Rupert Pupkin Speaks: October 2016 ""

Monday, October 31, 2016

Underrated '66 - Jason Hyde

Jason Hyde is a top shelf cinephile. He has a become a regular contributor here at RPS and I am always happy to have him. He has done many cool lists for RPS over the years - check em out:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/search/label/jason%20hyde

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WILD WILD PLANET (1966; Antonio Margheriti)This first film in the Gamma I Quadrilogy of loosely-linked, crazy, colorful Italian sci-fi flicks is gloriously insane pulp nonsense of the highest order. Sure, the acting may not be much to write home about (although a young Franco Nero pops up in a supporting role), but it's more than made up for by all the pop-art color, crazy costumes, and not making much sense at all, in the grand Italian sci-fi tradition. There's a mad scientist carrying out eugenics experiments that require bald aliens with four arms to run around shrinking important officials for some reason. There's also an army of future babes with beehive hair and mini-dresses and a huge blood flood at the climax. Sadly, the other Gamma I films are a bit dull and don't measure up to the madness on display here.
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QUEEN OF BLOOD (1966; Curtis Harrington)
Easily the best of the movies that exist because Roger Corman got his hands on some Soviet sci-fi films, cut out all the Sovietness, and had guys like Curtis Harrington and Francis Ford Coppola shoot some new footage to go around the impressive effects shots. Also the only movie with John Saxon, Dennis Hopper, and Basil Rathbone in it. And a key influence on ALIEN as well. Queen of Blood's got a lot going for it. Even though the new footage by Curtis Harrington is clearly a lot more low budget than the Russian scenes, they're integrated pretty well and the story, about a space expedition to meet an alien species that ends up bringing on board a beehived-haired, green-skinned space vampire (the amazing Florence Marly) who feeds on the crew one by one until it's down to Saxon and Judi Meredith to stop her. The color is gorgeous and the music is creepy. Easily one of Harrington's best, which is saying a lot.
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MODESTY BLAISE (1966; Joseph Losey)
Pretty dubious as an adaptation of the terrific classic comic strip, but delightful by an sane standard of measuring such things, this high-camp confection from the always-interesting Joseph Losey has been a favorite for years. It's a bit weird seeing Monica Vitti engaging in such campy hijinks after all those Antonioni films, but she pulls it off for the most part, and Terence Stamp is a blast as Modesty's partner Willie Garvin. Their singing's maybe not the best, though. This film really belongs to the great Dirk Bogarde, though, who just takes the camp factor and runs with it. His effete, squeamish Gabriel one of my absolute favorite movie villains of all time. There's so much to love in this film from the gorgeous locations to the amusing performances and top-notch soundtrack.
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CIRCUS OF FEAR (1966; John Llewellyn Moxey)
An odd sort-of entry in the German Edgar Wallace series. This was shot in Britain with some familiar faces from the German films (Klaus Kinski, Heinz Drache, Eddi Arent) mixing with the likes of Christopher Lee and Suzy Kendall. It's a fun mystery about the spoils of an elaborate bank robbery ending up in a circus company at its winter headquarters, and the string of murders the follow. Scotland Yard is on the case, and there's no shortage of suspects, Is it a shifty character played by Kinski? Or maybe the masked animal trainer played by Lee? Well, obviously not, but I'll admit the final revelation of the killer's identity did surprise me the first time I saw this film, which is well-written and atmospheric, but apparently not actually based on anything Edgar Wallace ever wrote, which didn't stop them from advertising it as such in its German release.
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THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM(1966; Michael Anderson)
A superb entry in the more downbeat, down-to-earth series of spy thrillers that tried to provide a more realistic alternative to the flashy antics of James Bond and company. This one's not as well-remembered or highly-regarded as THE IPCRESS FILE or THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, but it's still excellent stuff. George Segal stars as Quiller, an oddly American agent for British intelligence who goes to Berlin to snuff out a gang of Neo-Nazis led by Max von Sydow's sinister Oktober. Along the way he meets and falls for a pretty teacher played by Senta Berger. The plot is superb and constantly engaging and the Harold Pinter screenplay is basically exactly what you'd expect from a spy thriller written by Harold Pinter. There's also terrific color cinematography that makes the most of the beautiful bleak post-war Berlin settings and a lovely mournful theme from John Barry. Alec Guinness is also excellent as Quiller's snobby superior Pol.
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DALEKS - INVASION EARTH 2150AD (1966; Gordon Flemyng)
The second of the two cinematic adaptations of the BBC's Doctor Who is definitely the better one. While it lacks the almost-psychedelic colors of the first film, it makes up for it with a better story with much more Dalek mayhem than the first film. Peter Cushing is back as Dr. Who, and he tones down his performance a bit from the first film, where he seemed a bit on the silly side. He gets excellent support from Andrew Keir and Bernard Cribbins, who would later go on to a memorable supporting role as Wilf on the revived BBC series. The plot, involving the Daleks' plan to blow out the molten core of the earth and then fly it around like a spaceship, is admittedly bonkers and raises all kinds of questions that are never really answered, but the special effects are a lot better than what the TV series was able to do in 1966, and you get a scene of Andrew Keir and Roberta Tovey running over Daleks in a truck, so I'd say it all evens out.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Kino Lorber Studio Classics - THE PIT and ASTRO-ZOMBIES on Blu-ray

