HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Nicolas Cage to Topline Action Thriller "A SCORE TO SETTLE" from Director Shawn KU



ACADEMY AWARD WINNER NICOLAS CAGE TO TOPLINE ACTION THRILLER “A SCORE TO SETTLE” FROM DIRECTOR SHAWN KU

Highland Film Group to Commence Sales During AFM (American Film Market)


LOS ANGELES (October 26, 2017) – Highland Film Group announced today that Academy Award Winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation, National Treasure franchise) has signed on to play the lead in A Score to Settle from director Shawn Ku, winner of the TIFF FIRPRESCI Discovery Award for his debut feature Beautiful Boy.  The project is an action thriller that takes the audience on a psychological journey from imprisonment through redemption. 
First Point Entertainment’s Lee Clay (Rememory, Comet, No Good Deed) and Goldrush Entertainment’s Eric Gozlan (Beautiful Boy, Standoff) will produce, with Highland Film Group’s Arianne Fraser and Delphine Perrier Executive Producing.  Highland Film Group will introduce to international buyers during the American Film Market (AFM).

A Score to Settle begins when Frank (Nicolas Cage), a convicted mob enforcer battling a terminal illness, is released from prison many years after taking the fall for a crime he didn’t commit. Now free, he sets out on a path for revenge against the people who wronged him.

Cage stars in the horror thriller Mom and Dad which earned rave reviews following its world premiere in the midnight madness section of the Toronto Film Festival.  He is currently in post-production on #211 and Looking Glass, which Highland Film Group is also selling.

Cage is represented by CAA, LINK Entertainment and Bloom, Hergott, Diemer, Rosenthal, Laviolette, Feldman, Schenkman & Goodman. Ku is repped by Paradigm Talent Agency, Field Entertainment, and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman.

About Highland Film Group
Led by Arianne Fraser and Delphine Perrier, Highland Film Group (HFG) is an independent worldwide sales, production and film financing company. HFG provides financing through a combination of pre-sales to help cover senior and subordinated debt, gap, tax credit, and facilitates capital for mezzanine and equity financing. 

The Highland Film Group slate includes: John Moore’s The Manuscript starring Morgan Freeman; the star-studded Berlin, I Love You with Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Jim Sturgess, Mickey Rourke, Diego Luna, Orlando Bloom, Sophie Turner, Jack Huston, Patrick Dempsey, Renee Zellweger, and Jenna Dewan Tatum; Vaughn Stein’s Terminal starring Margot Robbie; Jon Avnet’s Three Christs starring Richard Gere; Eric Bress’ supernatural psychological thriller Ghosts of War starring Brenton Thwaites; Lin Oeding’s thriller Braven starring Jason Momoa; and Scott Mann’s Final Score starring Dave Bautista and Pierce Brosnan.



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Monday, October 30, 2017

Spend Your Halloween With Fall's Most Unique Thrillers - "CREEP 2" and "SUPER DARK TIMES"



CREEP 2

Directed by Patrick Brice and Written by Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass
Starring Desiree Akhavan and Mark Duplass


"Will impress any fan of the original."
- John Defore, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

"A blackly hilarious, increasingly intense showdown between two very engaging and unusual characters."
- Meredith Borders, BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH

"Brice and Duplass have created one of the most subdued and charismatic horror characters of this decade."
- Ben Larned, DAILY DEAD

"Duplass is so very excellent in these movies: true to the title, he’s creepy as all get out."
- Eli Fine, THE PLAYLIST

"The best horror-comedy since Evil Dead II, expertly blending both genres."
- Jonathan Barkan, DREAD CENTRAL

Synopsis:
Desiree Akhavan (“Girls”, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR) stars as Sara, a video artist whose primary focus is creating intimacy with lonely men. After finding an ad online for "video work," she thinks she may have found the subject of her dreams.

She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer (Mark Duplass, reprising his role from the previous film). Unable to resist the chance to create a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him. However, as the day goes on she discovers she may have dug herself into a hole she can't escape.
     
TRT: 80m Country: USA  Language: English



SUPER DARK TIMES

Directed by Kevin Phillips and Written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski
Starring Owen Campbell, Charlie Tahan, Elizabeth Cappuccino


"Filmmakers looking for ways to distinguish their first feature film could learn from Kevin Phillips... While another movie might have leaned harder on ripped-from-the-headlines prurience, SUPER DARK TIMES instead aims to become a more elusive pleasure — a simple story, well told."
- Teo Bugbee, THE NEW YORK TIMES

"An incredibly stylish and confident debut from director Kevin Phillips...when he digs into the muck of the rot at the heart of it, he comes up with some unforgettable moments."
- Emily Yoshida, VULTURE

"Pitch-perfect evocation of boys coming of age under extreme duress...what emerges is less a traditional horror film than a character study in which remorse, rage and desire uneasily comingle."
- Nick Schager, THE DAILY BEAST

“A phenomenal thriller. A remarkable, atmospheric debut with exceptional performances.”
– Joe McGovern, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

"Visceral and gripping.  An unnerving cross between STAND BY ME and DONNIE DARKO."
– David Ehrlich, INDIEWIRE

Synopsis:
Zach (Owen Campbell) and Josh (Charlie Tahan) are best friends growing up in a leafy Upstate New York suburb in the 1990s, where teenage life revolves around hanging out, looking for kicks, navigating first love and vying for popularity.

When a traumatic incident drives a wedge between the previously inseparable pair, their youthful innocence abruptly vanishes. Each young man processes the tragedy in his own way, until circumstances grow increasingly complex and spiral into violence.

A harrowing but meticulously observed look at teenage lives in the era prior to the Columbine High School massacre, SUPER DARK TIMES marks the feature debut of gifted director Kevin Phillips, whose critically acclaimed 2015 short film "Too Cool For School" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

TRT: 102 min Country:  USA Language:  English 



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Sunday, October 29, 2017

RETURN OF THE APE MAN -- DVD Review by Porfle



It sounds like a sequel to Monogram's 1944 simian shiver-fest THE APE MAN, also starring Bela Lugosi, but RETURN OF THE APE MAN (also 1944) gives us an all-new story, an all-new ape man, and an all-new horribly unscrupulous mad doctor character for Bela to sink his incisors into.

This time Bela's experiments in freezing people and bringing them back to life (he practices on a bum named "Willie the Weasel") come to a triumphant climax when he and his associate, John Carradine, find a half-human, half-ape cave creature frozen in the Arctic ice and, in Bela's basement laboratory, revive the violent, uncontrollable wretch.

