Friday, August 05, 2005

You know the fame of King Kong....

USA Today breaks the details on the upcoming, long-awaited DVD release of the 1931 classic:

"The big ape is coming to DVD just weeks before he appears on the big screen. Warner Home Video will release the original 1933 King Kong on DVD Nov. 22, right before director Peter Jackson's remake opens theatrically Dec. 14.

The original Kong, never before available on DVD, will be issued in both a two-disc special edition ($26.99) and a two-disc collector's edition ($39.98) packaged in a collectible tin and including a 20-page reproduction of the original souvenir program and postcard reproductions of the original one-sheets.

Jackson is helping Warner prepare a new documentary, RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World, to be included on the DVD. One part of the documentary focuses on the mysterious "spider pit" sequence deleted from the film before its theatrical premiere in New York and Los Angeles. "For years, there has always been speculation, does this footage exist, so we have a piece that actually explains what it was, and we do a re-creation of it," says Warner's George Feltenstein.

In addition to the new seven-part documentary, the King Kong special edition DVD includes such extras as a documentary on Kong director (and creator) Merian C. Cooper, a trailer gallery of Cooper's other films, and a commentary from Ray Harryhausen, Terry Moore and Ken Ralston."

Awesome. The newspaper edition, by the way, has a shot of the actual special release tin, which is different from the box seen above.

The hazzards of Duke...

Oh, well. I like the dumb car chase movie, and Smokey and the Bandit is a favorite of mine (don't ask why), so I was kind of hoping the Dukes of Hazzard movie would be a passable watch, even if I never watched the TV show.

Well, the horrible reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.com have scotched that idea.

Hey, at least Gumball Rally will be out on DVD by the end of the month!

Dude, I've got my $30 (with tax) waiting!!

From Digitalbits.com:

"Also coming from Fox on 10/18 is an Elektra: Unrated Director's Cut (SRP $26.98). The new 100-minute version will be in anamorphic widescreen video, with DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (the original theatrical cut is 96 minutes long). Extras on the 2-disc set will include audio commentary with director Rob Bowman and Kevin Stitt, the film's theatrical and teaser trailers, 2 documentaries (including Relentless: The Making of Elektra - Part 1: Production and Relentless: The Making of Elektra - Part 2: Post-Production) the Showdown at the Well: Multi Angle Dailies featurette, deleted scenes (with optional commentary by Bowman and Stitt), alternate and extended scenes including an alternate opening (also with optional commentary), 4 photo and artwork galleries (including Costumes, Production Design, Weapons and Unit Photography), and a storyboard gallery (containing boards for 7 scenes)."


Ok, first...the "unrated" thing. Generally 'unrated' only makes sense if the film would recieve an X or NC17 rating from the board. Since those limit which theaters will show your film, which newspapers will accept advertising for it, etc., sometimes makers of extreme films will bypass the rating board and release their film as officially "unrated."

Sometimes films have to make cut in sex or violence to get their R rating (which, again, is generally required for a mass commercial release), and the footage will be put back in for the DVD release. Occasionally the film is actually strengthened by this, but more often it's a ploy to glean the sheckles of the crowd that thinks "More boobies be better!" Unrated versions of raunchy comedies (Old School, National Lampoon's Van Wilder, etc.) usually find this a successful strategy, since the unrated versions of the movies have more of the stuff that the core audience went to see in the first place.

However, occasionally this has purely become a raw and rather deceptive marketing gimmick. For example, take Elektra. (Please! Rimshot) Elektra was released as a PG-13 film, because those are much more likely to make money than R rated movies. Even so, it bombed, and the critics didn't exactly shower it with praise.

This means that even if there is 'harder' footage that was cut from the film, it is exceedingly unlikely that the result would garner (ha ha) anything more than an R rating, and probably a soft R at that. Unless Elektra is dealing out more violence than the R rated Kill Bill Vol 1 contained, which would be a task; or else Elektra engaged in startling amounts of nearly hardcore sex, the film would not be likely to get an NC17 Rating from the ratings board.

Which means the 'unrated' thing is a complete con.

Second, does the world really need a two-disk Elektra set? And I'm asking that as the guy who tittered with delight at the double disc Raiders of the Living Dead package.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Odyssey Couple

This has been on the main site for years, but nobody ever reads it. Maybe posting it here will get another three people to look at it!



Narrator: "…Can a prissy Captain and a crew full of swine make it back to ancient Greece without driving each other crazy?"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Captain Felix: "Oscar, Oscar, Oscar. Why must you always act like such a pig?"

First Mate Oscar: "Who’s actin’? I am a pig!"

PAUSE FOR DUBBED IN LARGE AUDIENCE LAUGHTER.

Felix: "You’re right, Oscar. It’s when you were a man that you acted like a pig."