THE PIT (1981; Lew Lehman)
There are weird movies and there are bad movies and then there's THE PIT. I don't want to use the word "unclassifiable" with regards to it, but it is truly such an odd and unique little horror film that I'd hate to have to describe it briefly. I mean, I could say something like "It's a film about a sexually repressed, but curious kid who talks to his teddy bear all the time and the bear often gives him advice about who to lure into this strange pit in the woods behind his house that has these little demon trolls or something in it", but that's a little reductive. Your immediate response upon hearing that synopsis may be to burst into laughter and that's perfectly reasonable (I know I would), but there's more to this film than a whacked out premise. While it's difficult to not snicker at some moments here, there are quite a few scenes with some genuine creepiness and this really comes primarily from actor Sammy Snyders and his lead performance as the boy - Jamie. Now I'm kind of half and half on the "creepy kid" genre and often find this type of film annoying a tedious, but THE PIT is one of my favorites. My affection for it derives mainly from the combination of Jamie being such a strangely disturbed kid (too old to have a teddy bear at all, let alone one that talks to him), the little mutant troglodyte creatures (which resemble the Critters from that popular 80s franchise)  and the perverse sexuality of the movie overall. The story is that Jamie's parent's go out of town for a week or so and he is left in the care of a live-in babysitter (Jeannie Elias). As the days go by, the babysitter witnesses and becomes more aware of Jamie's ominous and inappropriate behavior as the drama begin to escalate between them. All the while, Jamie is learning more and more about what the troglodytes like to eat (spoiler alert: it's meat) and trying to come up with ways to feed them (as he has decided to become their caretaker for whatever reason). The film goes to some places you might expect, but there's a good deal of unsettling weirdness that cannot be predicted (or explained really). In listening to the screenwriter's interview on this disc's extras, there is actually something of an explanation for why the movie feels a bit off (casting choices and a key scene excised), but I must say that this is a case where I am kinda glad that it ended up as it did. As it stands, THE PIT is one of the more bizarre and wonderful movie watching experiences that you'll ever have and that is the truth.