Needless to say, the ape man eventually gets away and wreaks low-budget havoc on the modest Monogram backlot.  He looks ridiculous with a mop of hair and shaggy beard, animal-hide toga, and furry boots, but he's a fun character who adds some amusement value to the film even at its most grim.


This latter quality of RETURN OF THE APE MAN is supplied in spades by Bela in one of his signature roles as a ruthless, utterly inhuman scientist to whom nothing in more important than his latest quest for scientific advancement.  When he suggests transplanting part of a living person's brain into the ape man, thus either killing the donor or rendering him an idiot, Carradine is aghast and calls it murder.  "Murder is an ugly word," Bela retorts.  "As a scientist, I don't recognize it."

As you might guess, Carradine himself ends up the unwilling brain donor after an unsuccessful attempt by Bela to secure Carradine's future nephew-in-law Steve (Michael Ames) to do the honors.  Thus, when the newly-improved ape man escapes again he's drawn to Carradine's house where he terrorizes niece Anne (Judith Gibson) and wife Hilda (Mary Currier) before clashing with the local police. 

Everything looks wonderfully low-low-budget as only 40s-era black-and-white horror films from studios such as Monogram can look.  The subject matter and its presentation are probably among the most tawdry and repellant of mainstream films circa 1945 as the filmmakers seem to relish each atrocity almost as much as Bela's sadistic, vainglorious, and utterly mad doctor. 


It reminds me of a later film that could be similarly described, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE, right down to an almost identical basement laboratory where horrible experiments take place and a "monster in the closet" (here, the ape man struggling against the bars of his cell) waits to break free for his climactic rampage. 

For fans of such dark doings in that distinctive Monogram style, this one delivers enough of the goods to make it one entertaining romp.  (Needless to say, others beware--you won't find much to like here.)  I love watching two distinguished actors such as Lugosi and Carradine imbuing it with their talent and professionalism, each slumming at Monogram for his own reasons and making the most of the lurid, dime-novel script. 

The rest of the cast manage to get through it without falling over, which, for the lovely Judith Gibson (aka Teala Loring, BOWERY BOMBSHELL, BLUEBEARD), is saying a lot (she's not the most expressive actress).  As our hero Steve, Michael Ames (the future Tod Andrews of such films as IN HARM'S WAY, HANG 'EM HIGH, FROM HELL IT CAME, and THE BABY) marks time waiting for better things.  Mary Currier (MAGIC TOWN, VOODOO MAN), sort of a poor man's Mary Astor, plays Carradine's wife Hilda in dignified fashion.

Top: Frank Moran as the Ape Man. Bottom: George Zucco in the role in an early still.

The ape man himself is credited to both Frank Moran (ROAD TO UTOPIA, MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK) and the distinguished George Zucco (THE MUMMY'S HAND, THE MUMMY'S TOMB), who doesn't appear in the film at all save for a few seconds lying on the lab table before taking ill and having to be replaced.  (Monogram still gave him his promised third-billing credit.)

Image quality for the Olive Films DVD release is miles above the usual public domain stuff, and while sticklers for utter clarity may quibble over its specks and occasional rough spots, I found the print used here to be quite watchable.  Besides, as I've often mentioned, those little imperfections only increase my feelings of nostalgia because they remind me of watching such films on the late show or matinees at the theater. 

With a cast headed by stalwarts Lugosi and Carradine (the two embodiments of Dracula himself over at Universal, not counting "son" Lon Chaney), a perversely amusing man-monster who might very well be the direct ancestor of Captain Caveman, lots of sordid goings on to both delight and strain credulity, and that overall Monogram aura of exquisite cheapness, RETURN OF THE APE MAN is the kind of low-rent fun that makes me giddy just putting it into the DVD player. 

Order it from Olive Films
Also available in Blu-ray


Rated: NR (not rated)
Subtitles: English (optional)
Video: 1.33:1 aspect ratio; B&W
Runtime: 61 minutes
Year: 1944
Extras: none


@OliveFilms
https://www.facebook.com/olivefilms/




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Saturday, October 28, 2017

THE VAMPIRE'S GHOST -- DVD Review by Porfle



Clocking in at 59 minutes and originally released on a double bill with "The Phantom Speaks", Republic's 1945 horror-thriller THE VAMPIRE'S GHOST is a short-but-sweet foray into the supernatural that owes more to that studio's jungle features and serials than to the sort of dark Gothic chills you'd expect from a vampire tale.

The setting reminds me of Republic's serial PANTHER GIRL OF THE KONGO but with somewhat richer production values. (Olive Films' DVD of this beautifully-shot black-and-white film looks terrific.) A small village in darkest Africa is beset by a series of murders which, to the superstitious, appear to be the work of a vampire. 

Roy Hendrick (Charles Gordon of SWAMP FIRE, here bearing some resemblance to Buster Crabbe), soon to marry his sweetheart Julie (Peggy Stewart, THE RUNAWAYS, BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW), is having trouble keeping native workers on his rubber plantation as more of them flee the bloodsucking menace.


Julie's father, Dr. Vance (Emmett Vogan, THE MUMMY'S TOMB, THE MUMMY'S GHOST), is, in fact, baffled by the great loss of blood from the victims, which also has the local priest, Father Gilchrist (Grant Withers, FORT APACHE, RIO GRANDE), keeping a crucifix within reach at all times. 

The only local who doesn't seem overly concerned is cucumber-cool club owner, Webb Fallon (John Abbott, perhaps best known to TV fans from Star Trek: "Errand of Mercy" and The Man From UNCLE: "The Birds and the Bees Affair"), whose star attraction is an alluring dancer played by Adele Mara (SANDS OF IWO JIMA).  Fallon's luck on his own gambling tables is almost supernatural in itself, raising the ire of ship captain Jim Barrett (prolific Western actor Roy Barcroft) who accuses him of cheating. 

Barrett attacks him, but one piercing stare from the mysterious Fallon causes the man to back off in fear.  It isn't long before we're pretty sure Fallon is the vampire, a suspicion soon borne out when Roy comes under the mysterious man's mental control.  After that, the ailing Roy seems powerless to stop Fallon as the centuries-old vampire sets his sights on none other than Julie herself as his undead bride.


Gordon and Stewart play the typical romantic couple from a million adventure yarns, but Abbott's interpretation of the bloodsucking fiend of ancient lore is about as low-key and restrained as one could imagine.  In fact, even when he's exercising his insidious mind control over helpless victims or revealing his sinister intentions for the hapless Julie, Fallon barely ruffles a thread of his tailored suit or a hair on his neatly-clipped head. 

