Thursday, July 21, 2005

Coming soon to DVD...


















Scheduled for July 26th is Almost Human (1974), one of the popular Italian gritty and extremely violent crime dramas of the early ‘70s. Directed by Umberto Lenzi, the film stars Henri Silva and is presumably not for the faint of heart. A review of the upcoming DVD can be found here.

Also out on the 26th is the 1981 actioner The Amateur, starring John Savage as a CIA desk jockey who goes beee-serk after terrorists kill his fiancée. Co-stars Christopher Plummer and Ed Lauter and probably has a twist surprise where Savage learns that somebody he trusted has betrayed him.

July 26th also sees the release of Raging Sharks, the first DTV killer shark movie in, it must be, several weeks now. It stars Corey Nemic and Corbin Benson, so you know it has to be good. Plus it’s got a sci-fi angle involving spaceships (!).

August 9th brings us the short-lived but fondly remembered Fox TV series Profit, featuring a very disturbed capitalist. It was probably ahead of its time, and would quite possibly have been a very successful HBO series now.

September 6th sees the release of Guide for the Married Man, a typically strenuous ‘60s Hollywood sex farce starting Walter Matteau and David Morse hashing over the best way to cheat on one’s wife and not get caught. Like Stanley Kramer’s overripe It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, this Gene Kelly (!) directed piece contains numerous cameos by old school comedy icons: Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Joey Bishop, Sid Caesar, Art Carney, Jayne Mansfield, Carl Reiner, Phil Silver, Louis Nye, Terry-Thomas, Marty Ingels and Star Trek’s Majel Barret (!). It’s probably most worth seeing as a time capsule piece, but if that’s your bag, here it is.

October 4th sees a box set (!) of those not very good but strangely hypnotic Inger Nilsson Pippi Longstocking films. The films have already been released separately.

October 18th will see the release of Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1994), one of his ‘experiment’ films, in that it was largely shot entirely upon the titular craft. Torpedoed by the Krauts, one of the survivors may be a Nazi spy, setting up a nice paranoid tableau. Good anecdote: Star Tallulah Bankhead was a Bohemian sort, and with the tight quarters, it was soon obvious to people on the set that she wasn’t wearing panties. Supposedly somebody on the set went to the director and asked that he remedy the situation, and Hitchcock replied, “I don't know if that's hair, wardrobe or make-up."”

October 25th sees (Yay!) the release of a third mega-set of 60 Warners Cartoons, the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It Came From the Long Box: New Avengers #7

I'm not buying comics anymore (except for the odd cheap back issue lots on eBay), but between borrowing 'graphic novel' collections from the library system I belong to, buying some of the same--I'm especially partial to the Marvel Masterwork books that reprint the early books in beautiful color and very heavy slick stock; as well as their opposite, the Marvel Essentials series that are on cheap stock paper and printed in black & white, but which reprint 25-28 books in one volume for $15 or less--and borrowing comics from a guy at work who buys the occasional issue, I'm starting to get back into things.

One problem is that I've missed some continuity, and sometimes have to play catch-up. However, I'm an old hand at the comics game, and can usually catch up. (Or just ignore what I'm not really interested in).

Today I read New Avengers #7, featuring a reformulated Avengers team after the original set broke up in the aftermath of some members getting killed by an old teammate gone mad; an event that is *majorly* reverberating through the Marvel Universe right now. Anyway, a mass of supervillains broke out of a super-prison in the earlier issues, and a number of superheroes showed up during this to make sure they didn't *all* break out: Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain America, Luke Cage (Yay!), Iron Man and Spider-Woman. There's also a mystery superhero called Sentry, but I don't have any history with him and so far aren't too interested. Anyway, Cap feels the impromptu team-up is a sign to reform the group, and that's what happens.

The New Avengers is written by superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis, whose biggest talent is to make superheros and villains seem like real people. I like touches like Iron Man/Tony Stark being part of a loose confederation of superteam representatives (along with Dr. Strange and Namor, the Submariner) who get together to trade notes. That only makes sense, and you really would think the Avengers, FF, X-Men, ect., would keep in touch as they fight many of the same people. Bendis is one of the few writers out there who can make five pages of guys sitting around a table yakking more fun than yet another fight scene.

There is a battle scene, though, and a pretty good one. Spidey, Wolverine, Cage and Spider-Woman head out to re-capture one of the escaped baddies--there are over 40 on the loose, and taking off the streets is their main job right now--and they end up fighting The Wrecker, an extremely strong bruiser who was part of a gang called the Wrecking Crew. He has a convoluted origin involving Thor's evil brother Loki, and basically has godlike physical powers, centered in a crowbar he carries. (Hey, it's no dumber than Thor's hammer.)

Wrecker has reclaimed his crowbar and costume from a rich collector of supervillain memorbilea--a funny yet entirely believable idea--and is such a clod, you at first think he's going to go down easy. However, his raw level of power sadly proves too much for the team--they really should have brought Iron Man along--and he pretty much kicks everyone's ass. One problem is that the desparate new Avengers haven't really started fighting like a team yet, and maybe that will be the focus of the next issue or two.