Special Features:
When Kino Lorber initially announced they would be putting this film out on Blu-ray, I was absolutely floored (in a good way). That a fan-favorite Canadian produced horror obscurity like this could be given the HD treatment was quite exciting by itself, but Kino went one further and packed the disc with a bunch of extra features on top of that! Between the illuminating commentary track and the interviews with the cast and crew members, these supplements shed quite a bit of light on this heretofore mysterious film's production and how it came to be what it was. It's a great disc for cult movie fans and a must own. Included are:
-An Audio Commentary by Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com and Film Historian Jason Pichonsky
-Problem Child - An Interview with Star Sammy Sniders (16 mins)
-The Babysitter - an Interview with Star Jeannie Elias (7 mins)
-Teddy Told Me To - An Interview with Screenwriter Ian. A Stewart (13 mins)
-The Music of Mischief & Monsters - an Interview with Composer Victor Davies (8 mins)
Buy THE PIT here:
http://amzn.to/2ebrqll
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ASTRO-ZOMBIES (1968; Ted V. Mikels)
I was saddened to hear of Ted Mikel's recent passing as I know he meant a lot to genre and low-budget movie fans. He is one of those mythic filmmaking figures that I only came to become aware of initially because of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and it’s no coincidence that this Blu-ray includes a RiffTrax Commentary by the way). I believe that GIRL IN GOLD BOOTS was the first Mikels movie I saw and it honestly didn’t stick with me, so I may have ended up letting him slip off my radar for a while. It wasn’t until years later when I was working my way through the filmographies of Al Adamson and Andy Milligan that my interest in Mikels cropped up again. I watched and was entertained by his film THE DOLL SQUAD and was about to seek out ASTRO-ZOMBIES when I caught wind of this Blu-ray coming out and decided to hold off. Why I felt like I needed to see a movie like this in high definition is beyond me, but I did. In finally watching the film I am finally able to understand it's cult appeal. It's not necessarily my kind of thing, but it has a shaggy, Ed Wood-y quality about it that certainly gives it some personality. Mikels seems to have been director who was not afraid to get in there and do whatever it took to get what he needed for his movies. During the opening of ASTRO-ZOMBIES, there is a shot of a woman driving a convertible down the street and we see her through the windshield. Apparently, it was Mikels himself who was operating camera for this shot and he was on the hood of the car holding onto the windshield wipers to steady himself. It is this kind of do-it-yourself bravado that I think was rare even among the shoestring directors of the 1960s that perhaps helps define Ted Mikels and his approach to making movies on the cheap. ASTRO-ZOMBIES has occasionally been placed in the company of the worst films ever made and I can see why it might fall into that category, but I found it charming in a lot of ways. Science-fiction and horror from this period done for this kind of money has a plucky quality about it that has a tendency to hook me. The plot is ridiculous and concerns the creation of some superhuman monsters in a Frankenstein-y kind of way that end up going on a rampage and killing lots of people. The cast is quite fun too, with Tura Sutana, Wendell Corey, and John Carradine headlining and bringing a lot of cult cache with them.

Special Features:
Another nice disc from Kino here and this one is heavy on the commentaries. You have the previously mentioned RiffTrax commentary - which is of course quite funny. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett provide their usual dose of delightful levity with this track and I guffawed several times while listening. But wait, there's more! Also included is a commentary the man himself - director Ted V. Mikels. This is a great little track with a very jovial Mikels recounting some entertaining and informative stories about how he made the film. He seems quite sharp and his memory of locations, actors and other details are quite solid. It's very nice to have this audio archive especially now that Mikels is no longer with us. Lastly, there is a final commentary track by Horror Cinema Historian Chris Alexander which is also quite explanatory and a good listen.

Buy ASTRO-ZOMBIES here:
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Friday, October 28, 2016

Underrated '66 - Justin Bozung

Justin Bozung is a freelance film writer, blogger, researcher and part-time archivist for two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and filmmaker Norman Mailer. He has researched and contributed to two books on Stanley Kubrick. The most recent, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film (2015), in which Bozung contributed over 300 pages, Michael Dirda of the Washington Post exclaimed was: “A major contribution to film history and scholarship.”