He doesn't even sleep in a coffin--a small box of native soil underneath his pillow suffices--and is capable of withstanding daylight in small doses.  And what with the constant native drums in the background (local tribes keep each other informed on local vampiric goings-on) and other familiar tropes of the jungle adventure--safaris, native carriers, huts, spears--the emphasis of the rather literate screenplay by Leigh Brackett (STAR WARS V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) is more upon characterization and a measured suspense than eliciting nightmares.  

Which, indeed, is the modest appeal of THE VAMPIRE'S GHOST, a "horror" tale that feels like an extended serial chapter in which the cliffhangers consist of quietly suspenseful moments rather than action thrills.  (It was helmed by prolific Western director Lesley Selander, responsible for several of the better "Hopalong Cassidy" entries.)  Even the climactic showdown between humans and vampire in a remote jungle temple is a pleasantly told diversion meant simply to entertain us, which it does. 

Order it from Olive Films

Subtitles: English (optional)
Video: 1.33:1 aspect ratio; B&W
Runtime: 59 minutes

Extras: none
Year: 1945


@OliveFilms
https://www.facebook.com/olivefilms/



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Friday, October 27, 2017

"THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: THE BOB HOPE SPECIALS DELUXE COLLECTION" Celebrates a Legendary Entertainer with the Most Complete Collection of His TV Specials Ever Assembled



AMERICA'S GREATEST ENTERTAINER OF THE 20TH CENTURY IS CELEBRATED IN THE MOST COMPLETE COLLECTION OF HIS TELEVISION SPECIALS EVER AVAILABLE
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: THE BOB HOPE SPECIALS DELUXE COLLECTION

Featuring More Than 37 Hours of Classic Hope and Legendary Celebrity Guests, This 19-Disc Set Includes 39 Specials - Including 20 Not Seen Since Their Original Broadcast -- and Bonus Features Including Hope's Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, a 32-Page Memory Book Filled with Rare, Archival Photos and Stories, All Housed in a Deluxe Collector's Box for $249.95srp
-- Just in Time for the Holidays!

AVAILABLE IN STORES NOVEMBER 14, 2017


Bob Hope, America's greatest entertainer of the 20th century, is celebrated in THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: THE BOB HOPE SPECIALS, the most complete collection of his television specials ever assembled!  The TV DVD archivists at Time Life have selected the very best of Hope's 250 network specials spanning five decades, many in support of the U.S. Armed Forces, for this ultimate boxed set.  Celebrating the legendary and beloved entertainer's legacy, this one-of-a-kind collection is packed with comedy, music, dancing, movie stars, and, of course, Bob's memorable monologues all perfect for wholesome family viewing.

Across 19 DVDs, fans will find more than 37 hours of specials, including 20 that have not been seen since their original broadcast, as well as an incredible collection of celebrity guest appearances from the biggest stars of the era such as John Wayne, Bing Crosby, Raquel Welch, Desi Arnaz, Jack Benny, Don Rickles, Barbra Streisand, George Burns, Dean Martin, Ann-Margret, Lucille Ball, Steve McQueen, Lola Falana, Tom Jones, Carol Burnett, Angie Dickinson, Andy Williams, Lana Turner, Jayne Mansfield, Redd Foxx, Zsa Zsa Gabor and many others.



Housed in a deluxe collector's box, stuffed with timeless entertainment, THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: THE BOB HOPE SPECIALS is comprised of four releases:

Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials (6 Discs) -- Featuring 13 specials from 1956 to 1996, this DVD set contains hilarious compilation shows that spotlight the best moments from years of remarkable footage: a full episode of all-time classic bloopers, Bob Hope's first show in color, his 90th birthday party special, Laughing with the Presidents, and more.  This collection also includes the bonus show Shanks for the Memory, on the world of golf according to Bob Hope. 

Bob Hope: Entertaining The Troops (4 Discs) -- Featuring 10 shows from 1950 to 1993, this DVD set features several USO Christmas specials filmed before troops serving in locations all over the world - from the Cold War through the Vietnam years to the Persian Gulf. The set also contains the holiday-themed DVD Hope for the Holidays, featuring a compilation of Bob Hope's most hilarious Christmas sketches through the years along with his very first Christmas special, as well as the bonus feature Memories of World War II with rare clips, highlights from Bob Hope's Armed Forces Network radio show, and Bob and guests reminiscing about the era.


Bob Hope: TV Legend (8 Discs) - The American treasure is at his very best in this singular collection of 16 classic variety specials from 1958-1973, including 10 USO holiday specials from the Cold War through Vietnam featuring dance, music and comedy and dozens of celebrity guests.  Aside from touching interactions with troops the world over, memorable moments include a star-studded comic ensemble sending up network censorship, a rollicking Western showdown between Bob's comic colleagues and Hollywood cowboys and a nostalgic Tribute to Vaudeville

BONUS DVD: The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Bob Hope (1 Disc) -- This bonus disc features the star-studded roast of Bob Hope hosted by the irrepressible Dean Martin.  Among the roasters featured are Jimmy Stewart, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Don Rickles, John Wayne, and many more!  
Hope's storied life and career spanned more than a century, during which he left an indelible mark across vaudeville, Broadway, recordings, concerts, radio, films and TV.  And this comprehensive collection of his television specials, exclusively from Time Life, showcases the beloved entertainer's inimitable magic like never before!



About Time Life
Time Life is one of the world's pre-eminent creators and direct marketers of unique music and video/DVD products, specializing in distinctive multi-media collections that evoke memories of yesterday, capture the spirit of today, and can be enjoyed for a lifetime. TIME LIFE and the TIME LIFE logo are registered trademarks of Time Warner Inc. and affiliated companies used under license by Direct Holdings Americas Inc., which is not affiliated with Time Warner Inc. or Time Inc.

PROGRAM INFORMATION
Format: DVD (19 Discs)
Running Time: 37 hours + extras
Genre:  TV/Comedy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Stereo



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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

MAMA'S FAMILY: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION -- DVD Review by Porfle



Those who were there back when "The Carol Burnett Show" began will recall how a likable but callow young actress named Vicki Lawrence was the junior member of the cast, both in terms of age and talent, who usually played either Carol's younger sister or some flakey proto-Valley Girl character. 

That, of course, would change when the show introduced a new reoccurring sketch, "The Family", in which Vicki, amazingly enough, portrayed the sassy and crotchety old matriarch ("Mama") of a lower middle-class clan of smalltown Southern hicks which also consisted of Carol as neurotic daughter "Eunice" and Harvey Korman as her dullard of a husband, "Ed", in hotly dramatic, highly-dysfunctional family situations that were as painful to watch as they were hilarious. 

