Friday, April 08, 2005

A grateful nation humbly gives thanks...

Per "20th Century Fox has signed [screenwriter] Tim Hill to the sequel to "Garfield: The Movie."


Synapse Films, a company specializing in elaborate DVD releases of often sleazy exploitation films, has listed on their 'uncoming films' page...Jabootu favorite Rock 'n Roll Nightmare (!), "Re-Mastered in HD from the Original Camera Negatives!"

There's no indication when this might be released, but damn, that's cool.

In the meantime, although it doesn't sound like my bag, there's the company's upcoming release of 1970's Bizarre (aka Secrets of Sex), which is described this way on teh IMDB:

"A brainy sex flick with a sense of humor, the film begins with a narrator/mummy who guides us through a number of vignettes promising to show what some of us go through in the pursuit of sexual pleasure. There's a fabulous ten minute opening, where the half naked go go dancers have vegetables thrown at them. One of the tales features a female photographer who tortures a male model. Another has a female burglar (Cathy Howard) caught by the house owner. The craziest involves a nerd hiring a blond call girl (Sue Bond) in pursuit of a menage-a-trois with his pet lizard; and there's a endearing misadventure with secret agent Lindy Leigh (Maria Frost) who does topless safecracking."

As usual, the company is pulling out the stops here [per Dvddrive-in]: "The disc presents the movie in a new digital 1.66:1 transfer with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and includes the following supplements: • Audio commentary by Gordon and author/Fango contributor Tom Weaver; • Two short films by Balch and NAKED LUNCH author William S. Burroughs: THE CUT UPS and TOWERS OPEN FIRE; • Video interview with BIZARRE writer Elliott Stein; • Theatrical trailer and; • Liner notes. Retail price will be $19.95."

Man, I can't wait to see what they do with Rock 'n Roll Nightmare!

Is it just me?

Believe me, I have little patience with the focus on the private lives of celebrities. However, I am bewildered by the raging animosity being displayed against Prince Charles and his fiancee Carmilla Parker-Bowles (or whatever) in regards to their upcoming wedding. I keep seeing cruel and snide cracks all over the place, including several really nasty 'jokes' on SNL's mock news segment, on how ugly and horse-faced Carmilla is. (Coming from two women, by the way, at least one of who fashions herself a with-it feminist. Nice.)

What I don't get is, what is the source of all this hostility? It's like people are offended that Charles isn't trading on his celebrity and marrying (or 'dating') some vacuous twenty-something twinkie. Well, guess what? He did that once before, and didn't seem to enjoy it much. Now he's marrying a woman who he obviously cares deeply for and who appears to be a much more than suitable companion for him.

We tend, as a society, to sneer whenever some decrepit movie or rock star is ferrying around some chippie forty years his junior, but are we (in the large sense, because again, I could care less) really just envious? So envious that when such a man instead chooses a woman his own age for a mate despite the fact that she isn't the hottest chick he could score, that we feel some need to mock them in the most meanspirited fashion possible?

This is why DVDs were invented:


"Buena Vista Home Entertainment has Unrated Special Edition of Coyote Ugly. This version will be about seven minutes longer than the theatrical cut, and offer: deleted scenes; an audio commentary by "The Coyotes," producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and director David McNally; behind-the-scenes featurette; Music Video; action overload reel; and, the original theatrical trailer. Once again, the presentation will be in anamorphic video and Dolby Digital 5.1."

Truly, we live as unto gods.

Go Cubs!

The Cubs opened the season with three games in Arizona. They won the first game, although in such an exaggerated fashion that the veteran fan went from "Yes, this is exactly what I wanted this year!" to "Uh, oh, this is obviously just a fluke." Sure enough, they stunk up the place for the next two games and return to Wrigley with a 1 and 2 record.

I won't be at the home opener today, but I'll be at both games this weekend, and attending next Tuesday's afternoon game with Joe "Opposable Thumbs" Bannerman and his special lady Tina. As a Cubs fan I'm both wildly optimistic and utterly fatalistic, so my fantasy isn't that they win all three games, but take two of the three. As well, I'll apparently get to see the return of the injured Mark Prior on Tuesday (assuming he doesn't get delayed again), so that's cool. I'll also get to see Greg Maddux and Carlos Zambrano pitch, and I've pretty awesome seats in three radically different locations.

