Rupert Pupkin Speaks

Monday, October 5, 2015


THE MIGHTY QUINN (1989; Carl Schenkel)
There's not much arguing that Denzel Washington is one of our greatest actors. He's a pro like nobody's business and takes his craft quite seriously as evidenced in countless outstanding performances. I honestly can't think of a movie wherein he was not good. He is something else. He's so good, it really makes you wanna go back through his early work and look for some gems. THE MIGHTY QUINN is just such a gem and it was relegated to realm of movies that few outside of video store employees knew about until not that long ago. The store I used to work it had this movie on VHS and I must have passed by it fifty times before I finally too it home. I was glad I did. Pretty sure one of my other co-workers recommended it and it became something of an in-store favorite for a time. It features Denzel as the chief of police on an unnamed Carribean Island and really early he finds himself investigating a rare local homicide. When he feels himself being strong armed by some wealthy and powerful politcals, he pushes back and does his best to sort out the crime. The local bureaucracy wants him to close the case and arrest one of his oldest friends, a local small-time criminal (Robert Townsend), but the evidence is circumstantial at best and there doesn't seem to be much of a motive. This is a neat little "sunshine noir" type movie with a complicate conspiracy at the center. It's neat to see this kind of labyrinthine mystery played out in mostly-sunny, tropical locale. The script is by Hampton Fancher (who also wrote BLADE RUNNER) and the cast has some cool folks like M. Emmet Walsh and Mimi Rogers. Apparently Roger Ebert was a huge champion of this film back when it came out and called it one of the best films of 1989. That's the only critical praise I've come across though I'm sure there was more, but the film is still as yet to be uncovered by a larger audience. Hats of to Olive Films for digging it up. This Blu-ray looks nice.
THE MIGHTY QUINN can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

SLAUGHTER (1972; Jack Starrett)
Quentin Tarantino has made it well-known that he is a big fan of Jack Starrett. He has cited Starrett's film THE GRAVY TRAIN (aka THE DION BROTHERS) as a personal favorite on more than one occasion and has screening it along with Starrett's 1976 films HOLLYWOOD MAN and A SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS. I know he likes Starrett's films in general though, especially his biker movies and I would think also Blaxploitation efforts like SLAUGHTER. SLAUGHTER is one of the more high-profile films that Starrett ever did (along with CLEOPATRA JONES) and it's one of Jim Brown's better films from this period. It's kind of like a male version of COFFY meets James Bond. Jim Brown plays the titular Slaughter and after his father is killed by a notorious mobster (Rip Torn), he makes it his life's mission to avenge the death. Slaughter is wrangled by a U.S. Treasury agent (Cameron Mitchell) to help get the mobster and he complies and is sent down to South America to track him down. While there he meets the lovely Ann (played by Stella Stevens). What follows is lots of fighting and shooting and stuff. Jim Brown is a solid badass as this character and would go on to make an even more outlandish sequel called SLAUGHTER'S BIG RIPOFF (which features a truly nutty Ed McMahon as the bad guy). SLAUGHTER looks good on Blu-ray and is probably a must for Blaxploitation fans. 

