV Junkie
Two Days, One Night
Unbroken
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
Upstream Color
Victoria
Visitor
Waiting for Lightning
What We Do in the Shadows
Where the Wild Things Are
Whiplash
White Bird in a Blizzard
Wild
Win Win
Wish I Was Here
Wolf at the Door
Wrong
Wrong Cops
Young Ones
Your Sister's Sister

 

New on Blu: Quarry: Season One, Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection (DVD), ARRIVAL, THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like, and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Quarry: Season One

Creators: Michael D. Fuller, Graham Gordy
Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Jodi Balfour, Damon Herriman
Film Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I love Quarry. The series is based on Max Allan Collins' popular pulp books with the titular character on the front line facing mental and physical pain after leaving Vietnam, and still at war (often with himself). He's now a hired assassin to help make ends meet, trying to keep his wife happy, and not get killed. Sounds awesome, right? If you say no, get out of my website and don't come back. (Just being kidding, stay please.)

What I dig about Quarry is that it captures the aura of the 70s. I can almost smell the teak wood and feel the warmth of the lava lamp. Far out, man. 

Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection

Creator: Mike Judge
Cast: Beavis, Butt-head
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I don't like lying, so I have to tell you the truth when I first open the package containing the Beavis & Butt-Head: The Complete Collection. I don't know if this was a natural instinct or subconscious excitement, but when I took a look at it when pulling out of the package, I inadvertently laughed just like Butt-Head's unforgettable, infamous  "Uh huh, huh huh" cackle. It's been over 24 years since I've seen the show (!!!) and that laugh is still on the mind. 

Imperative you knew this. 

Mike Judge is always one step ahead of this world and always on to something. He made Idiocracy, about the world turning to shit because of a president not fit to be a president ('sup, Donald Trump!), and Beavis and Butt-Head, two idiots who can get by in this world being shitty and awful (and headbanging. Lots of headbanging.).

This collection comes with a butt-load of special features: Collector's Edition of Beavis and Butthead Do America, "Taint of Greatness: The Journey of Beavis and Butt-Head," and pretty much every appearance they've made and every skit separate from the regular show. There's enough content loaded in this release to spend precious time with these two degenerates for days. 
 

Arrival

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

The Arrival is a hard pill to swallow, and I'm still not sure of a lot that goes on in the film. This is odd because I love it. Perhaps it's Amy Adams' magnetic performance, never failing to take our breath away, or the mystery of the aliens and how they tie in with Adams' Louise Banks. Or, it could be the fact that Denis Villeneuve is my favorite director currently working in Hollywood. Everyone movie he's made has not failed to impress, and his seventh film, Sicario, is in my top ten films of all time. It's so damn thrilling. 

There are some cool bonus features that come with Arrival, but you're still going to be stuck, scratching your head like me once the end credits roll. What's fascinating about this ending is the endless theories. This isn't a movie that ends the way it does to piss you off; it wants you to think. Who knows, the answer could be right under your nose. 

Arrival [BD/Digital HD Combo ] [Blu-ray]
Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg

The Edge of Seventeen

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Haley Lu Richardson, Kyra Sedgwick
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

The Edge of Seventeen is a must-see for anyone who's slogged through the purgatories of high school. So...everyone? 

Hailee Steinfeld plays the outcast teen who hates life like she's the most miserable person on earth with without effort. She's funny and delivers her Nadine's pariah, teen angst attitude we can all relate to. She holds her own against scene-stealer Woody Harrelson, who makes the movie his in the very first scene. Harrelson needs to do more dry comedy because he's a natural at it.

The Edge of Seventeen marks the directorial debut for Kelly Fremon Craig, and I hope she continues to make films and no studio gets involved -- she knows what she's doing. Like the cover says, this is one of the best films of 2016. I was late to the bus seeing this, but I'm glad I had caught it before the year was over because it made my Favorite Films of the Year list.

It doesn't matter if you're a teen or adult, this movie is for you.

The Edge of Seventeen (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Haley Lu Richardson

From the Warner Archive Vault: WAIT UNTIL DARK, SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, UNDER THE RAINBOW

Wait Until Dark

Director: Terence Young
Writer: Frederick Knott (play), Robert Carrington, Jane-Howard Hammerstein (screenplay)
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Three conmen get burned by their own game by a blind woman played by Audrey Hepburn (which garnered her an Oscar nomination for her staggering performance). One of the goons is played by Alan Arkin, who looks like he just stepped out of THE MATRIX RELOADED (compliment). This is a side of Arkin I've never seen: chilling and ruthless. 

One of the most compelling aspects of the movie is that it takes place almost entirely in a crowded small apartment, giving a feeling of claustrophobia, especially since we're watching Susy Hendrix (Hepburn) navigate herself around when she's new to being blind, and hasn't really learned to use her other senses and memory to get around.

I loved this movie -- it's a riot watching it unfold as the clueless Susy winds up beating out the hoods with instinct and wit. Also, as we've learned in movies, you can't ever go into business with other goons -- it never ends well for them.  

Wait Until Dark (1967) [Blu-ray]
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Jr. Efrem Zimbalist

Showdown in Little Tokyo

Director: Mark L. Lester
Writers: Stephen Glantz, Caliope Brattlestreet
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee
Film Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY BUY BUY

Brandon Lee -- Bruce Lee's talented son -- died way too damn young and only left us with three films: the cult hit THE CROW (where he was accidentally killed during production), RAPID FIRE, and SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO. A shame, a real damn shame, but we're lucky to have a few films to remember him by and what could have been. (Which can be the same about Bruce.)

I digress. 

SHOWDOWN is accurate for its release: lots of nudity, drugs, violence, and the hero showing his perfectly sculpted butt.

It's been a long time since I've seen this and is much different than how I remember. Like Bruce showcased in THE WAY OF THE DRAGON, Brandon shows off his comedy chops as the wise-cracking police officer, Johnny Murata. He gives this character a fun presence while kicking people to sleep left and right, and molds the camaraderie with Dolph's Sgt. Chris Kenner, like they've been good ole pals for a good while. Their chemistry works, and it's fun, as well as charming watching their characters try to one-up each other in their martial arts talents while giving Little Tokyo a beat down. (Brandon's got the kicks, Dolph has the get-out-of-my-way sonic boom punches.) 

Costarring is Tia Carrera, Shredder's right-hand man from the old, good NINJA TURTLES movies, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who's played a villain more times than anyone in cinema. (Note: This has not been verified, but I'm going with my gut, which is always right.)

SHOWDOWN has everything a movie-loving karate fan wants: Dolph Lundgren karate kicking over a car, Dolph Lundgren beating up bad guys with a cup of coffee in his hand, Brandon fucking Lee.

Showdown in Little Tokyo [Blu-ray]
Starring Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tia Carrere, Vernée Watson-Johnson

Under the Rainbow

Director: Steve Rash
Writers: Fred Bauer, Pat Bradley (story); Pat McCormick, Harry Hurwitz, Martin Smith, Pat Bradley, Fred Bauer (screenplay)
Cast: Carrie Fisher, Chevy Chase
Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

UNDER THE RAINBOW is fucking bonkers. I got this after reading the first memoir from the late, irreplaceable, super awesome Carrie Fisher. She hated this movie with a passion and said Chevy Chase was less than pleasing to work with. As a woman who holds absolutely nothing back, I just had to see this, naturally. 

I'm going to try to explain UNDER THE RAINBOW. It's in the midst of filming THE WIZARD OF OZ, all 150 dwarfs, script supervisor (Fisher), a CIA agent (Chevy Chase), and a bunch of wackos are staying in the hotel called Hotel Rainbow (and anyone who enters it is now under it, you see). There's a shitload of subplots: a Nazi spy trying to steal a map, a Japanese spy trying to steal a map, and an assassin trying to kill someone but keeps botching it Mr. Bean slapstick style.

There's also a running joke where Chase keeps replacing Toto because the (current) Toto he has in his possession keeps accidentally dying.

This irreverent screwball comedy cranks the subgenre up to eleven. The finale involves the set of GONE WITH THE WIND, a western I couldn't pinpoint, and half the dwarfs in Oompa Loompa uniform chasing the Nazi dwarf. By the end of the movie, they are literally no longer in Kansas, anymore. UNDER THE RAINBOW is so ridiculous; you have to see it to believe it.  

Fisher looks great in the film, shiny and beautiful as always, and I bet she got super drunk and high along with the rest of the actors to make this film. This is one of the most batshit crazy movies of all the batshit crazy movies I've ever seen. And I mean that as a compliment. 

Under The Rainbow (1981)
Starring Chevy Chase, Carrie Fisher, Eve Arden, Joseph Maher, Robert Donner

TROLLS: PARTY EDITION

Director: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I've probably seen TROLLS about 37 times. I'm not being hyperbolic. My darling niece loves this movie so much, she built a bear, dressed it as a troll and gave it their fabulous Christopher 'Kid' Harris-esque wavy hair, and named him Poppy. Her favorite part of the movie is the credits, which is the time when she dances like crazy to one of the film's hit songs, "September," and headbangs because it's "how the trolls shake their hair." 

This party edition is awesome and your kids will love it. Look at these interactive ways to watch the film. Lots of hugs, lots of love. 