Anyway, if you want to see what sort of mood I'm in on Monday, just watch the box scores in your local newspaper this weekend.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

What I'm Renting: The Specials...

The Specials is a small, idiosyncratic comedy about a small potatoes and highly dysfunctional superhero group, who we never see doing superhero stuff. The film was probably doomed to obscurity anyway, given the lack of special effects and stuff, but the final nail in the coffin was the mega-failure of the somewhat similar, although much higher budgeted and much worse Mystery Men.

The movie revolves around the day-to-day life of a superhero team that isn’t called into action much, and who spend most of their time getting on each other’s nerves. Team leader Ted, aka The Strobe (exquisitely played by recent Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church), constantly veers from grating sincerity about being a superhero—he has a hilarious origin story speech that’s one of the film’s highlights—to outright unbearable pomposity.

The Strobe’s utterly unironic boosterism and gladhanding rubs the more cynical members of the team, including The Weevil (Rob Lowe) and Amok (Jamie Kennedy), the wrong way. As well, Ted’s marriage to Emily, aka Ms. Indestructible (Paget Brewster), is on the rocks. The other team members, including Deadly Girl (Judy Greer of Arrested Development), Mr. Smart, Minute Man (‘minute’ as in small, not as in ‘sixty seconds’), Power Chick, US Bill, Eight (a gestalt mind split sharing eight bodies) and Alien Orphan all just hang out and generally bitch at one another. Meanwhile, Nightbird (Jordan Ladd) is a new member, allowing us to meet the team as she does.

The group is finally hitting the big time: They are getting action figures. However, the roll out PR dinner is a disaster, and it is immediately followed by Ted discovering that Emily is cheating on him. (It’s a mark of why the film works as well as it does that you really feel how devastating this is for what has been up to now sort of a joke character.) What should have been a night of triumph ends in the group being dissolved.

I’ve written before about ‘quirky’ movies, and how they either tend to strike a real cord with viewers or conversely come across as awful. Several of the scenes I really dug in the movie, including a dance sequence that might auger the reformation of the group, and more especially a scene in a diner with Eight confronting Ted about the group’s future, are mentioned in the commentaries to have come in for special complaint from some audience members.

There are many tantalizing signs of a lot more background to the characters. For instance, although Strobe’s general ass-atude is played up a lot in the final cut, he apparently has his own supportive clique in the group. (As you’d expect, since he is the leader.) When Deadly Girl learns that Emily has cheated on Ted, she immediately punches her. Deadly Girl is clearly pissed on Ted’s behalf here, and taking the side of her friend. Since we often see the more vocal members of the team beating on the admittedly oft-obnoxious Strobe, it would have been nice to get into the fact that other members of the team are his buddies.

The Specials is one of those ideas that would work a lot better as a TV show. However, considering the lack of financial success, and the fact that an anti-superhero show is sort of an abstract idea (and has already failed with The Tick, whose fans would presumably dig this movie a lot), that’s pretty unlikely.

Moreover, even for a movie you’d never get some of this cast back. Although Lowe was a moving force behind getting the film made, he apparently became disenchanted with the project by the time it was finished. Of course, considering the failure of his post-West Wing career, he might be available again soon.

However, it’s hard to imagine Thomas Haden Church, hot right now due to his Best Supporting Oscar nomination for Sideways, coming back to the fold. And Jamie Kennedy probably is doing well enough that he doesn’t need the hassle. (Although, after Son of the Mask…) The problem isn’t so much that they are all huge stars now, but rather than they are all busy working actors, and getting everyone’s schedule to mesh would be highly unlikely.

The recently released DVD for the film features twin commentaries, one by the film’s director, producer and writer (James Gunn, who also plays Minute Man), and an ever better one featuring Gunn and Brewster. This one is a lot more gossipy, and especially memorable for Brewster’s oft-erupting animosity towards Jessica Alba, who of course is soon to star in a rather more high profile superhero movie.

NBC, less Peacock than Ostrich...

NBC, which ruled network ratings for well over a decade with 'must see' shows like Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld and ER, last week suffered a humilitating turnaround when not one of its shows turned up anywhere in that's week's top ten rated programs. It didn't help that the long-moribund ABC made the list with with three entirely new shows (Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy), not to mention that the lowly Fox network made the list thrice, not just with the two editions of American Idol but with the surprise hit House, MD (#7 for the week).

