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Mon
25
Sep

Dennis Hopper's Colors Just as Relevant Today as 1988

Colors

Colors, directed by Dennis Hopper and starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, is a 1988 drama set in the barrios of L.A. during the gang wars that were gripping the country at the time, and gave an inside look at the gangs on both sides of the law.

Having recently just re-watched this film, I was shocked at just how much history is repeating itself. You just need to look on X or do a simple YouTube search to see the violence perpetrated by the thugs of today and the police brutality that grips our headlines on an almost daily basis.

The story begins with a rookie cop (Penn) wanting to clean up the streets by any means necessary. After witnessing his first gangland murder case, his temper starts getting the best of him and he is forced to partner with a seasoned veteran (Duvall) to learn how to really navigate the streets.

Fri
08
Sep

The Flash Stumbles Over Finish Line for Nine Season Run on Blu-ray

The Flash Season 9

As the DCEU ramped up anticipation for the theatrical release of The Flash, the CW series -- know for its inconsistent peaks and valleys of storytelling -- wrapped up its ninth and final season in typical fashion: by blending some great ideas and standout episodes in a way that still manages to lead to a milquetoast ending.

Being the final season, there was a sense that the writers were reluctant to create too large of an epic storyline. By this I mean that, unlike previous seasons where a conflict was established that carried through to that season's finale, we had instead two mini-events that wrapped up relatively quickly. The first of these was "The Mask of the Red Death" which (loosely) adapts a part of the DC Comics Death Metal series, in which multiversal variants of Batman go bad and take over or become other characters. In this case, it was a Batman who stole Barry's speed and became Red Death.

Thu
24
Aug

Swamp Thing -- Theatrical and Unrated -- Comes to Blu-ray

Swamp Thing 1982

For all that was wrong with the 1982 Swamp Thing, it still holds a place in a kitschy little corner of my heart. From the visible zipper in Dick Durock's Swamp Thing mudsuit to the rushed romance between Alec Holland (Twin Peaks' Ray Wise) and a re-named Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) who is now no relation to the villainous Arcane (Louis Jourdan) -- and relegating Linda Holland (Nannette Brown) to be Alec's sister instead of his wife for the sake of expediency, the movie was nonetheless a milestone for fans of the comic book just by existing and having the character look like Swamp Thing.

Now, just over 40 years after its initial debut, Swamp Thing comes to the home theater market on a new 4K Blu-ray from the LaserVision collection (complete with a folded poster of the LaserDisc cover). But what was more intriguing to me was that there were two versions of this film -- a theatrical release and an unrated release.

Thu
17
Aug

A Lifetime of Venture Bros Comes Home to Fans

The Venture Bros

It's been a big finish for The Venture Bros, Cartoon Network's adult take on the animated adventure genre that blends shows Jonny Quest and Birdman with the sheer banality of ordinary existence -- even if your ordinary existence consists of secret agents, fringe science, and villains who are evil for the sake of being evil.

In back-to-back releases, fans can now get The Venture Bros: The Complete Series on DVD (no doubt a special Blu-ray set is in the works), showcasing the daily lives of Doctor Rusty Venture (James Urbaniak), his indefatigable bodyguard Brock (Patrick Warburton), and his two adventurous sons, Hank (Christopher McCulloch) and Dean (Michael Sinternicklaas), as they explore super-science, deal with their feelings of inadequacy, fend off attacks from their arch nemesis The Monarch (also McCulloch) and his band of butterfly-themed minions as well as his mate, Dr. Mrs. The Monach (Doc Hammer).

Tue
04
Jul

After 25 Years, The Truman Show Still Holds Eerie Resonance

The Truman Show

Before shows like Black Mirror's Joan is Awful, before Big Brother, there was The Truman Show -- a supposedly absurd extension and extrapolation of an early Internet phenomenon where people would stream their lives 24/7.

Easily one of Jim Carrey's more magnetic performances, The Truman Show blended a little bit of comedy with a near-future fantasy about a television studio dome built over an entire town for the singular purpose of having a baby born on air and then have it's life followed by millions of viewers -- without the subject ever knowing he was living on a studio set. (A similar plot was later recycled for Disney's Bolt.)

Tue
23
May

Lightning Doesn't Strike Twice for Warner's SHAZAM Franchise

Shazam Fury of the Gods

The release of SHAZAM: FURY OF THE GODS is a sign of good tidings for oncoming showrunner James Gunn -- because there's literally nowhere to go but up after this fiasco.