SLAUGHTER can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

BLACK CAESAR (1973; Larry Cohen)
Fred Wiliamson has become a remarkably prolific actor. With over 100 films to his credit, he has a bunch still coming out soon enough. Though he had some success with a few earlier films, BLACK CAESAR was a pretty big one for him. This movie was also a big deal for director Larry Cohen and American International Pictures. Cohen had put out his still very interesting film BONE (with Yaphet Kotto) in 1972, but BLACK CAESAR really put him on the map as a director. He would follow it up with a sequel (HELL UP IN HARLEM) at the end of that very same year. Cohen would then move on to more horror genre fare (the IT'S ALIVE movies, Q) but would make some other interesting thriller type movies later in the 1970s. Just to give a little context, BLACK CAESAR came out in 1973 and this was post SHAFT, SWEET SWEETBACK'S BADASS SONG, SUPER FLY, SLAUGHTER and BLACULA. Fred Williamson had starred in HAMMER in 1972 which was also among those earlier entries in the genre (and also came out on Blu-ray via Olive Films this year by the way), but BLACK CAESAR was like his GODFATHER (albeit a grindhouse/drive-in type GODFATHER). The tagline was even "Godfather of Harlem!". The early 70s was a very fertile time for black cinema in general and seeing another extremely powerful and tough character like this was understandably popular. Tommy Gibbs (Fred Williamson) in BLACK CAESAR is ruthless and will stop at nothing to climb to the top of the proverbial heap. He's an evil kickass dude to be sure. On top of all that, and certainly a factor in BLACK CAESAR's popularity was its excellent soundtrack done by the Godfather of Soul himself James Brown.

BLACK CAESAR can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Twilight Time - 10 TO MIDNIGHT and AT CLOSE RANGE on Blu-ray

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983; J. Lee Thompson)
It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the guy who directed THE GUNS OF NAVARONE and the original CAPE FEAR back to back is also the guy responsible for this Cannon Films sleaze classic. This is not to comment in any way on the quality of 10 TO MIDNIGHT, because let's just get this out of the way - I love it. I love it more than I love either GUNS or FEAR by quite a bit. Not that I don't have a good deal of reverence for those two classics, but 10 TO MIDNIGHT just has a lot that I adore. It has Charles Bronson for one thing and an older Charles Bronson at that (he was actually about 62 when this came out). I have a great deal of affection for older Charles Bronson and this has a good deal to do with DEATH WISH 3. I can't exactly recall if I saw all the DEATH WISH films in order, but I do know for sure that I had a taped-off-TBS version of DEATH WISH III and I watched it over and over and over when I was a youth. I love that movie with a passion to this very day. I came to it at the tail end of my fascination with American action heroes like Eastwood, Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. I got into Bronson along the way too and DEATH WISH III was one of the first films of his I saw. It was a relatively mind-blowing experience to me at the time. Not that I'm trying to say that the film is any kind of masterpiece, but it was just a lesson to me in how far out and crazy a movie could be. Wait, you can shoot a huge hole in a purse-snatching gang member with your gigantic (and basically illegal) elephant gun in the form of a handgun? You can blow a guy out of an apartment building with a small bazooka? I'd seen some wild stuff in my day to that point, but never anything quite as evil and violent as that. So basically, I was hooked. Bronson became even a bigger deal to me and I started making darn sure I'd seen everything he'd ever done. 10 TO MIDNIGHT was one of his entries that I came to a little later and it grabbed me in a similar way to DEATH WISH III in that is was just bananas. I would later drawn the line between these two Cannon Films production and see clearly how they both were obviously coming from a similar special place.
I find it interesting as, I mentioned before, that J. Lee Thompson directed this movie. I kinda love that the man's career could span as long as it did and be littered with interesting genre diversions from this to the two PLANET OF THE APES movies that he directed. He also did the solid but underrated REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD and that needs a proper Blu-ray release pronto. Anyway, I just love the variety that the dude had and this film represents basically one of only a couple horror films he made in his career. Speaking of interesting stuff, it should be mentioned that in 1981 Thompson directed one of the great slasher movies of the 1980s in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. Talk about range! So 10 TO MIDNIGHT, though more in the erotic thriller vein is certainly easy to lump into the slasher category. Basically there is a twisted killer on the loose and he's cutting up ladies. Bronson plays an old, cranky cop with a young partner (Andrew Stevens) who is investigating the murders and things end up getting a little personal. I won't go too much further than that, but suffice it to say that you need to see this movie. Genre folks, I must urge you to seek it out if you haven't. It really is a Charles Bronson slasher movie put out by Cannon Films and it is as amazing and worthwhile as that sounds.
Highly recommended is this very recent episode of the KILLER POV podcast (a favorite of mine) which features a lovely interview with Twilight Time's own Nick Redman:
This is actually Nick's second appearance on the show (he came on about this time in 2014 as well) and I always enjoy hearing him talk about films and his excellent label TT. I was somewhat disappointed to hear him say that 10 TO MIDNIGHT, despite having a significant chuck of fans has not sold all that well for them. If you haven't seen this movie and you are a genre fan, I urge you to think about it. It is pretty outstanding. For another nice podcast to encourage you to buy the movie, check out this cool episode of Junkfood Cinema from earlier this year:
Supplements on this disc include an Isolated Score Track (with some effects) and Audio Commentary with Producer Pancho Kohner, Casting Director John Crowther, and Film Historian David Del Valle. Del Valle interestingly has a significant amount of screen time in Mark Hartley's (NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD) most recent documentary effort - ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS.
10 TO MIDNIGHT can be purchased on Blu-ray from Twilight Time's site here:

