Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just stuff...

Star Trek TOS is receiving the George Lucas treatment, as the series will re-issued on DVD with cleaned up CG special effects. These will be syndicated to TV, too. If that’s your bag, you may want to wait until the new shows are released on high def. On the other hand, purists (and collectors) may want to grab the original versions, in case those are written out of history ala Lucas.

Another veteran dies as Glenn Ford, star of Happy Birthday to Me (like all veteran Canadian actors--Bill Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, etc.--he appeared in a slasher film because a certain Canadian presence afforded producers Canadian government funding back then) passes away at the age of 90. RIP, sir.

Joseph Stephano, who wrote the screenplay for Hitchcock’s Psycho and also was the creator of the original TV show The Outer Limits, has also passed on. Both seasons of The Outer Limits are available on DVD, and at pretty cheap prices, too. Pick them up or put them on your Christmas list.

By the way, while it was an intelligent and generally well put together show, I just could never get into the new The Outer Limits. Pretty consistently, the endings of the stories were just incredibly dark. That might not have been a problem in itself, but the original OL was such a conversely optimistic and humanistic (in the good sense) program that this tact always seemed like a betrayal.

While I’m on that topic, one episode of the new show in particular drove me up the wall. It [Trial By Fire from the 2nd Season] featured an alien armada incursion approaching Earth, and the pressure on the newly sworn-in President of the United States to either launch an attack on it or not. (Pressure from saintly wife was for no, pressure from HOTHEADED MILITARY TYPES was yes.) The plot cheats were incredible, as the aliens kept doing suspicious things, like knocking out defense satellites, but always in ways that could, possibly, have just been accidents. The annoying thing was (again given the show’s general prevalence for dark endings) that it was obvious that no matter what the President decided, it would be the wrong answer. Since we’re talking Hollywood here, I predicted the wrong decision would be to fire the missiles, and of course I was right. Only two countries at last fire on them, us and the Soviets—that’s the show biz idea of being politically ‘evenhanded’—and at exactly that moment an alien communiqué is finally decoded and we learn that (surprise) the aliens are peaceful. However, despite stopping the missiles without harm, they still retaliate, and the President has several minutes to appreciate the fact that his actions have doomed Washington DC (Moscow gets the same treatment) and its population to complete obliteration. What a suckfest. Later, Cinefanfastique did their yearly series rundown for the show, and I was appalled that this insanely manipulative episode was given their highest rating, four stars. Apparently the author liked the ‘message’ about ‘MILITARY BAD.’ I don’t know, maybe if the episode pandered to my politics I would have liked it, too. I don’t think so, though.

Boy, does that The Covenant movie look like it sucks, or what?

This is most probably going to be the last week you can see Snakes on a Plane in a theater. What’ya waiting for?

A lot of formerly lost footage (alternate cuts, etc.) from John Carpenter’s original Halloween have shown up. Get ready for the upteenth Special Edition DVD for that movie, although at least this one will have some new stuff to show us.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My name is Ken B., and I am a DVD addict...

I’m so broke, and yet I keep buying DVDs. It doesn’t help when DeepdiscountDVDs had a recent sale. At least one of these titles (And the Screaming Starts) I bought only because Netflix doesn’t carry it. I’ve never seen that particular movie, so I bought it, although I’ll probably re-sell the DVD on after giving it a look.

Even so, you can’t complain about the amount of bang for your buck…which is both a blessing and a curse, budget-wise. Here’s what I got in this order:

And the Screaming Starts ($11): Amicus Brit horror with Peter Cushing. Two commentary tracks, one with the director and the female lead, the other from male lead Ian Ogilvy.

Creation of the Humanoid / War of the Planets Double Bill ($11) Two movies, drive-in intermission ads, trailers.

Day the World Ended / The She-Creature double bill ($8.50) Two movies, Day in letterbox format. (She-Creature, sadly, is full screen.)

Prince of Space / Invasion of the Neptune Men ($11) Two movies, drive-in programming, trailers.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare ($14): Jabootu classic with newly remastered (!), high-def transfer from original 35mm negative. Commentary with director John Fasano and star Jon Mikl-Thor. Documentaries and ‘music’ videos, and intro and afterword from Mikl-Thor.

Roger Corman Puerto Rico Trilogy ($12) Three movies restored from 35mm elements, Last Woman on Earth, Creature from the Haunted Sea and Battle of Blood Island. Films “hosted” by Roger Corman. Letterbox transfers. Trailer, additional footage shot for TV versions. Commentaries for each film (none featuring Corman, oddly enough.)

