Monday, June 27, 2011

Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man and Pasolini's The Anger coming from Raro Video




LOS ANGELES (June 23, 2011) – Referenced in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 2, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976) is one of the most violent, censored and unconventional Italian style detective films of its time. The credit goes to both the director Ruggero Deodato, extremely apt at telling stories in a strong tone (he made the infamous Cannibal Holocaust), and the scriptwriter Fernando di Leo, author of the best Italian noir films (Recently released in a DVD boxed set as The Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection – All four films will be available as individual breakouts on July 14 from RaroVideo). Above all, the psychological and behavioral description of the main characters, the two policemen, members of an anti-crime squad who have complete freedom in their actions against crime, had never been seen before. Not only do they not hesitate to brutally kill the criminals they are hunting down, but Alfredo (Marc Porel) and Antonio (Ray Lovelock) do so while maintaining a cynical and light-hearted attitude even in the most threatening situations.

RaroVideo U.S.’s restored version of Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, will arrive on DVD for the first time ever on July 26. The extensive DVD extras include the documentary entitled, Poliziotti Violenti and a fully illustrated booklet containing critical analysis of the film.

RaroVideo U.S. will also release Pasolini’s THE ANGER on DVD July 26 with extensive extras. Tapping into topics from the 1950’s and the early 1960’s such as racism, the Middle East, Cuba, Stalinism, the Atomic bomb, and the death of Marilyn Monroe it is understandable why the U.S. government has been afraid of this film for so long. The directors and commentators of The Anger (1963), two of the most important opinion makers and intellectuals in post WWII Europe, employ documentary footage from this era and an accompanying commentary, in which they attempt to answer, quite elegantly and poetically, the existential question: Why are our lives characterized by discontent, anguish, and fear? The film is in two completely separate parts, and the directors of these respective sections, left-wing film director and poet, Pier Paolo Pasolini and the conservative journalist and film director, Giovanni Guareschi, offer the viewer contrasting analyses of, and prescriptions for modern society. This release is an exclusive, uncut, restored version obtained from the Cinemateque of Bologna.

Both LIVE LIKE A COP, DIE LIKE A MAN and THE ANGER have been restored through a new digital HD transfer from the original 35mm negatives. **Please note that RaroVideo’s release of The Secret Of Dorian Gray has moved from May 17 to June 28**

Antonioni’s The Vanquished, Fellini’s The Clowns, The Perfume of the Lady in Black, Adua and her Friends and The Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection are all available now from RaroVideo U.S. The label will continue to spotlight the works of major Italian directors this year with plans to release Carmelo Bene’s Our Lady of the Turks (Nostra signora dei Turchi) and many more rare titles.

RaroVideo’s Company Mission Statement
RaroVideo’s eclectic and interdisciplinary approach aims to recognize and publish quality works found in the cinema and visual art world.

About RaroVideo U.S.
RaroVideo U.S. is devoted to producing high-quality DVD, BLU-RAY and VOD releases for American audiences. The partnership behind the company formed in 2010 when Stefano and Gianluca Curti, owners of RaroVideo Italy, teamed with Nico Bruinsma, owner of U.S. DVD label Cult Epics. Stefano and Gianluca Curti started RaroVideo Italy in 1999. Hailed by cinephiles for expertly restoring rare films by influential filmmakers from a wide range of genres, the company has earned an outstanding international reputation for the quality of its high-definition transfers. Its releases are also known for their original uncut versions and exclusive supplemental content as well as the critical analysis and superb booklets that accompany each film. Among the directors featured in the RaroVideo catalog are: Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Luchino Visconti, Roberto Rosselllini, David Lynch, Derek Jarman, Shinya Tsukamoto, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Lars von Trier, Lucio Fiulci, Mario Bava, Francesco Barilli, Tinto Brass, Jean Cocteau, Pedro Almodovar and Martin Scorsese to name just a few. RaroVideo was also the first company in the world to release on DVD Andy Warhol’s: The Chelsea Girls, My Hustler, The Nude Restaurant and Lonesome Cowboys. RaroVideo’s U.S. branch is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Price:                                                   $29.98 (DVD)
Street Date:                                        July 26, 2011
Pre-Order Date:                               June 28, 2011
Running time:                                   95 minutes
Distributor:                                       ENTERTAINMENT ONE             
DVD UPC:                                           816018010142               
Language:                                           Italian with optional English subtitles
Rating:                                                 NR