In case you missed it somehow, Sean Pean has made a crap-ton of good movies in his many years as an actor. As you might expect, some of them are more well-remembered than others. Everybody knows him as Jeff Spicoli from FAST TIMES, but fewer recall his extremely sharp turn as Mick O'Brien in BAD BOYS. Fewer still have seen he and Nic Cage so good together in RACING WITH THE MOON. Such are the pitfalls of a long, illustrious career. People can't remember all of them, even the good ones (and both BAD BOYS and RACING WITH THE MOON are very good by the way). I know I talk broach this topic a lot on this site, but it's just kinda my thing and more or less the mission statement of Rupert Pupkin Speaks in general. I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to talk your ear off about some movie you haven't seen in forever and could probably benefit from a revisit. Well AT CLOSE RANGE is another one of those films. It is truly fantastic and I couldn't be more pleased to get it an nice Blu-ray release like this.
It's a really an interesting mix of story elements. I'd describe it as one part small-town coming of age romance and one part Michael Mann's THIEF. If that summary intrigues, it should. This is seriously a good little movie. Part of the reason it's so good obviously has to do with Sean Penn who is his usual big bucket of awesome in it. Another piece of its greatness is all about Christopher Walken. This movie is truly one of my very favorite performances from Walken and he's a guy whose has his share if great go-rounds. Penn plays a rural youngster who finds his estranged father re-entering his life unexpectedly. He is of course interested in his dad and comes to spend some time with him and discover that he is a career thief. Being it's the countryside, his dad does a lot if stealing tractors and whatnot, but Penn's character gets sucked in nonetheless. At the same time as all this is going on, he meets a girl (Mary Stuart Masterson) and falls hard for her. As you can imagine, these two plot lines don't mix together too nearly and this the resulting drama ensues. I love stories about blue collar criminals. This film (based on a true story) truly depicts the lifestyle in a down and dirty, realistic kind of way that makes it feel like a legitimate peek into that world. It's not unlike director James Foley's other film GLEN GARRY GLEN ROSS and how it gives a look into the world of real estate. 
Walken is truly revelatory in this movie. He is uncannily charismatic, but at once very frightening. He is warm to his son, but understandably untrusting, paranoid and ready to deal with people who threaten his livelihood in whatever way is necessary. At one point he gives Sean Penn a very haunting, inquisitive look and then raises a finger to his lips. It is such a powerful gesture in the context of the scene and a very unforgettable one. Rarely have I seen such a perfectly pitched realization of a tricky character.
There is a stellar ensemble around Penn and Walken though and it really elevates the whole affair. Other cast includes Candy Clark, Millie Perkins, David Straithairn, Stephen Geoffreys, Crispin Glover, Keiffer Sutherland, and the "Plate of shrimp" guy from REPO MAN.
I have an odd connection to the music in this movie. You see, the score is crafted around the Madonna song, "Live to Tell"  and bits of that tune can be heard here and there throughout. When I was in high school, my sisters were obsessed with Madonna's IMMACULATE COLLECTION cd and they played it constantly. It was a mainstay in the mornings before school. So as a result I heard those songs ad nauseum and though "Live to Tell" wasn't as popular with them as say "La Isla Bonita", I came to know it well and this was before I ever saw AT CLOSE RANGE. It's a good song though and I appreciate it a lot more now than I did 20 years ago. It slots nicely into the film.
Special features on this disc: 
-An Audio Commentary with Director James Foley and Nick Redman. I liked this commentary quite a bit. Big recommend.-Isolated Score Track 