Vicki came into her own big-time as Mama, so much so that when Carol ended her show after eleven seasons, her producer husband Joe Hamilton immediately came up with a series spin-off called "Mama's Family" and starring Vicki in her classic characterization, beginning in 1982 on NBC.


Two years after its second-season cancellation on NBC, the show was belatedly picked up for the burgeoning first-run syndication market, where it thrived for four more seasons and reached its finale in January 1990. The show would last for six seasons, with all 130 episodes plus lots of extras now available on 22 discs in the Time-Life DVD collection MAMA'S FAMILY: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION.

Such a spin-off seemed inevitable as long as they could come up with another "family" with which Mama could work her magic.  The first two seasons boast Rue McClanahan as Mama's flakey spinster sister Fran and Betty White as her self-centered daughter Ellen.  Frequent "Carol Burnett Show" guest Ken Berry was Mama's cheerfully childlike son Vint, now living in her basement with his sexpot wife Naomi (Dorothy Lyman of "All My Children").

The fact that Vicki Lawrence was a young actress playing an old woman (most, if not all, of her adult cast mates were older) seemed to give her and the writers license to make her curmudgeonly attitude and acerbic remarks even more outrageous.  A certain delight comes from watching Vicki Lawrence pull off this characterization with such stunning success, especially after being in Carol's shadow for so long.  The character seemed to have been hiding inside her all that time, just waiting for a chance to burst forth.


Berry, after starring in the dull "Mayberry R.F.D.", finally gets a chance to play an addlebrained rube who's actually funny. Lyman is the quintessential trailer-park floozy Naomi, who starts out as Mama's adversarial next-door neighbor.  She turns out to be a high school heartthrob of Vint and, to Mama's horror, the two quickly make wedding plans that include a gaudy ceremony right there in Mama's own livingroom. 

The original "Family" segments on Carol's show displayed a frantic, chintzy kind of bargain-basement Southern Gothic that often came off like Tennessee Williams on laughing gas.  This is carried over into the new show's first season with guest appearances by Burnett and Korman, beginning with Vint and Naomi's disastrous two-part wedding episode. 

Carol Burnett's "Eunice", of course, is one of television's most inspired creations and the only one that can outshine Mama in her own setting.  Far beyond just being funny, Eunice is a tragic, monstrously self-absorbed creature whose simmering familial resentments and crushing disappointments in life always come bursting to the surface just in time to destroy any family gathering she's involved in.  And Mama, of course, is always right there with a cutting remark that slices her right in two.


This results in some of the most astoundingly raucous situations and character interplay in sitcom history, aided by McClanahan and White who add to the Southern Gothic family stew with their own long-standing grudges and gripes.  It's a to-die-for cast that any sitcom, or feature film for that matter, would give its left sprocket holes to have.

Their performances are absolutely inspired--after all, how often would they ever get a chance to play such characters in such extreme mock-dramatic situations and at such full tilt?  There's so much talent being utilitzed at its fullest here that, straining within the bounds of a simple TV sitcom as it is, the effect is often dizzying.  (It's a shame Burnett and Korman are around for so few episodes.)

With all of this going on, it hardly matters that the show isn't always "on" or that moments actually do betray the fact that we're watching a simple--and, yes, often kinda dumb--sitcom that relies largely on insult humor.  Because even in that context it does its job so well that we're entertained by the lesser moments while waiting for the great ones.


The characters frequently relish their chance to let fly with some choice zingers--which, like an athlete, they throw their whole body into--and the live audience goes nuts the way they would for shows like "Married With Children." In fact,  this show, surprisingly, often comes off as even more cynical and outrageous than that infamously sleazy series, albeit in more (relatively) subtle ways.

After the network cancellation and syndication reboot, the show lost McClanahan and White (along with Vint's two nondescript teenage kids) and got progressively tamer, with more standard sitcom plots and less of the early seasons' glorious excess.  Even the character of Mama herself seems to mellow somewhat as time goes by (she'd have to or we wouldn't be able to stand her after awhile) although she never completely loses that acidic edge.

The addition of the delightfully off-kilter Beverly Archer as nerdy next-door neighbor Iola gives Mama a like-minded foil to whom she can reveal her more vulnerable side. Allan Kayser also joins the cast as Eunice and Ed's juvenile delinquent son Bubba, with whom Mama gets stuck after his parents move to Florida without telling him. He's sort of a "Jethro" type and serves his purpose as an example of the crazy "younger generation" for old-fashioned Mama to play off of.


Guest stars throughout the show's run include Brent Spiner, William Windom, Geoffrey Lewis, Imogene Coca, Jack Gilford, Jerry Reed, Robert Mandan, Barney Martin, Cliff Osmond, Marge Redmond, Alan Oppenheimer, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Jack Dodson, Richard Dawson, and Alex Trebek.

The DVD set from Time-Life consists of 22 discs (130 episodes from original broadcast masters) in six cases with slipcover.  Approximate running time is 55 hours.  Episodes are in 1.33:1 full screen and stereo sound.  Each of the six season sets contains a wealth of bonus features such as a roundtable cast reunion and lengthy interviews with cast and crew including Vicki Lawrence, Carol Burnett, Ken Berry, Betty White, Dorothy Lyman, Beverly Archer, Allan Kayser, costume designer Bob Mackie, and executive producer Rick Hawkins.

"Mama's Family Tree" featurettes take a look at the show's various characters and their relationships.  There are two vintage "Family" segments from "The Carol Burnett Show", one featuring guest star Maggie Smith. 

Best of all, we get the 1982 TV-movie "Eunice", a real-time, in-studio theatrical play that follows the Harper family--Mama, Eunice, sister Ellen (White), and successful brother Phillip (Berry again), along with Harvey Korman's "Ed"--from Eunice's turbulent teen years in the 50's to the day of Mama's funeral in the late 70s. 


"Eunice" is absolutely prime stuff, a full-bodied, powerful, incredibly written and performed comedy-drama that has the live audience on its feet during the emotional curtain call.  It's the pinnacle of Burnett's "Eunice" character, played to the hilt, and is alone worth owning the set.

From its turbulent early episodes, each like a gleefully-staged trainwreck, to its more mellow final years, "Mama's Family" was one of the most enjoyably oddball examples of the sitcom genre ever to bombast its way across our television screens. MAMA'S FAMILY: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION takes all that controlled chaos, puts a lace doily on it, and lets us relive it all over again.


