Tuesday, March 30, 2010

DEATH RACE 2000 - Another Corman Cult Classic Re-release


One of the greatest car chase films of all time is also getting a re-release on DVD and will make its Blu-Ray debut - Death Race 2000.  Starring the late, great David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone and a slew of other B Movie greats, Death Race 2000 is a rip roarin' masterpiece.  See below for more info.

Pre-Order on Amazon now:

Death Race 2000 Blu-Ray:  http://www.amazon.com/Death-Roger-Cormans-Classics-Blu-ray/dp/B0039BEEWW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1270010712&sr=1-3

Death Race 2000 DVD: http://www.amazon.com/Death-Race-Roger-Cormans-Classics/dp/B0038SUBEG/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1270010712&sr=1-5


No rules. All road. All rage.
 An action-packed Roger Corman classic filled with thrills, spills … and kills
Digitally Remastered and Presented in Widescreen, Jam-Packed With All-New Bonus Content

SHOUT! FACTORY PRESENTS

    

DEATH RACE 2000 SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY& DVD
Turbo-Racing Into Stores Nationwide June 22, 2010
From Shout! Factory

It’s time for full-throttle, full-tilt, fast and furious fun this summer, as Shout! Factory, in association with New Horizons Picture Corporation, unleash one of Roger Corman classics that give new meaning to the term “road rage.” June 22, 2010 will see the release of the Death Race 2000 Special Edition Blu-ray™ and DVD, earmarking the latest installment from Roger Corman’s Cult Classics home entertainment series.

Death Race 2000 Special Edition boasts a high-octane selection of extensive bonus content including all-new interviews and commentary with cast and crew, rare behind-the-scenes footage and much more, making this definitive home entertainment release from Shout! Factory’s much-anticipated Roger Corman’s Cult Classics line a must-have for Roger Corman fans and film aficionados as well as anyone who remains young at heart.  Death Race 2000 Special Edition Blu-ray is priced to own at $ 26.97 SRP, and the DVD is available at $19.93 SRP.


Widely revered as perhaps the greatest B-movie of all time, Death Race 2000 is one of the most enduring of all Roger Corman films - as well as his biggest box-office success up to that point.

Welcome to the year 2000, a bleak and politically oppressive world plagued by immorality and political unrest. The only thing that appeases the population is the three-day Transcontinental Death Race, a high-speed, coast-to-coast competition which is won by the driver who racks up the most points by killing spectators, pedestrians and other unlucky passers-by.

This year, however, the Death Race drivers have something more to worry about than getting killed by the other contestants: A covert faction of Anti-Race revolutionaries bent on putting the brakes on Death Race for good. When they say “Speed kills” - they’re not kidding!

Executive produced by Corman and directed by Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul), Death Race 2000 is one of the quintessential cult classics of all time and marks the only pairing of box-office superstars David Carradine (Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, Bound for Glory, TV’s Kung Fu) and Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Rambo, Cliffhanger), as well as featuring a cult-friendly supporting cast that includes Simone Griffeth (Hot Target), Mary Woronov (Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, Eating Raoul), Roberta Collins (Hardbodies and Hardbodies II), Martin Kove (The Karate Kid, TV’s Cagney & Lacey), Louisa Mortiz (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, New Year’s Evil), legendary Los Angeles disc jockey “The Real” Don Steele (Grand Theft Auto, Rock ‘N’ Roll High School), Joyce Jameson (The Comedy of Terrors, Tales of Terror) and Fred Grandy (TV’s The Love Boat), who was later elected to the U.S. Congress!

This new special edition DVD and first-ever Blu-ray release of Death Race 2000 is loaded with high-octane special features.