Don't let me sell you on this film when my niece does a much better job. Here two videos explaining why your kids need the movie, and what to do during the end credits. Enjoy. 

Trolls
20th Century Fox

New on Blu: DIRTY DANCING: 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, TROLLS: PARTY EDITION, THE TAKE, LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition

Director: Emile Ardolino
Writer: Eleanor Bergstein
Cast: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

DIRTY DANCING brings me back to my childhood. I'm sure it brings a lot of people my age back to their adolescence, too, but this film and BABY BOOM were staples of my growing up. I was raised by my mother, and these are her two favorite films still. (I'm pretty sure it's un-American not to have the time of your life watching this movie.)

Back then, VHS was all the rage, and my mom had a recorded version of DIRTY DANCING she got off HBO. (Buying movies were a hell of a lot more expensive back in that time, so taping two - three movies on one VHS was what you did.) We'd always watch the full movie, but then she'd rewind the ending scene, the famous dance scene, the one where the dreamy Patrick Swayze walks into the room and asks for Jennifer Grey's hand, and they do their infamous dance number that will give you chills every time you watch it it's so energetic and exciting. DIRTY DANCING showed us how to fly in the arms of an angel. Everyone -- in the movie and us -- falls in love with this moment, every time. When that bass kicks in from "Time of My Life," and the duo start getting into their routine, it's like an action movie but with crazy hypnotic dancing. 

This film spoke to every generation. It taught us how to dance, and it taught us how to fall in love through dancing. And now it's back to celebrate its 30-year anniversary. It still seems like yesterday I was watching it with my mom in our living room, and now this beloved film is 30. Time flies when you're busy dancing your heart out. 

It's a damn shame Swayze is no longer with us: he taught us how to dance, rip a man's throat out, and keep love alive when you're a ghost. He'll always be immortalized as one of cinema's rebels with a cause. 

Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD]
Starring Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, Jack Weston

TROLLS: Party Edition

Director: Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I've probably seen TROLLS about 37 times. I'm not being hyperbolic. My darling niece loves this movie so much, she built a bear, dressed it as a troll and gave it their fabulous Christopher 'Kid' Harris-esque wavy hair, and named him Poppy. Her favorite part of the movie is the credits, which is the time when she dances like crazy to one of the film's hit songs, "September," and headbangs because it's "how the trolls shake their hair." 

Don't let me sell you on this film when my niece does a much better job. Here two videos explaining why your kids need the movie, and what to do during the end credits. Enjoy. 

Trolls
20th Century Fox

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

Director: Lian Lunson
Cast: Leonard Cohen, Bono, Rufus Wainwright
Film Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY (If you're a fan)

There have been a few documentaries made on icon Leonard Cohen (I found one, so just one), but none as good as LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN. 

Packed with acts you love performing some of Leonard Cohen hits songs, I'M YOUR MAN is a hit documentary on the life of the artist. It's the conventional type of celebrity documentary you've seen before: artists talking about how the subject influenced them and why he/she is so prolific, his/her upbringing through to how they got to juggernaut status, but it's how it's told -- narrated by Cohen, spoken in mostly poetry -- and shown, with U2, Nick Cave (who has an excellent documentary about himself called 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH), Rufus Wainright, and many other musicians coming together for a night to play his hit songs (one of them being the opener for NATURAL BORN KILLERS, "Waiting For The Miracle.").

LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN first released in 2006 after a successful festival run at Sundance, TIFF, and Berlin, and is now resurrected for a first-time Blu-ray release.  

Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man [Blu-ray]
Starring Leonard Cohen, Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Nick Cave, Kate McGarrigle

New on Blu: JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK, POLTERGEIST II and III, BALLERS: SEASON TWO, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman: Season One

Testing who reads this. Today is my 34th birthday. Email me to say hi if you read this at chasewhale@gmail.com. kthanksbye!

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Director: Edward Zwick
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

Christopher McQuarrie (THE WAY OF THE GUN) did a terrific job directing the first JACK REACHER, and I wish he stayed on board the series. The books are great, this movie, is not. The first? A solid beginning to a promising franchise and Tom Cruise does fill the boots Jack Reacher wears well (same age but smaller and svelt versus large and pudgy), but this entry was just, well, boring. We do get Cruise running twice, which is nice, but not enough Cobie Smulders kicking ass, or even Reacher. Lots of jargon talk and a swift fight scene the audience sees coming a mile away. 

The Blu-ray does come with a kickass novella buy Jack Reacher author Lee Child with some groovy artwork. If you're a fan of Cruise running or Child's work, buy it. 

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Collector's Edition)

Director: Brian Gibson
Writer: Mark Victor, Michael Grais
Cast: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O'Rourke, Zelda Rubinstein
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Do you believe some people are doomed? I do. 

That’s my lede for this film’s coverage. 

It’s bone-chilling two of the leads died during horrifically during production of the POLTERGEIST series, films about death, ghosts, and spirits. Just watching them and knowing the history behind them makes the films truly terrifying. 

This is going to be mentioned by every writer reviewing these Blu-ray releases, but it’s important to talk about the elephant in the room. 

Dominique Dunne, who played Dana Freeling in POLTERGEIST, sister to Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke), was strangled to death after the film was completed by her then jealous boyfriend. He's now out of jail and owns a restaurant in L.A., free as a bird and alive. (Please God, make this one burn.) 

She was written out of the second, supposed to have gone to college but the scene was cut. Completely gone and forgotten. That’s Hollywood for ya. Keep the machine moving. 

O'Rourke, the center of all three films (and who the dead are after), was clearly sick during part III. She was misdiagnosed of having Crohn's disease. If you read the heartbreaking report of her illness on Wikipedia, you'll learn her trail of sickness led to a heart attack. She was 12. 

These two films have been restored and re-release today, on January 31st. Heather O'Rourke died on February 1, 1988. A child haunted by death in the movies and plagued by death in real life. What a tragedy. 

Watching the third, seeing her puffy cheeks and knowing she was sick during production is just...depressing.

Much love to Scream Factory for doing a superb job bringing these back with their always fantastic artwork and restoration. The girls may be gone, but at least Scream Factory managed to salvage O’Rourke’s legacy.  

Recommendation: Watch the series in reverse order. That way you get the colorful O'Rourke at her best, and get to see Dunne in her final film performance. 

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Starring Heather O'Rourke, JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Oliver Robins

Poltergeist III (Collector's Edition)

Director: Gary Sherman
Writer: Gary Sherman, Brian Taggert
Cast: Heather O'Rourke, Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen, Lara Flynn Boyle, Zelda Rubinstein
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

See Poltergeist II: The Other Side (Collector's Edition). 

Poltergeist III (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Starring Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen, Heather O'Rourke, Lara Flynn Boyle

Ballers: Season Two

Creator: Stephen Levinson
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, John David Washington, Omar Benson Miller
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I'll watch anything with Dwayne Johnson. I'd watch the hell out of GIGLI 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO if it were, starring The Rock. He's got charisma when he's angry, happy, or sad. Range. He won me (and most of America) over. 

I do have to admit I didn't pay attention to this show until I got season two and went back to watch the first. The story and characters arcs aren't interesting to a guy like me -- one who doesn't pay attention to sports -- but now I'm hooked, as well as learning something about the American sport we call football. (Be proud, dad. Be proud.) 

With football, the show is also about another one of America's favorite pastimes: rich celebrities doing rich shit, getting in trouble, and staying rich. 

This is season two. you know if you're want continue playing Ball or not. I'm in. 

 

The Story of God with Morgan Freeman: Season One

Creator: Stephen Levinson
Cast: Morgan Freeman
Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Morgan has played God in two goof fiction movies, and now, for National Geographic, he narrates with that beautiful voice of his while he explores the world, investigating different religious cultures and visiting prominent religious places. We learn (as he does) why these places are so prominent to God. 

Season one is six one-hour long episodes of his journey. It's proven to be popular, as season two is already underway. Believer or not, this is a fascinating look at faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New on Blu: xXx 15th Anniversary Edition

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

xXx 15th Anniversary Edition

Director: Rob Cohen
Writer: Rich Wilkes
Cast: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

I remember seeing XXX as a teenager. One moment sticks out: when he jumps over a fence on his xXxxxxtreme dirtbike and his face is clearly CGI'd on the stunt double's face. I knew one day we wouldn't even be able to tell when that happens again. (I was right, here we are.)

I like XXX, but does anyone know why Rich Wilkes didn't write xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. He's the word-slinger behind Glory Daze (starring a 1995 goateed Ben Affleck), Beer Money, The Jerky Boys, The Stöned Age, and the actually great Airheads. All movies based on morons going above and beyond to achieve a higher moronic status. 

xXx's director -- Rob Cohen -- delivered some pretty fucking great films: DRAGON, THE BRUCE LEE STORY being the one that would garner a lot of accolades if made today, and THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (now a bazillion dollar-reaping franchise with co-starring Diesel), 

Something important: I completely forgot Danny Trejo is in this. Shouldn't have been a surprise, though, he's in everything. Just look around. You'll find him, somewhere. Where's Trejo? should be a coloring book, with all of his first scenes. If someone made that, it would reap millions. 