CBS led the week, on the strength of CSI (#1), Without a Trace (#5), the remarkably hardy Survivor (#6), and the NCAA Championship game (#9). I realize audiences are smaller all around, but it's pretty incredible that CSI remains the number one show on TV when there are two direct spin-offs of it running at the same time, not to mention the look-alike shows Without a Trace and Cold Case.

Who (or Where?) Films The Watchmen?

Rumors have been flying about the film adaptation of Alan Moore's The Watchman revolutionary comic book novel being cancelled. Now it appears that the film is 'merely' being uprooted from England, in an attempt to reduce the projected $120 million budget.

We'll see whether they actually intend to relocate it, or if the film will instead be allowed to wither and die. In any case, as with Dune, it's difficult to see how the incredibly dense source novel could possibly be handled correctly at movie length.

New DVD announcements...

In very cool news, having apparently run low on available El Santo movies to release on DVD, films starring his compatriot The Blue Demon are starting to hit the market. April 19th sees the release of Blue Demon vs. El Poder. Dig this:

"Gustavo, a killer with psychic powers, is executed in 1914. Nobody realizes that he is not actually dead, but in a cataleptic condition. Fifty years later, two grave robbers unearth his coffin and Gustavo comes to life again. After killing the robbers, Gustavo goes back to his former home, now dwelled by Raul, Blue Demon's cousin, and his bride..."

Assuming this are like the El Santo discs, it will be in the original Spanish with English subtitles. It's available for about $10 at seem.

And, oops, there is another El Santo disc availabe the same day: Santo Contra Los Hombres Infernales.

A&E releases the fatalistic final chapter of the Quatermass saga in the form of the 4-part mini-series of that name. This was earlier only available here in a truncated, 'feature length' version called The Quatermass Conclusion--which is included in the set as an extra. (Nice.) Hopefully A&E is looking to release the original TV productions of the earler Quatermass movies.

Euro-Schlock fans will be glad to hear of the widescreen release of Women's Prison Massacre:

"While four male convicts are being held temporarily in a women's prison, they succeed in taking a group hostage and demand their freedom. The district attorney retaliates by forming a select squad to eliminate the troublemakers and a bloody battle ensues."

The film stars Laura "Black Emmanuelle" Gemser.

Today's DVD Bargains...

The Champions, a '60s British TV series about a team of people with super-abilities, is available in a box set from A&E, rather steeply list-priced at $100. However, Deepdiscount.dvd is now selling it at 49% off, at $51.

That is, in fact, just one of numerous wonderful TV season sets they are selling at that generous discount, or even higher--check out the X-Files sets, a whopping 64% off (However, if you're going to buy Danger Man--and it's a great show--I'd suggest buying the Mega Set, available at the same site, which is a much better bargain):

* Benny Hill: Complete and Unadulterated: The Naughty Early Years: Set 2 - now $25.47 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $29.97)
* Century Of Warfare (A&E) - now $71.37 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $83.97)
* Champions - now $50.99 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $59.99)
* Danger Man: Complete 1st Season Set - now $50.97 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $59.97)
* Danger UXB Set - now $35.67 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $41.97)
* Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season Five - now $56.07 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $65.97)
* Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season One - now $40.77 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $46.86)
* Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season Three - now $61.17 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $69.32)
* Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season Two - now $56.07 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $63.18)
* Ellen: The Complete First Season - now $20.37 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $23.97)
* History Channel Presents: The War Of 1812 - now $15.27 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $17.97)
* Homicide: Life On The Street (Complete Season 4) - now $50.97 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $55.68)
* Homicide: Life On The Street (Complete Season 5) - now $50.97 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $55.68)
* Homicide: Life On The Street (Complete Season 6) - now $50.97 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $55.68)
* Homicide: Life On The Street (Complete Seasons 1 to 4) - now $101.97 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $119.97)
* Homicide: Life On The Street - now $35.67 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $41.27)
* Homicide: Life On The Street: The Complete Season Three - now $50.97 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $57.82)
* Horatio Hornblower: The Complete Adventures - now $40.77 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $47.15)
* Horatio Hornblower: The New Adventures (Part III) - now $20.37 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $23.60)
* Jeeves And Wooster: The Complete Series - now $66.27 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $77.97)
* Kids In The Hall: Complete Season 1 - now $30.57 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $35.43)
* Kids In The Hall: Complete Season 2 - now $30.57 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $35.97)
* Macbeth (1979) - now $12.72 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $14.97)
* Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean - now $25.47 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $29.01)
* Nero Wolfe: Season 1 Set - now $30.57 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $35.97)
* Nero Wolfe: Season 2 Set - now $50.97 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $59.97)
* Poirot: The New Mysteries Collection (Five Little Pigs/Sad Cypress/Death On The Nile/The Hollow) - now $30.57 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $35.97)
* Protectors: Season 1 - now $40.77 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $47.97)
* Protectors: Season 2 - now $40.77 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $47.97)
* Reilly: Ace Of Spies Set - now $35.67 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $40.99)
* Rumpole Of The Bailey #2: The Complete Seasons Three and Four - now $35.67 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $40.42)
* Saint: Early Episodes - now $40.77 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $47.97)
* Saint: The Early Episodes: Season #1 (1962) - now $30.57 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $35.97)
* Upstairs, Downstairs (The Complete Series) - now $152.97 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $179.97)
* Victory At Sea - now $40.77 (49% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $47.97)
* X-Files: Season #4 - now $54.26 (64% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $68.66)
* X-Files: Season #5 - now $54.26 (64% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $68.43)
* X-Files: Season #6 - now $54.26 (64% OFF) (Previous lowest price: $67.23)