DEATH RACE 2000 SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY & DVD
EXTENSIVE SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:
  • New Anamorphic Widescreen Transfer (1.85:1) in high definition from the inter-positive film element
  • David on Death Race: A brief look back from star David Carradine recorded in 2008
  • Audio commentary with Roger Corman and Mary Woronov
  • New audio commentary with assistant director Lewis Teague and editor Tina Hirsch
  • Playing the Game: Looking Back at “Death Race 2000”
  • Ready to Wear: In-depth interview costume designer Jane Ruhm on her inventive work for this film and other Roger Corman classics
  • Designing Dystopia!: A detailed look at the film’s futuristic landscapes and now-classic race cars with co-art director B.B. Neel, car designer James Powers and car constructor Dean Jeffries.
  • Start Your Engine!: How the world of Death Race 2000 came to life, interview with original story creator Ib Melchior
  • Killer Score: An all-new interview with composer Paul Chihara on the creation of the film’s eclectic score, which was also his first feature film composition.
  • Leonard Maltin interviews Roger Corman about Death Race 2000
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Original theatrical trailer with commentary by filmmaker John Landis, courtesy of trailersfromhell.com
  • Collectible 12-page booklet
  • New World trailers
Following the release of Death Race 2000 Special Edition Blu-ray & DVD, Shout! Factory will continue to present Roger Corman’s Cult Classics home entertainment releases on a monthly basis. Upcoming highlights include Forbidden World (DVD), Galaxy Of Terror (DVD), Piranha (Blu-ray & DVD) Attack Of The Crab Monster/ Not of This Earth (DVD), Humanoids from Deep (DVD), Starcrash (Blu-ray & DVD) and Battle Beyond The Stars (Blu-ray & DVD), among others.

Independent filmmaker-producer Roger Corman’s storied career ranks as one of Hollywood’s most amazing success stories. Having produced more than 350 films and directed 50 others, his influence on American film goes far beyond his own energetic, creative low-budget movies. He is arguably one of Hollywood’s most gifted and masterful filmmakers. In 2009 he was the recipient of an honorary Academy Award® for his contribution to the medium of film.

Noted for his keen ability to spot young talent, Corman’s most lasting legacy will undoubtedly be the legion of producers, directors, writers and actors he has fostered, among them: James Cameron, Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Fonda, Jonathan Demme, Gale Anne Hurd, Diane Ladd, Tommy Lee Jones, Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Talia Shire, Charles Bronson, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich and Sally Kirkland.

Shout! Factory is a diversified entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their careers sharing their music, television and film faves with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD offerings serve up classic, contemporary and cult TV series, riveting sports programs, live music, animation and documentaries in lavish packages crammed with extras. The company’s audio catalogue boasts GRAMMY®-nominated boxed sets, new releases from storied artists, lovingly assembled album reissues and indispensable “best of” compilations. These riches are the result of a creative acquisitions mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. With its fingers on the pulse of pop culture, Shout! Factory continues to impact the entertainment media landscape through acquisition of top quality programming for home entertainment releases. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit www.shoutfactory.com

Oscar® and Academy Awards® are the registered trademarks of the Academy for Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Emmy® is a registered trademark of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS/NATAS). Grammy® is a trademark of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. 

Roger Corman's Suburbia and Rock N Roll High School Re-Releases!




For those of you who haven't heard yet, two of Roger Corman's Cult Classics are being re-released by the great Shout! Factory.  Yes, Rock N Roll High School will be re-released on DVD and will also make its Blu Ray debut.  Also being re-released (on DVD only) is the Penelope Spheeris punk masterpiece Suburbia.  These are two of my favorite Rock N Roll films and I can't wait for the re-releases.  Read below for more info.

Here are Amazon pre-order links to get these masterpieces of cult cinema:





Two Generation-Defining Cinematic Treasures From the Roger Corman Library
Digitally Remastered and Presented in Widescreen, Jam-Packed With All-New Bonus Content and Rockin’ Musical Performances by the Ramones, T.S.O.L., The Vandals and D.I.
(and featuring Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers in his acting debut)

SHOUT! FACTORY PRESENTS

ROCK ’N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL
 30TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY™ AND DVD
&
SUBURBIA COLLECTOR’S EDITION DVD

DVDs In Stores May 4, 2010
Rock’n’ Roll High School debuts on Blu-ray Nationwide May 11, 2010
From SHOUT! FACTORY