Available exclusively at Walmart
Read our original coverage HERE



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Helen Mirren in "WINCHESTER" - See The New Teaser Trailer & Teaser One Sheet Now



HELEN MIRREN IN

THE INCREDIBLE FACT-BASED GHOST STORY

"WINCHESTER"

New Teaser Trailer & Teaser One Sheet Now Available
 
Inspired by true events. On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester, (Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren) heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end.

Constructed in an incessant twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman's madness.


But Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece (Sarah Snook) or for the brilliant Doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke) whom she has summoned to the house.

She is building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters...

Directed By: The Spierig Brothers (Jigsaw, Predestination)
Produced By: Tim McGahan (Predestination) and Brett Tomberlin (Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show)

WATCH THE TRAILER




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Monday, October 23, 2017

"ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS" -- Level 33 Announces the Release of Hilarious New Horror Comedy Nov. 17



LEVEL 33 ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF A HILARIOUS NEW HORROR COMEDY

"ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS"

Coming to Select Theaters & On Demand Everywhere – November 17th, 2017

Los Angeles (CA) – Level 33 Entertainment has announced today the official release date for the horror comedy feature film ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS starring C. Thomas Howell (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Outsiders, & The Amazing Spider-Man), Justin Ray (1 Chance 2 Dance & Disaster L.A.), and Michael Swan (As the World Turns, Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, & The Bold and the Beautiful).

The film will screen in select cities across the U.S. and will be available “Day-and-Date” via all On Demand platforms including iTunes Movies, Comcast Xfinity, Amazon Video, Sony PlayStation, and many more.

ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS was directed by Primetime Emmy Nominee Scott Wheeler (Martian Land, Avalanche Sharks, & Sink Hole). The film was written by Nathan Dalton (Beaten Path & Home for Detention), Chris De Christopher (Piranhaconda, General Hospital, & Death Racers), and Rafael Diaz-Wagner (Porkchop and a Glass of Water, Bernie Weiss: The Most Interesting Man in Miama, & Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre); produced by Rafael Diaz-Wagner and Nicole M. Saad (Left Behind, Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre, & Ninja Bitch Killer).

Synopsis:  We've eaten them for years, now it's their turn! A chemical accident turns ordinary donuts into bloodthirsty killers. Now it's up to Johnny, Michelle and Howard to save their sleepy town from... Killer Donuts.

Watch the Official Trailer:

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Attack-Of-The-Killer-Donuts
TWITTER: @Level33_Ent
Instagram:  @level33entertainment

ABOUT Level 33 Entertainment
Los Angeles based Level 33 Entertainment is an entertainment company dedicated to redefining the landscape for independent film distribution.  Level 33 provides innovative sales, marketing and distribution services for feature films and entertainment content, delivering a flexible and transparent distribution solution for all platforms including Theatrical, Home Entertainment, Digital and Broadcast.  Current releases from Level 33 include UNLEASHED with Kate Micucci, Sean Astin, Justin Chatwin, and Steve Howey, IMPERFECTIONS starring Zach McGowan, Ed Begley Jr. and Marilu Henner, and 1 NIGHT with Anna Camp and Justin Chatwin.
www.level33entertainment.com



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Friday, October 20, 2017

Celebrate America's Clown Prince with the 22-Disc "THE RED SKELTON HOUR IN COLOR: DELUXE EDITION" -- Just in Time for the Holidays!



THIS NOVEMBER, TIME LIFE CELEBRATES AMERICA'S CLOWN PRINCE IN A SINGULAR COLLECTION OF VINTAGE COMEDY FROM ONE OF THE GOLDEN AGE OF TV'S LANDMARK VARIETY SHOWS

THE RED SKELTON HOUR IN COLOR:
DELUXE COLLECTION

Specially-Priced for Holiday Gift Giving at $199.95srp, This Over-Stuffed 22-Disc Collection Features More Than 65 Hours of Uproarious Comedy, Incredible Guest Stars and Bonuses Including an Exclusive DVD of Red's Farewell Specials, a Full-Length Biography and a Collectible Memory Book

AVAILABLE IN STORES NOVEMBER 7, 2017


Red Skelton was a brilliant performer, a passionate patriot, and a master of simple, hilarious and classic comedy.  Now, home audiences can be entertained by America's Clown Prince any time with a singular collection of episodes from The Red Skelton Hour, many of which have been unseen for over 50 years!  Featuring over 65 hours of hilarious, heart-warming humor from one of the country's most treasured comedians, THE RED SKELTON HOUR IN COLOR: DELUXE COLLECTION will be available to add to every home entertainment collection on November 7, 2017 for $199.95srp.


With a heart of pure gold, uproarious jokes and an unparalleled gift for physical comedy, Skelton kept TV audiences in stitches for 20 groundbreaking seasons on CBS-TV's The Red Skelton Show.  Each week, viewers were treated to his memorable lineup of inimitable characters including country bumpkin Clem Kadiddlehopper, Sheriff Deadeye and lovable hobo Freddie the Freeloader, as well as the biggest movie and TV stars of the day who all clamored to appear on Red's show including John Wayne, Jackie Gleason, Johnny Carson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Milton Berle, Jackie Cooper, Tim Conway, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Simon and Garfunkel, Phyllis Diller, Merv Griffin, Audrey Meadows, Mickey Rooney, Nipsey Russell, Robert Goulet, Audrey Meadows and many more! 

Across this ultimate 22 disc collection, home audiences will discover a treasure trove of true RED, White & Blue entertainment - 130 remastered episodes for optimal viewing and hours of extras, including a full-length biography of Red with rare home movies and intimate interviews, a bonus DVD of Red's Farewell Specials and an exclusive, collectible Memory Book giving fans a closer look at how Red's most beloved characters came to life.  The set is comprised of three distinct DVD collections:
 
THE RED SKELTON Show: THE EARLY YEARS (8 Discs) -- The beginning of Red's legendary two-decade television journey is celebrated in this 72 episode set. Many of Red's best characters and classic bits can be found in these episodes, providing a side-splitting look at a true pioneer of television's Golden Age.
 
THE RED SKELTON HOUR: IN COLOR (10 Discs) -- This deluxe set features 31 rarely seen episodes in their original, brilliant color; highlights include Red's famous recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, musical performances by Simon & Garfunkel, Frankie Valli, The 5th Dimension and more, plus a bonus Skelton biography, America's Clown.

THE COMPLETE 20TH SEASON: IN COLOR (3 Discs) -- Twenty years after The Red Skelton Show first aired on NBC in 1951, the extraordinary Red appeared in his last season, bringing all his wonderful characters to life for the last time on network television.  An incredible group of guest stars includes Jerry Lewis, Vincent Price, Robert Wagner, Jill St. John and many more!