Updates on the upcoming Jaws SE DVD set...


"According to [Universal], Disc One will include deleted scenes, outtakes, From the Set and Shark Facts. Disc Two will include The Making of Jaws, storyboards, production photos, Marketing Jaws and Jaws Phenomenon. Since the studio is claiming that the DVD will include "a feature-length documentary," we can only assume that The Making of Jaws is indeed being presented in its original 2-hour version. We'll let you know when we have official confirmation from the studio."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Interesting article on the downfall of action movies...

The Chicago Tribune today featured an article on what's wrong with the modern action film, as typified by the recent Bruce Willis vehicle Hostage. Although the piece ultimately could have been stronger, I liked the idea that there's a calculas to how many stupid things an audience is willing to ignore in a film like this, and that the problem is that they go well beyond that number.

The author notes that '70s action films were much smaller in scale, and thus generally less stupid and/or ridiculous. This has been a subject I've been harping on for several years, especially since the release of John Singleton's Shaft remake, a film I liked a lot particularly in that the action and violence was small-scaled.

I think there is a real market for this sort of thing, as indicated by the success of the rather marvelous Bourne films.

I do, however, find his suggested '70s action film list problematic. Hickey & Boggs is worth a look, but just is not that good a movie. Juggernaut as well is really not that great. For myself, I'd suggest giving a look to The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three, Dirty Harry (I know, a little obvious, but still) and The French Connection. Three Day of the Condor is another great little movie, and of course there are several great Blaxploitation films.

Carnivale folds up its tent...

HBO has pretty much confirmed that the critically acclaimed Carnivale (which I'm currently working through the first season of on DVD) will not be coming back for a third round. Although not offically cancelled yet, the show's creator is already working on a new series for Showtime.

There's better news on the Deadwood front, however, as HBO has ordered a third season of the program.

DVD Announcements...

Kurosawa fans will be elated/annoyed to hear that one of the master's great films, Ran, will be recieving a pumped-up Criterion edition by the end of the year. This follows a lame, bare-boned disc that was followed by a better special edition. Still, although I bought both, its hard to avoid triple-dipping when Criterion is involved. I'm sure the Drunken Republican agrees with me.

Extras for the new 30th edition Jaws DVD have been announced (per "The studio is now indicating that the release will include "thrilling bonus materials", including a "never-before-available interview with Steven Spielberg during the production of Jaws... a feature-length documentary, deleted scenes, archives and more." The set, which will be available in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen editions (SRP $22.98 each), will also include a "commemorative photo journal" likely in booklet form. Audio on both versions will include English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Mono & DTS 5.1 Surround, as well as French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Subtitles will be available in both French and Spanish, along with English captions. We suspect that the "feature-length documentary" is indeed the full version of DVD producer Laurent Bouzereau's original The Making of Jaws, but we'll have to wait for official confirmation of this. We'll post more specific details on the extras as they come in from the studio."

Why anyone would want a 'special edition' in full frame is beyond me.