Gabba gabba hey! Two hugely popular Roger Corman rock films that have long been out of print will hit the home-entertainment shelves this May 2010: the Rock ’N’ Roll High School 30th Anniversary Special Edition and Suburbia Collector’s Edition, the first two titles launching the highly anticipated Roger Corman’s Cult Classics home entertainment series from Shout! Factory in association with New Horizons Picture Corp. Rock’n’Roll High School 30th Anniversary Special Edition DVD and Suburbia Collector’s Edition DVD debut on May 4, 2010; the first-ever Blu-ray release of Rock’n’Roll High School 30th Anniversary Special Edition is set for May 11.  Newly remastered and available for the first time in Anamorphic widescreen (16:9), Rock ’N’ Roll High School Special Edition and Suburbia Collector’s Edition provide the outrageous candor of teenage angst and nostalgic reverie of a counterculture rock movement that captured the hearts of many generations. With explosive musical performances from the Ramones, T.S.O.L., The Vandals and D.I., and extensive bonus content including all-new interviews and commentary with cast and crew, rare behind-the-scenes footage and much more, these two definitive home entertainment releases from Shout’s Roger Corman’s Cult Classics line are a must-have for Roger Corman fans and film aficionados as well as anyone who remains young at heart. Blu-ray is priced to own at $26.97 SRP. Each DVD title is sold separately and has a suggested retail price of $19.93.

Executive produced by Corman and directed by Allan Arkush (Heroes), Rock ’N’ Roll High School boasts performances by the Ramones and stars P.J. Soles (Halloween) in the lead role of Riff Randell, Vince Van Patten (Hell Night), Clint Howard (Grand Theft Auto), Dey Young (Spaceballs), Mary Woronov (Death Race 2000), Dick Miller (Piranha) and Paul Bartel (Hollywood Boulevard). 

Based on Arkush’s own high school fantasy, the 1979 cult film takes place at Vince Lombardi High School — the wildest, most rockin’ high school around! That is, until a thug of a principal, Miss Togar, comes along and tries to make the school a totalitarian state. With the help of the Ramones, the students of Vince Lombardi battle Miss Togar's iron-fisted rule and take their battle to a truly rockin’ conclusion!

Rock N Roll High School quickly developed a devoted following after its release in 1979 and became a mainstay of the midnight movie cult circuit. As with films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, audience members began to dress up like the cast and the Ramones for screenings.
Arkush, a self-described “unabashed rock ’n’ roll fanatic,” chose the Ramones to star as the film’s musical heroes, as he felt they epitomized pure rock n’ roll. As Arkush remembers, “We staged a live, marathon show at the Roxy Theatre that consisted of 22 hours of nonstop Ramones,” and the tireless quartet also wrote two songs for the film: “I Want You Around” and “Rock ’N’ Roll School.” The Ramones were fans of Corman as well. Johnny Ramone said in an interview at the time, “When we found out Roger Corman was behind the picture, we said, sure, we’ll do it because we knew he had a reputation and we knew he made good movies.”

ROCK ’N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL 30th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION
EXTENSIVE SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:
·         New Anamorphic Widescreen Transfer (1.85:1)
·         Special Introduction And “Thank You” From Director Allan Arkush
·         Audio Commentary With Director Allan Arkush, Producer Mike Finnell And   
Screenwriter Richard Whitley
·         Audio Commentary With Roger Corman And Dey Young
·         New Audio Commentary With Director Allan Arkush, P.J. Soles And Clint
Howard
·         Back To School: A Retrospective Including All-New Interviews With Allan Arkush, Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Dey Young, Marky Ramone And More . . .
·         Staying After Class: A Roundtable Interview With P.J. Soles, Vincent Van Patten And Dey Young
·         Interview With Roger Corman Conducted By Leonard Maltin
·         New Interview With Director Allan Arkush Including A Look At Rare, Behind-The-Scenes Stills From His Personal Collection
·         Audio Outtakes From The Roxy – Audio Recording Of The Ramones Shooting
·         The Final Scene
·         Original Radio Ads And TV Spots
·         Original Theatrical Trailer
·         Original Theatrical Trailer With Commentary By writer/director/actor Eli Roth Courtesy Of Trailers from Hell.
·         Additional Roger Corman Trailers