AT CLOSE RANGE can be purchased on Blu-ray from Twilight Time here:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Flicker Alley - Masterworks of Avante-Garde Experimental Film 1920-1970 on Blu-ray

Masterworks of Avante-Garde Experimental Film 1920-1970
As a general rule I'm pretty anti-experimental film. I took a 16mm film production class in college and one of the girls in my class made an experimental black-and-white film in black and white with German poetry read over top that sort of did me in for that kind of movie. Now all I can think of is the movie that Illeana Douglas' character shows her class in GHOST WORLD:
Now I realize that not all experimental filmmakers are like this character, but I sometimes have to shake off that impression before diving back in. Every once in a while I feel like expanding my horizons a little bit and I open myself up again to this sort of thing again and I honestly don't ever regret it. Watching experimental cinema is a nice pallet cleanser for those of us constantly knee-deep in narrative movies. It is obvious to say, but it feels like going to a museum and looking at the paintings and sculpture there and allowing it to fill up your mind with whatever it conjures. I really do feel that everyone should go to a museum at least once a month if not more to give their brains something different to process for a little while. I don't practice this with regularity at the moment, but I am always trying to make it into a proper habit. Avante-Garde and Experimental films can be truly mesmerizing if you let go the pre-conceived notions you may have about the pretension that may or may not be connected to the filmmaker's intentions. This 418-minute program of films is quite a package to behold. I had to digest the nearly seven hours of content over a week and several nights. One neat thing about this sort of collection is that it is easy to watch in chunks. I actually found it quite soothing after a long day at work to come home and put on this set and allow it to take over my brain for a little while. There are 37 films included in this new set and I've taken the liberty of listing them all below (from Flicker Alley's site). It's an excellent mix stuff , some of it weird and some just beautiful.
If you are unfamiliar with Flicker Alley, you should really get to know them. They are a great little company who are constantly putting out interesting and important cinema. They've done Chaplin collections (and have a new one due out in November) and most recently an great set of rare 3D Short films that I highly recommend.Find out More about them here:
Flicker Alley releases make great gifts for the Criteion Collection fan, and compliment their Stan Brakhage Collections especially well.

Below is a much lower quality version of the short film MANHATTA by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand. It is a lovely tribute to New York city with a somewhat tense piano score and intertitles featuring a poem from Walt Whitman.

This Set can be purchased here:

Films included in this Collection:

The 1920s

Manhatta (1920-21) by Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand
2K digital restoration from 35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 16fps, 11:41 minutes; new music by Donald Sosin

Ballet Mechanique (1923-24) by Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy
2K digital restoration from 35mm 1.33:1 black & white with color tints silent 20fps, 15:53 minutes; music by George Antheil from original 1924-25 score adapted and arranged by Paul D. Lehrman and remixed by Gustavo Matamoros

Anémic cinéma (filmed 1924-25, released 1926) by Rrose Sélavy a.k.a. Marcel Duchamp
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 20fps, 6:40 minutes; new music by Gustavo Matamoros

The Life and Death of 9413–A Hollywood Extra (1927) by Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 20fps, 13:20 minutes; new music by Donald Sosin

Skyscraper Symphony (1929) by Robert Florey
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 24fps, 8:53 minutes; new music by Donald Sosin

The 1930s

Mechanical Principles (1930) by Ralph Steiner
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 20fps, 10:18 minutes; new music by Eric Beheim