DVD horror...

I'm interested enough in movies and TV and such that I often find marketing concepts interesting, certainly of more interest than the personal lives or generally sophomoric utterances of those who make them.

Since the success of The Sixth Sense, there has been a trend towards PG-13 horror movies. Many have been made, and quite a few of them, including a string of remakes of Asian films, have made a lot of money. Of the rest, many have been modestly successful (helped by often humble production budgets), while only a comparative handful has outright bombed. Wes Craven's recent Cursed is an example of the latter group.

Personally, I prefer this situation. I've always liked my horror films creepy rather than gory, and while the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, content restrictions quite often force 'artists' (craftsmen might be a more precise term) to work a little harder.

One item of note is that the PG-13 horrors have apparently been drawing a much stronger female audience. Indeed, a recent USA Today article claims that modern horror films are often drawing an audience that is 60% female; a startling turnaround for what has historically been a ‘male’ genre. Thus less graphic horror movies draw a stronger female demographic, while a stronger female demographic pushes studios to offer less graphic horror movies.

Women tend to shy away from markedly gruesome films, and by reducing the gore factor, horror has become much more attractive to young woman. At the least, it allows boyfriends to push horror films with more success. At best, with many horror films featuring female leads (The Ring, The Grudge, The Others), women and girls are actually seeking the films out on their own.

However, there's no doubt that this trend ill-serves those who do like their horror with a bucketful of guts. And while Hollywood isn't always as smart as you'd expect gigantic corporations to be, they've hit on a pretty decent marketing concept recently, which is to draw in large mainstream theatrical audiences with PG-13 horror, and then serve the more bloodthirsty hardcore audience sector by releasing bloodier cuts of the films on DVD.

This adds to the commercial appeal of horror films on home video and the rental market, which have always been strong in any case. (Horror and comedies being the 'fallback' genres for when groups of people hit the video rental stores.) For many horror films, the theatrical release largely is meant to serve as advertising for the eventual DVD and video release, where the real money will be made. This explains too why so many films of this sort hit the video shelves within a once unheard of three months; it's to strike while memories of the theatrical ad campaigns are still warm.

Thus even films that lose money theatrically have a pretty good shot of going into the black in the auxiliary markets. And those films that are already profitable rake in even more loot. Harder and/or extended cuts thus make the films attractive to those who may have considered them too wimpy to draw them to theaters, and also offer something new to folks who have already seen them but would consider giving them a second look at home.

(The downside to this is that it further promulgates the idea that there is no longer a ‘definitive’ cut of any film. However, while that notion is irksome to film buffs like myself, the fact is that the horse is out of the barn and there’s pretty much nothing to be done about it.)

Amongst recent films getting these sorts of DVD releases, there’s Cursed (the harder cut will be the one to feature a commentary by Craven and writer Kevin Williamson, both of who disagreed with Miramax’s decision to cut the film down to a PG-13); The Grudge, which will feature a cut seven minutes longer than the theatrical version and apparently ‘unrated’; and a similarly unrated version of Darkness. Look for this to become a standard situation.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

This week on DVD...04/05/2005

Tuesday is when the new DVDs hit the shelves. Here are some highlights:

The Amityville Horror Giftset: A four disc set featuring the three theatrical Amityville Horror movies (also available separately), including the notorious laughright third film, along with a companion documentary disc of extras. The Canadian DVD vendors, like, are selling this for an incredibly low $20.

Deep Evil: More direct to video Lorenzo Lamas monster stuff.

The Ealing Comedy Collection: A set of films by the studio that defined wry British comedy in the '50s and '60s. Includes The Maggie, Passport To Pimlico, A Run For Your Money, The Titfield Thunderbolt and Whisky Galore.

Elektra: Finally, huh?!

Hell Squad: The Jabootu classic Commando Girls under its alternate title, and available for as low as $6!

Mark of the Witch/Brides Wore Blood: More schlock from Image. Brinke Stevens apparently provides a commentary for one of the films.

The Professionals: New two-disc set for a fun Western with an amazing cast: Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Woody Strode, Jack Palance, Claudia Cardinale and Robert Ryan.

Silverado: A new two-disc set for this truly enjoyable Western with one of the greatest ensemble casts of the '80s.

Svengali: Remake of the venerable tale with Jodie Foster and Peter O'Toole.