Written and directed by Penelope Spheeris (Wayne’s World), featuring live performances by T.S.O.L., The Vandals and D.I., and starring Bill Coyne, Chris Pederson, Jennifer Clay and Christina Beck, 1984’s Suburbia deftly explores the punk rock generation and follows the unforgettable journey of two teenage boys who escape their unhappy home and join a group of runaways, punks who have banded together to form their own family. Dubbing themselves “The Rejected,” (aka T.R.), the teens have taken squatters’ rights in a filthy, abandoned house, and are bound together by tragedy and punk rock until they’re confronted by the “Citizens Against Crime,” a group of irascible adults from the suburbs who blame the punks for the ruin of their town. During the course of filming, the production used real kids for many parts in addition to professional actors (and includes the acting debut of Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea).

SUBURBIA COLLECTOR’S EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:
·         New Anamorphic Widescreen Transfer (1.85:1)
·         Audio Commentary With Director Penelope Spheeris
·         New Audio Commentary
·         Theatrical Trailers
·         And more….

Following the release of the Rock ’N’ Roll High School 30th Anniversary DVD and Suburbia Collector’s Edition DVD, Shout! Factory will continue to present Roger Corman’s Cult Classics home entertainment releases on a monthly basis. Upcoming highlights include Death Race 2000, Battletruck (aka Warlords Of The 21st Century), Deathsport, Forbidden World, Galaxy Of Terror, Attack Of The Crab Monster, Not Of This Earth (1957), Piranha and Humanoids From The Deep, among others.

Independent filmmaker-producer Roger Corman’s storied career ranks as one of Hollywood’s most amazing success stories. Having produced more than 350 films and directed 50 others, his influence on American film goes far beyond his own energetic, creative low-budget movies. He is arguably one of Hollywood’s most gifted and masterful filmmakers.

Noted for his keen ability to spot young talent, Corman’s most lasting legacy will undoubtedly be the legion of producers, directors, writers and actors he has fostered, among them: Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Peter Fonda, Jonathan Demme, Gale Anne Hurd, Diane Ladd, Tommy Lee Jones, Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Talia Shire, Charles Bronson, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich and Sally Kirkland.

Shout! Factory is a diversified entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their careers sharing their music, television and film faves with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD offerings serve up classic, contemporary and cult TV series, riveting sports programs, live music, animation and documentaries in lavish packages crammed with extras. The company’s audio catalogue boasts GRAMMY®-nominated boxed sets, new releases from storied artists, lovingly assembled album reissues and indispensable “best of” compilations. These riches are the result of a creative acquisitions mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. With its fingers on the pulse of pop culture, Shout! Factory continues to impact the entertainment media landscape through acquisition of top quality programming for home entertainment releases. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit www.shoutfactory.com

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Curse of the Devil (1973, Carlos Aured)


Also known as Return of the Werewolf, Return of Walpurgis and The Black Harvest of Count Dracula, Curse of the Devil is one of 12 films with Spanish horror legend Paul Naschy in the role of the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky.  Considered as one of his best, I figured sooner or later I should check out more of Naschy films and thought this would be a good place to start. 

Paul Naschy plays Inquisitor Ireneus Daninsky, who orders the death of Countess Bathory because of her ties with Satan.  Before she dies, she curses Daninsky and all of his decendants.  Many years later, his descendant Waldemar Daninsky (also played by Naschy) transforms into a werewolf after pissing off some gypsies who know about the curse.  Waldemar ends up entangled with two sisters who are put in danger when the moon is full.

Curse of the Devil has a lot of good things going for it.  Paul Naschy does a great job as the tortured hero/villain.  The rest of the cast are all quite good and the women are all beautiful.  A nice mix of a classic werewolf story, filled with satanism and the legend of Countess Bathory.  The settings and cinematography (especially in the opening scene), are all well done too and there are also some nice gory scenes for those easily bored by historical horror films.  Some of the themes are a little silly and there are some slow parts, but overall the film worked well and was quite entertaining.