Oscar, not getting the implied insult: "Well, thanks, Felix. It’s big of you to admit you were wrong."

DUB IN MEDIUM AUDIENCE LAUGHTER.

Felix: "You’re welcome, Oscar. Oh, could I ask one question?"

Oscar: "Sure, go ahead."

Felix: "Now that you’re a pig, could you please act like a man?"

DUB IN HUGE AUDIENCE LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE.

Later:

Felix: "Oh, even if we made it back to Athens, what would I say? Our holds are empty of goods!"

Oscar, feeling that he’s missed the point: "Not to mention that your whole crew, including myself, have been turned into pigs by Circe!"

Felix: "Yes. It’s not exactly what I meant when I told everyone that I was going to ‘bring home the bacon!’"

DUB IN HUGE AUDIENCE LAUGHTER

Later:

Oscar: "Felix! You’ve got to help me. You see, I’ve been writing this girl in Crete. And when she finds out that I’m not a…"

Felix, interrupting: "Oscar! You didn’t tell her you were a man?"

Oscar, aggrieved: "Hey, what do you take me for? I’d never do that!"

Felix, apologetic: "I’m sorry, Oscar. I apologize. But if you didn’t tell her you were a man, then what did you tell her?"

Oscar: "I told her I was the Captain!"

DUB IN LARGE AUDIENCE LAUGHTER

Felix, shocked: "Oh, Oscar, Oscar, Oscar. Why do you keep doing these things? And even if I wanted to help you, what could I possibly do?"

Oscar, slyly: "Well, if when we got into port next week, you pretended to be First Mate, then I could pretend…"

Felix, outraged: "Never! How could you even suggest such a thing. No! Absolutely not! Not in a million years!!"

IMMEDIATELY CUT TO NEXT SCENE. LOC: ON THE BRIDGE. FELIX IS WEARING OSCAR’S STRIPED SHIRT, AND OSCAR IS WEARING THE CAPTAIN’S HAT. DUB IN HUGE AUDIENCE LAUGHTER.

Felix, rolling his eyes: "I can’t believe you talked me into this!"

Oscar: " ‘You can’t believe I talked you into it, Captain’! "

Felix, narrowing his eyes: "Don’t push it, Snouty!"

LATER. LOC: ‘CAPTAIN’ OSCAR AND ‘FIRST MATE’ FELIX ARE DINING WITH DIANA’S FAMILY AT HER HOUSE. OSCAR IS HOLDING FORTH OVER DINNER:

Oscar: "So, anyway, I tell the Cyclops, 'You must get into the theater for half price, because you only have one eye.' But he says, 'No, they make me pay double, because I have to see the show twice!'"

Snobicus, Diana’s patrician father, rising from the table: "I’m sorry, but I just can’t hold my tongue any longer! I must ask you to leave my house!"

Oscar: "What do you mean!"

Father: "Well, I didn’t want to come right out and say it, but very well. No daughter of mine is dating a, a…boar!"

Oscar, whispering to Felix: "What’s he mean by that? Everyone always love that story!"

DVD bargain of the day...

Sci-fi buffs will want to grab up the fun '50s giant bug epic The Black Scorpion and savor it's great Willis O'Brien [not Ray Harryhausen, as I previously stated; see the reader corrections in the comments] stop-animation. (If not the silly, non-matching drooling scorpion head they use for insert shots.) Amazon.com is selling it for $10, half of the list price. Remember, buy $25 worth of stuff from Amazon and you get free shipping. Amazon is also featuring the (to me) rather less fun Harryhausen flick The First Men in the Moon, also for $10/50% off. Other Amazon options include the second season of CSI for $35, a stellar 61% off; The Howling SE for $10.50 (45% off); the campy damaged woman classic Ice Castles for $10.50/48% off; The Last Dragon for the same. A more complete list can be found at DVDPricesearch.com.

At the same site, info can be found on Overstock.com's deals on some Farscape and Andromeda season sets for up to %61 off list. Also, given one's tastes, one might be excited to learn that they are selling Country Bears, with Christopher Walken (!) and Haley Joel Osment (welcome to the rest of your career, champ) for $8.60/71% off.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Uhm...yeah...we'll get back to you on that.

Per the IMDB:

"Garner and Affleck Plan 'Daredevil 2' Newlyweds Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are keen to star in Daredevil 2 together, in their first screen collaboration as husband and wife. The loved-up pair, who married earlier this summer, first met on the set of Daredevil in 2003, and are hoping to revisit the action thriller after their first child is born this autumn. Garner says, "Ben says it's in the early stages, but he is hopeful. It would be fun to work together, not to mention convenient."

Note the item is blindly sourced, so it might not be true. It's an amusing item, however, and certainly Affleck would probably do any project that would get him back in theaters again.

"Now that I've spent a while stinking up theaters..."