Ventura appears to be the new Brentwood, the company offering sets of public domain films that undoubtedly give you crappy transfers but offer a ton of films for a small price:

Adventure 10 Movie Set (Tarzan and the Green Goddess, Tarzan’s Revenge, Tarzan and the Trappers, Son of Hercules: The Land of Darkness, Hercules Against the Moonmen, Colossus and the Amazon Queen, Hercules and the Captive Woman, Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon, Hercules Unchained, and Devil of the Desert vs Son of Hercules!; about $7)

Chilling 20 Movie Set (Maniac, The Little Shop of Horrors, Moon of the Wolf, The House on Haunted Hill, Creature from the Haunted Sea, Tormented, Dementia 13, The Galaxy Invader, Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, Attack of the Monsters, Blood Tide, The Terror, Laser Mission, The Astral Factor, The Came from Beyond Space, The Last Man on Earth, Gamera the Invincible, Snowbeast, Night of the Living Dead and Cosmos: War of the Planets! $10.)

Combat 10 Movie Set (Warhead, Hell in Normandy, Gung Ho, Go for Broke, Three Came Home, The Proud and the Damned, Eagle in a Cage, The Big Lift, Blood on the Sun and This is the Army! $7)

Detectives 10 Movie Set (Bulldog Drummond’d Revenge, Bulldog Drummond Escapes, Bulldog Drummond in Africa, Dick Tracy vx Cueball, Dick Tracy Meets Gruesom, Sherlock Homes: Terror by Night, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Dick Tracy Detective, Mr. Moto’s Last Warning and Sherlock Holmes: Dressed to Kill! $7)

Diva 20 Movie Set (Home Town Story, Affair in Monte Carlo, Lady of Burlesque, Love Affair, Indiscreet, The Fat Spy, The Bigamist, Hell's House, Oh Alfie, Dishonored Lady The Joyless Street, Smash Up: The Story of a Woman, I Cover the Waterfront, Killing Heat, Carnival Story, Too Late for Tears, Heartbeat, The Outlaw, The Evil Mind and the Snows of Killimanjaro! $10)

Family 20 Movie Set (Over the Hill Gang, The Over the Hill Gang Rides Again, Captain Kidd, Africa Screams, The Magic Sword, The Borrowers, Gulliver' Travels, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The New Adventures of Heidi, The Little Princess, Father's Little Dividend, A Christmas Without Snow, Son of Monte Cristo, The Jungle Book, Little Lord Fauntelroy, The Inspector General, Long John Silver, Jack in the Beanstalk, Coach of the Year and Flying Deuces! $10)

Star Power 20 Movie Set (The Man With the Golden Arm, Good Against Evil, Border Cop, The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery, Out aka Deadly Drifter, All the Kind Strangers, Stunts, Catholics, Evel Knievel, Gone with the West, A Real American Hero, Project Kill, Katherine, The Last of the Belles, The Swiss Conspiracy, The Disappearance of Flight 412, Love is Forever, The Pride of Jesse Hallum, How Awful About Alan and McLintock! $10)

Suspense 20 Movie Set (British Intelligence, Suddenly, Jigsaw, He Walked by Night, Quicksand, Eyes in the Night, The Man on the Eiffel Tower, The Black Book, They Made Me a Criminal, Algiers, The White Orchid, Port of New York, Outpost in Morrocco, Detour, Jail Bait, Ransom Money, Sundown, Dangerous Passage, The Stranger and Scarlet Street! $10)

Thrills 10 Movie Set (Firehouse, Four Deuces, Black Brigade, The Ballad of Andy Crocker, Treasure of Jamaica Reef, Get Christie Love, The Klansman, The Uranium Conspiracy, Diamond Thieves and Gold! $7)

Tough Guys 10 Movie Set (Fingers of Death, Cold Sweat, Desert Commandos, Fighting Mad, Mr. Scarface, Funeral for an Assassin, The Grand Duel, Trained to Kill USA, Black Fist and Black Godfather! $7)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Jaws video game!

I don't play video games, but if I did, I'd immediately buy the upcoming Jaws Unleashed game, in which you play the shark. Cool screencaps here and here.

The game apparently will be out in August.

UPDATE: As poster Andy (see comments) has posited, this might well be an April Fool's Gag. If so, it was a raging success. Just Google "Jaws Unleashed." I'd be sad if it were, but maybe the evident interest in the story would inspire someone to do a real game, assuming this is a jape.