And for what it's worth, the whole team behind xXX made it really hard (free pun for you) to google images from the film without seeing something a penis or vagina. Or both playing In the Car Garage together. 

XXX is stupid, but stupid fun. 

XXX 15th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray]
Starring Samuel Jackson, Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas

New on Blu: TRAIN TO BUSAN, Roger Corman's DEATH RACE 2050, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Train to Busan

Director: Sang-ho Yeon
Writer: Sang-ho Yeon
Cast: Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

If I had to describe TRAIN TO BUSAN in less than five words, I'd call it "a Zombie movie with heart." 

This is probably the moment where you name other zombie movies with heart, but I've seen a lot of brain-eating movies, and this is currently the only one that comes to mind. 

TRAIN TO BUSAN is written and directed by Sang-ho Yeon. Looking at this IMdb, he honed his skills with his previous film, an animated zombie film called SEOUL STATION.

TRAIN TO BUSAN is also pretty fierce with keeping your heart racing, and hoping so-and-so makes it to the end and doesn't get chomped on by a new kind of zombie we haven't seen before. These crazy flesh-eating killers will come at you with determination in whatever shape they're in. Some fall from buildings and get up, contorted and coming at ya. It's awesome watching these zombies go to work and watch the protagonist go the distance to keep his daughter safe. Like I said, big beating heart with zombies.

Train to Busan [Blu-ray]
Starring Gong Yoo, Jeong Yu-mi, Choi Woo-sik

Roger Corman's Death Race 2050

Director:  G.J. Echternkamp
Writer:  G.J. Echternkamp, Matt Yamashita
Cast: Manu Bennett, Malcolm McDowell, Marci Miller
Film Rating: ★
Buy/Rent: Rent (if you're a Corman fan)

It's been 50 years since the first DEATH RACE, and almost the same amount since B-movie legend Roger Corman made the first film (42 years, to be exact). 

Does Corman's style of films that worked in in the 60s - 90s (sometimes cheap do-it-yourself, at times a limited budget that worked in his favor) count today? No. When movies are obviously to capture the magic movies brought in the 70s, it's more irritating than entertaining. Corman can't be faulted since this has been his method of filmmaking madness. However, DEATH RACE 2050 just doesn't work. It tries too damn hard be cheap though terrible dialogue ("Smoking Cigarettes may be bad for you; battling Frankenstein? That's FATAL.") and CGI. 

Corman wasn't happy with DEATH RACE (2008), Starring the world's most colossal action star, Jason Statham because it didn't have the political themes and dark humor from the original. That perhaps ate at him, so made this to satisfy his reasons for this sequel. 

DEATH RACE 2050 contains political mockery, and I guess dark humor (but it's difficult to laugh), and it's unquestionably a Corman film. Sometimes that can be bad. 

Roger Corman's Death Race 2050 (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Starring Manu Bennett, Malcolm McDowell, Marci Miller

The Girl on the Train

Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay), Paula Hawkins (novel)
Cast: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

I didn't read the book, so I don't have many punches to throw in this fight, I can only report what I saw on screen. 

I love a good thriller, and the film hits it with that, even though some of the twists can be seen early on. Emily Blunt as the girl on the train, a horrific drunk filled with regrets and repressed memories, makes this film worth the watch. She can pull of charisma and make a sad sack look, well sad. Sometimes she pulls both off both at the same time, pulling our little heart strings. 

If you've read the book, proceed with caution. If you haven't, watch for Emily.

The Girl on the Train (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans

New on Blu: THE ACCOUNTANT, DEEPWATER HORIZON

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

The Accountant

Director: Gavin O'Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons
Film Rating: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

A few things. I don't watch movie trailers, anymore. They give away way too damn much, sometimes the ending. I was looking forward to THE ACCOUNTANT because of the sypnosis. An accountant whose an assassin, starring Ben Affleck? I'm in. Then the reviews from critics came in on Rotten Tomatoes (which I'm a proud member of). I will almost always give a film chance, especially when a film teters around 40% and higher on the Tomatometer. THE ACCOUNTANT is sitting at 51% at the time this was written, so my expectations weren't that high. 

Here's the exciting part: it blew me out of the water. I love THE ACCOUNTANT. It's one of Ben Affleck's best roles to date, and his most focused and determined. The film sets up really well with some twists -- some you see coming, some, you don't. There's lots of Ben kicking ass (probably around the same time he was training as Batman), and the adrenaline-fueled fighting style used in the film is Silat, which you've seen in THE RAID and THE RAID 2. 

There aren't that any special features -- they seem to be dwindling down these days -- but THE ACCOUNTANT is excellent and deserves your money. Add up the enough money and buy it.

Deepwater Horizon

Director:  Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Douglas M. Griffin
Film Rating: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

Mark Wahlberg enjoys being in films based on a true story: Deepwater Horizon, Patriot's Day, Ted, The Basketball Diaries, The Perfect Storm, Invincible, The Fighter, Lone Survivor, and Pain & Gain. He's the star in all but two. He's got top billing over a lot of stars, so there's a lot of pressure. (Free Deepwater Horizon pun for you.)

He always delivers, puts in an exceptional performance in everything he does, but the entertainment of the movies as a whole he's doing are starting to nosedive into the water. The best character in this movie is Kurt Russell's mustache, so you want to rent it for that. 

DEEPWATER HORIZON, like SUICIDE SQUAD, let's you use that Oculus thing to watch certain scenes, looking around as the action is happening. I wrote about this a long time ago and didn't think this kind of filmmaking would happen for a while, but here we are. 

Deepwater Horizon [DVD]
Starring Kurt Russell, Mark Wahlberg, James DuMont, Douglas M. Griffin, Joe Chrest

New on Blu: GIRLS SEASON FIVE, JACKIE CHAN PRESENTS: AMNESIA

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system.

Girls: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray

Creator: Lena Dunham
Cast: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Adam Driver, Zosia Mamet, Alex Karpovsky
Rating: Four ★★★★
Special Features: ★
Buy/Rent: BUY

The girls are back in town. (On Blu-ray, that is.)

This season felt a lot different than the rest; more character arcs, downward spirals, upsets. You know, real life. This is the running theme of girls, but it hits much harder in Season Five. This season gave us more about the rest of the girls since we we know Hannah like a close friend, already. My favorite part of the show, and this season, is Adam (Adam Driver). While I do miss him and Hannah as a couple, his wacky romance with Jessa (Jemima Kirke). It's appropriate considering they are both oddballs and he cares for her more than her friends and own family. Watching  Shoshanna's adventures in Tokyo was a nice treat away from Brooklyn, where most of the series we spend. This is the season where true adulthood is on the mind for everyone on the show, whether they work for it or not. 

There's only one season left, and I hope it tops this season, albeit doing it right. It has to. The girls are growing up and into their own skin. Time for them to sent off with a smile. 

There's always a complaint that Dunham and her team of writers are doing something to be racy or controversial. Just let the girls have fun, OK? 

Special Features:
-- Deleted Scenes
-- Extended Scenes
-- Inside the Episodes

Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia

Director: Yinxi Song
Cast: Ken Lo, Xingtong Yao, Rongguang Yu
Film Rating: ★★★
Special Features: ★
Buy/Rent: RENT

When I interviewed Jean-Claude Van Damme a few years back, I asked him what his plans were for doing action films when he's at the age where he's too fragile. (His answer was that he was going to keep going.)

Jackie Chan is still fooling around in front of the camera, but it's already preparing to rake in the money with his name stamped in the title, without him starring. His "Jackie Chan Presents" series is a smart move for that day he just can't deal with the injuries and would watch young action actors shine on screen. 

This brings us to the second release in the will-be-ongoing series: JACKIE CHAN PRESENTS: AMNESIA. I love that he's helping new talent shine on screen. We will one day need a new Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan, and a good start is here. While the movie isn't that great, it's a beginning for the young stars who will one day dominate in the action genre. 

New on Blu: AMERICAN HONEY, SNOWDEN

American Honey

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system. 

Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Special Features:
Buy/Rent: BUY

Andrea Arnold is one of the finest working filmmakers in Hollywood. She knows her lead when she sees him/her. She sees the talent and plucks no-names off the street to star in most of her films. She did this for FISH TANK, which garnered then newcomer Katie Jarvis a British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer. 

She did this again seven years later with this gem, AMERICAN HONEY. Fun trivia: She grabbed her non-name star right in my hood, Dallas-Fort Worth. Arnold's eye for talent is fascinating. Jarvis was a natural in FISH TANK, and AMERICAN HONEY's lead Sasha Lane carries that same inherent quality. Looking at her IMDb, it's bloated with big upcoming roles. She's that terrific. 

Another quality of AMERICAN HONEY is the co-star, Shia LaBeouf. Sure, he's been an egghead over the last few years, but there's no arguing he puts in a full tank of gas in his acting. Every role he baptizes himself in. I want his career to last for decades; he surely deserves it. He just needs to calm down on the weird art shit -- which turns average moviegoers away -- and he's golden. (He'll never lose his pleasant weirdness; for this role, he get two 12 tattoos, two are of Missy Elliott on his kneecaps.)

There are not many special features, but this is worth the buy for the film itself. DVD is being phased out, so before 4K completely takes over, Blu-ray is they way to go for Superb films. This is one of them. 