BONUS DVD: RED SKELTON: THE FAREWELL SPECIALS (1 Disc) --Red's zany, unexpected and classically hilarious crowning performances are celebrated in this compilation of farewell specials, featuring, "Red Skelton's Christmas Dinner," "More Funny Faces," "Funny Faces III," and "A Royal Command Performance" - America's wackiest court jester gets silly with Britain's Royal Family at London's Royal Albert Hall.
 
There's no business like funny business and no one did it better than Red, on full, hilarious display in THE RED SKLETON HOUR IN COLOR!


About Time Life
Time Life is one of the world's pre-eminent creators and direct marketers of unique music and video/DVD products, specializing in distinctive multi-media collections that evoke memories of yesterday, capture the spirit of today, and can be enjoyed for a lifetime. TIME LIFE and the TIME LIFE logo are registered trademarks of Time Warner Inc. and affiliated companies used under license by Direct Holdings Americas Inc., which is not affiliated with Time Warner Inc. or Time Inc.

PROGRAM INFORMATION

Format: DVD (22 Discs)
Running Time: 3900 minutes
Genre:  TV/Comedy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Stereo



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Thursday, October 19, 2017

SPOOKLEY THE SQUARE PUMPKIN -- Blu-ray/DVD Review by Porfle




It's funny how computer-animated cartoons that would've amazed people and won technical awards back in the 80s have become such an everyday thing now.  Still, I sometimes get a kick out of seeing one of these CGI cartoons with the colorful 3D-ish characters and elaborate backgrounds that remind me of moving Viewmaster reels.  And if the story is engaging enough, all the better.

Disney Junior's SPOOKLEY THE SQUARE PUMPKIN (Cinedigm) meets those criteria well enough for a TV production, at least for me anyway.  The characters are expressive and likable, the settings eye-pleasing, the songs enjoyable, and the story by children's book author Joe Troiano is sweet, simple, and comfortingly predictable.

It all begins when a square pumpkin is discovered in the pumpkin patch of Holiday Hill Farm.  This causes grave unrest among the more intolerant in the garden, embodied by a George-and-Lenny pair of pumpkins ("Big Tom" and "Litte Tom") joined by a weirdly umbilical-like vine and very vocal against any pumpkin who isn't properly round as they are. 


These bullies and their bigotry against anyone different from themselves form the basis for the story's lesson on acceptance, which, thankfully, doesn't pile-drive us quite as much as one might suspect. 

In fact, most of the characters, including friendly scarecrow Jack (the patch's amiable leader), brother and sister bats Boris and Bella (Boris craves bugs while Bella admonishes him for wanting to devour their sentient friends), spiders Edgar, Allan, and Poe ("With an 'E'!"), and vain beauty-queen pumpkin Bobo, are actually more-or-less pretty decent toward Spookley.

Square peg Spookley remains insecure even when his comical spider friends persuade him to enter Jack's "Jack-A-Lympics" competition to decide the Pick of the Patch (mainly so they can get their hands on the candy corn crown). 


Naturally, his unusual shape dooms his chances in each round, inviting a fair amount of thoughtless ridicule from the others.  It isn't until a raging storm hits the farm and everyone comes frighteningly close to a bad end that the little square pumpkin's shape enables him to rescue everyone.

As I said, it's all comfortingly predictable.  I must confess to not knowing just how kids these days react to this kind of stuff--I would've been entranced by it, and even now find it pleasantly watchable.   

The characters are pretty funny, and the frequent song-and-dance numbers--some with backup by Pointer Sisters-like trio "The Honey-Doos" and even a few musical ghosts--not only entertain with their clever lyrics and bouncy choreography but also come and go without outstaying their welcome. 


The 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo from Cinedigm is in standard television format with English, Spanish, and French 2.0 soundtracks and English SDH subtitles.  Extras consist of five (non-HD) video storybooks, each based on a Joe Troiano book and lasting about five minutes: The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, The Legend of Beacon the Bright Little Firefly, The Legend of JellyBean and the Unbreakable Egg, The Legend of Lyla the Lovesick Ladybug, and The Legend of Mistletoe and the Christmas Kittens. 

The first of these, "The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin", is read by none other than Bobby "Boris" Pickett of "Monster Mash" fame.  Pickett also sings the main feature's "Monster Mash"-like end titles song, "The Transylvania Twist."

SPOOKLEY THE SQUARE PUMPKIN is ideal small-scale fun for (say it with me) "kids of all ages."  The little ones won't suspect they're being taught a lesson about tolerance even as Spookley's ultimately heartwarming tale leaves them with a Jack o' Lantern smile.




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DAY OF ROMERO in Los Angeles: George Romero To Get Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame October 25, 2017




HOLLYWOOD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TO HONOR THE LATE GEORGE A. ROMERO

GODFATHER OF THE MODERN ZOMBIE FILM GENRE WITH POSTHUMOUS WALK OF FAME STAR
 

WHO:         Honoree: George A. Romero
Emcee: Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, President/CEO Leron Gubler
Guest speaker: Filmmaker Edgar Wright and special effects make-up artist/producer, Greg Nicotero.  Accepting the star on behalf of the family will be Romero’s wife Suzanne Desrocher-Romero

WHAT:       Dedication of the 2,621st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
in the category of Motion Pictures

WHERE:    6604 Hollywood Boulevard in front the Hollywood Toy & Costume Store

WHEN:      Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. PDT
Event will be live-streamed exclusively on www.walkoffame.com


The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that filmmaker George A. Romero will be honored posthumously with the 2,621st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. PDT. The star will be dedicated in the category of Motion Pictures at 6604 Hollywood Boulevard in front the Hollywood Toy & Costume Store.

“The fact that fans nominated Mr. Romero for the Walk of Fame star speaks volumes of how loved he was for his work in the horror film genre and for being the person he was. Fortunately, prior to his passing he learned that he was selected for a star, and we are saddened that he won’t be here with us for his special day,” stated Ana Martinez, Producer of the Walk of Fame.

Helping Emcee and Hollywood Chamber President/CEO Leron Gubler to unveil the star will be guest speakers: Filmmaker Edgar Wright and special effects make-up artist Greg Nicotero.  Accepting the star will be Romero’s wife Suzanne Desrocher-Romero.


The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce which administers the popular star ceremonies encourages people who are unable to attend and fans around the world to watch the event live exclusively on www.walkoffame.com.

Born on Feb. 4, 1940 in New York City, Romero became interested in filmmaking at a young age when he borrowed an 8mm camera from a wealthy uncle. Inspired by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s musical opera, “Tales of Hoffmann” (1951), Romero began making his own short films and was arrested at 14 years old after he threw a flaming dummy off the roof of a building while making “Man from the Meteor” (1954).