-Documentary: Poliziotti Violenti, running time 40 min.
-TV advertisement directed and commented by Ruggero Deodato
-Director filmography and biography
-A fully illustrated booklet containing critical analysis of the film
-New digital transfer from original 35mm negative
-Digitally restored and remastered
-New and improved English subtitle translation

Price:                                                   $29.98 (DVD)
Street Date:                                        July 26, 2011
Pre-Order Date:                               June 28, 2011
Running time:                                   104 minutes
Distributor:                                       ENTERTAINMENT ONE             
DVD UPC:                                           816018010135               
Language:                                           Italian and English with optional English subtitles
Rating:                                                 NR

-Original Trailer of The Anger (La Rabbia)
-A documentary about the genesis of the film by Tatti Sanguineti entitled La Rabbia I, La Rabbia II, La Rabbia III... L’Arabia – running time 50 min.
- A rare and exclusive short Pier Paolo Pasolini film entitled Le Mura di Sana’a "The Wall of Sana'a"– running time 16 min.
-Extended fully illustrated booklet containing rare Pasolini drawings and critical analysis of the film, included are images of some never-before-seen color paintings and drawings by the contemporary Italian artist, Renato Guttuso
-New digital transfer from original 35mm negative print supervised by the Bologna Cinemateque.
-Digitally restored and remastered
-New and improved English subtitle translation

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rio Conchos / Take a Hard Ride (2011, Shout! Factory)

Coming June 21st from Shout! Factory is a pairing of two Western classics - Rio Conchos and Take a Hard Ride.  Two very different films but still a treat for western fans, especially in this low price set.  I had heard of Take a Hard Ride before because of its great cast but had never heard of Rio Conchos.  I've been watching a lot of westerns lately so I couldn't pass it up.
Rio Conchos stars Richard Boone as an ex-confederate army officer named Lassiter.  He is found with a stolen army rifle and is thrown in jail.  A Mexican bandit who is also an old aquaintance (Tony Franciosa) also shares his cell and Lassiter makes a deal to show the army where the rest of the stolen guns are if they let him and his cell mate accompany them.  The pair, along with army Captain Haven (Stuart Whitman) and Sgt Franklyn (Jim Brown) travel through the west to find Colonel Pardee (Edmond O'Brien), who Lassiter claims to have the guns, all the while fighting off attacks from Apaches.
Take a Hard Ride also stars Jim Brown, this time as Pike, who is attempting to transport $86,000 to the widow of his recently departed boss.  Along the way he meets up with Tyree (Fred Williamson), a smooth gambler, a prostitue (Katherine Spaak) and her half breed, mute friend Kashtok (Jim Kelly) who also happens to be a kung fu master.  Together they fight off a mysterious bounty hunter (Lee Van Cleef) and a whole slew of other baddies.
Shout! Factory delivers the goods once again on this great entry in their Wild West collection.  The true winner of the two films here is definitely Rio Conchos.  One of the most oddly heart wrenching westerns I have seen, especially the scenes with the baby, Rio Conchos also delivers in action, vibrant characters and a great story.  I have heard that the film is very similar to the John Wayne film The Comancheros (both films share a screenwriter) but I haven't seen it so I can't comment as to if it is a ripoff or what.  Regardless, it is a great film and a true gem of the genre.  Take a Hard Ride, though not a classic, is still pretty damn watchable.  Jim Brown, Jim Kelly and Fred Williamson team up again as a trio of badasses trying to right the wrong.  Williamson's jive talk and some pointless scenes (the fist fight at the end of the film) hamper the film but it is still worth a watch just to see this great cast in action.  The climax is exciting and the humor lightens the tone of the film.  Overall, this set is a must for western fans, blaxploitation fans and action fans.  Also included are insighful new interviews with Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly, as well as trailers.
Pre-Order Rio Conchos / Take a Hard Ride directly from Shout! Factory HERE