This day in Goofy Celebrity news...

U2's Bono on the recently deceased Pope John Paul II: the "best frontman" the Catholic Church ever had..."the first funky Pontiff"..."A great show man".

I'm not Catholic, but with followers like Bono and the now Jewish (sort of) but still habit-wearing Madonna (see item below), the Church seems as strong as ever.

Andrew Borntreger is back incountry...

Marine Sgt. Andrew Borntreger, propriator of the website, is back home from his tour of duty in Iraq. I wish I could have been there when he met his new child, born while he was overseas.

Keep an eye out for amazing tag-team effort from us soon.

It's good to have you back, sir.

Steven Spielberg is a genius!!

I thought his powers as a filmmaker had diminished, until I read something that made me respect anew his amazing ferbile imagination (per

"DreamWorks has hired John Glenn and Travis Wright to turn an untitled Steven Spielberg idea into a feature script. The thriller follows an innocent man who must go on the run when he becomes a target for the powers-that-be."

An innocent man who must go on the run when he becomes a target for the powers-that-be?! Wowsers!!

Cool Sin City DVD plans...

With the film already destined to be a hit (especially given its comparatively modest budget), fans will be glad to hear of these neat-o DVD plans, via

"With the Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller artsploitation phenomenon SIN CITY (based on Miller’s graphic novels) just completing its first successful weekend in theaters, plans are already underway to make the DVD release an innovative special event.

Rodriguez has announced that the stories for all three books adapted for the movie were filmed, and that DVD viewers will have the option of viewing each story separately, with the deleted scenes reinstated.

The disc will also have another edition of Rodriguez’s film school featurettes, and likely another recipe segment, just like his DVD for ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO."

Big DVD announcements...

In addition to previously mentioned titles, MGM has announced a DVD of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (!!), and a bunch of sexploitation titles that includes the infamous BOlero, both of them out in late July. Beware the power of Jabootu.

Trinity Home Video is releasing a DVD of Hell Squad, aka Jabootu's own Commando Girls, tomorrow. Deepdiscountdvd is selling it for $6. I wouldn't expect a super transfer or anything, but damn, Commando Girls.

The seventh Mystery Science Theater 3000 box set will come out on April 19th, featuring The Killer Shrews, Hercules Unchained, Hercules Against the Moonmen and Prince of Space.

Retromedia, Fred Olin Ray's outfit, had previously put out a fairly solid Larry Buchanan double bill DVD of It's Alive and Year 2889. Well, they're back at it with a DVD featuring The Eye Creatures and the immortal Zontar Thing from Venus. And don't forget their previously announced Bigfoot triple bill (SASQUATCH: THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT, SNOWBEAST and SNOW CREATURE); the Italian cheesefest The Embalmer (aka The Monster of Venice, which I guess is its DVD release title), and a highly tauted special edition of the cult favorite The Flesh Eaters. All will be out on July 19th.

Finally, Media Blasters, who recently brought out two dynamite discs for the Toho films Matango and The Mysterians, follows up sometime soon with similar efforts for Varan the Unbelievable and Dagora the Space Monster.

Go Cubbies!

It's opening day, and Lucy holds that tantalizing football out for me and millions of other Cubs fans. For the next ten hours at least, the season stretches out before us like a beautiful, unmarred vista.

I plan to enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Monday morning QB(O)ing... 04/03/05

The pseudo-summer kick-off started well with Sin City proudly raking in an envy-provoking estimated $28.1 million, as viewers lusting for harder edged fare stirred from their sloth and gorged themselves on the critically acclaimed but gory film. Greedily opening on 3,200+ theaters, the film sucked up an estimated $8,700 per venue, presumably at the expense of irate competitors.

Queen Latifah's Beauty Shop, a spin-off of the popular Barbershop movies, refused to curl up and dye as it reaped a stylish $13.5 million weekend total, for an aggregate $17.5 since its mid-week opening. A heavy drop-off may be the color of the day in a market heavy with comedies, although home video profits seem assured.

Guess Who dropped in the box office race to number three with a $13 million take, dropping an comparatively low 37% in its second week of business to reach a total of around $41 million.

Animation nuts helped Robots bolt over the $100 million mark this weekend, thanks to a $10 million take. That represents an impressively meager 23% slide from last weekend, so the film still evinces strong telescoping legs.