RATING:  7/10

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Scream (1981, Byron Quisenberry)


I'll start off the way every other review of this film surely starts off:  No this is not a review for the Wes Craven film of the same name (that can be found here ), but a review for a horror film from 1981.  Originally titled The Outing, the film was retitled Scream after another film came out called The Outing.  Directed by former Stuntman (?!?) Byron Quisenberry, Scream is considered by many to be one of the worst horror films ever made.  It is targeted for its lack of gore (most of the kills are offscreen), it's depth-less characters and its confusing ending.  I saw the video box for this at a local Blockbuster around 1997 and had to rent it, based on the great cover art and the title (Wes Craven's Scream had just come out and I was a big fan).  I had some friends come over hoping for a decent slasher and I'll admit, we were all very disappointed.  I remember fast forwarding through some of the film and had absolutely no idea what was going on through the rest.  It was a couple years ago that I started thinking about the film again and found a cheap VHS copy to give it another shot.  Shortly after, before I got a chance to watch it again, I found out that Code Red and Shriek Show were releasing the film on DVD with a director's commentary explaining the ending.  I decided I'd wait for the DVD and after being pushed back from its original release date (roughly 10 months ago!!!), it's finally available.

Scream begins with a group of people taking a white water rafting tour down the Rio Grande.  They reach their destination, a deserted ghost town and plan to stay there the night.  Suddenly though, a mysterious killer appears and starts offing the group one by one.  They find out that their rafts are gone and with the nearest town many miles away, they are stuck.  A couple motorcyclists appear and agree to take one of the men to get help.  Then an old sailor (Woody Strode), who appears from nowhere with a black dog and black horse, warns them that they are doomed.

Sounds like it could be a decent film but there are some things you should know about the film before deciding if you want to see it.  First of all, the film is very slow and the action happens very infrequently.  Also, the acting is not very good (except for Woody Strode's cameo, which lasts about 5 minutes).  Then there is the ending.  I watched the film twice and it wasn't until I watched it a third time and with the director's commentary that I finally understood the ending (even one of the moderator's didn't understand it!).  Despite all of this, the film does have a great atmosphere, a few scenes that make you jump and an interesting (or rather unique) plot (assuming you can understand it).  My suggestion, if you decide to take a chance on this challenging film, is to watch it once and then watch it again with the director's commentary.  Deciding whether your time is invaluable enough to waste on such a difficult film (that you'll probably still hate) is up to you.  Obviously mine was!

RATING:  4/10

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why do people keep dying?


This is a fairly unconventional post from your pal Starmummy.  More of a diary entry, though most of my movie reviews are like diary entries too.  Anyway, I was thinking a few hours ago at work how it seems like a lot of people keep dying.  I know millions of people die every day (actually I have no idea how many people die everyday, I'm just guessing) but it seems like people who I know or who have had some sort of impact in my life have been dying at a rapid pace recently.  First I found out someone I knew from a long time ago died that was sad.  Then Boner from Growing Pains, who I enjoyed watching as a kid (and saying the word Boner without getting in trouble).  Then Corey Haim.  Then I went into my local supermarket today and found out that the guy that has worked behind the customer service desk since forever died.  I thought the guy was really annoying but I didn't want him to die!  I thought I'd just write up a simple blog post stating all of this.

And then I found out that Alex Chilton, my all time favorite singer/songwriter/musician just died.  For those of you who aren't familiar with him, Chilton started as a singer for the Box Tops, who had their first number one single in 1967 with The Letter (Chilton was still a teenager).  A few years later, he quit the Box Tops and started up my favorite band of all time, Big Star.  After Big Star, Chilton laid low for awhile and then started up a solo career and had been performing with a reformed Big Star and Box Tops up until the present.  In fact, Chilton was supposed to play this weekend at the South by Southwest festival.  One of my life goals was to see Chilton live, which will obviously go unfulfilled. 

Anyway, I just wanted to send this message out to the world and say "C'mon people, stop fuckin' dying".

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Hidden (1987, Jack Sholder)

You may remember the poster above for The Hidden.  I've seen it a million times but never knew anything about the film.  I distinctly remember seeing the VHS regularly at various rental shops throughout the 80s and 90s.  It wasn't until I recently read a write up in an old issue of Fangoria that I became interested in the film, based on its creature effects and Sci-Fi/Horror story.