While the original comic book adventures of Captain Marvel (and Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, The Lieutenant Marvels, Uncle Marvel, and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny) had more than their fair share of comedy, this movie just makes them into a bad joke. The kids are not viewed as heroes but as incompetents. Zachary Levi's Captain Marvel acts more juvenile than does his young alter ego, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), exacerbating the already tiresome concept of a superhero movie trying to remake Tom Hanks' BIG.

Mon
08
May

All-Star Superman Gets 4K for Warner's 100th

All-Star Superman

All-Star Superman is getting re-released on Blu-ray as part of the ongoing Warner Studios 100th anniversary celebration. As far as Superman animated titles go (not counting the actual ongoing animated series runs), this particular story is a good pick.

Adapting the limited series run by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, the animators manage to stick very closely to the style of the books, while also retaining most of the story elements.

The adventure begins when Superman (James Denton) sets out to rescue a spacecraft from falling into the sun. Now, Superman has flown into and through the sun before, but we're going to forget that because this time the full-on exposure overloads his solar-receptive cells, mutating him to give him some new powers... and also a death sentence. Superman is dying, and that's just how Lex Luthor (Anthony LaPaglia) planned it!

Sun
07
May

Fleischer Shorts Get Super Cleanup for Blu-Ray Release

Fleischer Superman 1941-1943

Anyone wanting to see the masterful Max Fleischer studios treatment of Superman has, for years, been able to get a cheap copy, due to the shorts having fallen into the public domain. So why would you want to pick up yet another copy just because it's on Blu-ray?

Because the transfers are infinitely better, cleaner, and brighter. Not only have all the pops, pits, potholes and scratches been cleaned up so that the animation is pristine, but the scans of the master prints take in even more of the artwork.

We tested the new Blu-ray side-by-side with previous releases of the shorts. As an example, the short "Volcano" had an ever-present pit during the opening scenes; this has been removed. Additionally, what we didn't expect to see was more artwork that had been cut off from all four sides in previous releases. So you're quite literally getting more for your money with this purchase.

Sat
29
Apr

Mergers Collide in Justice League x RWBY

Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes and Huntsmen

The acquisition of Rooster Teeth by Warner Brothers Discovery is showing some of its first efforts both in comics and comics-related animation. Over on the publishing side of the house, we are getting a miniseries that teams up the Justice League with the team from RWBY, as the girls chase their monsters over into our world. But on the animation side, it appears to be the opposite -- but with a surprise twist.

Wed
29
Mar

Dragonslayer an 80s Fantasy that Borrowed from the Best and Predicted the Future

Dragonslayer

When a group of villagers have had enough of a dragon's threat over their village, they seek out a renowned sorceror (Ralph Richardson) to do battle with the beast and free them. It is not long, however, before our troupe's quest is opposed by none other than the king himself, who believes there is no need to confront the dragon and needlessly raise his ire; the dragon has been kept mollified through ritual sacrifice of the virgins of the town, drawn by a lottery of the king's own divising.

Even before the dragon can be found, the quest seems thwarted, when the king's men kill the sorceror. Seeking to take the place of his master, the young apprentice Galen (Peter MacNicol) takes up the charge and, aided with the power of a magical amulet, endures misadventure and romance with one of his traveling companions, Valerian (Caitlin Clark), who travels disguised as a boy.

Tue
28
Mar

Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham -- from the Mountains of Boredom

Batman: The Doom that Came to Gotham

Batman: The Doom that Came to Gotham is, unfortunately, one of the most plodding, soporiphic, and downright boring stories to have ever been committed to animation. The art is great. The voice casting serviceable. The concepts exciting. Yet somehow Jase Ricci's screenplay -- based on an Elseworlds imprint from DC Comics written by Mike Mignola and Richard Pace -- drags its feet as it shoehorns in the Batman characters into 1920s analogs while pitting him against H.P. Lovecraft creations.

Thu
23
Feb

Blue Underground presents Marquis de Sade's Justine on Blu-ray and 4K

Justine

The 1969 Jess Franco film Marquis de Sade's Justine is a costume drama wrapped in a sexploitation package that leaves the viewer lost at times while trying to follow multiple different side stories, with multiple characters that do not hold the audience’s attention long enough to care to see the outcome of their tales due to the story going in all different directions at once.

The main story follows the tale of a young girl named Justine (Romina Power), who is exiled from a convent with only the clothes on her back and a small handful of money to get by. It’s a “babe in the woods” story that quickly veers off the path into multiple side stories, all of which have Justine being tortured mentally and physically.

Sun
19
Feb

Eugenie... The Story of Her Journey into Perversion comes to 4K/Blu-ray from Blue Underground

Eugenie

In 1969, Jess Franco created Eugenie… The Story of Her Journey into Perversion. Coming off the heels of his previous adaptation of the Marquis De Sade’s tale, Justine, Franco sets this story of depravity in the modern era, and upon watching this for the fist time in 2023, it eerily predicts the Jeffery Epstein scandal of today.