There're a number of nice Bendis moments, such as clueless egghead Reed Richards nonchalantly answering Iron Man's quip about how to say something in Atlantean (to Namor, natch), and I really liked when in the middle of a fisticuffs exchange with Luke, the Wrecker notes, "Cage, right?" Indeed, the two fought in Defenders #19. It's a matter-of-fact moment, one professional aknowledging another.

Good stuff, and all the good stuff these days ends up in paperback collections, so keep an eye out for the books collecting the New Avengers. It's not quite up there with the alternate-universe Ultimates, but it's pretty fine reading nonetheless.

T-Fest this weekend in Houston!

At the Marriott Sugar Land outside Houston (16090 City Walk Sugar Land TX 77479-6539 US), roughly 10 AM to midnight, Saturday the 23. Run by Chris Holland (Stomp Tokyo), Freeman Williams (Bad Movie Report) and Sandy Petersen (Jabootu Patron and world famous RPG author), along with a very small long-distance assist from yours truly. We're kind of half-assing it this year, but hope to make this a yearly event. We'll see how it goes.

Times estimated, and numerous shorts, etc., not listed:

10:30 Gamera vs. Guiron
12:00 Chamber of Horrors (1966)
1:30 The Giant Claw
3:00 Death Race 2000 (Sponsored by Jabootu Message Board mainstay 'Ambrose Bierce'!)

Dinner!! Join the party at the nearby Bakers Street Pub!

6:00 1000 Year Cat (Mysterious Chinese entry provided by Sandy Petersen--he promises wackiness of a high magnitude)
7:30 Double Agent '73 (Warning: Non-human, er, sexuality...or...well, Chesty Morgan goes topless a lot)
8:50 The Four Skulls of Jonathon Drake
10:00 The Last Dinosaur

Hopefully that will provide a good mix. I'm proud to say that fully three of the films are old-time Jabootu review subjects.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Weird Wedding News of the Day...

I frankly don't give a flying fig about celebrity 'news,' but even I was amazed to learn that former movie star Sandra Bullock has married motorcycle fabricator/host of Monster GarageJesse James.

I hope she can stand the pressure of being married to someone so much higher up the show biz ladder, and that the two have a very happy eight months together.

Oh, and William Shatner was at their wedding. What a weird world. I mean, I know he costarred in the Miss Congeniality movies, but still. (Actually, that's a perfect series for Ms. Bullock these days, given how her career has congealed.)

Odd usages of the phrase, "made a name for himself..."

Also per RottenTomatoes.com:

"Aside from being one of the world's most successful rap stars, LL Cool J has made a name for himself in the movie biz over the years. His films include Deep Blue Sea, Rollerball, Mindhunters, Toys, In Too Deep, and Any Given Sunday."

Toys? Rollerball? Mindhunters?! And damn, I don't think I've ever even *heard* of In Too Deep.

Odd usages of the phrase, "best known for..."

Per RottenTomatoes.com:

"Scott Weinberg writes: "Variety indicates that Ben Foster, best known for work in movies like The Punisher and Hostage, will play the role of Warren Worthington III (a.k.a. Angel) in Brett Ratner's impending X-Men 3.

Some time in the future, I expect an updated blurb to read, "...best known for movies like The Punisher and X-Men 3...", and for it not to be much more impressive a statement.

This week on DVD (07/19/05)...

A slow week on DVD.

By default, I guess the title of the week is Rottweiler, pretty much just because it's a killer bionic dog movie, and directed by semi-cult helmer Brian Yuzna. Meh.

While I'm extremely happy that so many old TV shows are hitting DVD (it's the fasting growing segment of the market right now), I'm a little bewildered that so many old great shows (Wild Wild West, Kolchak--hopefully that will hit shelves when the new TV show begins it's four or five week run) are unavailable, that stuff like Cleopatra 2525: Complete Series is coming out. To each their own. Other lame shows coming out with various season sets this week include Dead Like Me, Sliders, Saved by the Bell and Earth 2.

Keanu Reeves' Constantine hits shelves in both 'full' screen and widescreen editions, as well as a third 'deluxe' edition with commentaries, deleted scenes, a music video, etc.

There's another Crow movie out--who knew?--Crow: The Wicked Prayer, featuring the amusing b-movie cast of David Boreanez, Dennis Hopper, Edward Furlong (as the Crow) and Tara "Man, I really shouldn't have gotten that awful boob job" Reid. If I had to guess, I'd say Furlong is killed by criminals, comes back to life with supernatural powers and a lot of pancake make-up, and reaps his revenge.

Speaking of ex-Buffy players, little Dawn gets her turn at stardom in the teeny booper targeting The Ice Princess.

Another Urban Legends movie (!) is out; Urban Legends: Bloody Mary. You've been warned.