 

Special Feature: 
Sasha Lane & Riley Keough on AMERICAN HONEY
 

 

American Honey [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
Starring Shia LeBeouf, McCaul Lombardi

Snowden

Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Nicolas Cage
Film Rating: ★★★
Special Features: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt as much as the next Josh Gordon-Levitt fan, but I'm scratching my head why this was made so soon after CITIZENFOUR, a bold documentary on whistleblower Edward Snowden. That released in 2014. This could have pulled a lot of punch if Hollywood didn't jump the gun making a fictional film about him so soon. (Same for that horrible movie about 9/11, WORLD TRADE CENTER; a real tragedy Hollywood took advantage of.) Snowden is still hiding out wherever and uncovered a terrifying thing about what the U.S. government were up to. As a viewer, I knew the outcome, but watching Citizenfour as it was unfolding was heart pounding. 

SNOWDEN does journey where CITIZENFOUR didn't: his journey to becoming the whistleblower/turncoat/maniac/true patriot or whatever noun you prefer. Gordon-Levitt spits out an excellent performance, and he's always good in everything he does, so perhaps give this one a rent for him and its director, the great Oliver Stone. 

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Finding the Truth
Snowden Q&A -- An interview with Edward Snowden, Oliver Stone, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Shailene Woodley

Snowden (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson

In Defense of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE had it rough before it even released. Movie bloggers and critics were slamming it before going in and giving it a chance. Many of my colleagues were counting the days before they could crush it with their harsh words. That's not how film criticism should work -- a critic should always go in open-minded. If they can't, don't review -- but with today's online writers, people do as they please; reviewing a movie they are dreading to see is a part of the system. Most of us go on set visits, show off on social media about it, and then bash the film. 

This is before the movie screened for critics. 

There are two significant problems with BvS. One is the critic's fault; one is Synder's. 

1) To understand comic book films, you need to know the comics. This goes with any film that has history of literature before it. I've only reviewed one film based on a book and made sure to disclose that I didn't read the book, so the reader knew that I only reviewed what I saw on screen, but perhaps didn't understand some content because I didn't read the book. 

2) Critics first slammed MAN OF STEEL because of the destruction of Metropolis and Superman snapping Zod's neck. In defense, he hand no choice; Zod told him, "the people of Earth or me." A few more things to ponder: In Richard Lester/Richard Donner's SUPERMAN II, Christopher Reeve's did kill Zod and his two goons, but they played it safe for moviegoers and critics. Superman is, after, a good little alien. But when you think about it, Zod's death in MAN OF STEEL was quick; in SUPERMAN II, Zod is falling into an endless pit until he runs of out breath or his heart gives out. But it's framed in a way where it's not violent. (Yes, I've had a long time to think about this, and I love SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II.) 

But violence and realism is what critics and fans begged for after the IRONMAN and THE DARK KNIGHT. Superman is a character who's hard to be dark, but director Zach Snyder made it happen with MAN OF STEEL. Superman couldn't stick to his code of saving every civilian as the large fucking buildings falling  because he was busy trying to save the world by geting rid of Zod and his team of Kryptonian assassins. Cut Snyder and Supes some slack.

For BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, where Snyder fumbled was in the editing process. The Ultimate Edition explains all of the plot holes and missed opportunities for the theatrical version. "Why didn't Superman know there was a bomb in that wheelchair?" The UE has a ten-second clip explaining Lex Luthor made it out of lead, so he couldn't see what was in it. "Why did that young lady who was "at the location" where Superman saved Lois, lie about Superman killing civilians?" Well, it's explained in one quick clip that Lex Luthor paid her to say it. Even gave her a script. These should have been in the theatrical version.

The bundle of editing missteps fall on Snyder and his team. Lots of bad editing calls that would have made the film more understandable to the ones who just thought it was a stuffed turkey about two dudes set on beating the shit out of each other. 

And people have got to let go of why the two team up after the big fight. The name of their mother's are in the comics, so you can't really blame the filmmaker for sticking with that. Sure, it's a little cheesy, but all superhero movies have cheesy moments. 

In defense of the UE, it's three hours long and the average moviegoer would not sit through that. Hell, it's hard for me to sit through a two and half-hour film. I can't remember seeing a movie in a theater that's running time is under two hours. 

Maybe the UE should have been the one to release in theaters. The leap of faith would have been worth it since it's two of the greatest comic book heros of all time, and people would perhaps tolerate the running time because these two were finally put together in the same film. 

Snyder knows how to paint a picture, but perhaps needs to stay away from the writing process. BvS is a beautiful film, and deserves that recognition. As for the errors, he listens, which is why the destruction of Metropolis is explained in BvS. 

Watch the Ultimate Edition when you can, and see if it changes how you feel about the movie. It sure did me. 

New on Blu: SUICIDE SQUAD, PHANTASM REMASTERED, SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU

Suicide Squad Extended Cut

Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Film Rating: ★★★
Special Features: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Let's cut to the chase: I like the Extended Cut of SUICIDE SQUAD. Is it because I got to watch it without a theater full of critics scoffing at everything, or because the little bit of extra footage made the movie a bit better? I don't have the answer, but I like the Extended Cut of SUICIDE SQUAD. It was more entertaining and fun on the second watch. Here's to keeping the DC Universe continuing at the cinema. 

Special Features: 
- Task Force X: One Team, One Mission – Discover the rich legacy of DC’s most infamous bad guys
- Squad Strength and Skills – How’d they whip themselves into shape?
- Get the inside story Joker and Harley: The ‘It’ Couple of the Underworld – She’s rotten. He’s damaged. They’re a match made in hell
- Chasing the Real – Writer/director David Ayer reveals techniques for creating an authentic surreal world
- Gag Reel
- Character bios
- Download Vudu's app and get the exclusive "Suicide Squad Extras+ Experience
- Thre's also a slick feature where you can view certain scenes in 360 oculus-style

Suicide Squad (Extended Cut Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)
Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis

Phantasm Remastere

Director: Don Coscarelli
Writer: Don Coscarelli
Cast: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm
Film Rating: ★★★★
Special Features: ★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

Well Go USA is changing and doing big things. First starting out as America's leading Asian film distributor, they've branched out to American indie movies, and now, repertory cult cinema. Their first grab? The wildly popular PHANTASM, which has been running on a full tank of gasoline since 1979. We've all been waiting for a Remastered Blu-ray, and now it's here, along with a fifth and final film in the franchise, PHANTASM: RAVAGER, directed by the weird and wonderful filmmaker who made the original, Don Coscarelli. (Never take off those Elvis glasses, Coscarelli, never.)

Two things that made PHANTASM brilliant and became Hollywood tropes to this very day: having a kid figure out the terror and how to kill it instead of grown-ass people, and silently mouthing "What the fuck?" (BLADE is the best one of the bunch.)

PHANTASM REMASTERED is now in HD, but they've kept the quality of giving it that 70s, yellow-esque tone, so don't worry. Well Go USA did as great of a job on this as Scream Factory does on all their films. 

Long live The Thin Man!

Also available, PHANTASM: RAVAGER!

Special Features:
- New 5.1 Surround Sound
- Original Mono Track
- Audio Commentary with Director & Writer Don Coscarelli, Michael Baldwin (Mike), Angus - Scrimm (The Tall Man), and Bill Thornbury (Joan)
- Graveyard Carz Episode
- Interviews from 1979 with Don Coscarelli and Angus Scrimm
- Deleted Scenes
- Trailers

Phantasm: Remaster [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]
Starring Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister

Southside with You

Director: Richard Tanne
Writer: Richard Tanne
Cast: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway
Film Rating: ★★★
Special Features: ★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

Two fiction films have been made about soon-to-be former president Barack Obama: Barry and Southside with You. This will not be said about Trump (unless you count Jeremy Konnor's hilarious satire THE ART OF THE DEAL, where Johnny Depp nails his portrayal of King Bozo, Trump). 

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU gained a bigger audience since it went to theaters (BARRY is Netflix), and it's not a bad story about Obama wooing Michelle on their first date. There's something missing to this story, and I'm not sure what. I just didn't feel complete. 

It is worth your time since it's about one of your coolest presidents -- now is the time to watch it more than any. Barack knows how to treat a lady, something else that will not be said about Trump. 

Special Features:
Audio Commentary: 
Original Artwork and Animations
Theatrical Trailer

Southside With You [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
Starring Tika Sumpter, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Parker Sawyers

New on Blu: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Black and Chrome Edition), THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS, DON'T BREATHE

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a new column from film pundit Chase Whale, exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent. 

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Black and Chrome Edition)

Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne (who played the villain "Toecutter" in 1979's Mad Max which starred and boomed Mel Gibson's career)
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Special Features: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is one of the best films of this decade. Filled with batshit crazy stunts and sparse CGI when required, George Miller, 71, is a wunderkind made one of the best movies of 2015. You won't find many 71-year-olds making movies like the high-octane MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, well, ever.

This is why the Black and Chrome edition is so important -- it's what Miller wanted from the get-go. 

