Thursday, May 26, 2011
Singer and Actress Leslie Uggams (The Love Boat) plays Liz Weatherly, a famous singer who goes on a road trip to have some time alone. Unfortunately her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and she seeks refuge at an isolated, run down set of cabins. The owner is a washed up, ex-celebrity named Bertha (Shelley Winters) and she is accompanied by her wannabe country singin' boy toy Eddie (Michael Christian) and her servant Keno (Ted "Lurch from the Addams Family" Cassidy). Bertha wants Liz gone asap because she is afraid Eddie will go for the younger woman. Well folks, that is an understatement as Eddie assaults Liz and after one of the oddest court cases I've witnessed on film, he seeks to make Liz his bride. Oh, did I mention Eddie has a thing for Rhinestone-Studded Elvis suits?
Poor Pretty Eddie is a shining example of how fun, sick and weird 70s exploitation cinema could get. Filled with slow motion action scenes (even the actor's voices are in slow motion), some great performances by a great cast (look for Slim Pickens as the no good Sheriff) and a script that seems to go where you least expect it to - Poor Pretty Eddie is a wild rollercoaster ride. My only real gripe with the film is that it gets a little too weird at times and loses focus (Eddie's "musical performances" for example). Overall though, it should please any fan of backwoods horror, grindhouse, exploitation and 70's cult. HD Cinema Classics breathes new life into this old B movie with a fantastic release. The picture quality (especially for such a low budget film) is stunning and it includes a nice set of special features (commentary by film historian Joe Rubins and the film's cinematographer David Worth, an essay on the film, a trailer and a demonstration showing the restoration of the film for this DVD/Blu Ray release).
Monday, May 16, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Bob Dylan Revealed is an intimate portrait of one of the most important musicians of the last century. This disc is comprised mostly of personal stories by those who have played with, traveled with, photographed or produced Dylan over the years. The films starts with the early days of Dylan's career including how he was almost dropped by Columbia Records after his first album but was kept based on his songwriting skills. Next is one of Dylan's most important periods - when he decided to go electric. Then we are treated with stories about Dylan's infamous "motorcylce accident", the Rolling Thunder Revue tour, Dylan's beloved Desire album and the background of the song The Hurricane, becoming a Born Again Christian and more. Featured are producers Jerry Wexler, musicians Scarlet Rivera, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Winston Watson, Pastor Bill Dwyer and many more.
Bob Dylan Revealed is a unique documentary, one that relies mostly on input from those people around to tell stories of their times with Dylan. Obviously with this type of character study, many of the anecdotes could be construed as subjective but the stories are entertaining enough to keep viewers enthralled. Other than the many interviews included, this DVD is chock full of rare performances and footage of Dylan from each period discussed. As previously stated, this film spotlights several different parts of Dylan's career but some parts may be a little too specific for casual fans. If you are a Dylan fan or love music documentaries like myself, then you can't lose with this one. I personally thought it was a great watch and each personality was very entertaining and their stories important to the Dylan myth.
The Night Shift follows the cleverly named, undead cemetery guard Rue Morgan (Khristian Fulmer) whose job is to not only keep people out of the graveyard at night, but keep the residents in! He has a major crush on Claire Rennfield (producer Erin Lilley), who is his boss during the day and is unfortunately still alive. Rue's friend, a limbless skeleton named Herb (voiced by Soren Odom), helps to keep him entertained when things are slow. Too bad the pesky zombie Roderick (Jonathan Pruitt) is planning some supernatural hi jinx in order to win over Rue's job and take advantage of a portal to another world that happens to be in the cemetery. Did you catch all that?