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hamlet (2011, Shout! Factory)

Here we have another episode of the great Mystery Science Theater 3000 put out by Shout! Factory.  This time, Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo tackle a laughably dubbed, German,  made for television production of Hamlet, starring Maximilian Schell.  Being the poorly read chap that I am, I have never actually read Hamlet nor seen any movie adaptions so this is probably the worst way to first see Hamlet.  Then again, I couldn't give two shits about Shakespeare so this is really the only way I would.

For anyone interested, Hamlet is the story of a guy whose father has been killed by his uncle, who then marries Hamlet's mother.  Hamlet then sees his father's ghost and goes crazy.  At least that's what I got from it.  I could be totally wrong, but once again I just couldn't care less about the story.  What I do know is that Mike and his robot sidekicks seem to know the story well because they do a good job of narrating and keeping the characters straight, all while killing the dark, serious tone of the film with their machine gun fire quips.

Like I stated before, I don't know much Shakespeare so what's great about this episode is that it is both hilarious and a learning experience.  The MST3K boys usually are forced to sit through low budget sci fi, monster or other b movie oddities so Hamlet is not what one would expect to see on the show.  True it is a cheesy, low budget Hamlet but it's still Hamlet.  That to me proves how inventive and brilliant this show is.  This episode is quite funny and I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout.  The movie was hard to sit through but Mike, Crow and Servo (I'm sorry, I mean Sirveaux) made it tolerable, even enjoyable.  There were some parts that were even a little too slow for the crew's comical anecdotes, but it's still definitely worth a watch.

RATING: 7/10
MST3K: Hamlet is a Shout Select title, only available through Shout! Factory's website.  You can pre-order it HERE or it is also available in a bundle with Gunslinger with free shipping and a free MST3K stress ball HERE and a 4 DVD Select Bundle with Gunslinger, Beginning of the End and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies HERE with $10 off, free shipping and a free MST3K stress ball.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Gunslinger (2011, Shout! Factory)

Coming June 21st from Shout! Factory is another wonderful episode of the funny and fact filled series Mystery Science Theater 3000.  This time around, the subject is Roger Corman's western Gunslinger.  I previously reviewed the MST3K Vol. XX set and after enjoying it very much, I couldn't in my right mind resist an MST3K episode featuring a Corman film.  It would be heresy. 
Gunslinger is the story of a typical western town whose sheriff is gunned down.  His wife (Beverly Garland) takes over as sheriff and goes to get revenge against the man who hired his killers (whom she has already killed).  In the meantime a stranger appears whose motives are questionable and takes an interest in the new sheriff.  Also in the equation is a trampy bar owner who immediately clashes with sheriff and who has a few tricks up her sleeve. 
Joel Hodgson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot rip this admittedly crappy film to shreds and deservedly so.  Gunslinger is a sub par western made with a miniscule budget and the guys provide a hilarious commentary to the stupidness they are forced to watch by the evil scientists.  Frequent cracks about a "wormy" character, some exotic dancers and the other laughable characters are well delivered and guaranteed to make you laugh until it hurts. 
RATING:  8/10 
MST3K: Gunslinger is a Shout Select title, only available through Shout! Factory's website.  You can pre-order it HERE or it is also available in a bundle with Hamlet (review coming soon) with free shipping and a free MST3K stress ball HERE and a 4 DVD Select Bundle with Hamlet, Beginning of the End and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies HERE with $10 off, free shipping and a free MST3K stress ball.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Nesting (1981, Armand Weston)

Hard at work releasing many of their classic titles on Blu Ray, Blue Underground is releasing their first new title in quite some time on June 28th - The Nesting.  A little known horror film from 1981, this one is a welcome addition to Blue Underground's fantastic catalog and sure to be a hit among horror fans.  I'll admit that I had never heard of this film before but when I saw the announcement for it, I instantly knew I had to get it. 

