Rupert Pupkin Speaks: February 2017 ""

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Release Roundup - February 28th, 2017

THE GATE on Blu-ray (Vestron Video)
http://amzn.to/2lB2JR3
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THE BEFORE TRILOGY on Blu-ray (Criterion)
http://amzn.to/2l5fkdg
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DEADTIME STORIES on Blu-ray (Scream Factory)
http://amzn.to/2mim6xX
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WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH on Blu-ray (Warner Archive)
http://amzn.to/2lLelml
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FRAMED on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
http://amzn.to/2lLcH4r
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A*P*E on 3D Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)
http://amzn.to/2l5gANy
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SLAUGHTERHOUSE on Blu-ray (Vinegar Syndrome)
http://amzn.to/2mcZWQT
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RULES DON'T APPLY on Blu-ray (Fox)
http://amzn.to/2lL1kcy
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DOCTOR STRANGE on Blu-ray (Disney)
http://bit.ly/2miolBB

MOONLIGHT on Blu-ray (Lionsgate)
http://amzn.to/2kSfeum
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WE ARE THE FLESH (Arrow Video)
http://amzn.to/2kS0ueR
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Vestron Video - THE GATE on Blu-ray

THE GATE (1987; Tibor Takacs)
We horror fans who grew came of age in the VHS era have a fond remembrance for our favorite sections of the old video stores we used to frequent. Some loved comedies and others made a beeline for the action movies, but I often found myself drawn to the horror section. The great thing about the video stores of years past was the democracy of display that went on there. Big budgeted horror films like POLTERGEIST were stacked up near low-budget gems like PHANTASM, EVIL DEAD and BASKET CASE. As a kid it was hard not to be drawn to the cover art of even the cheapest of horror films if it was done up properly. This lovely new Vestron Blu-ray has the same basic cover art as the old VHS tape that first caught my eye as a youngster. It's a great image and after reading the back of the box which told of a story of a couple kids who uncover what is basically a doorway to hell which will allow some demons to escape and terrorize them through their house. Young Stephen Dorff was unknown to me at the time, but he would forever be "that kid from THE GATE" from that point on. The movie stayed with me for a while after I saw it, but it wasn't until years later that I discovered that a ton of friends of mine had seen it as kids and love it too. It also wasn't until not too long after that that I discovered that the film was co-written by one of the writer/directors of one of my favorite VHS gems - MIDNIGHT MADNESS!
Let me just say that I've made many many mistakes as a parent to my young daughter (she'll be eight years old in a few months). Some of them were completely accidental and some were admittedly calculated risks. The calculated risk stuff usually has to do with showing her movies that end up not being her cup of tea. The one that I absolutely cannot seem to live down (as she is constantly reminding me) is my error of showing her THE GATE a few year back. The backstory is that she had shown an aptitude for and tendency toward enjoying some dark movies, so I made the decision (based solely on my memory of seeing the film again quite a few years prior) to show her THE GATE, thinking it would be right up her alley. I was incorrect. She wasn't ready to watch a movie like this, which at the outset I recalled being relatively kid friendly (I felt like I first saw it pretty young), but which has some elements that modern day children may be unprepared to deal with without getting creeped out. This has much to do with the special effects used on this film versus films today and how the demon creatures look and move in THE GATE. There are times when they are just small people in costumes and there are bits of stop motion animation as well as other horrifying images, but overall the movie just has a lot of very unsettling and scary looking bits throughout. Somehow I had recalled the film being more in the vein of GREMLINS, but THE GATE does not have the same level of levity that GREMLINS does and the effect was that my daughter was rather frightened and traumatized by the film. Funnily enough, she never asked to stop watching it (which she had in the past if anything became too much for her) so she sat through the whole thing and only told me later how much it had scared her. I felt terrible of course, but I honestly felt it wasn't as terrifying as it must have seemed to her. I do think that my having been used to more films with practical effects like these must have colored my viewpoint and though I had certainly shown her other films with such effects, there was just something about this movie that really stuck with her. To this day, she still mentions it as something she will never watch again and I hope that isn't the case because I do genuinely think it is a great little monster movie from the 1980s and I'd love her to be able to enjoy it again at some point when she's a little older. I don't relay this story to demonstrate my irresponsible actions as a parent or to in any way discourage anyone from watching the movie (I love it-it's great), but to further illustrate the impact of practical special effects versus computer generated stuff. This argument has been ongoing for some time and I have more or less given myself over to the fact that CG is what we mostly have to look forward to now (as much as I personally embrace the older style), but clearly these things can make a difference in the lasting impact a movie can have, even some thirty years after the fact.