A Bronx Morning (1931) by Jay Leyda
35mm 1.33:1 black & white silent 20fps, 14:05 minutes; new music by Donald Sosin

Lot in Sodom (1930-32, released 1933) by J.S. Watson, Jr., Melville Webber, Alec Wilder, Remsen Wood, Bernard O’Brien.
35mm 1:20:1 black & white sound, 25:53 minutes; music by Louis Siegel

Poem 8 (1932-33) by Emlen Etting
16mm 1.37:1 black & white silent 18fps, 19:40 minutes; new music by Rodney Sauer

An Optical Poem
(1937, MGM release 1938) by Oskar Fischinger
35mm 1.33:1 color sound, 7:02 minutes; music Hungarian Rhapsody, No. 2 by Franz Liszt

Thimble Theater (c. 1938, unfinished until 1968) by Joseph Cornell
16mm 1.37:1 black & white with color tint silent 18fps, 6:07 minutes; completed by Lawrence Jordan; new music:
vintage circus organ

The 1940s

Tarantella (1940) by Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth, animation Norman McLaren
35mm 1.37:1 color sound, 4:24 minutes; music by Edwin Gerschefski

The Pursuit of Happiness (1940) by Rudy Burckhardt
16mm 1.37:1 black & white intentionally silent 16fps, 8:09 minutes

1941 (1941) by Francis Lee
35mm from 16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 4 minutes; music by Igor Stravinsky

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) by Maya Deren, A. Hackenschmied
16mm 1.37:1 black & white intentionally silent, 13:46 minutes

Meditation on Violence (1948) by Maya Deren
35mm enlarged from 16mm with 2K digital insert from 16mm 1.37:1 black & white sound, 12:27 minutes; music a mix of Chinese classical flute and drums recorded in Haiti by Maya Deren

In the Street (filmed 1945-46, released 1948, 1952) by Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb, James Agee.
16mm 1.37:1 black & white silent 18fps, 16:50 minutes; music by Arthur Kleiner

The 1950s

Four in the Afternoon (1950-51) by James Broughton
16mm 1.37:1 black & white sound, 14 minutes; music by William O. Smith

Abstronic (1952) by Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth
35mm 1.37:1 color sound, 5:45 minutes; music Hoe Down by Aaron Copland, Ranch House Party by Don Gillis

Eaux d’artifice (1953) by Kenneth Anger
16mm 1.37:1 black & white tinted color sound, 12:57 minutes; music “Winter” movement of The Four Seasons by
Antonio Vivaldi

Bells of Atlantis (1952-53) by Ian Hugo, Anaïs Nin, Len Lye
16mm 1.37.1 color sound, 9:27 minutes; electronic music Louis & Bebe Barron.

Evolution (1954) by Jim Davis
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 8:01 minutes.

Gyromorphosis (1954) by Hy Hirsh
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 6:40 minutes; music: Django by John Lewis, played by the Modern Jazz Quartet

Hurry, Hurry! (1957)
by Marie Menken
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 4:27 minutes.

N.Y., N.Y. (filmed 1949-57, released 1958) by Francis Thompson
35mm from 16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 15:10 minutes; music by Gene Forrell

The 1960s

9 Variations on a Dance Theme (1966/67) by Hilary Harri
16mm 1.37 black & white sound, 12:39 minutes; music by McNeil Robinson.