On the Blu-ray, Miller introduced the Black and Chrome edition by saying it's the better version of the film. I wholeheartedly disagree because the dusty sepia color palette gives FURY ROAD the feel of a wasteland. However, something monstrous about Black and Chrome version -- you can't see the obvious CGI moments. That's not the intention why they sucked out the colors and hyped up black and chrome -- Miller had this vision for a long time. It's tough to put up an argument with the director who made the film you love, but there's a gray area in there for every voice. (excluding the ones in your head.)

It's a necessary buy just to have the option to watch in either version. Invite your BFFs over for a back-to-back FURY ROAD extravaganza, then debate which is better. It'll drive you all mad. 

The cover of the Black & Chrome edition is slick, symmetrically splitting Immortan Joe's soulless face -- half in color and the other, black & chrome.

Special Features:
Miller's brief introduction to the Black & Chrome version
Featurettes: Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road, Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels, The Road Warrior: Max and Furiosa, The Tools of the Wasteland, The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome, Fury Road: Crash and Smash
Deleted Scenes

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

Directors: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Cast: Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, Hannibal Buress, Dana Carvey, Steve Coogan
Film Rating: ★★★★
Special Features: ★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

THE SECRET LIFE TO PETS is there is not secret: it's exactly how you imagine it to be -- dogs running amuck around the house, cats knocking over things, both eating everything in sight, and animals acting how we know them. Their decorum emphasizes jokes adults will appreciate, and there are enough gratifying gags that will surely make the kids laugh.   It's a cunning animated film on why pets act they way they do and how they act and feel in certain situations. Say, when a dog and his best friend, as well as caretaker, brings in another dog and they start to get territorial with their owner and things turn topsy-turvy. "They" being a Jack Russell Terrier, Max (Louis C.K.) and a Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a brown breed that's unknown but perhaps the filmmakers thought it would be funny to put Chewbacca on all fours. (It works because it's funny.) For this household, there can be only one. 

While on a routine dog walk from a dog walk (a super popular job in New York), Max and Duke get themselves captured by the pound. To their rescue are animals from all over the city. But not so fast, no all come in peace. A game of cat-and-mouse becomes the central focus when Max and Duke upset a bunny with a 'tude named Snowball (Kevin Hart). (There's no irony that Kevin Hart plays the smallest animal in the film, I'm sure.)
I think my favorite character is the pig, who's all tattooed up. It doesn't say "Pig' on IMDb, but a wild guess would be the character "Tattoo" (played by Michael Beattie).

We know from the beginning where the relationship of Max and Duke is going to go, but their journey to get there is what's gratifying to watch. Sure, a lot of animated movies follow a conventional plot that always works, but it's the second act that's the most important. 


Blu-ray Exclusive Features:
-- How to Make an Animated Film.
-- Anatomy of a Scene.

More Special Features:
-- Mini-Movies:
-- All About The Pets – Kevin Hart and Eric Stonestreet, with the help of animal trainer Molly Mignon O’Neill take you on an educational journey to learn more about your average and not-so average, household pets.
-- Animals Can Talk: Meet The Actors – The comedy superstars who give voice to the film’s menagerie of characters talk about their roles and the process of bringing them to life.
-- Hairstylist To The Dogs – Inspired by “Hairspray Live!,” Eric Stonestreet, with the help of a professional dog groomer Jess Rona, will take you through the basic steps to help your pups look as awesome as possible when they’re hanging out with their pet pals.

Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas
Film Rating: ★★★★
Special Features: ★★★★★
Buy/Rent: BUY

DON'T BREATHE is full of shocking surprises. It takes the conventional home invasion-gone-wrong trope but throws in a lot of twists and turns you won't see coming. This is the best and most violent in the HOME ALONE series. Kevin McCallister grew up and went off the deepend.  

This Blu-ray release comes with a mountain of special features, but the most important one is the sound. If you have surround sound, it feels like you're put right in the middle of the invasion. You hear all creeks and cracks and sounds that will make you shit your pants where you stand. 

It's mind-bending watching how The Blind Man (Stephen Lang, in a victim-turned-villain hyper-menacing performance) how the blind man takes out his burglars and reveals his own horrifying secret. 

I didn't expect DON'T BREATHE to be as good as it is. This is my favorite kind of movie,  ones that catch me off guard and tell people, "see it." 

Special Features: 
-- Eight deleted scenes with Director's Commentary
-- No Escape
-- Creating the Creepy House
-- Meet the Cast
-- Commentary with Director Fede Alvarez, Co-Writer Rodo Sayagues and Actor Stephen Lang
-- Man In The Dark
-- The Sounds of Horror

Movie Review: LA LA LAND

LA LA LAND La La Lavishes with joy and warmth. This is a movie I want to live in. It's a perfect homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood and pays deep admiration of the musicals during that era. 

After a failed audition, Mia (the super gifted Emma Stone) walks passed a mural of Hollywood legends -- Chaplin, Monroe -- people who don't need to be introduced by their full name, people actors want to be, people she wants to be but can't nail the right audition. As she drifts along the avenue, she hears the soothing sounds of a piano and walks into the bar. The pianist is the dreamy Sebastian (played by the dreamy Ryan Gosling). He lives and breathes jazz, a dying breed of music. 

These two characters keep having chance encounters — one very humorous and very L.A. — and finally end up as a couple, *the* couple with whimsical love so powerful; it’s the kind people dream of having. These two float, and sing and dance their happiness together, despite their ongoing struggles. 

As Sebastian, Gosling carries suave and pizazz of Gene Kelley, and the energetic legs and feet of Fred Astaire, while Emma Stone captures a fierce hustle and bounce delivery of Audrey Hepburn, with a sweet tone of Judy Garland. 

LA LA LAND is a musical and one of the most lively and enjoyable of its genre. It’s not your conventional musical — watch Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” music video for a taste of this magical gem. This movie is beautiful in so many ways. Writer-director Damien Chazelle (WHIPLASH) shows what he knows: celebrating music in an effortless slick style. 

From memory, a few films pulse throughout LA LA LAND, including Woody Allen’s ANNIE HALL, revered musicals from the Golden Age such as George Sydney’s SHOW BOAT, GIGI, A STAR IS BORN, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, Chazelle’s first feature WHIPLASH — about strict determination — and the dance numbers and tunes are as remarkable and catchy as 2011’s THE MUPPETS. You’ll be singing long after leaving the theater.  

Chazelle banged on the scene in 2014 with his hard-hitting debut feature film about being the best and nothing less, WHIPLASH, which won three Oscars: Best Supporting Role (J.K. Simmons, in a powerful and monstrous performance), Film Editing, and Sound Mixing. I saw this at its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. It was the opening night film, nobody heard much of it, and after, I wished the other films screening good luck! because we had all just seen the best of the festival.  

And he kept that rhythm going.

For better or worse, LA LA LAND is going to be Chazelle’s best film. From the song and dance numbers to his tongue-in-cheek mockery and glamorizations of the conventions of living in L.A. 

So what is LA LA LAND really about? Decorating and disfiguring surviving in L.A.? Or, the truth and consequences of following your dream? I’m not too sure, but I do know LA LA LAND is a well-planned, well-executed story of love, the reality of disappointment, and what happens when we stop worrying and learn to accept life and its strange designs. LA LA LAND is the backdrop of movies and why we see them. It’s magical.

New on Blu: PTA's PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, SPACE JAM 20TH ANNIVERSARY STEELBOOK, DEAD RINGERS, FINDING DORY, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE: VOLUME ONE (DVD)

"I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine."  
-- Barry Egan

After making his masterpiece, MAGNOLIA, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson said his next movie would be a comedy starring Adam Sandler. People laughed. He was serious. PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE was made with Sandler, and it became one of PTA's most beloved films. It's one of the idiosyncratic love stories and shows Sandler will win you over when he takes acting serious. 

I'm an avid PTA fan, and this is my second favorite in his oeuvre. It's not his second best, or third, but it's my second favorite. It makes me want to fall in love; it makes me want to believe happiness strikes at any moment, and it makes me miss scene-stealer Philip Seymour Hoffman.

PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE has been only available via a shitty DVD transfer since 2002, and Criterion Collection came to save the day (better late than never). This edition comes with the hilarious Mattress Man commercial Hoffman hilariously spoofed. You may have seen it, already, but if not, watch it and then watch this, "the real mattress man." commercial. Hoffman bravely mirrored exactly what the Mattress Man foolishly thought was a good idea. There's another cool bonus I've never seen, an interview with David Phillips, the “pudding guy." 

In this PTA-approved edition, special features are:

  • Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director Paul Thomas Anderson, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Blossoms & Blood, a short 2002 piece by Anderson featuring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson, along with music by Jon Brion
  • New interview with Brion
  • New piece featuring behind-the-scenes footage of a recording session for the film’s soundtrack
  • New conversation between curators Michael Connor and Lia Gangitano about the art of Jeremy Blake, used in the film
  • Additional artwork by Blake
  • Cannes Film Festival press conference from 2002
  • NBC News interview from 2000 with David Phillips, the “pudding guy”
  • Twelve Scopitones
  • Deleted scenes
  • Mattress Man commercial
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: An essay by filmmaker, author, and artist Miranda July

Why are you still reading this? Now "SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP! Shut up; will you SHUTUP SHUTUP! SHUT SHUT SHUT SHUT SHUTUP... SHUTUP! NOW" and BUY THIS NOW NOW NOW.