Robin Groves plays mystery author Lauren Cochran, who suffers from Agoraphobia.  After suffering from a panic attack on a crowded street, she decides to go out into the country to try to write her next book.  She accidentally stumbles upon an old mansion that looks exactly like the one she had visions of and used for the cover of her last book.  She meets some of the locals, including Colonel Lebrun (John Carradine) who has what seems like a stroke after getting some bad vibes off of Lauren.  While staying in the old mansion, Lauren starts having visions of awful things that have happened there.  Soon enough, more awful things start happening to those around her and it seems like the house itself is causing these deaths.

The Nesting was a neat little forgotten gem from one of my favorite periods of horror.  The film is a blend of not only the haunted house films of the 70s (Legend of Hell House, The Changeling) but also on the recent 80s slasher craze.  There are some nasty deaths in this film (that I won't give away) which should please any gorehound.  The strongest aspect of the film however is definitely the use of atmosphere.  The old mansion is used perfectly as a creepy haven for supernatural occurrences and the visions Lauren has are quite scary.  The film lost some steam in the second half but it is well worth a watch, especially for those who love haunted house movies or atmospheric horror. 

Blue Underground is releasing The Nesting on both DVD and Blu Ray.  The copy I watched was DVD and I must say that for a 30 year old film, I don't think I have ever seen a more beautiful transfer.  The film elements must have been kept in pristine condition because it is hard to believe just how good it turned out.  The picture is crystal clear and the sound is also very crisp (and loud at just the right moments).  Also included is a series of deleted and extended scenes, as well as trailers, tv spots and a poster & still gallery.  For such an obscure film, Blue Underground has gone above and beyond to deliver such an incredible release.  Hopefully they continue releasing more interesting new titles like this.

The Nesting is available for pre-order on DVD and BLU RAY direct from Blue Underground.

RATING: 8/10


Monday, June 13, 2011

Trailers from Hell Vol. 2 / Little Shop of Horrors (2011, Shout! Factory)

From Shout! Factory and Joe Dante's website Trailers from Hell comes Trailers from Hell Volume 2.  Not only does this DVD include 20 exclusive trailers with director commentaries but it also includes a brand new Anamorphic Widescreen transfer of Roger Corman's classic original Little Shop of Horrors.  No, I'm not kidding.  How could anyone pass this up?  I know I couldn't.  For anyone unfamiliar with Trailers from Hell, it began as a website created by famed director Joe Dante (Piranha, Gremlins) where he gathered up several genre directors to provide commentaries for classic movie trailers - mainly horror, cult and exploitation.

Trailers from Hell Volume 2 is another great collection of trailers only this time they weren't previously available on the TFH website (as the first collection's trailers were).  Dante assembles some very well known directors and screenwriters to give insightful commentaries on everything from well known classics to not so well known gems.  The roster is as follows:

-Roger Corman on trailers for Ski Troop Attack and Premature Burial
-Joe Dante on Donovan’s Brain and The Invisible Ghost
-Guillermo Del Toro on Deep Red and The Hunchback of Notre Dame
-Ernest Dickerson on The Creeping Unknown
-Mick Garris on Fire Maidens from Outer Space and Flesh Gordon
-Jack Hill on Pit Stop
-Larry Karaszewski on Last Summer and The Tenant
-Lloyd Kaufman on Terror Firmer
-Mary Lambert on Godzilla vs. Mothra
-John Landis on Gorgo
-Josh Olson on Jaws and The Lineup
-Michael Peyser on Seven Days in May
-Brian Trenchard-Smith on Devil Ship Pirates and Stranglers of Bombay

As anyone can see from this exciting group of films and those providing the commentaries, this collection is terrific.  The commentaries are filled with little known facts, anecdotes and humor.  My favorites were John Landis' Gorgo (the funniest of the bunch), Jack Hill on Pit Stop (one of my favorite directors doing one of my favorite movies) and Brian Trenchard-Smith doing two little known Hammer Horror films.  The best thing about this collection is finding new movies I've never even heard of that are now on my must-see list.  So I highly recommend this collection for any horror, cult, B movie, exploitation and trailer collection fan.  Let's not forget though that you also get a beautiful new Anamorphic Widescreen transfer of Little Shop of Horrors too!  I'll be the first to admit that this movie is pretty dumb but it's fun, silly and the scene with Jack Nicholson at the dentist is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.  This new transfer is like a Michael Bay film compared to the other public domain junk versions out there so this is definitely the way to see the film.