His latest book: Norman Mailer: Film is Like Death (A Cinema Reader) is scheduled for release via Bloomsbury in the Spring of 2017.
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In no particular order:

01. Cathy Come Home (Ken Loach, 1966)
Pre-dating the release of a film like D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back (1967) by merely only a few months as well as other American Cin駑a v駻it , Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home is a recall that fast-forwards through the life cycle of the marriage of a young British couple who keep spitting out kids during the post-war housing shortage. Loach's film does not capture the swinging London of 1965-1967 that features the music of The Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd or Jimi Hendrix. No, this is a bleak teetering-on-dystopian vision of the class struggle in the post-WWII era. Part direct cinema, part avant-garde, Loach crafts a kind of numbness here in the viewer by juxtaposing a hyper-kinetic visual aesthetic with layers and layers of soundscapes which are memory-derivative. The question? Who's memory is this? #Masterpiece


Watch on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGL4b25AJpM


02. The Family Way (Roy/John Bolting, 1966)
British slice-of-life piece about a newly married young man (Hywel Bennett) who has the problem of being unable to make love to his beautiful new bride (Hayley Mills). What's the problem? Ask his mother and his father! Roy and John Bolting made some excellent films as early on as the late 1940s. All of them are underrated and most of them completely unknown with the exception of 1947's Brighton Rock and 1968's Twisted Nerve.



03. You're A Big Boy Now (Francis Coppola, 1966)
Francis Coppola's cheeky, coming-of-age story about a young man whose parents still call him 'Big Boy' [Peter Kastner]. He overlooks what is right in front of him only to stumble around New York chasing after the elusive and sexy Barbara Darling (Elizabeth Hartman), while his true love Amy (Karen Black) watches and waits. Part French New Wave and part Jerry Lewis, You're a Big Boy Now is always overlooked as the film that brought the boot down on the kick starter that fired up the cylinders of the “Easy Riders, Raging Bull” era.

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04. Dutchman (Anthony Harvey, 1966)
A theater piece transferred over to film due to the passion of actress Shirley Knight (Petulia, Love Story, Sweet Bird of Youth, As Good As It Gets) who raised the money herself to bring this controversial work of Amiri Baraka to celluloid. An African-American businessman draws the unwelcome attention of a racist, yet sexually super-charged queen bee named Lulu on the subway in New York City amongst passengers. She either wants to fuck him or kill him. There's something here that reminds of the German theater work of Frank Wedekind, who's “Lulu Plays” of the late 19th Century aimed to open Pandora's Box.

Watch on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VRoOAmtHsQ


05. Passages of Finnegans Wake (Mary Ellen Bute, 1966)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me before Twin Peaks: Fire Walks With Me. That is if this and David Lynch's film can be read as both being singular death bed visions. Artist Mary Ellen's Bute's pitch-perfect mid-1960s adaptation of James Joyce's 'Finnegan's Wake,' is naturally, a stream-of-consciousness envisioning--not purely of Joyce's influential novel but more a vision of Mary Manning's theater piece which was based on Joyce's novel itself. Which tells the tale of “Finnegan,” who upon falling asleep sees his entire life flash before him but also gets glimpses of the lives of others' surrounding him at his wake Bute crafts, what is arguably, the quintessential oneiric piece of cinema here. Her mise-en-scene is just as amusing and metaphysical as Joyce's prose. An entire film of montage, here, it recalls how exact Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was in his thinking back in the 1930s that Joyce's novel, with its play and structuring of words and their echoes, was more film montage than an actual novel itself.