Punch-Drunk Love (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
$26.19
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Emily Watson

Remember when brilliantly bizarre Bill Murray tried to join the NBA? These days his behavior not considered wacky, but back in 1996, it one one of the funniest gossip treasures. He got his wish to bounce a basketball on the court against an opposing animated team of giant monsters alongside basketball's greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, in the super weird SPACE JAM.

I hadn't seen SPAM JAM since it was in theaters long ago. I was 13 and everyone want Air Jordan's so they could fly. Everyone. We didn't care about the story; we just wanted to see Michael Jordan fly, and that he does. 

When I re-watched it for the 20th anniversary Blu-ray release, there are two things I'm curious how parents took: Why are parents taking their kids to a themed park called Moron Mountain owned by giant bozo Swackhammer (voiced by the beloved professional functioning alcoholic Danny Devito), and why isn't everyone freaking out that Michael Jordan got sucked into a golf hole and is missing? It is a Looney Tunes film, which means anything goes. 

I still love watching this movie, and as an adult, there's a line I caught that made me laugh out loud, and that's when Bill Murray shows up at the game at the end and is asked, "How did you get here?" His dry and austere response? "A producer is a friend of mine dropped me off." This wink-at-the-audience moment is where SPACE JAM is giving the parents something to laugh at, and let the audience know that SPACE JAM itself knows its a silly movie, but just go with it and embellish the goofiness, or get out of town. 

Related: Please watch the below short clip of a press conference when Murray announced he wanted to try out for the NBA. Murray's last word to the reporter's question is solid gold. 

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary from director Joe Pytka, Bugs Bunny (voiced by Billy West) and Daffy Duck (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker)
  • Jammin with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan
  • Music videos including Seal's "Fly Like an Eagle" and Monstars' anthem "Hit 'Em High"
Space Jam 20th Anniversary (Steelbook Combo) [Blu-ray]
$12.99
Starring Bruce W. Smith, Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight, Theresa Randle, Larry Bird

Ah, yes, Scream Factory is rolling out two collector's edition of horror guru David Cronenberg's films. The first is DEAD RINGERS, which blesses us with two Jeremy Irons, and brings us back to a time when payphones were crucial in movies and plot twists, and Beverly was a masculine name. 

This is an release is super important because it's the first time DEAD RINGERS is on Blu-ray, so the quality isn't shitty on TVs bigger than 40" like the PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE version mentioned above. 

And as always, Scream goes for broke with the delicious artwork, making it a necessity for the collection. Since this is Cronenberg, fans will be clawing to get their hands on this release.

Special Features

DISC ONE

  •  High-Definition Transfer Of The Film (1.78:1 Aspect Ratio)
  •  NEW Audio Commentary With Writer William Beard, Author Of The Artist As Monster: The Cinema Of David Cronenberg
  •  Audio Commentary With Actor Jeremy Irons

DISC TWO

  • NEW 2K Scan At The Director's Preferred Aspect Ratio (1.66:1)
  • NEW Carey's Story – An Interview With Heidi Von Palleske
  •  NEW Working Artist – An Interview With Stephen Lack
  •  NEW Connecting Tissues – An Interview With Special Effects Artist Gordon Smith
  •  NEW Double Vision – An Interview With Director Of Photography Peter Suschitzky
  •  Vintage interviews With Jeremy Irons, Director/Co-writer David Cronenberg, Producer Marc Boyman And Co-writer Norman Snider
  •  Vintage Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
  •  Original Theatrical Trailer
Dead Ringers [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray]
$21.06
Starring Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, Stephen Lack

Ellen Degeneres has a natural, lively ability to make people laugh on her talk show. She's approachable and warm. Now she proves her voice alone is still a beloved character of its own. In FINDING DORY, she reprises her role as Dory from FINDING NEMO. This time, it's Dory's story. She's has had "short term remember loss" since she was young, and remembers when she is all grown up she is missing her parents. Off she goes to find them. She meets a lot of characters from FINDING NEMO, so it makes for a great back-to-back watch. There are crossovers and moments that will make you say, "oh yeah! I remember that!"

FINDING NEMO is for you, for me, and for everyone. Pixar is astute when it comes to making animated movies and teaching family values. Separated, it's hard to survive, but with a team, anything is possible. 

Special features (hold your breath for this)

  • Theatrical Short: "Piper" – A hungry sandpiper hatchling ventures from her nest for the first time to dig for food by the shoreline. The only problem is that the food is buried beneath the sand where scary waves roll up onto the shore.
  • Marine Life Interviews (All-New Mini Short) – Meet the inhabitants of the Marine Life Institute as they remember our favorite blue tang.
  • The Octopus That Nearly Broke Pixar – Pixar's "Team Hank" unravels the challenges, frustrations, and rewards of bringing to life the studio's crankiest and most technically complicated character ever.
  • What Were We Talking About? – This piece showcases the complex routes Dory's story took as the filmmakers worked to construct a comprehensive narrative involving a main character with short-term memory loss.
  • Casual Carpool – What's it like to commute with the voices of Marlin, Charlie, Bailey and Hank? Join "Finding Dory" writer/director Andrew Stanton as he drives Albert Brooks, Eugene Levy, Ty Burrell and Ed O'Neill to work.
  • Animation & Acting – How do you create a connection between a human audience and a fish? This behind-the-scenes look behind the curtain examines the process of constructing believable performances through a unique collaboration between the director, voice actors and animators.
  • Creature Features – The cast of "Finding Dory" share cool facts about the creatures they voice in the film.
  • Deep in the Kelp – Disney Channel's Jenna Ortega guides us on a research trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to show how far the "Finding Dory" crew went to make Dory's world feel real.
  • Skating & Sketching with Jason Deamer – "Finding Dory" character art director Jason Deamer talks about how he got to Pixar, how he draws the characters in the film, and how falling off a skateboard teaches you lessons you can use in art and life.
  • Dory's Theme – A spirited discussion among the composer, music editor and director of "Finding Dory" about the musical elements that shape Dory's quirky and joyful theme.
  • Rough Day on the Reef – Sometimes computers make mistakes. Here you'll see some of the funny, creepy and just plain bizarre footage the crew encountered while making "Finding Dory."
  • Audio Commentary – Director Andrew Stanton, co-director Angus MacLane and producer Lindsey Collins deliver their personal perspective on "Finding Dory."
  • Deleted Scenes (introduced by director Andrew Stanton)
    • Losing Nemo – While watching the stingray migration, Dory starts to follow two fish that remind her of her parents, leaving Nemo all alone.
    • Little Tension in Clown Town – In this alternate version of the film, Dory tries to "follow her fins" to her parents, but ends up in a strange place with even stranger fish fashion.
    • Dory Dumped – In this early version of the story, Dory's parents had short-term memory loss as well.
    • Sleep Swimming – Dory begins to talk and swim in her sleep, revealing what seem to be clues to her past.
    • Meeting Hank – Wandering the Marine Life Institute's elaborate pipe system, Dory happens upon the abode of Hank the cranky octopus.
    • The Pig – Frantically navigating the pipes of the Marine Life Institute in search of her parents, Dory crosses paths with a terrifying cleaning device.
    • Starting Over – Director Andrew Stanton presents four different versions of the movie's opening scene to illustrate the filmmakers' search for the best way to introduce Dory's backstory and to connect this new film to "Finding Nemo."
    • Tank Gang (Digital exclusive) – After a close encounter with a squid leaves them separated from Dory, Marlin and Nemo unexpectedly meet up with the Tank Gang from "Finding Nemo," who make it their mission to get to the Marine Life Institute … by any means necessary.
    • Hidden Seacrets of Finding Dory (Digital exclusive) – Take a deep dive to catch secret Easter Eggs throughout the movie. And just like Hank, they're hidden in plain sight.

BUY...if you can find it. 

Finding Dory - BD Combo Pack (2BD + DVD + Digital HD) [Blu-ray]
$19.99
Starring Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

Dustin Hoffman first starred on broadway as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's beloved play, Death of a Salesman, then when on to play the character in this TV movie, which got him and Emmy Award, as well as a Golden Globe for Best Lead. Death of a Salesman has been given the TV-movie treatment five times, and this is the best of the bunch. I mean, look at that cover. There's not much more glorious in this world than Hoffman holding John Malkovich's tweeks, smiling and showing their colossal height gap. It's also pretty amazing they pulled off as father-son, which means Hoffman's LomanhadJohn Malkovich's Biff (a popular name in 80s movies) at 17.

If you like to read, I highly recommend reading Miller's original play first, then re-visiting this gem, but if you're tolerance for reading left to right, top to bottom is very low, this film the next best thing. Moreover, Malkovich is named Biff and "butthead" is not used once. An important 80s fact you need to know. 

Special Features

  • Private Conversations: A Candid Look Behind The Scenes At The Filming Of This Powerful And Compelling, Award-Winning Production Of Death Of A Salesman
Death Of A Salesman [Blu-ray]
$21.06
Starring Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich

There are seven volumes, so you have a lot of ahead to look forward to, soldier. 