The Hidden starts off when a man driving a Ferrari robs a bank and leads the cops on a high speed chase.  Police officer Tom Beck (Michael Nouri), the best the local force has to offer, is assigned the case.  The criminal is caught and ends up in the hospital.  We soon learn that there is a large, bug-like creature living inside the man and it can switch from body to body, which it does with another man in the hospital.  The newly infected man leaves and soon continues the killing spree.  FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (Kyle MacLachlan), who is the only one who may know the secret behind the body swapping killer bug, comes to help Beck stop the bug beast before it can swap bodies again.

The Hidden is an original, action packed Sci-Fi Horror film that offers a lot of neat ideas and delivers the goods.  My only real complaint about the film is that it is really dated and has some silly secondary plot points (mainly why fuck does the killer like loud music?  Was it part of the deal they had with I.R.S. records to feature their artists' songs exclusively on the soundtrack that led to the idea?  And what about Ferraris?  Another sponsorship?)  But overall, the film was fun and well put together.  MacLachlan is great as the mysterious FBI agent and Michael Nouri who looks familiar but I have no idea who he is, plays the gruff Beck perfectly.  Applause should also go to Kevin Yagher, the man known for creating Chucky from Child's Play, for his grisly and ahead of their time makeup effects and creature designs (assisted by Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman, later of KNB Effects).  Despite the dated aspects of the film, this one is a winner.

RATING:  7/10

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005, Lance Mungia)


Edward Furlong.  Tara Reid.  David Boreanaz.  Danny Trejo.  Dennis Fucking Hopper.  Ok, so I could care less about the guy from Buffy/Angel (Boreanaz) and Tara Reid (well, at least her acting skills) but still a nice ensemble cast which would be enough to make me watch pretty much any movie.  The fact they are all together in a sequel to a film I really liked makes it a no brainer.  Unfortunately, no brainer is exactly what the film is.

In a very Reservoir Dogs-y way, we are introduced to Luc Crash (Boreanaz) and his group of Satan worshiping killers.  His plan is to become Satan himself and to do this he needs to perform some sacred ceremony with his girlfriend Lola (Reid).  Local Jimmy Cuervo (Furlong) is planning on running away with his girlfriend Lilly (Emmanuelle Chriqui), much to the displeasure of her father (Trejo) and the townspeople.  Jimmy and Lilly cross paths with Luc, who used to be friends with Jimmy.  Luc and his gang kill them but Jimmy comes back to get revenge, thanks to The Crow.

This film was, frankly, a mess.  Over the top acting, a convoluted story and Dennis Hopper as a Satanic priest/pimp fluent in Ebonics.  You'd have to see it to understand.  Better yet, don't.  Furlong, who I like in many films, was sadly just not good and Boreanaz was down right annoying.  Tara Reid looked great but her acting was amateurist at best.  The only thing I liked about the film was Danny Trejo's crow dance at the end.  This film screamed DTV and was just really bad.

RATING:  2/10

The Crow: Salvation (2000, Bharat Nalluri)


I read some reviews that said The Crow: Salvation was the best of the 3 Crow sequels.  I really enjoyed The Crow: City of Angels so if the review was right then I would presumably like this one too.  I'm not a huge fan (or fan at all really) of Kirsten Dunst but I thought maybe some star power would increase the chances of the film being decent.

The Crow: Salvation is about Alex Corvis (Eric Mabius), who becomes fried chicken in the electric chair for killing his girlfriend.  He is innocent though and is resurrected by The Crow to find out who really killed her.  All he knows is that the group responsible was led by a man with a zig zag scar on his arm.  One by one, Alex kills each gang member trying to find the identity of the man with the scar.  Along the way, he convinces Erin (Dunst), his girlfriend's sister that he is innocent and to help him.

The Crow: Salvation was kind of meh.  It had that DTV feeling that it just wasn't good enough to hit the big screens, Kirsten Dunst or not.  First of all, the Crow had short hair.  A stupid argument, but c'mon.  At least give him the right hairdo.  Eric Mabius wasn't bad but his character was lacking.  The rest of the cast were ok, nothing spectacular.  The story was decent, with a little whodunnit plot to make it not another clone of the first two, but it just didn't really feel like The Crow. 