Watch on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cibQA_LNe9s


06. 10:30 P.M. Summer (Jules Dassin, 1966)
A human triangle is put under duress in a hostel in Spain when an alcoholic wife [Melina Mercouri] catches, or maybe even drunkenly fantasizes, her husband [Peter Finch] and their little daughter's au pair [Romy Schneider] in a passionate embrace on a balcony. On a death-trip, she sets out to track down a murderer on the loose who is running rooftop-to-rooftop across a black and rainy night in Madrid out of a strange desire to be with him romantically. A lush, metaphysical mystery that unravels motives and jealously; a technicolor-like dreamcoat that looks like a 90-minute Goya painting, intertwined with the hopelessness of film noir. Screenplay by novelist and filmmaker, Marguerite Duras, who's follow-up films La Musica (1967) and Détruire dit-elle (1969) aka Destroy, She Said are equally underrated. #Masterpiece

Watch on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfBCQeXnkWE


07. A Rain in July (Marlen Khutsiyev, 1966)
An existential sleeper that is part of the Russian New Wave, which of course, was inspired by the French New Wave. Lena (Yevgenya Uralova), a young woman in a thriving Moscow, takes stock in her life as she begins to examine the emptiness of it amidst her comfortable social status. In her late twenties, she loves her boyfriend (Aleksandr Belyavsky) but in time comes to see that their relationship serves no real function. What's more, she sees that her friends are stupid, empty-headed dipshits. If there ever was a female Dostoyevsky, Lena might have been reading her. Great slice-of-life piece in post-war Soviet life. It was once thriving like Paris.



08. Mademoiselle (Tony Richardson, 1966)
Scripted by novelist and playwrights Jean Genet and Marguerite Duras (the second time she's popping up on this list!), Jeanne Moreau plays at the metaphysical nightmare of a schoolteacher who poisons folks in a tiny village. [Playing] out like some study of biblical darkness, there is an unspoken undercurrent running through Mademoiselle that will give anyone chills who might be prey to spirits. More than cinema--this is something demonic.

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09. 7 Women (John Ford, 1966)
Shockingly overlooked today, 7 Women was director John Ford's final movie of his 60-year career. And it features, what is arguably, Anne Bancroft's finest performance. Yes, “Mrs. Robinson” shows up in front of Ford's camera as a doctor who shakes up the moral status quo of a conservative Christian missionary in violent China. Bancroft as “Dr. Cartwright,” chain smokes, isn't afraid to speak her mind and is a poster figure for Women's Liberation long before Gloria Steinem hits the scene.

7 Women also features Sue Lyon in a post-Kubrick Lolita (1962) performance, as well as Woody Strode and Eddie Albert―but the entire cast is overshadowed by Bancroft here, where one can not take their eyes off of her, but only revel in her mammoth persona.

7 Women has a long history of being ignored in the Ford oeuvre as it often has been considered by many Ford-aficionados as one of his minor works in a massive body that features such classic films like The Quiet Man (1952) and Stagecoach (1939).

This might be the only time I've ever agreed with a film critic, especially someone of the inept ilk of the likes of Andrew Sarris, but it was Sarris who suggested that not only was 7 Women nearly the best film of 1966, but it might be best served to consider it for inclusion on a list of the “Most Misappreciated American Films of All Time.” Ford's final film made this list of Sarris's in 1977, but was also thrust upon the same tableau of many other American critic films that the same year―who, all of which, thank God, we can barely remember.

The plot? Dr. Cartwright and the missionary staff take on a group of hostile Mongolian looters and pillagers who steal from local villages that the mission is there to aid. This bitch is visual too, like Johnny Guitar (1954), Desert Fury (1947) or Douglas Sirk visual!--it's layered with shadows, and colorful tones and hues, which are a technicolor feast and a fuck! Bancroft leaves us much in the same manner of which she arrives in the film at its end―with unforgettable swagger. In the finale, she manages to not only get some of the village hostages released, but she also manages to poison the no-good “Tunga” who has been terrorizing all. She offers him a drink in their final moment saluting him with: “So long you bastard!” Then what does she do? She pauses, knowing that she's just violated the Christian ethics of her work, she grabs and an empty cup and pours herself a cup of the poisoned mixture, and drinks it! They say you lose “it” with age, well, if that's the case, John Ford must have been the exception to the theory. [This] is every contemporary genre film today.