Volume One takes place during Lee's high school years in Hong Kong, where he faces racial tension and learns to box and kick some ass, all the way until he leaves for America where he will forever be known as the greatest fighter to have ever lived. (His philosophy on martial arts, patience, and when to strike is brilliant.)

I'm an avid Bruce Lee fan, so his films are satisfy me plenty. I'm also a huge fan of DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY, so I don't need more backstory, even if it's more accurate. Jason Scott Lee did such an exceptional job in Lee's biopic DRAGON, I can't imagine the praise Jason would get if it were made today. 

This series is super popular and there are six more, so if you want to get to know more about Bruce's upbringing that got him to his legendary status, buy these. I prefer rental because I'm not sure I'd revisit again. 

RENT.

Legend of Bruce Lee: Volume 1
$12.96
Starring Danny Chan, Michelle Lang, Mark Dacascos

New on Blu: MORRIS FROM AMERICA, BUBBA HO-TEP, THE INITIATION, KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE, OUT OF PRINT (DVD)

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a new column from film pundit Chase Whale, exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent. 

MORRIS FROM AMERICA

What I love about comedians, is when they tackle drama and nail it. Craig Robinson (THIS IS THE END, The Office) stars as Curtis Gentry, who was recruited to Germany to be a soccer coach. His son, Morris (Markees Christmas in a gifted theatrical debut), wishes to be a rap superstar, is going to a German school, and can't fit into the status quo until fitting in until he meets Katrin, a girl who enjoys his company and spends time with him. Eventually, he starts to hang out with her, goes to parties and lies to father, and this is where the father/son routine comes in. 

I love that Robinson took on this role. While watching him, I didn't see Darryl Philbin from The Office or a blissfully dramatized version of himself in THIS IS THE END, or any of his wacky and wild comedies -- it's a nice departure from raunch-com he's known for. I hope he gives more sober roles like Mr. Robot and MORRIS FROM AMERICA in the future a shot. It's working. 

IMDb bills this as a "Romantic and coming-of-age misadventures of a 13-year-old American living in Germany," but's so much deeper than that. It's also about a father/son relationship, and how they cope with each other while living in Germany, a country neither are familiar with and only have each other to rely on. 

Special Features:
“Making Morris from America” Featurette
Bloopers
Deleted Scenes
Casting Tapes
Audio Commentary with Director Chad Hartigan and Actors Craig Robinson and Markees Christmas

BUY. 

BUBBA HO-TEP

BUBBA HO-TEP is one of Bruce Campbell's best films. He's an elderly Elvis who made a deal with an Elvis impersonator long ago and got duped. Now he's in a nursing home, has a pimple on his penis and his best friend is JFK (Ossie Davis), who's black who believes there's a conspiracy against him from long ago.

This is only the beginning. 

Evil lurks at the nursing home, a western mummy gunslinger, and giant cockroaches, out to hurt the poor ole elderly. Campbell has battled evil dead before, so he's the man for the job, except he has to do it as a bitter old Elvis who walks with a cane and his pal JFK is in a wheelchair. Can they stop the madness? 

Special Features
NEW Audio Commentary With Author Joe R. Lansdale
NEW All Is Well – An Interview With Writer/Director Don Coscarelli
NEW The King Lives! – An Interview With Star Bruce Campbell
NEW Mummies And Make-up – An Interview With Special Effects Artist Robert Kurtzman
Audio Commentary By Don Coscarelli And Bruce Campbell
Audio Commentary By "The King"
Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Don Coscarelli And Bruce Campbell
"The Making Of Bubba Ho-Tep" Featurette
"To Make A Mummy" Make-up And Effects Featurette
"Fit For A King" Elvis Costuming Featurette
"Rock Like An Egyptian" Featurette About The Music Of Bubba Ho-Tep
Joe R. Lansdale Reads From Bubba Ho-Tep
Archival Bruce Campbell Interviews
Music Video
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spot
Still Gallery

BUY BUY BUY. 

THE INITIATION

 

"Delta Ro Kai, never will die" -- The Sister

THE INITIATION is one of the many films a part of the slasher film boom from the early 80s. It doesn't take itself too seriously and has a bit of fun, which is perhaps why Arrow Video picked it up.

THE INITIATION stars Daphne Zuniga in her debut feature as Kelly Fairchild, who's rushing to be a part of Delta Ro Kai. Something is bothering her -- since she was a child, she's had a recurring dream about a man on fire in her parent's bedroom courtesy of the fireplace. There's a psych ward, and sorority  end up in the mall to break into Kelly's dad's department store for some reason (initiation!). I don't know how they got in the mall, but they wonder around, and each get picked off one by one. Psych wards, malls, and Delta Ro Kai -- nobody is safe in THE INITIATION.  

The film follows conventional slasher tropes: a bitchy lead you fist-pump when she gets what's coming to her, amazing taglines, the whodunit?, gratuitous nudity, guys being dicks and rightfully getting brutally butchered, horny gives, the final girl, a big twist, silly but-so-good one-liner puns like "sometimes I think that man would forget his head if his head wasn't attached" right after it's cut off by a hatchet, the the four words you never say in a horror film, "I'll be right back,"  and more familiar conventions that were popular and made slashers in that time real money thanks to greats like HALLOWEEN, PSYCHO, and FRIDAY THE 13TH, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. 

What's odd about the dialogue is the tagline. Someone in the film says, "...to being young, saying young, and dying young." Not sure about you, but I definitely don't want to die young. I want to live until at least 103. 

THE INITIATION has gained a cult following just like almost all the slashers from that time: SLEEPAWAY CAMP, NIGHT SCHOOL, FINAL EXAM, MADMAN,  THE BURNING, THE PROWLER, NEW YEAR'S EVIL, CHRISTMAS EVIL, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, APRIL FOOL'S DAY, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, EVERY HOLIDAY, EVER NIGHT/DAY/ETC., COLLEGE KIDS GETTING KILLED,  and anything with Jamie Lee Curtis, to name a few. 

This film should be shown to seniors pledging for a sorority that it isn't worth it. Don't buy friends, make them! (Or, if you're like me, just be alone every day because you have trouble making friends.)

Alfred Hitchcock and John Wayne favorite, Vera Miles (PSYCHO, THE SEARCHERS) shows up a few times, and there's also a cool shot with a poster of Tom Selleck in the background, so there's that, too. 

Fun tidbit: There's a shot I that I thought the cradled from Wes Craven's A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but according to Wikipedia, "The Initiation was released in December 1984, but was overshadowed by Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), released the month before." Crazy coincidence. 

Malls, sorrority girls, nothing is safe in THE INITIATION. 

Special Features
Brand new restoration from original film elements
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original Uncompressed Mono PCM audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues
Brand new interview with actor Christopher Bradley
Brand new interview with actress Joy Jones
Original Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn

BUY.

KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE

KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE gets a facelift from its origin, the acclaimed KICKBOXER, starring then-superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme. Thankfully, the filmmakers were smart enough to bring in JCVD: the student becomes the teacher, and it works well.

I was worried about this film -- the original KICKBOXER is sacred to me -- but this upgrade is really good. They chose the right Kurt Sloane (Van Damme's role from the 1989 film, now played by Alain Moussi.), and a beast scarier than the original Tong Po, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY's David Bautista. 

Van Damme looks fresh and slick in his dress up and plays his role as Sloane's teacher remarkably. 

The only upset about KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE is the very few scenes with fighting legend, Gina Carano. She plays the kind of role where if you blink, you miss her. Her fans (I included) love seeing her fight, whether as a good or villain character. She's bad to the bone

Rent and watch KICKBOXER and KICKBOXER VENGEANCE back-to-back. 

OUT OF PRINT

OUT OF PRINT is a labor of love from one of cinemas most beloved women. Her name is Julia Marchese, and she loves movies more than you. So much, that she raised over $75,000 to shoot her first film on 35mm print about 35mm and cinemas greatest repertory theater, The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. 35mm is how a movie should be seen, but it's very rare these days with digital fucking it up. (To be fair, digital has given us a lot of great filmmakers: Joe Swanberg, Robert Rodriguez, The Duplass Brothers, James Cameron, Matt Reeves, Neill Blomkamp, to name a few of the wild bunch.)

This theater is so famous; Patton Oswalt wrote a book about how it helped him love and appreciate films, all kinds. 

OUT OF PRINT stars many directors and actors you love, talking about their church, the New Beverly. This is one of the only theaters in the world that only plays repertory cinema on 35mm for only eight bucks. 

I love this film because it shows how important 35mm is and why cinephiles need to keep supporting a repertory theater to keep 35mm alive.

It does shift into personal stories about the New Beverly and its employees, which kind of takes the viewer out of the film for a moment since we weren't there for the fun times and jokes, but that's the only criticism for the film. Marchese did a hell of a job making her first feature-length film on 35mm. I can't even make a short film worth watching on digital. She had one shot, no rewinding or enough money to get more stock to reshoot. I hope she dabbles with filmmaking more. Most start their filmmaking career making cheap short films, then good short films, then get grants to make a feature. She skipped all that and dominated. 

BUY HERE NOW. It's worth the price of admission. 