RATING: 4/10

Friday, March 12, 2010

Castle Freak (1995, Stuart Gordon)



Stuart Gordon, best known for the horror classic Re-Animator, brings us another gory tale of the macabre.  Reuniting Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, also from Re-Animator, I had heard good things about Castle Freak.  I first read about the film in Fangoria's 101 Best Horror Films You've Never Heard Of and it definitely sounded like it could be something I'd like.  I finally gave the film a chance, 5 years later.

The Reilly's inherited a castle in Italy and travel to go see it.  The father John (Combs) is trying to keep his marriage with Susan (Crampton) together despite their grief over the death of their son due to a car accident involving John being drunk.  Their daughter Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide), who was blinded in the accident, keeps hearing something in the castle.  Could it be haunted or could it be a disfigured freak named Giorgio who has been chained up in the castle for the last 40 years?  Hmmm.  I wonder.

Castle Freak lived up to the positive reviews I read for it.  It's nasty, weird, violent and warped.  The makeup effects were some of the best I've seen for such a low budget film and the cast are all perfect.  Jeffrey Combs is great and completely off the wall in this film and the lovely Barbara Crampton shines as well.  Overall, the film has a good subplot, action, FX and just about everything else.  I'll admit that its a little silly at times, but it doesn't detract from the film.


RATING:  7/10

The Crow: City of Angels (1996, Tim Pope)



The Crow, as stated in my review, was a very dark film that had a great mix of action, violence and all around coolness.  It was well received when it was released and a sequel, despite the tragic death of Brandon Lee, was inevitable.  Well here is that sequel.  Pretty much regarded as a let down, The Crow: City of Angels gives Tim Pope, best known by me as directing some of The Cure's best music videos, a shot at a feature film.  And what could be more suitable for The Cure's music video director then a Crow sequel?

City of Angels revives the legendary Crow, which brings those who died innocently back to life to get revenge on their killers.  This time, Ashe Corven (Vincent Perez) and his son are killed by a psychotic gang and he is brought back to life to kill them.  He finds out that they are led by a voodoo practicing killer named Judah (Richard Brooks).  Before he gets to Judah though, The Crow must get past his gang including the maniacal Curve (Iggy Pop) and sex crazed Nemo (Thomas Jane).  Sarah (Mia Kirshner), who was friends with the first Crow, is now a tattoo artist with her partner Noah (late punk legend Ian Dury) and is one of the only people who can help Ashe.

I was really surprised by this film and how enjoyable it was.  Pretty much regarded as a crappy sequel/cash in, I think the film took the formula of the first film and made a very good follow up.  I'll admit that having a French actor play the Crow was a little strange at first, but Perez did a decent job in the end.  The supporting cast is perhaps what I like the most about the film.  The scene with Thomas Jane in the sex booth was great (I actually didn't even recognize him until the end credits) and every scene with the inimitable Iggy Pop was fantastic.  He plays such a great psycho that it hardly looks like he's acting (assuming he was).  Tim Pope proves that he has what it takes to turn his darkly stylish formula for music videos into a full length film.  Really, why does everyone hate this film?

RATING:  7/10

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

House of the Devil (2009, Ti West)


I love 80s horror movies very, very much.  There is just something about them that just can't be replicated.  A certain feel, look, sound, smell (the plastic on an old clamshell VHS rental anyone?).  Everything about them is so specific to that time in horror and I love it.  So then this movie comes along called House of the Devil that is being praised as an 80s horror movie only made 20 years later.  I was skeptical at first but the more praise I heard, the more I wanted to see it.  How can anyone capture an 80s horror film in the present day?

House of the Devil is the story of Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue), a sophomore in college who desperately needs money fast to pay for her new apartment.  Sam spots an add for a babysitter and quickly applies.  After being stood up for the job, her friend Megan (Greta Gerwig) helps her get a call back and she quickly accepts.  After arriving, Sam finds out that she's not taking care of a child but an elderly woman.  Sam makes herself at home after being told that the woman keeps to herself and is self sufficient.  So why did they need Sam?  Oh just wait...you'll find out.