10. Les Créatures (Agnes Varda, 1966)
Fact and fiction are blurred in Agnes Varda's debut feature film with actress Catherine Deneuve. There's no point to say anything else. See Les Créatures right away.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Twilight Time - MURPHY'S LAW and REMO WILLIAMS on Blu-ray

MURPHY'S LAW (1986; J. Lee Thompson)
In the early stages of my time as a movie fan, before I was conscious and following the careers of directors, I was all about actors. Particularly action movie actors. At this point, I can't recall if it started with Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson or Bruce Lee - but they were all a really big deal to me when I was a teenager. My local video emporium was actually a large grocery store with a burgeoning selection of VHS tapes. They were all about the MGM stuff for sure as I found they had a seemingly endless supply of Cannon Films content. Once I started down the Bronson route, I didn't stop until I'd seen everything they had on their shelves. I got so into Chuck that by the time I was caught up, he had a new movie in theaters - KINJITE: THE FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS - which I believe I snuck into and which I found a bit disturbing. What's happened over time though is that a lot of Bronson's 80s films have started to run together. Sure, DEATH WISH 3 stands out in my memory, but that's only because I had taped it off TV and watched it over and over. The others, like MURPHY'S LAW and MESSENGER OF DEATH don't stand out quite as well in my memory, but only because I'm getting older and not directly related to their quality. So once I popped in this Blu-ray, it all started to come back. It's a somewhat familiar tale - Bronson is a cop in Los Angeles who is going through a rough patch (divorce etc) and hitting the bottle pretty hard.
One thing that stood out this time for me was the supporting cast. I may not have seen this movie in something like thirty years, so I'm a lot more familiar with a lot more actors now. When I see Robert F. Lyons, Carrie Snodgress, Richard Romanus and others now - as an older film buff - I recognize them immediately and get excited to see them in an ensemble. Also featured prominently is actress Kathleen Wilhoite, who is given an "introducing" credit despite it not being her first film (she was also in PRIVATE SCHOOL back in 1983 as well as a bunch of TV movies). MURPHY'S LAW is also one of many collaborations between Bronson and director J. Lee Thompson - they even did the aforementioned MESSENGER OF DEATH and KINJITE together. Thompson and Bronson were quite the duo for Cannon Films and this is one of their more enjoyable efforts together. It's basically a story of an ex-con (Snodgress) getting revenge on the cop (Bronson) who put her behind bars and the reluctant team-up between the cop and a petty criminal (Wilhoite) to sort things out. As a post-DEATH WISH movie for Bronson (though he would do DEATH WISH IV: THE CRACKDOWN with J. Lee Thompson the next year), MURPHY'S LAW ain't bad at all and would pair well with the much sleazier 10 TO MIDNIGHT which was also directed by Thompson and has also been released on Blu-ray via Twilight Time.