The Night Shift was a funny, action packed little film with a lot of potential to be a cult classic. The story was unique and the acting was all very professional. I'd have to say my favorite part of the film was definitely Herb. There is just something about talking skeletons that makes me laugh until it hurts. My only minor gripe about the film was that at 2 hours long it could have been a little shorter. Don't get me wrong, the story definitely had enough substance to fill out the running time and there weren't really any slow points but I just have trouble sitting still for 2 hours. Overall, I really enjoyed the film and hope that it finds an audience that feels the same way I do. With all the crappy DTV horror garbage being put out today, it's nice to see something as original and entertaining as The Night Shift.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Eat My Dust! stars Ron Howard as trouble making teen Hoover Niebold who works odd jobs at the local racetrack. Hoover is in love with Darlene, a beautiful blonde who he would do anything for, which he proves by stealing a race car and taking her and some friends for a joyride. Hoover's father, the sheriff, tries to protect his son while also trying to catch him by enlisting a group of racers, including the stolen car's owner Big Bubba Jones (The Partridge Family's Dave "Reuben Kinkaid" Madden). Hoover proves to be an ace behind the wheel, destroying anything in his path (including an entire farm!), but will it be enough to win Darlene's heart?
Grand Theft Auto stars Howard as Sam Freeman and Nancy Morgan as Paula Powers, a pair of lovebirds from different backgrounds. Nancy is from a wealthy family and is supposed to marry rich snob Collins Hedgeworth (Paul Linke). Sam and Paula decide to steal her father's Rolls Royce and elope to Las Vegas. Of course Paula's parents are outraged and put up a reward over the radio to whoever can catch her. This causes a mass hysteria for anyone with a set of wheels, which only gets worse when her intended husband puts up his own reward. Can this young Romeo and Juliet make it to Vegas or will they be caught by one of the bounty hunters?
Shout! Factory have outdone themselves again with this exhaustive set of two 70s Drive In Classics deserving of a special release. Collecting numerous special features from previous releases (interviews, trailers, making of featurettes, commentary with Ron Howard and Roger Corman and a separate commentary with Rance Howard, Joe Dante, Allan Arkush and Ben Haller) as well as a brand new interview with Ron Howard and new Anamorphic Widescreen Transfers, this 2 DVD set is a must. Of the two films, I prefer Eat My Dust! for its non-stop action and more innocent feel, but they are both a lot of fun. Car chases (and crashes) and zany characters make these films perfect for any fan of drive in flicks, cult movies, car chases, action or comedy pictures.
Pre-order this set from Shout! Factory HERE
Eat My Dust! - 8/10
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Have you ever loved a director before seeing any of his/her films? I have. Michelangelo Antonioni. This probably makes no sense to most of you and you are wondering if I've been sniffing roach spray again. This crazy notion of mine began with Antonioni's Red Desert. When that film was released last year by Criterion, I read a little bit about it and was intrigued. I still haven't seen the film but I started reading more about it and checked a few of his other films out of the library (L'Avventura, La Notte, L'eclisse, Blow-Up, Zabriskie Point, The Passenger). Once again though, for some reason I just never got around to watching them. Now, with I Vinti just released by Raro Video, I finally made it a point to check out this great director. It was a wise choice.
I Vinti (The Vanquished) begins with a prologue describing how the well off youth of today (by today I mean the 50s when this film was made) were turning to delinquency, partially to rebel against their well-to-do families and partially out of their inability to distinguish between media (films, books, news) and reality. This perfectly sets up the three parts that comprise the film. The first, set in France, centers around a group of friends going on a hike in the country. Though seemingly innocent, it turns out that the group is plotting against one of the teens. The second story, which takes place in Italy, is about a family whose college age son has gone missing. After calling the police to investigate, it turns out that the missing boy is not the innocent lad they thought him to be. The last story, based in England, follows a fame-hungry man who acts as if he won the lottery because he stumbled upon a dead body and gets his story in the local newspaper.
I Vinti is pretty close to being a masterpiece of "misunderstood youth" films. The stories all have important messages and they all keep the viewer guessing throughout. I'm not a big fan of Hollywood remakes but the whole time I was watching this, I kept picturing an updated version with today's biggest actors (especially Simon Pegg in the role of the "lucky" corpse finder). Though like all classic movies, this film really doesn't need to be improved upon. The way the youth are portrayed in this film, basically spoiled young brats who turn to crime out of boredom and rebellion, is not your typical "teen drama". Raro's new DVD is another excellent release, complete with a slew of bonus features (interviews, short films, extensive booklet) as well as a beautiful looking uncut print of the film (as presented at the 1953 Venice Film Festival). Needless to say, not only will I continue looking forward to Raro's future releases, I will finally start checking out some of Antonioni's other works.