Castro Street (The Coming of Consciousness) (1966) by Bruce Baillie
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 9:59 minutes

Film That Rises to the Surface of Clarified Butter (1968) by Owen Land, formerly George Landow
16mm 1.37:1 black & white sound, 8:26 minutes

Excerpt from Walden: Diaries, Notes and Sketches (1969) by Jonas Mekas
16mm 1.37:1; color sound excerpt end of Reel 5 and beginning of Reel 6, 13:05 minutes; music by Frédéric Chopin, Group Image

Our Lady of the Sphere (1969) by Lawrence Jordan
35mm from 16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 9:14 minutes


Love It / Leave It (1970) by Tom Palazzolo
16mm 1.37:1; color sound, 14:07 minutes; music by Ray Whilding White

DL2 (Disintegration Line #2) (1970) by Lawrence Janiak
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 11:46 minutes; music Bumblebees Sip Honey by Peliatan Gamelan

Transport (1970) by Amy Greenfield
16mm 1.37:1 color sound, 5:43 minutes; music by Indiran

Legacy Bonus Films

Curator’s Carte Blanche
Sappho and Jerry, Parts 1-3 (1977-78) by Bruce Posner
35mm 2.55:1 reformatted to 1080 color sound, 5:35 minutes

Ch’an (1983) by Francis Lee
16mm 1.37 black & white sound, 6:08 minutes; music by Christopher Atwood

Seasons… (2002) by Phil Solomon, Stan Brakhage
16mm 1.37:1 color silent, 16:00 minutes

Manhatta (1920-21) by Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand
See first entry – new music composed and performed by Henry Wolfe and Phil Carluzzo.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Underrated '55 - Silver Screenings

R.A. Kerr is a classic movie blogger at She believes classic movies are good for you, like expensive chocolate or a trip to the spa.
5. The Man with the Golden Arm (1955; Otto Preminger)
If someone tells you Frank Sinatra can’t act, then you need to (A) smack them up the back of the head, and (B) tell them to watch The Man with the Golden Arm. This is one of the first Hollywood films to examine drug addiction, and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Sinatra.

4. The Tender Trap (1955; Charles Walters)
Yes, this romantic comedy is hokey and packed full of retro 1950s zeitgeist, but it has a timeless message about committed relationships. It also offers some very funny lines and gorgeous Helen Rose costumes. Scene-stealingCeleste Holm is one of the best things about this film; she alone is worth the price of admission.

3. One Froggy Evening (1955; Chuck Jones)
When a labourer on a demolition site discovers a live,singing frog in a time capsule, he thinks he’ll become fabulously wealthyInstead, the frog becomes the man’s ruin. This is an amusing and philosophical study in Knowing When To Quit. One Froggy Evening has been one of our favourite cartoons since childhood.

2. To Catch a Thief (1955; Alfred Hitchcock)
We feel this is one of Hitchcock’s most stylish films, a thriller bathed in the golden sun of the RivieraCary Grant, a former jewel thief, is the main suspect in some high-profile robberies. But with Edith Head’s stunning costumes and the palpable chemistry between Grant and Grace Kelly, who needs a plot?

1. Marty (1955; Delbert Mann)
We cannot say enough about Marty, the film that won four Oscars including Best Picture. Ernest Borgnine stars as agenerous, hard-working butcher who is unlucky in love – until he meets a lonely schoolteacher (Betsy Blair)Martyis a pared-down, unglamorous film that will make you cheer.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Scream Factory - THE SENTINEL on Blu-ray