New on Blu: STAR TREK BEYOND, BAD MOMS, CARNAGE PARK, and IMPERIUM

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're here because you want to know the experience I have watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a new column from film pundit Chase Whale, exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy, rent, or avoid.

STAR TREK BEYOND

It was tough to watch STAR TREK BEYOND. I didn't see it in theaters since it was Anton's death was still fresh on the mind. And fans of the series also had Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy's death on the mind, as well. Death has worked overtime in 2016, but we must move forward, and we must continue to support the fallen we watched conquer the big and small screen. 

While I don't agree with quote whore Scott Mantz that it's the best action movie of the year -- he must have missed Key & Peele's KEANU -- I do think STAR TREK BEYOND is one of the best action films of 2016 and director Justin Lin (who is responsible for making the Fast & Furious franchise an ongoing cashcow) keeps the excite from the get go to the finale. It's also so good to watch Idris Elba be so bad (in some insane prosthetics).

BUY. 

BAD MOMS

The easiest way to describe BAD MOMS is "a Seth Rogen raunch-com for women," but that's lazy. Seth Rogen's deranged mind should be for both men and women. Neighbors is one of my favorite comedies and both Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne crush it. 

BAD MOMS (co-written and directed by two guys!) is great. Why? There's heart in it and not just raunch for the sake of being raunch. (Something a lot of Rogen's film are missing.) 

Like all comedies, some jokes are hit and miss, but there are more hits than misses. Some of my favorites I jotted down when watching: Jada Pinkett Smith talk about wanting anal in front of her PTA teacher sqaud, when lead Amy (Mila Kunis) is finally going on a date after dumping her dirtbag husband. It's been decades and she's not really up-to-date on what is sexy. Her friends to her about her bra she plans to wear on a date, "This bra will be the death of your vagina."  

I'm curious how difficult or easy it was to convince the studio to have two dude write and direct a movie about women behaving badly. They must have been very convincing, because everyone in the film plays their part with all they've got and go full raunch. BAD MOMS is pure fun. 

Something special about BAD MOMS: it was independently financed and grossed more than 100 million at the box office

BUY.

CARNAGE PARK

There's not a lot more entertaining than watching Pat Healy (Magnolia, Cheap Thrills) play a psychopath: cotton candy, sleeping, Tour of Italy at Olive Garden quickly come to mind. 

Have you ever been to a theme park where the only way out is to survive? Hopefully, the answer is no, but this world is the Wild West, and nothing surprises me, anymore. 

This is the cinematic world of CARNAGE PARK. A few no-goods botch a robbery and end up at Carnage Park, where there's only one ride: dodging bullets blasting from Vietnam War sniper vet Wyatt Moss' rifles. CARNAGE PARK is a solid throwback to 70s action thrillers (it helps the film is set in the 70s, giving the atmosphere of Sam Peckinpah, Walter Hill, Don Siegel, and George Miller films).

BUY.

IMPERIUM

IMPERIUM opens with a quote from Adolph Hitler. That's already a hat tip this is going to be an uneasy movie to watch. Radcliffe has had a good year letting his fans know he doesn't want to just be known as Harry Potter. In 2016, he's played a dead farting corpse looking for love, and here, an FBI informant who signs up with the nazis to take down a group planning something big. 

IMPERIUM doesn't go as far as I expected it to, and it's rather light on the violence that comes with being a white supremacist and planning on killing people. The greatest takeaway is watching Radcliffe go all in on his performance. He really wants you to know he's put Harry Potter far behind him. 

RENT.

New on Blu: LIGHTS OUT, THE EXORCIST III, and Luis García Berlanga's THE EXECUTIONER

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're here because you want to know the experience I have watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a new column from film pundit Chase Whale, exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy, rent, or avoid.

LIGHTS OUT

During an era where we are getting remakes, reboots, "spiritual sequels," and "blood relatives," there's a filmmaker bring fresh screams to the screen: James Wan (The Conjuring franchise, Insidious franchise, and the first and best Saw, which spawned six more films in the box-office hit franchise). He's now expanding his oeuvre into other genres -- Furious 7 and the much anticipated Aquaman feature. Wan is a name you can trust, which is why the cover of LIGHTS OUT has his name instead of the writer or director. 

It's hard for me to be scared of studio films these days, but first-time feature-length director Lights Out did an exceptional job with a few great jump scared. This film seems to be more tailored for a younger audience with it's PG-13, but many directors have shown you can create great frights with having to make it bloody (The Sixth Sense will always be the best go-to for this argument). What I do value is how the scares are constructed. It sticks with you and makes the audience think twice about electricity and how often we take some of America's greatest inventions for granted. There's always a formula to every genre of film, and it's always a treat when films like LIGHTS OUT stray from that formula. 

Horror fanatic? BUY. 

THE EXORCIST III [Collector's Edition]

George C. Scott (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Patton, Hardcore) stars as in the third round of THE EXORCIST, this time hunting down a possible copycat of famous serial killer The Gemini Killer, a baddie executed years before. We learn over time, the wicked soul of the Gemini Killer is possessing other bodies and killing off whom it pleases, then passes on to another human vessel. The passing-to-another-human-vessel formula has been used in quite a few horror films but rarely in inventive ways. THE EXORCIST III has a lot of fun with this formula. 

I remember how disappointed I was when JASON GOES TO HELL used the transformation of Jason's demon to regular folks to carry out the killing, and we don't get the real masked maniac until the very end of the film. That's not a way for Jason Vorhees to go out, but Hollywood thought up other formulas to keep him going (Freddy vs. Jason and a solid reboot). 

Some of the best kind of horror films are the ones that know they won't be taken serious, but the team clearly had fun as possible making it, it either becomes a bomb or a cult hit. THE EXORCIST III is a cult hit.  

Plus, this is from Scream Factory, who spend a lot of time making kick-ass artwork, forcing your heart to buy it.

Special Features:
DISC ONE: The Exorcist III (Theatrical Cut)
NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive
Vintage Featurette
Deleted Scene/Alternate Takes/Bloopers
Deleted Prologue
Vintage Interviews (Featuring Behind-The-Scenes Footage) With Writer/Director William Peter Blatty, George C. Scott, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Grand L. Bush, Executive Producer James G. Robinson, Production Designer Leslie Dilley, Larry King And C. Everett Koop
Theatrical Trailers
TV Spots
Photo Galleries

DISC TWO: Legion (Original Director's Cut) 105 minutes
NEW Audio Interview With Writer/Director William Peter Blatty
NEW A "Wonderfull" Time – Interviews With Producer Carter DeHaven, Actors Clifford David And Tracy Thorne And Production Assistant Kara Reidy
NEW Signs Of The Gemini – An Interview With Brad Dourif
NEW The Devil In The Details – Interview With Production Designer Leslie Dilley, Assistant Designer Daren Dochterman And Illustrator Simon Murton
NEW Music For A Padded Cell – An Interview With Composer Barry DeVorzon
NEW All This Bleeding – A Look At The Re-shoot And Makeup Effects With Production Manager Ronald Colby, Editor Todd Ramsay, Effects Artists William Forsche, Mike Smithson, Brian Wade And Actor/Body Double Charles Powell

BUY.

THE EXECUTIONER

Criterion Collection led the pack on making the artwork so killer, you're going to buy the film whether you've seen it or not. They started the trend Scream/Shout! and many others followed, which is helping keep physical product alive.  Criterion stacks extra features for each release iTunes can't touch because some are physical -- essays written by prolific film historians or the director himself. 

Take a look at Luis García Berlanga's THE EXECUTIONER. No giant famous faces on the cover you find on most U.S. releases. Criterion figured out people don't browse video stores a long time ago. (In fairness, I owe a lot to Blockbuster. Most cult hits and olds films I've seen are because of this place.) There are some video stores still around today, but they specialize for a niche audience. 

THE EXECUTIONER (aka NOT ON YOUR LIFE aka EL VERDUGO) is Berlanga's 8th feature and considered in Spain as one as its countries masterpieces. It centers on, you got it, an executioner (played by José Luis Rodríguez), who's reaching the age where his old hands losing their grip when it comes to slicing off heads. He's got two things on his mind: who's going to take over his killer job, and will anyone marry his daughter -- currently his profession scares all the boys away from the yard. He's worried she'll grow old and alone.

Not in this story. The town's undertaker (mortician/funeral director) comes into the picture and is burdened with the adversity as the daughter -- no father wants to give their daughter away in this line of work.

THE EXECUTIONER cuts deeper than being just a story of replacement and finding a man for his daughter to marry. It's about broken dreams of finding in peace that you'll never achieve them. Sounds  sad as weeping willow but Berlanga does a terrific job bringing in black comedy sprinkled throughout the film, poking fun at the act of executing a human, and other oddities that come with the job, giving us an abundance of laughs at the seriousness of death. A great title to add to Criterion. 

Special Features:
New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar
New program on director Luis García Berlanga, featuring interviews with his son José Luis Berlanga; film critic Carlos F. Heredero; writers Fernando R. Lafuente and Bernardo Sánchez Salas; and director of the Berlanga Film Museum Rafael Maluenda
Spanish television program from 2012 on The Executioner, featuring archival interviews with Berlanga
Trailer
New English subtitle translation
PLUS: An essay by film critic David Cairns

BUY.