Special Features:
--Audio Commentaries:
-With Director Tibor Takacs, Writer Michael Nankin, and Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook
-With Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Craig Reardon, Special Effects Artist Frank Carere, and Matte Photographer Bill Taylor
-Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composers Michael Hoenig and J. Peter Robinson
---Featurettes:
-"The Gate: Unlocked"
-"Minion Maker"
-"From Hell It Came"
-"The Workman Speaks!"
-"Made in Canada"
-"From Hell: The Creatures & Demons of The Gate"
-"The Gatekeepers"
-"Making of The Gate"
-Original Teaser Trailer
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-TV Spot
-Storyboard Gallery
-Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery

Buy THE GATE on Blu-ray Here:
http://amzn.to/2md8mbi
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Film Discoveries of 2016 - Cole Roulain

Cole co-hosts a podcast with his wife, Ericca Long, called The Magic Lantern in which they discuss the films in their personal canons and their enduring cinematic memories. 

You can find it or contact him in these places:
The website: http://www.magiclanternpodcast.com/
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/magiclanternpodcast/
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/Lantern_Cast
Cole on Letterboxd: http://letterboxd.com/coleroulain/

We do an annual round up of film discoveries on The Magic Lantern too (this year's edition: http://www.magiclanternpodcast.com/episodes/episode-037-ants-in-your-pants-of-2016/) and I wanted to take an opportunity to shine a light on a few films that we didn't already discuss. 2016 was a fun viewing year and it would be a shame to let these slip through the cracks.
Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory (Heusch, 1961)
This could have gone either way. It's such a great B movie title that almost no film could live up to that. Thankfully, it turned out to be a mini-bonanza of low budget delights. Barbara Kwiatkowska has a brainy allure that's uncommon for schlock movie heroines and it plays like a bit of an Edgar Wallace mystery with the added bonus of a monster. Heusch generates a decent amount of atmosphere on a shoestring and it's a take on the werewolf mythos that you don't see every day. Give it some room to work and you'll have a pretty good time with this one.
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Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (Asher, 1982)
Holy cats! This is possibly the most underrated '80s horror title that I have ever seen. It certainly has more going on, both text and subtext, than ten run of the mill slashers combined. It is a psychosexual madhouse. The murder that kicks off the whole affair exposes a particularly virulent strain of homophobia in the investigating detective, a homophobia that highlights how the film is ultimately pretty forward thinking in its treatment of these issues for 1982. All the while, it hurtles toward a near-oedipal resolution with Susan Tyrell getting wound tighter and tighter by her homicidal/incestual desires the whole time. Really, you have to see this just for her. This is a towering performance that belongs on the batshit insane Mount Rushmore.
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The House Is Black (Farrokhzad, 1963)
This is the only film that Forough Farrokhzad made in her tragically short life. Without this striking cinematic essay, it is entirely possible that we would not have the Iranian New Wave. The subject of the film is ostensibly life in the Bababaghi Hospice leper colony, but when juxtaposed with her poetry and judiciously edited it becomes a meditation on something larger than the suffering and hopes of the colony's inhabitants. It achieves a remarkable amount of philosophical probing in its short 22 minute running time and the images she captured are something I will not soon forget. If you are at all interested in the essential building blocks of international cinema, this is a must.
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The Image (Metzger, 1975)
It's a shame how seldom erotic films are exactly that - erotic. They often will get one or two of the necessary elements right, but will be missing something crucial. If they are playful enough, they will lack the necessary gravity. If they are titillating enough, they will lack a coherent story. They almost all miss the fact that self-discovery is vital. Radley Metzger was better at making these films than most and I think The Image is his crowning achievement. He walks the tightrope of portraying control, and the loss of it, in an erotic context with remarkable acuity. This adaptation of Catherine Robbe-Grillet's classic BDSM novel delivers on all fronts.The ending undermines the whole just slightly, but Metzger's ability to tell these kinds of stories puts him among the greatest purveryors of sex in cinema.
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Deep End (Skolimowski, 1970)
This is the film that grew most in my estimation in 2016 after my initial viewing. It's one that I ended up thinking about an awful lot. It's the story of a young man working at a London bath house that develops an infatuation with a coworker and it is a fascinating depiction of the toll these types of relationships take on both parties, especially when boundaries are shifting depending on the whims of the participants. It ranges from awkward charm to budding mutual tenderness to outright cruelty and manipulation. The power dynamic keeps you off balance consistently and completely and for all its drabness, it is a complete joy to look at it, with some of the greatest, and most subtle, art direction I have seen. As often happens when you're young, this one will break your heart, though maybe not for the same reasons.
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Scream Factory - DEADTIME STORIES on Blu-ray