Miss Congenty 2 was investigated by a small audience for a charge of only $8.4 million, for an 11 total of $31 million. Look for this to make about half of what the original did.

Among the remaining top ten films, The Pacifier continues to lumber towards a $100 million take, earning $6 million for a $96 total. Ring 2 scared up roughly $5.8 million, and seems likely to reap a frightening but not terrifying $75-80 million when all is said and done. Kevin Costner's The Upside of Anger isn't boiling any box office blood, with a marginal platform release expansion drawing $4 million for a total approaching $9 million. Will Smith's Hitch reigned in another $3 million, pushing its domestic total north of $170 million and its worldwide take past the $300 million mark. Finally, The Ice Princess drew a chilly $2.6 million, and with a $18.6 million total looks to hang up its skates south of $25.

Today's DVD Bargains is selling a bunch of the essential Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman DVDs at a very healthy discount:

* Zatoichi In Desperation - now $11.19 (63% OFF)
* Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo - now $11.19 (55% OFF)
* Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman - now $11.19 (63% OFF)
* Zatoichi's Conspiracy - now $11.19 (63% OFF)
* Zatoichi: At Large - now $11.19 (63% OFF)
* Zatoichi: The Festival Of Fire - now $11.19 (63% OFF)
* Zatoichi: The Outlaw (1967) - now $11.19 (63% OFF)

TV show fans might want to know that DDDVD is also selling Alf: Season #1 for $18.89 (53% OFF) and the superior and much missed cop series Boomtown: 1st Complete Season for now $18.89., meanwhile, is selling the first seasons of the none-too-inspired Mutant X for $8.99 (64% OFF), The Dead Zone for $17.89 (64% OFF), Saved by the Bell Seasons 1 & 2 for $17,89 (64% OFF) and Will and Grace $17.89 (60% OFF).

Finally, is selling a bazillion Dragonball Z DVDs for $10.13 (53% OFF).

What I'm Watching: Lady Terminator

You can’t accuse this typically wacky Indonesian laughfest of false advertising, that’s for sure. (Well, except for the word ‘lady,’ anyway.) A merging of an apparently venerable Javanese legend featuring the sexually voracious South Sea Queen and The Terminator, this is the film for all those who found Jim Cameron’s film entirely lacking in naked boobies and male genital damage.

We open with the South Sea Queen attempting to slake her mighty lust. Men who fail to satiate her, however, end up being emasculated in the most direct method. Finally, a particularly manly man shows up and manages to scratch her itch. While the spent Queen lays recumbent, he reaches between her legs and pulls a snake from her heehaw (those wacky Asians) and transforms it into a dagger. Irate, the Queen curses him, in the typical form of “I’ll get your great granddaughter a hundred years from now” kind of thing. I never understood why people were supposed to be freaked by curses to people who are, for all intents and purposes, complete strangers to them.

Anyhoo, in the present, a young woman is researching a paper on the Queen, and is given a tome by a wizened gent who warns her of serious consequences to her soul but hands the book over anyway. Can’t these guys ever just say, “You know, I don’t think that’s a very good idea.” The woman, I guess (linier continuity does not exactly reign supreme in Indonesian movies), uses the books to ascertain the location of the Queen’s undersea palace. She swims down there, ends up in the princess’ bedchamber, is spread-eagled by enchanted scarves, and receives a snake up her heehaw.

From there on out the movie basically becomes an often scene to scene remake of The Terminator. Rising from the sea, the New and quite naked Queen approaches some punks and engages in sex/castration with them, and I guess maybe takes some of their clothes, although the ones she wears in the rest of the movie are awful form fitting. It must be magic, I guess.

The MacGuffin is an amulet that the unwitting Granddaughter has. There follows a lot of Terminator/Sarah Connor action, with the Kyle Reese character replaced by a cop who does indeed say at one point, “Come with me if you want to live.” Meanwhile, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that the film’s biggest setpiece involves the Queen massacring about two hundred cops at a police station.

I will never become a huge fan of the sleazier Asian stuff (and this isn’t even close to the worst of it). While I find the occasional such film amusing, ultimately I’m a tad too squeamish to enjoy a run of them, and the lack of interior story logic in these things always gives me a slight headache. Still, I can’t deny that this one delivers exactly what it advertises.