Christopher Lee opens the movie with a monologue direct from the writings of the Marquis De Sade, standing at a podium in front of a satanic ritualistic killing of a naked woman behind him, while unsavory characters watch the scene. At first thought, it’s an almost Vincent Price way of being our host through the story. It’s only later do we discover his character will play a main role in this depraved tale.

Fri
13
Jan

Relive the Glory Days of the Drive-In with Creature From Black Lake

Creature from Black Lake

1976’s Creature from Black Lake, directed by Joy N. Houck Jr., finally comes to Blu-ray from SYNAPSE FILMS. This long-forgotten film, produced in the double feature drive-in days, is more of a character-driven story than the gore and exploitation from films of that era, mixing humor and suspense along with very little on-screen horror to create a tale more about the characters rather than an ominous creature lurking in the woods.

Harkening back to the success of films such as The Legend of Boggy Creek, this film was cashing in on the Bigfoot hype and hysteria of the day and was made to be released first on the drive-in circuit, then re-released theatrically in 1982 as part of a multi-film package, 5 Deranged Features.

Sun
11
Dec

12 Monkeys Meets 4 Friends in South Park's Post Covid Storyline

South Park Post Covid

The South Park Pandemic Special and the subsequent South ParQ Vaccination Special saw our four heroes -- Stan, Kyle, Eric, and Kenny -- struggle (but not so much) with the impositions of the Covid-19 lockdowns. As things got more desperate and reached their apocalyptic conclusions, it resulted in the boys ending their mutual friendships and sharing custody of Kenny.

Now forty years later, the Covid restrictions are being lifted for good -- just as the news comes that Kenny McCormick, famed physicist and futurist, had found the root cause of Covid and a way to prevent it from ever happening. Sadly, this news comes at the same time as the news of Kenny's death. Now Stan is drawn back to the town of his childhood to reunite with Kyle, Tolkien, Wendy, and Rabbi Cartman as the only ones who might understand Kenny's last cryptic message to save the world -- and their broken friendships.

Mon
05
Dec

Pandemic Thirst Quenches Your Covid-Horror Needs

Pandemic Thirst

On April of 2022 the Indiegogo campaign of Pandemic Thirst closed to just over $2,000 in funding, with a release date of November or the same year. I took the gamble and backed this project, having been familiar the productions Sleazebox and GatorBlade Films in the past. I am not shy about the fact that I previously purchased films like Deathscort (parts 1 and 2) from them, as well as a host of other titles in their 10-year career, so I knew the level of production I was in for.

Tue
27
Sep

A Fugitive from the Past finally comes to Blu-ray from Arrow Video

A Fugitive From The Past

 Tomu Uchida’s 1965 masterpiece A Fugitive from the Past has finally been restored to a 183-minute cut of the film that was praised as Japan’s 6th greatest film of all time. A culmination of 50 years of filmmaking, encompassing a library of over 70 films, Uchida’s ultimate crime and betrayal saga has finally made its way to Blu-ray and into your collections for the first time ever.

Wed
21
Sep

Luhrmann's Elvis a Disquieting, Discomforting Look Behind the Curtain

Elvis

There are a number of biopics out the focused on the life of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. And while it's his name on the marquee and his spotlight throughout the film, this movie isn't really so much about him as what he might have been had it not been for the man behind the manufacturing of his persona: "Colonel" Tom Parker.

Wed
14
Sep

Synapse Films Puts Murder on the Curriculum with Massacre at Central High (Blu-ray)

Massacre at Central High

1976’s Massacre at Central High, directed by Rene Daalder, is a film that quite took me by surprise. While viewing it for the first time, expecting a typical high school slasher film, it was quite the opposite.

It starts out like any typical exploitation/revenge film of that era. David (Derrel Maury) is a new student at Central High and is mercilessly tormented by the “in crowd” bullies who rule the high school and harass anyone that comes along their path -- going as far as to cripple David by kicking out a jack stand from his car while he was working underneath, shattering his leg.

After healing up, David returns to the school to exact his revenge on the classmates who wronged him and put an end to the bullies’ reign of terror once and for all.

Sun
11
Sep

Violent, Depressing, Engrossing: 1883 Sets Foundation for Yellowstone

1883

Taylor Sheridan's Yellowstone has been an unmitigated success with fans. And with that fandom eager for more content, Sheridan took one of the riskiest moves a franchise creator can ever take -- he produced a spinoff. Specifically, in this instance, a prequel.

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