THE SENTINEL (1977; Michael Winner)
If you've ever asked yourself the question,"Would I live in a super creepy old apartment building if I could occasional go to birthday parties for a very flamboyant Burgess Meredith and his cat?" then this movie has the answer for you. Horror movies in the 1970s gave themselves license to be weird in a whole different way than they can be weird now. For one thing, 70s films weren't afraid to cast unattractive people and that adds a lot of character. A good oddball looking actor can bring this extra level of eerie to a scene for sure. One of the things I love about THE SENTINEL is that it has one of those absolutely epic casts, very much along the lines of the 70s disaster films, but it's a horror movie so that makes it more of an anomaly. So first of you have the aforementioned Burgess Meredith who is just a delight in every movie he's ever been in. Love him to death. Then you have Chris Sarandon of FRIGHT NIGHT fame and his girlfriend played by Christina Raines. The rest of the deluxe cast includes Arthur Kennedy, Ava Gardner, Eli Wallach, Deborah Raffin (who I've had a longstanding crush on), Christopher Walken, Jose Ferrer, Martin Balsam, Sylvia Miles, John Carradine, Beverly D'Angelo, and WIlliam Hickey. Jerry Orbach has a quick bit as a grumpy commercial director. The movie even has a small part for a strangely dubbed Jeff Goldblum as a photographer. The cast is a big selling point, but so is director Michael Winner (for me). Though reputed to have been something of a difficult man to work with in some cases, he was still able to be quite prolific and crank out a ton of interesting films. Though most well-know for his DEATH WISH movies with Charles Bronson, he did so much more than that. Even his other Bronson films are sometimes forgotten, though THE MECHANIC is one of Bronson's best. He also made some interesting stuff with Oliver Reed in the 1960s and THE NIGHTCOMERS with Brando in the 70s. He had quite a varied filmography, but one thing he didn't do much of was horror films. THE SENTINEL was basically it (except for the amazingly nutty thriller SCREAM FOR HELP that he made in 1984). Winner brings some oddball touches to this movie and it is still genuinely creepy in parts even now. Makes me wish he'd done more like it.
The last thing I always remember about THE SENTINEL is that it's mentioned specifically in one of my favorite movies. That movie is Joe Dante's film THE 'BURBS. In THE 'BURBS, Corey Feldman's character has a short little monologue about it and thus THE SENTINEL has become inexorably tied to it and has always had a place in my consciousness because of that. 
I know this movie is a favorite of Scream Factory's own Jeff Nelson as he was kind enough to to an underrated horror films list for me back in 2013 and he included it there. Very pleased to see that his passion for the film helped us get a nice Blu-ray of it and I'm grateful to Scream for putting it out. 

Special Features:
Though not a Scream Factory Collector's Edition, this disc has some nice features nonetheless. First off, the transfer is a new one from the Interpositive.-An Audio Commentary With Writer/Producer/Director Michael Winner. Winner passed away in 2013, so this is an older track, but it's very good. He's a very talky fellow and has a very humorous and jovial way about him on this track. He is very honest about his memories of the making of the film, the actors and even goes into personal asides (like how he had an one-night-stand with one of the extras at the time). He is a real character and it's an enjoyable listen for sure.
There are also a couple newly recorded Audio Commentaries included: One With Actress Cristina Raines  and another With Writer/Producer Jeffrey Konvitz. Between all three of these tracks, there is a whole lot to be learned about THE SENTINEL.
Also included on the disc is a new on-camera Interview With Assistant Director Ralph S. Singleton (23 mins).

THE SENTINEL can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New Release Roundup - September 29th, 2015

TWICE UPON A TIME DVD (Warner Archive)


CHRISTINE Blu-ray (Sony)

COP CAR Blu-ray (Universal)

MAN WITH THE GUN Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)

YOUNG BILLY YOUNG Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)

THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)

SAVAGE WEEKEND Blu-ray (Scorpion Releasing/Kino Lorber)

A ROOM WITH A VIEW Blu-ray (Criterion)

SPY Blu-ray (Fox)