Special Features:
-Audio Commentary with Actress Kathleen Wilhoite and Film Historian Nick Redman
-Isolated Score Track
-Original Theatrical Trailer
You can buy MUPRHY'S LAW from Twilight Time here:
or Amazon.
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REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS (1985; Guy Hamilton)
Speaking of video stores again - there are some movies from the 80s that would be completely lost were it not for the fact that many youngsters (myself included) stumbled across them in our quest for more action movies to watch. At the time I first saw it, I had no idea who Fred Ward was and the novelty of Guy Hamilton (who did several James Bond films) directing the movie was totally lost on me. All that was apparent was that this ex-cop (Ward) was being inducted into a spy organization and trained by a small but effective (and funny) martial arts master (Joel Grey). Having been an adamant fan of THE KARATE KID a few years prior (another one that my family taped off TV and watched many many times), I was more than intrigued by the prospect of martial arts training in general and said training being used to fight evil Russian spies. After all, the Cold War was still going and I had been weaned on other propagandistic 80s cinematic treasures like RED DAWN, WAR GAMES and ROCKY IV, so this underdog squaring off against some big time bad guys story was right up my alley. Because REMO WILLIAMS was subtitled "THE ADVENTURE BEGINS", I also was hoping for further episodes with this new super spy. Alas, it was not to be and any follow-up movies went the way of BUCKAROO BANZAI AGAINST THE WORLD CRIME LEAGUE and never came to pass. But Remo himself had entered the lexicon of my favorite wise-cracking 80s heroes along Jack Burton and John Matrix.
One thing I liked about the movie was they it felt like a super hero origin story in a lot of ways. Remo goes from being a relatively ordinary man to a man with extraordinary abilities and body control. He learns to defend himself without weapons and even learned how to dodge bullets (which I thought was pretty cool when I was a kid watching it). Part of the reason I probably responded to the story was that it had the feeling of setting up some kind of mythology about it. I would later find out that this was due in no small part to the film being based on one in a series of books about Remo. The DESTROYER series was written by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. The first novel they wrote was published in 1971, but was apparently completed in around 1963. This is fascinating only because REMO WILLIAMS having come out when it did made it feel affectionately retro in its spy story roots - when in fact it was conceived during s time when James Bond fever was starting to grip the world. Remo Williams couldn't be more different than 007 though as he oafishly and naively fumbles his way through his training and his first encounters with his rivals. While it's not a spy spoof exactly, the film definitely draws out some humor while also calling upon the inherent drama of a guy who doesn't know exactly what he's doing and could seemingly be killed at any moment. Despite REMO having both feet planted sqaurely in the 80s in terms of its politics, aesthetics and musical score (by the wonderful Craig Safan), I am of the belief that the film can and will find new fans in this day and age when goofball heroes like Peter Quill headline some of the most popular movies at the box office.
Special Features:
-Audio Commentary with Film Historians Eddy Friedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer, and Paul Scrabo
- Created, The Destroyer: Writing Remo Williams

-Unarmed and Dangerous: Producing Remo Williams
-Secrets of Sinanju: Training Remo Williams
-Balance of Power: Designing Remo Williams
-Assassin's Tune: Composing Remo Williams
-Isolated Score Track
-Original Theatrical Trailer
You can Buy REMO WILLIAMS from Twilight Time here:
http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/remo-williams-the-adventure-begins-blu-ray/
or Amazon.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Warner Archive - ON DANGEROUS GROUND on Blu-ray

ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951; Nicholas Ray)
This is an interesting entry in the Film Noir canon and that's not surprising coming from director Nicholas Ray. If you've seen a lot of noir from this period and before, you'll be accustomed to lots of dark cityscapes and the general urban setting which is extremely common in this type of movie. ON DANGEROUS GROUND starts that way, but pivots about a third of the way through and shifts to another locale entirely - the snowy wilderness far outside of the city. Before that though, Pimps, prostitutes and other seedy types are on display early and the police officers (including one played by Robert Ryan) who are out to track down a cop killer, find themselves wading through these undesirables trying to pick up any clues they can to the whereabouts of the killer. There's a lot of perversity hinted at here - the metropolitan night is filled with sleazy characters that the cops have to deal with to get information. Robert Ryan's Detective Jim Wilson has anger management issues to say the least and is sent into a rage even at being called a "dumb cop" by an erroneously detained man. He's apparently been embittered and made unrepentantly cynical by years of dealing with the scummiest scum that the city has to offer and the first section of the movie is setting up who he is and how he handles his work. Unstable detective noir (Otto Preminger's WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS for example) was not totally uncommon, but ON DANGEROUS GROUND doesn't justify it's main character's behavior by revealing him to be justified in his violent treatment of suspects. It's rather intriguing and oddly timely to see this film again now, in light of much justified uproar in the U.S. over police brutality. In ON DANGEROUS GROUND, Jim Wilson's methods are only discouraged in as far as he is instructed to "take it easy" by his police chief (Ed Begley) after he a suspect he has beaten for information suffers a ruptured bladder. 
Interestingly, ON DANGEROUS GROUND is more a study of one troubled man than a traditional cop film and much time is given to Jim Wilson as we watch him deal with his own feelings of animosity and isolation. At one point when one of the other cops asks him if he wants to get thrown off the force, Wilson exclaims that all they handle is garbage. He truly sees the streets he works in as filled with human refuse. Nicholas Ray was very fonder of isolated "loner" characters and one can be found in many of his best films. Ray plays much more with emotion and the impact of violence than reveling in the action set pieces common to this kind of hard boiled tale. Robert Ryan never even fires a gun in the movie - leave it to Nicholas Ray to make a cop flick this way.
So Jim Wilson has issues and we are made to examine them and him as a person. What could possible melt the cold heart of a world-weary cop like this? A blind woman (Ida Lupino) living in a remote cottage in the woods that Wilson stumbles across while looking for the murderer of a young girl in the main section of the film. I've been a Lupino fan for a long time and I've always marveled at her ability to play both hard-boiled dames and innocent females with equal adeptness. 
Nicholas Ray used cinematographer George E. Diskant on this film, who also shot THEY LIVE BY NIGHT for him. Diskant also did films like THE RACKET, THE NARROW MARGIN and KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, so he was more than familiar with the murky shadows that are always associated strongly with the genre. ON DANGEROUS GROUND has a stylish blackness about it and Warner Archive's new transfer for this Blu-ray makes it look pretty fantastic. We're talking OUT OF THE PAST and MURDER, MY SWEET good-looking (I thought both of those Blu-rays were quite stunning). It's well worth the upgrade and is a sign of Warner Archive's continuing dedication to gorgeous black and white on Blu-ray.
Special Features:
Warner Archive has ported over the DVD commentary from Film Historian Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant). It is a well-researched and academic track that moves a long at a sharp clip and has a lot to offer in the way of information about the production and its cast and crew.

Buy ON DANGEROUS GROUND on Blu-ray here:
http://amzn.to/2e3OC6N
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New Release Roundup - October 25th, 2016

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE n Blu-ray (Sony)
http://amzn.to/2ekcORF
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THE EXORCIST III on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
http://amzn.to/2e42Kcr
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THE HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS FEAST on Blu-ray (Arrow Video)
http://amzn.to/2e444fm
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MANHATTAN BABY on Blu-ray (Blue Underground)
http://amzn.to/2dGs1Kp
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BURIAL GROUND on Blu-ray (Severin Films)
http://amzn.to/2e44emY
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DEATHROW GAMESHOW on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
http://amzn.to/2dKAX1t
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HOBGOBLINS on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
http://amzn.to/2ekeNFt
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MURDER WEAPON/ DEADLY EMBRACE on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
http://amzn.to/2e44jH6
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NIGHTMARE SISTERS on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
http://amzn.to/2ekfezq
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NIGHT OF THE GRIZZLY on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
http://amzn.to/2dKEI74
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THE QUIET MAN on Blu-ray (Olive Films)
http://amzn.to/2dEeDYn
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PRIVATE PROPERTY on Blu-ray (Cinelicious Pics)
http://amzn.to/2dqwNLm
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THE EXECUTIONER on Blu-ray (Criterion)
http://amzn.to/2dr82xx
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NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU on Blu-ray (PBS)
http://amzn.to/2dGsexf
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MEN & CHICKEN on Blu-ray (Drafthouse Films)
http://amzn.to/2d39gmy
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DARK WATER on Blu-ray (Arrow Video)
http://amzn.to/2dr8Lyv
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BOY ON A DOLPHIN on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
http://amzn.to/2d7LzEL
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WOLF LAKE on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
 
NERVE on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
http://amzn.to/2d3coP3
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LIGHTS OUT on Blu-ray (Warner Bros)
http://amzn.to/2drdPmP
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CAPTAIN FANTASTIC on Blu-ray (Universal)
http://amzn.to/2e4chjB
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SKIP TRACE on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
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