DEADTIME STORIES (1986; Jeffrey Delman)
The horror anthology is a genre I've always appreciated. You always run into the same issue with most of them in that all the parts aren't always the greatest, but usually at least one or two of them stands out and makes the whole thing worthwhile. DEADTIMES STORIES is no exception. Right out of the gate, It has a couple things I'm a sucker for. First, it has a groovy theme song that was seemingly written for the movie and I always love that (as cheesy as it can be sometimes) - and this one sounds like it's being done by a slightly more subdued version of Mike and atheist Mechanics, so kudos for that. Second, it has one of those storybook opening title sequences. You know - the kind they used to do for not only older kids movies, but classic films in general? I adore those. The books always look really nice and it's a fun change of pace to have a hand turning the pages as opposed to your regular old opening titles. DEADTIME STORIES even has a funny gag where the hand that's turning the pages keeps changing to a more and more creepy monster hand as the sequence moves along. So the movie has an enjoyable little thematic/structural thing in that it's set up as an uncle telling his nephew some bedtime stories and they are all fairytale-ish in nature. So it's a little like a seedy, lower budget horror version of THE PRINCESS BRIDE. So you get versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears among others but imagine them being retold by a sleazy, horny uncle with a penchant for the macabre and you get a good sense of what this movie is. So instead of a traditional Red Riding Hood, this one features her as a sexy young girl who has to deliver medicine to her grandmother, but instead she stops off to have sex with her boyfriend in a shed along the way. And instead of a big bad wolf, this story has a werewolf - which is much better obviously. But the best segment of this movie without any doubt is "Goldi Lox and the Three Baers". Think of it as CARRIE meets the The Three Bears as told by Lloyd Kaufman, but it's even better than that makes it sound. It's great fun and so is this movie overall. Just a goofy and gory bit of 80s anthology fluff that is kind of a hoot.

Disc Features:
-NEW Hi-Def Transfer From The Original Negative
-NEW Audio Commentary With Co-writer/Director Jeffrey Delman
-NEW I Like The Grotesque – An Interview With Co-writer/Director Jeffrey Delman
-NEW Interviews With Actors Cathryn de Prume, Melissa Leo And Scott Valentine
-The Black Forest – An Alternate Cut Of The First Story
-Deleted Scenes
-Theatrical Trailers

Buy DEADTIME STORIES on Blu-ray Here:
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Film Discoveries of 2016 - Scott Drebit

Scott Drebit is a writer for Daily Dead website, and Deadly magazine. His weekly column Drive-In Dust Offs looks at horror films from the glory days of the drive-in (mid ‘50s to the mid-‘80s), and his bi-weekly column It Came from the Tube examines horror on the small screen. You can contact him on Twitter: @phantasm2 .

Night Warning (1982; William Asher) AKA Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker
If you love slashers, but feel they don’t have nearly enough psycho-sexual overtones, Night Warning is for you. Jimmy McNichol has a hard time leaving home, especially from the grasp of his clingy aunt, played wild-eyed wonderfully by Susan Tyrell. Throw in Bo Svenson as a homophobic sheriff and you have the makings of a Southern Gothic classic; it’s Tennessee Williams with a body count. This one serves up the weird.
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The Vampire (1957; Paul Landres)
Forget vampires, this is closer to Jekyll and Hyde; a parable on the dangers of pharmaceutical drug abuse, filtered through a late fifties monster movie lens on an intimate scale. John Beal plays a doctor who accidentally ingests experimental pills that turn him into a drooling lunatic, and the only way he feels “normal”, is to keep taking them. Charming metamorphoses ala The Wolf Man and expertly handled scenes of suspense whisk you through a brief 75 minute run time. Simple, earnest fun.
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Night Train to Terror (1985; John Carr, Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan, Jay Schlossberg-Cohen, Gregg Tallas)
Well, here’s an interesting one. Take three unreleased movies; edit them down to incomprehensibility, throw in a wraparound story of God and the Devil picking souls on a train, add in some groovy musicians and dancers on said train singing the same song four times between “stories”, and unleash on an unsuspecting public. This is the poorest excuse for an anthology you’ll ever see – except each movie cut down is filled with WTF moments that certainly wouldn’t hold up to feature length, but positively soar in their cut and paste status. And the wraparound? Pure, unfiltered ‘80s zeitgeist, nailed to the floor screaming.
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The Flesh Eaters (1964; Jack Curtis)
Ostensibly just another bottom ender on a drive-in double bill, The Flesh Eaters decides to throw a wrench in the gears and display some talent instead. Your basic people stranded on an island with a mad scientist potboiler, the film uses ingenious effects to show a growing energy monster, and the people it flays. And while Blood Feast claimed to plant the gore flag in ’63, this was filmed in ’62 and pulls off some impressive grue for its time. Heightened, tongue in cheek performances, as well as genuine suspense lends some cache to this forgotten oddity.
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Burn, Witch, Burn (1962; Sidney Hayers) AKA Night of the Eagle
Based on the novel Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber Jr., Burn is a dark satire on office, or rather, campus politics. A professor with an abiding distrust of the supernatural finds out that his wife has been using witchcraft to promote his career. He makes her stop, unknowing that she is also using her peculiar talents to protect him from unseen forces. Don’t start shouting “girl power” just yet – these witches are looking out for their men, not themselves. But the film is tightly directed, and holds sway through several impressive set pieces, ensuring it a place as one of the witchy ‘60s best.
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