Amazingly, Ti West succeeded in making an 80s horror film in 2009.  House of the Devil has all of the necessary ingredients (hell, they even released a VHS version which comes in a clambox case) of the best of 80s horror.  The film's characters and the grainy cinematography fit perfectly in with the director's aspirations.  Jocelin Donahue is very believable as an 80s horror heroine and the mysterious Ulman's, played by Tom (Manhunter) Noonan and Mary (Death Race 2000) Woronov, bring a wonderful sense of mystery.  Though a little slow in the first half, so were most of the 80s horror films.  When the film picks up, it will knock you on your ass with plenty of terrifying images and jump out of your seat scares.  Who says they don't make them like they used to?

RATING:  8/10

Corey Haim RIP


Enjoy Neverland, lost boy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Crow (1994, Alex Proyas)


I was in middle school when The Crow came out.  I remember all of my friends loved it.  I remember Brandon Lee's tragic death while filming it.  I remember Stone Temple Pilots performing Big Empty on MTV Unplugged.  I wanted to see it so bad but my mother wouldn't let me see R rated movies.  Ho hum.  I did eventually see it shortly after it came out on video and I thought it was OK but it didn't live up to my expectations.

The Crow is the story of Eric Draven (Brandon Lee), a musician who was murdered along with his fiance by a group of thugs.  One year later, Eric is brought back to life by a mysterious crow to get revenge on the killers, led by Top Dollar (Michael Wincott).  Police Officer Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) and a young girl (Rochelle Davis) befriend Eric in his quest to settle the score.

I'm not really sure what I didn't like about The Crow the first time I saw it.  I think maybe I was actually too young.  This film is really dark and gritty, which serves the material perfectly.  I read the graphic novel shortly after watching it again and other than a few minor details, the film was fairly true to the source.  Alex Proyas does a magnificent job on the bleakness of the film's cityscape setting.  I haven't seen his film Dark City yet, but I've heard it is also very dark.  Though Brandon Lee can't really act, there is something about him that works with the title character.  I think mainly it's his look and background in action because he does very well in the fight sequences.  Also of note are David Patrick Kelly as T-Bird, one of the thugs.  He shows that he has lost none of the creepiness that made him the stand out of such favorites as The Warriors and Dreamscape.  Michael Wincott, who I liked from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Three Musketeers and Alien: Resurrection, also does a great job as the head crime boss (with a terrible hairdo).

RATING:  8/10

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bitch Slap (2009, Rick Jacobson)


Labeled as being a throwback to the Grindhouse Exploitation films of yore, I was immediately curious about Bitch Slap.  The artwork looked promising with three bad ass chicks with weapons.  Beyond that though, I really didn't know what to expect and only hoped for the best.

Bitch Slap is the tale of three ladies, Hel (Erin Cummings), Camero (America Olivo) and Trixie (Julia Voth).  They venture out into the desert in search for a wealth of diamonds.  While there, we also meet up with Gage (Michael Hurst), the man who knows where the treasure is, a couple of cyberpunks and a dufus deputy.  Before we know it, the girls all turn on each other and all hell breaks loose.

Bitch Slap has a lot of problems, unfortunately.  The story is nonsensical, the camera work and overuse of CGI, Green Screens (to save on location filming or even building sets, no doubt) and special effects are annoying.  I actually had no idea what was going on half of the time.  As with many "throwback" films of today, Bitch Slap has its fair share of cameos.  Unfortunately, director Rick Jacobson's past includes directing some episodes of Xena and Hercules, which explains cameos by Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless, not really helping the film either.  The only things that made the film somewhat watchable were the female leads and the fight scenes.  Zoe Bell did a terrific job coordinating the stunts and the fight sequences.  The no holds barred fight between the three ladies at the end was stunning.  There were some nice steamy scenes too, which helped the film.  My suggestion would be to watch the film in fast forward and stop it when you see the girls kissing or fighting.

RATING:  3/10