Viking Women and the Sea Serpent / Teenage Caveman double bill ($8.50). Two movies, sadly with ‘standard’ full-frame presentations. Teenage Caveman apparently suffers badly due to this. Lionsgate is going to have to do better than that, even for such a bargain price.

With free shipping and no tax, that was about $75 for a zillion hours of content and a huge array of oddities. Not bad.

Things aren’t going to let up anytime soon. I already have on order the third season of Arrested Development, the already fabled two-disc Godzilla/Gojira DVD, Brainiac, the 11 hour documentary series 100 Years of Horror, and the Best Buy exclusive, five movie Universal Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection.

Add to that the upcoming Legends of Horror Collection and the two Boris Karloff box sets, the next two Classic Media Godzilla movies due out in early November, and things look to remain expensive for another couple of months.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

This week on DVD (08/29/06)

Some essential stuff today.

The TV highlight of the week is definitely the third, short and final season of the lamented Arrested Development, destined to be one of the great sitcoms of all time. If you haven’t worked your way through the series yet, now you can.

Also of note is the appearance of the brilliant cartoon series The Tick (as opposed to the short-lived live-action series based on the same character, also available on DVD). Sadly, apparently some episodes are missing due to rights issues.

Meanwhile, there’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Set 10 (Godzilla vs. Megalon, Swamp Women, Teen-Age Strangler, and The Giant Spider Invasion)

Other TV shows this week:

[‘S’ = Season; ‘TCS’ = The Complete Series]

Andy Griffith Show S7; Astro Boy Set 2; Blackstar: TCS; Desperate Housewives S2; Ellen S4; Nip/Tuck S3; Stephen King’s Desperation; The Tick 10th Anniversary Edition; Will & Grace S5

In movies, this week sees one of the major releases of the year as all-time Jabootu favorite The Brainiac (El Baron del Terror) hits DVD via the exceedingly fine folks at CasaNegra, a new line releasing eye-poppingly remastered Spanish horror films in their original language. The company’s two previously releases also included the hilarious K. Gordon Murray English dubs, and I can only fervently hope that’s the case here too. In any case, there is a commentary track and other goodies. Seriously, at around $13, you can’t afford not to own this disc.

CasaNegra also releases The Black Pit of Dr. M today.

Lot’s of stuff for ‘80s nostalgia freaks today, including special editions of Some Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in Pink. (What, no Breakfast Club?) Meanwhile, the “dancers escape from the Soviet Union” action / dance flick White Nights gets a SE too, and features some great moves by stars Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The Wizard is a video game movie about, uh, two young kids traveling cross country to play at a Nitendo video game contest. (Yes, really.) Stars Fred Savage, Beau Bridges and Christian Slater. They don’t make ‘em like that, anymore. Also out is the Betty Russell skin flick / romantic comedy Tomboy, fondly remembered by many guys from this period. You can add that to the recently released My Tutor and My Chauffer.

Anonymous Rex is a TV adapation of a book series featuring surviving human-sized dinosaurs in hiding from us humans via holographic projectors and disguises (really), merged with noir-ish private detective stories. Stars Daniel Baldwin, Faye Dunaway (We’ve come a long way from Chinatown, huh, Faye?) and Isaac Hayes.

Chuck Norris Collection (Delta Force 1 & 2, Missing in Action 1, Missing in Action 2&3)

Crypt of Terror: Night of the Bloody Apes/Curse of the Doll People Nice transfers of two Mexican horror flicks, the first as reviewed at Jabootu.

Double Indemnity SE: The Noir classic.

Galaxina: The last film of the murdered playmate Dorothy “Star 80” Stratten, a sci-fi comedy co-starring Avery Schreiber.

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is a well-regarded ’70s suspenser.

Maximum Action: 9 Deaths of the Ninja/Killpoint Budget double bill of two memorably cheesy flicks.

Savage Cinema from Down Under (Marauders; Defenceless; Sensitive New Age Killer): Supposedly for the strong of stomach, three intense Australian thrillers.

Shock: ‘40s suspense stuff starring Vincent Price, and thus worth seeing.

Starlite Drive-In Theater: Malibu High/The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High BCI, a DVD company with a reputation for bad-looking DVDs, seems to be recasting itself. They are releasing tons of old movies with better transfers, and have started several lines of budget double bills to do so. The Crypt of Terror and Maximum Action lines noted above are also theirs. From the IMDB description, Malibu High really sounds like something.

This Island Earth: Fun ‘50s sci-fi extravaganza, that introduced “The Mutant,” a favorite amongst fans of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.