Monday, September 28, 2015


MANNEQUIN TWO: ON THE MOVE (1991; Stewart Raffill)
There were many goofy franchises in the 1980s. I'm a fan of most of them. That said, it seems to me that MANNEQUIN TWO: ON THE MOVE gets a pretty bad rap amongst the lot. Let's not forget that made a sequel to THE JERK (sure, for TV but still...) if we really think this movie is so bad. I for one find it pretty adorable. With William Ragsdale and Kristy Swanson as the romantic leads, how can you go wrong? Ragsdale has charmed us in both FRIGHT NIGHT and HERMAN'S HEAD and he's delightful here. Swanson is THE DEADLY FRIEND and the original BUFFY THE VAMPIRE! It's a match made in heaven. For this follow up to the 1986 hit film (which I saw for the first time at a drive-in by the way), the creatives behind it have bumped up the initial timeline from Ancient Egypt to Medieval Times. A prince (Ragsdale) falls for a peasant girl (Swanson) and when his mom the queen catches them, she has her magician guy (Bernie from WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S) cast a spell on her that keeps her frozen as a mannequin for one thousand years. Roughly one thousand years later, (again Ragsdale), is on his way to a new department store job (after a killer opening title song that rivals the one in THREE O'CLOCK HIGH) where his is assigned as assistant to Hollywood (Meshach Taylor) who is still an artiste extraordinaire. One thing leads to another, Ragsdale meets the mannequin, discovers he's the ancestor of the prince and so on and so forth. Sweet right? Well it is and I am not ashamed that I enjoy it. 
Part of this movie's bad reputation may come in part from director Stewart Raffill's somewhat questionable legacy. Some of his other work include things like STANDING OVATION, MAC AND ME, THE ICE PIRATES and TAMMY AND THE T-REX. I happen to enjoy most of these and actually really like his movie THE SEA GYPSIES, but I can see how perhaps folks might think he makes movies that others find less than great. My point here though is that MANNEQUIN TWO deserves some re-evaluation. Check out this MANNEQUIN-centric podcast episode from my friends over at Married with Clickers for a lovely discussion of the film's merits:
MANNEQUIN TWO: ON THE MOVE can be purchased on Blu-ray here:
DIRTY WORK (1998; Bob Saget)
Of all the silly films that grew out of Saturday Night Live, DIRTY WORK is easily one of my favorites. Norm MacDonald was one of those guys that I didn't fully "get" at first. His style and cadence on Weekend Update perplexed me at first when I saw in high school, but he soon won me over. He really was (and is) one of those personalities that is comically unique and kind of iconic in his own way. I still find myself entertained by just about anything he's involved with (see VAMPIRE DOG for example). Sadly, DIRTY WORK didn't exactly set the box office on fire when it was released in 1998 (in fact it only made back about $10 million of its $13 million budget). Despite that, it was a pretty big deal to my coworkers and I at the video store when it came out on VHS. It was definitely in the rotation of films we would throw on the TVs when we were prepping to open the store in the morning. I feel it definitely picked up a good deal of momentum on home video (as did a lot of the SNL spinoff movies). A lot of that has to do with Norm himself and the endless quotability of the movie. Bring up the movie in conversation and you're bound to get at least one, "I've never seen so many dead hookers in all my life" thrown at you. It's the randomness of some of the comedy that I love a lot about DIRTY WORK. The little asides, the oddball moments. One scene has Norm and Artie Lange standing in a room holding dead fish whilst a whole bunch of ridiculous stuff goes on in another room off screen. Fun stuff. There's even a sodomy joke that is handled in the most memorable way ("It's the lack of respect!"). There are also lots of funny bits with Jack Warden's character and Chris Farley's too.
This is an odd comparison to make, but there is something about Norm MacDonald that reminds me ever so slightly of Groucho Marx. Before you start throwing things at me, know that I'm not saying Norm is in any way on par with Groucho, but there is just something about Norm's delivery that occasionally makes me think of the Marx fella. Something about the way he leans on a joke as if to say, "Hey that's funny right?". Anyway, I'm also always amused by the fact that Bob Saget directed this thing. For those that only associate him with FULL HOUSE and AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS (and not his rather explicit standup), this movie may have seemed pretty raunchy. Knowing about Saget's true nature, it really makes me wish they'd have moved forward with an R-rated version of DIRTY WORK (which was supposedly a thing at one point). I guess that part of the film's charm is its PG-13-ishness and how that leaves room for a slight air of innocence amidst the raunch and random antics. Like a lot of films from the late 1990s, DIRTY WORK gets lost in the shuffle a bit and that's a shame cause it's funny stuff and deserves more love. 
Note to self: learn to fight.

DIRTY WORK can be purchased on Blu-ray here:
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