Headline of the day, over to the IMDB: "George Lucas to Focus on Television."

Yes, well, we all remember the last time he tried that, even if he doesn't want us too.

This week's weird movie news...

According to the IMDB, Robert Altman (the sort of filmmaker who is mentioned in terms of movies he made over three decades ago; "Altman, the director of M*A*S*H and Nashville, is...") is making a film based on Garrison's Keillor's Prairie Home Companion radio show. It will star Lindsey Lohan, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones Keillor himself. Realizing this might not be a huge urban hit*, Altman cannily has commented that he hopes it will draw much the same audience as "Mel Gibson's Jesus picture."

Yes, it sounds like he has that market demographic zeroed in on.

[*Untrue, actually, since his best bet is with upper middle class urban liberals, the sort of people who listen to NPR and the Prairie Home Companion in the first place.]

Sequel to Locusts (!) later this year. And more!!

"VAMPIRE BATS (working title) is the story of a former voracious insect specialist [Lucy Lawless], now a college professor in search of a simpler life, who gets caught up in the investigation of a student who is found dead with his body completely depleted of blood. It first appears that he was murdered by another college student, until the professor realizes that the killers are actually vampire bats that have mutated due to a tainted water supply. As the bats become more aggressive, she must find a way to stop them as they threaten the entire college community."

What I find impressive is that CBS is apparently intending to broadcast this around Halloween, meaning that the sequel will be ordered, written, filmed and broadcast six months after the first movie. Roger Corman would be proud.

Damn, I hope Locusts is rebroadcast or put on DVD by then; I don't have my review tape anymore. Also, although in tune character-wise with the end of Locusts, the supplied plot puts Lawless' character into that "My, what a coincidence!" trap. Amazing that she would just happen to be on the scene for another deadly animal infestation.

On the good side...since she and her husband had their kid, they won't spend half the movie whining about their personal strife. Right? Oh, please, tell me they haven't 'separated' in the meantime!

Sadly, there is no word on a follow-up to Spring Break Shark Attack. ("Spring Break Shark Attack II: The Revenge"?).

However, they will be doing yet another disaster mini-series, Catagory 7: End of the World, that is, that's right, a sequel to the earlier Catagory 6: Day of Destruction. You can tell the network honchos demaned a good, highly original script, because the synopsis features a never before-seen sort of character: An evil right-wing evangelist!

"CATEGORY 7: THE END OF THE WORLD (four hours) begins where "Category 6: Day of Destruction" ended -- with the destruction of the city of Chicago by a catastrophic weather system. As the disastrous storm gathers even more strength and begins to ravage the rest of the world, a television evangelist, preying on the fears of a storm battered nation, begins to broadcast alarming warnings of epic biblical plagues. As his predictions begin to come true, the deadly storm continues to wreak havoc culminating over Washington, D.C."

I guess a storm that destroys most of America doesn't provide enough plot fodder, so a human bad guy was necessary. By the way, given the scenario, would an evangelical minister warning of God's Wrath really be so out of bounds? I mean, let's see, in the first movie, Chicago was pretty much wiped out (from what I hear). So a guy broadcasting "alarming warnings" just doesn't seem that...alarming.

On the other hand, you may be saying, "Hey, Ken, at least the Military isn't getting a bum rap!" Well...

"MAYDAY, based on The New York Times bestseller by Nelson DeMille, is a thriller in which chaos and death engulf an airliner traveling from the United States to Tokyo when it is accidentally hit by a U.S. Navy test missile. Because of the sudden change in cabin pressure from a gaping hole in the fuselage, many passengers are lost and a weekend pilot is forced to take control of the plane and try to navigate it to safety."

And hey, time for a remake of Two Minute Warning!:

"TIME BOMB (working title) is a thriller about a threat received by Homeland Security during a big football game, stating that the stadium in Washington, D.C. is rigged to explode during the fourth quarter. Unfolding in real time, the agency joins forces with the FBI, stadium officials and Special Ops to mount a massive reconnaissance operation to break the code and stop the impending disaster that could annihilate 95,000 people."

Ten bucks says this is the work of American neo-Nazis/militia guys/nutty former miltary members. Fifty bucks says it definately won't be the work of Islamic terrorists. (After all, eee-vil Christian evangelicals are one thing...) Any takers?

As noted previously, NBC, meanwhile, will be broadcasting a sequel to their earthquake mini, 10.5, 10.5: Apocalypse:

"In "10.5: Apocalypse," the deadly seismic activities that peaked with a 10.5 earthquake and devastated the west coast in the first miniseries resume to jeopardize North America, causing catastrophic events. In a desperate bid to save lives - and the country - President Hollister (Bridges) calls upon one of the nation's top seismologists, controversial scientist Dr. Samantha Hill (Delaney), to interpret the latest onslaught of quakes. Hill has a new theory based on her father's (Langella) much-discredited hypothesis from years past that if correct, predicts even greater ruin."