While attending Suffield Academy in Connecticut, Romero made two 8mm shorts, “Gorilla” (1956) and “Earth Bottom” (1956); the latter being a geology documentary that won him a Future Scientists of America award. After graduating high school, he attended Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA where he earned his Bachelor’s in Art, Theater and Design in 1960.

Romero continued making shorts such as “Curly” (1958) and graduated to 16mm films with “Slant” (1958), both of which he made with sometime collaborator Rudolph Ricci. Following work as a grip on Alfred Hitchcock's “North by Northwest” (1958), Romero shot the feature-length “Expostulations” (1962), a satirical anthology of loosely-connected shorts that showed hints of his later social consciousness.

After forming the commercial and industrial production company, Latent Image, in 1963, Romero cobbled together $114,000 in order to direct his first feature film, “Night of the Flesh Eaters.” Renamed “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) after landing a distributor, the unrelenting film - which was criticized at the time for its onscreen excesses - became a landmark cult film and significant social barometer that forever changed the horror genre.


With no heroes or redemptive meaning - only unstoppable nihilistic evil rampaging through small town America - the movie popularized the zombie apocalypse subgenre of horror, spawning numerous imitators throughout the ensuing decades.

Though decidedly cheap in production values, “Night of the Living Dead” nonetheless stood the test of time as an innovative cult film that attracted new fans every generation and became Romero’s signature work.

Romero’s other films include: “Season of the Witch,” “The Crazies, “Knight Riders,” “Creep Show,” “Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear,” “Two Evil Eyes.”

Romero secured his cult status with two remarkable films: “Martin” and “Dawn of the Dead”.   He later went on to write “Day of the Dead, the ostensible conclusion to the “Living Dead” trilogy which emerged as one Romero’s strongest horror films to date.

Romero also worked in television as the creator, co-executive producer and occasional writer of “Tales from the Dark Side.”  Romero teamed up with Stephen King again for his adaptation of King’s novel, “The Dark Half.”

In 2004, Romero returned to familiar territory with “Land of the Dead,” a continuation of his zombie franchise long thought to be finished with “Day of the Dead.” This time, however, Romero increased the energy with a fast-paced actioner that was not shy on the gore and violence, pleasing both fans and the uninitiated. “Land of the Dead” ended up being one of the best reviewed films of the 2005 summer!

He continued his zombie revitalization with “Diary of the Dead,” which was more of a reboot than a sequel to the other four movies in the “Dead” series. He then made the sixth in the series, “Survival of the Dead” (2010), which saw the inhabitants of an isolated island off the coast of North America conflicted whether to kill their own relatives rising from the grave, or try to find a cure. Romero’s “Dead” films continue to inspire such hits as “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) and “Zombieland” (2009).

In 2013, Romero’s “Empire of the Dead” was announced by Marvel Comics. It was a 15-issue limited comic book series which began publication in 2014, and ended in late 2015. “Empire” features zombies similar to those in his “Living Dead” film series, but differs slightly because vampires are also part of the story.
Dubbed the “Godfather of Zombie Films,” George A. Romero was a pivotal figure in the development of the contemporary horror film and the progenitor of the zombie apocalypse subgenre.
Filmmakers who consider Romero as one of their influences include Frank Darabont, Guillermo Del Toro, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino to name just few!

Sadly, Romero passed away on July 16, 2017 from a brief, but aggressive battle with lung cancer. He slipped away listening to the score of “The Quite Man,” one of his all-time favorite films, with his family by his side. He leaves behind a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time!



ABOUT THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME www.WalkOfFame.com
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is an internationally-recognized Hollywood icon. With approximately 24 star ceremonies annually broadcast around the world, the constant reinforcement provided to the public has made the Walk of Fame a top visitor attraction. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce continues to add stars on the Walk of Fame as the representative of the City of Los Angeles. The Walk of Fame is a tribute to all of those who worked diligently to develop the concept and to maintain this world-class tourist attraction. The Walk of Fame is open to the public. No paid admission or assigned seating at star ceremonies. It is understood that the cost of installing a star on the Walk of Fame upon approval is $40,000 and the sponsor of the nominee accepts the responsibility for arranging for payment to the Hollywood Historic Trust, a 501(c)3 charitable foundation. The funds are used to pay for the creation/installation of the star and ceremony, as well as maintenance of the Walk of Fame. Download the official app for iPhones and Android devices at http://officialhollywoodwalkoffameapp.com

For more than 96 years, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has provided leadership, business development resources, networking, and government affairs programs and services to keep the Hollywood business and residential communities safe, relevant and economically vital. Jeff Zarrinnam, is the Chair of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors 2017-18, and Leron Gubler is the President/CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. For more information please visit www.hollywoodchamber.net.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Sign are registered trademarks of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
#hollywoodwalkoffame   #wofstargirl



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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

RED CHRISTMAS -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle



We reviewed a barebones advance screener for RED CHRISTMAS back in August (see below) but today (October 17) it comes out on Blu-ray from Artsploitation Films and we've gotten the opportunity to take a gander at it. 

This seasonal slash-em-up is about a highly dysfunctional family (with America's sweetheart, Dee Wallace, as the harried matriarch) getting together like oil and water for an unconventional Christmas celebration with a surprise guest--Cletus, Mom's aborted fetus that survived, grew up, got real crazy, and is now out for either familial love or ruthless revenge, whichever comes first.

Needless to say, it's a raucous affair that serves to bring the disparate family members together at last, even as they're getting picked off one by one.


As for the Blu-ray--not only does it look and sound good enough to put you right in the Christmas spirit, but there are some lovely extras as well.  First up is director Craig Anderson's informal interview with a charming Dee Wallace, who manages to melt our hearts all over again as she speaks of working not only on this film but her previous classics (E.T., THE HOWLING, 10, etc.) as well. 

Next, Anderson and actor Sam Campbell ("Cletus") pop over to Gerald Odwyer's house to chat with him about his experiences playing "Gerry."  Again, it's all pleasantly casual and amusing, as well as informative.

Lastly comes a blooper reel, deleted scene, and brief clip of Odwyer and Anderson goofing around.  The latter two also handle the film's commentary, which is very scene-specific and enlightening.


The Blu-ray is in 2.25:1 widescreen with 5.1 surround sound.  English subtitles and closed-captions are available.