RATING:  10/10

Pre-Order Trailers from Hell Volume 2 HERE direct from Shout! Factory and receive a copy of Trailers from Hell Volume 1 FREE! (while supplies last)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Yesspeak (2003, Robert Garofalo)

Whether you like or dislike Yes, there are a few things that are undeniable.  1) they are great musicians and 2) they are innovative.  My short attention span doesn't always enable me to appreciate prog rock bands like Yes as much as others, but I know talent when I see it.  I would say I am a casual fan of Yes.  I know a few of their singles (I See All Good People, Owner of a Lonely Heart, Roundabout) and I know Rick Wakeman from some of his other projects (David Bowie's Hunky Dory album and the soundtrack to the 80s slasher film The Burning) as well as Steve Howe playing on Lou Reed's first solo album and being The Replacement's Bob Stinson's guitar hero.  Ok, so those are pretty loose ties to the band, but it makes me more interested in learning about them.
Yesspeak is a 3 hour documentary/concert film released by MVD that focuses on the band's 35th anniversary tour with their classic lineup of Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass), Rick Wakeman (keyboards) and Alan White (drums).  We are shown lots of behind the scenes footage of the band talking from their homes about the tour as well as backstage views of the band members warming up and traveling.  There is also lots of great concert footage mixed in to entice fans.
Yesspeak is a dream come true for Yes fans and anyone who likes rock documentaries.  The mix of music and interviews is perfect and the band members all have interesting stories to tell about the past, present and future of Yes.  The one aspect of the film that might put off casual fans is the long running time.  For Yes fans though, this just makes it that much better.  I did find myself fast forwarding through a couple interviews that dragged but for the most part they were quite interesting and informative.  The fact that this film made me want to hear more of Yes's music proves that it was well worth the watch and I highly recommend it to music fans of all genres.
RATING:  7/10

Dahmer Vs. Gacy (2011, Ford Austin)

Everyone knows who Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy are.  The cannibal and the portly killer clown.  Well who would have thought someone would think to make a movie about them as rivals?  Actually there is much more to the story than that (which I will get into in a second) but that's the gist of it.  Interesting concept at least.  Released by Walking Shadows and Virgil Films & Entertainment, this wacky horror film stars and was directed by Ford Austin, a character actor who has been in the business for many years.

Dahmer vs. Gacy begins with a top secret government operation whose purpose is to create a super killer.  To do this, they have gathered DNA from some of the most deadly serial killers in history and cloned them.  Of course with every top secret government operation, something goes wrong and two of the clones escape - Jeffrey Dahmer (Ford Austin) and John Wayne Gacy (Randal Malone).  Enter Ringo (Ford Austin again), a drunk hillbilly who hears the voice of God (Harland Williams) in his head, telling him he must kill the deadly clones.  Meanwhile, the Dahmer and Gacy clones begin a killing spree which turns into a competition.

Dahmer vs. Gacy was a silly, bloody, offensive low budget film which was actually pretty good.  I'll admit some of the scenes (especially the gay overtones) went a little overboard, but judging by the over the top nature of the film, I'm sure that was the point.  Every aspect of Dahmer vs. Gacy went for the balls, from the gallons of blood to the endless use of the F word.  With such a silly premise, any other approach probably would have failed so I would say the film makers succeeded.  I would say most horror fans will get a kick out of this little oddity, especially those who don't mind crude, bloody humor and off the wall antics.  Oh yeah, there are some ninjas thrown in for good measure too!  Can't go wrong with ninjas.

RATING:  7/10