Wow, the plot includes Sam's dad. Like I noted often in my review of the original mini, "EVERYONE IS CONNECTED."

Thanks for making my gig such an easy one, folks.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Now on DVD (08/02/05)...

The DVD of the Week is The Thin Man Collection, containing all six films and a bonus disc. OK, the sequels are hit and miss (and unsurprisingly get weaker as they go along, especially after Nick and Nora have a kid, but make sure to buy or at least rent The Thin Man, which is a terrific movie. Then get a hold of the Criterion My Man Godfrey. And long live Asta!

The fourth season (!) of Dukes of Hazzard is out today, along with a set collection seasons 1-4. The first season of the ur-‘80s sitcom The Cosby Show is out today as well.

The big TV news of the day, especially if you smoke a lot of weed, is Rhion’s bargain—under $10—Saturday Morning with Sid & Marty Krofft DVD, which includes the pilot episodes for H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, the original Land of the Lost, The Lost Saucer, and Far Out Space Nuts. Includes a Lidsville commentary (!).

Rhino also releases the set Candid Camera: Five Decades of Smiles, collection over forty episodes of the first reality/bloopers-type show. You could do worse as a Christmas present for your parents and grandparents, believe me.


Oliver Stone’s Alexander is out on DVD today in a new director’s cut. I’m sure it’s muuuch better than the theatrical version. (Note: Last sentence was meant sarcastically.)

The High and the Mighty is perhaps the grandfather of the Disaster Movie, starring John Wayne as a pilot on a damaged airliner. The film is getting a deluxe, two-disc treatment. Robert Stack is also in this, presaging his role in Airplane!

Fans of the Duke will also want to check out Island in the Sky, in which a plane crashlands in the frozen tundra of Labrador, and Wayne must keep the survivors alive until rescue comes. Co-stars such actors as James Arness and Llyod Nolan, along with the inevitable Andy Devine (if they ate him, the rest could survive for months) and Harry Carey Jr.

Baseball fans will want to pick up the acclaimed documentary This Old Cub, detailing the story of third baseman Ron Santo.

As a warning, stay away from A Fine Mess, a horrible ‘homage’ to Laurel & Hardy made during director Blake Edwards’ “I suck now” period. Let me put it this way: In place of Laurel & Hardy, we get Ted Danson and Howie Mandel. What, Bobcat Goldthwait wasn’t available? You know you’re in trouble when you see Stuart Margolin’s name in a cast list. Seriously, stick with The Great Race, also dedicated to Stan and Ollie, and made back when Edwards was a great comedy director and available on DVD as well.

Disney releases some of their live action films from that misbegotten period in the ‘70s when they pretty much abandoned animated films. The Boatniks is a film mostly remembered for it’s pun title, and such luminaries as Norman Fell, Phil Silvers, Robert Morse, Wally Cox and Stephanie Powers. If you recognize those names, you might actually want to see this, although the nostalgia bug is always dangerous.

Johnnie Tremaine was a Disney film seen by everyone school kid during the ‘60s, based on a long-famous novel about a kid’s experiences during the American Revolution.

Finally, Disney releases The World’s Greatest Athlete, with the Jan-Michael (what, not Kurt Russell?) as the titular, Tarzan-like dude, co-starring Tim Conway, John Amos, Roscoe Lee Browne and Nancy Walker. Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford play themselves.

Coming to DVD (08/02/05)....

Nothing as big as the Kolchak box set recently announced, but there are a couple of goodies coming up.

Not only is the original King Kong getting a big DVD release to coincide with Peter Jackson’s upcoming film, but now Universal will be re-releasing the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis King Kong in a slighty better edition (better sound mix, etc.). Really, shouldn’t that be a King Kong/King Kong Lives box set? And might one hope that Media Blasters has the rights to Toho’s King Kong Escapes? See the new box art here.

The second season of Scrubs, the second funniest network sitcom of recent vintage (after Arrested Development) will be out on November 15th.

The slick early Jodie Foster thriller The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane will street on Oct 4th. An MGM release, it’ll go for around $10. Good stuff.

The 1989 not-very-Verne Journey to the Center of the Earth starring Kathy Ireland and Emo Philips (!!) as ‘Nimrod’, and directed by the immortal Albert Pyun, will also rise up from below on Oct 4th. Apparently it’s a sort-of sequel, believe it or not, to Ireland’s Alien from L.A. It was co-directed, sort of, by Rusty Lemorande, who tries to distance himself from the film in remarks here in the IMDB user comments for the film.

The short-lived Omen meet The O.C. series Point Pleasant is released on October 25th, and includes a number of unaired episodes. Meanwhile, they haven’t released American Gothic yet. &#^*@(