And now, here's our original review of the film itself:

A movie that might also have been called "When Abortions Attack!", RED CHRISTMAS (Artsploitation Films, 2016) is a pretty effective cautionary tale about what can happen if your viable aborted fetus is rescued by the guy who's about to blow up the abortion clinic, grows up into a twisted, deformed freak, and then returns as an adult on Christmas Day to wreak bloody revenge on his erstwhile mother and her comically dysfunctional family. 

Of course, any such film must star beloved genre queen Dee Wallace as the mom, who so desperately wants a traditional, happy family get-together despite having a woefully untraditional, unhappy family with absolutely no intention of getting together.  Her only solace is son Jerry (Gerard Odwyer), whose Downs Syndrome only makes him more special in Mommy's heart.

The rest of the clan includes the rebellious teen girl, her witheringly cynical and very, very pregnant older sister, the ultra-religious sister whose husband is a pious man of the cloth, and Mom's old-hippie brother who is forever puffing away on his medicinal marijuana. 


The prickly interactions amongst this motley bunch, spurred by various family issues and clashing personalities, would be sufficient for a twisted "Big Chill" sort of ensemble dramedy were it not for the fact that their ritual of exchanging gifts around the Christmas tree is interrupted by the entrance of one Cletus, an extremely creepy figure robed in black and wrapped from head to toe like a leper. 

Anyone who watches the abortion clinic prologue and then gets a load of Cletus should have very little trouble putting two and two together as well as mentally mapping out pretty much what territory the rest of RED CHRISTMAS is going to cover. 

All that's left to discover is who's gonna die in what order, how (and how bad) it's going to be, and whether or not first-time writer-director Craig Anderson will be able to make it entertaining for us jaded old slasher-flick junkies. 

Of course, the movie has already proven itself absorbing and fun thanks to good dialogue and performances and a pleasing overall look which includes nicely creative use of color and camera movement. 


Once the axe hits the skull and Cletus starts racking up his body count, the story goes into high gear and keeps us on our toes even though most of the plot's twists and turns cover pretty familiar ground. 
Granted, things start to lag a bit in the second half, but remain generally engaging enough to keep us wanting to see what happens next.  The kills range from teasing glimpses to graphic gore (although this isn't really a gorehound's dream) while our fleeting glimpse of Cletus sans facial bandages drives home the pleasingly retro nature of the film's practical effects. 

The tone is mock serious, with any humor that's inherent in the script kept utterly deadpan and never overt, which I like.  I also like the fact that the premise is so refreshingly different from the usual teens-in-a-cabin or campers-in-the-woods slasher fare while retaining the better elements of such films.

Mainly, though, RED CHRISTMAS lets us enjoy watching the wonderful Dee Wallace giving her all in a great role while fun and entertaining murder, mayhem, and carnage ensue all around her.  It's enough to give horror fans a little taste of Christmas right here in the middle of August.
 

Buy it at Amazon.com:
Blu-ray
DVD


Red Christmas (Official Trailer)





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Monday, October 16, 2017

BEYOND THE SEVENTH DOOR -- DVD Review by Porfle




You never know how a "cult" film is going to strike you.  Will you get caught up in whatever its many devoted fans see in it?  Or will its dubious appeal pass you by completely, making it seem to you like just another cheap piece of dreck? 

The 1987 Canuxploitation thriller (well, sorta) BEYOND THE SEVENTH DOOR hits me about halfway between the two extremes.  I found it entertaining enough for a low-budget effort but I'm not quite moved to go out into the street singing its praises. 

The best thing I can say is that there's plenty of fun to be had for those who appreciate fair-to-bad movies, especially ones that fully and imaginatively utilize their severely limited resources.
 

Serbian writer-director Bozidar D. Benedikt (THE GRAVEYARD STORY) has certainly done so, piecing together various ideal found locations to concoct nothing less than a small-scale subterranean puzzle-maze adventure. 

Ex-con Boris (Serbian actor Lazar Rockwood, THE RETURN) looks up his old girlfriend and former robbery partner Wendy (Bonnie Beck, CITY IN PANIC) and presents her with a proposition: help him get into the castle of the rich old guy Wendy works for so that they can try to find the treasure he's said to be hoarding somewhere within its walls. 

She's hesitant at first, but--long story short--they end up going through with the plan after she's cased the joint, made copies of certain keys, and figured out that the most likely location for a hidden treasure is behind that big locked door in the basement. 


Once they go through it, however, they've just initiated an automated security system (actually more of a game-playing ordeal for the old man's amusement) that will have them scrambling to decipher clues to get them from one room to the next lest they perish in one of a series of diabolical death traps. 

The old man's recorded voice, heard intermittently over a speaker system, promises that if they make it to the end they can keep whatever they find, but as the night wears on and the traps become more and more deadly, this seems unlikely. 

Of course, it all plays like a poor man's version of similar quests in such films as INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE and NATIONAL TREASURE.  But since BEYOND THE SEVENTH DOOR is operating on a budget less than what those films spent on Evian water, it's interesting to watch just what kind of brain-teasing labyrinth of mystery director Benedikt and his crew have been able to come up with.


Like other such stories, it's sort of a condensed version of a cliffhanger serial with each scene building to some impending-doom situation--spikes descending from the ceiling, a sealed room slowly filling with water, walls closing in, etc.--which, while not all that terribly thrilling, manages to keep us interested.

But what really holds our attention is watching the two leads wildly emoting their way through it all, their performances none too polished but brimming with energy.  Pretty Bonnie Beck is capable enough, especially in the quieter scenes, while lanky, angular-looking Lazar Rockwood tends to go off like a bottle rocket every few moments, his performance often resembling one of those manic characters Martin Short is known for.

Both manage to shed some of their clothes along the way as Wendy rips her dress down to her stockings and garters trying to plug up some water-gushing holes in the wall and Boris, to my personal dismay, somehow loses his shirt. 


A sudden, fitful sex scene between the two comes on like a steam-valve burst of nervous energy but mercifully fades out before we go blind, and, without much further ado, the movie sweeps us along toward that 7th door and its final, life-or-death dilemma.

The DVD from Intervision is in 1.33:1 full frame with Dolby sound.  No subtitles. Extras include interviews with Benedikt and Rockwood (and Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com), the featurette "The King of Cayenne" about eccentric street personality Ben Kerr (who plays a corpse in the film), and an entertaining audio commentary with Benedikt, Rockwood, and Corupe.

After pleasantly stringing us along for the better part of an hour and a half, BEYOND THE SEVENTH DOOR ends with a rather nifty, and nasty, plot twist that had me feeling pretty satisfied about the whole thing.  I may not become part of the film's cult, but I can sort of understand why there is one.


Buy it at Severin Films

Release date: October 31, 2017







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