COMING SOON...

COMING SOON...

GEORGE ROMERO: BETWEEN NIGHT AND DAWN, TOPPER, WIND RIVER, LOCH NESS SEASON 1, THE BEST OF AGATHA CHRISTIE VOL 1 & 2, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS and Christmas episodes of THE HONEYMOONERS, FRASIER, SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH and THE BRADY BUNCH

Monday, November 13, 2017

JUST DESSERTS-THE MAKING OF CREEPSHOW: A FITTING TRIBUTE



Made in 2007 this documentary is now making its way to blu-ray via Synapse. Thank goodness they made the decision to do so, adding several special items that will please fans of the film and those who made it.

As we learn via interview with director George Romero Warner Brothers contacted him after the success of his film MARTIN concerning a vampire in modern society. They had just acquired the rights to SALEM’S LOT and wanted him to meet with author Stephen King about making a film adaptation. The two met, became fast friends and while the studio changed their plans about that film the pair later found something else to work together on. That was the 1982 film CREEPSHOW.

Fans of the old EC Comic books that were banned at one time and credited with creating subversive attitudes in teens, they came up with an anthology film that combined those old styled stories with modern movie technology. Rather than use the old comic titles they came up with their own comic called Creepshow. Instead of the Crypt Keeper they had The Creep. But the stories they told in this film would have fit perfectly in those old comics.

This documentary takes a look at their efforts moving from how they came up with the idea to the cast to the special effects to the music and so on. Each step of the way is an interesting look at just how a movie gets made and in this case outside of the studio system. That’s because whole Warner Brothers eventually distributed the film it was indeed an independent film to begin with. Made on a shoestring budget for the project it was every penny spent on this film shows up on screen. That only made it better.

Interviews in the film range from various cast members including Ed Harris and Adrienne Barbeau to effect supervisor Tom Savini to Romero himself. All of them offer anecdotes about the making of the film and from the things they discuss it sounds like they had far more fun than they should have. The entire team seems to have bonded, everyone from grips to well-known actors who had been in loftier roles but found that there was something special in this film, that it was more than just a cheap horror flick. It was a homage to those great comics that came long ago. For myself I think that this film was an inspiration for the later HBO series TALES FROM THE CRYPT which used those original comics for their scripts.

The film uses behind the scenes footage along with the interviews to give a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. It’s interesting to watch as some actors who were just beginning at the time, like Harris as well as Ted Danson who was just about to start a TV series about a group of people hanging out at a bar, and others involved in the production who went on to bigger things are shown in their early days. Particularly fascinating is the way the effects were done. Remember these were days long ahead of computer generated effects. Most were practical effects that were done, including some hair raising stories concerning the final story involving thousands of cockroaches.

The movie is well made, informative and for fans of the film a must have for their collection. In addition to the film the extras are fairly massive for as old as the movie is. They include:
-An audio commentary track with director & editor Michael Felshe
-An audio commentary track with actor John Amplas, property master Bruce Alan Miller and make-up effects assistant Darryl Ferucci
-Creepshow Days – An interview with director of photography director Michael Gornick
-Extended interview segments with George A. Romero, Tom Savini and Bernie Wrightson
-Behind the Screams – a compilation of on-set video footage from Tom Savini
-Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark – An episode of the series that takes you to the locations made famous in various horror films
-Vintage 1982 Evening Magazine segment shot on the set of the film featuring rare cast & crew interviews
-Behind the scenes photo gallery of CREEPSHOW
-Best of all the full SCREAM GREATS VOL. ONE: TOM SAVINI documentary with optional audio commentary track with Tom Savini. To my knowledge this is the first time this has ever been released on disc.

If you love making of movies, documentaries, horror films, George A. Romero, Tom Savini or CREEPSHOW then by all means this needs to be added to your shelf. Once viewed you’ll find yourself digging out that copy of the original film to watch again and remember just how much fun it was the first time around.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

CARS 3: PASSING THE TORCH



Believe it or not it’s been 11 years since the story of a hot shot young racing car named Lightning McQueen first enchanted young viewers with his story of learning there is more to life than just being the top car. That story talked about learning what it was to have deep rooted friends and family. Here we are all those years later and the third movie in the series is out on disc. What makes it special is that time has passed in the story as well.

McQueen (Owen Wilson) is still the hot shot race car he always was, still living in his adopted town of Radiator Springs and still friends with those he considers family there. But times have changed and he’s gotten older. A new breed of race car is on the tracks now, in particular an up and comer named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). The new cars are faster, train differently and are soon leaving McQueen in their dust. In an attempt to push past them he crashes.

Months pass and McQueen isn’t sure he wants to return to the track. It takes his friend Sally (Bonnie Hunt) to convince him this is what he truly wants. He heads back to Rust-ESE to get back in shape only to find his old friends Luigi and Guido have sold the business to tycoon Sterling (Nathan Fillion). Sterling has it in mind to market McQueen for all he can, endorsing nearly every possibility out there. To insure that he returns to the winner’s circle he’s employing the latest in technology and a trainer by the name of Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).

McQueen does his best with the new system but this isn’t his style of training. After a crash on the simulator he realizes he needs to get back to his roots and heads for the beaches of Florida. Accompanying him is some old friends as well as Cruz. When they begin he spends more time teaching Cruz more than he getting himself ready. Unable to break the speed set by Jackson Storm he begins to give up hope until he thinks of one more possibility.

He goes to where it all began, where his mentor Doc was taught. There he finds Doc’s mentor Smokey (Chris Cooper) still alive along with several of Doc’s old friends. They’ve been expecting him and training in their fashion begins. But will it be enough for him to get back what he once had?

SPOILER ALERT! And here is where the entire film takes a different turn. When the big race comes in the fourth quarter of the film, McQueen bows out and allows Cruz to take his place. And this is what the real story of CARS 3 is all about, the passing of the torch from the older generation to the younger, giving the new comer the chance to bask in the same glory they once enjoyed.

Watching this I was reminded of the ROCKY films. The time had come for Stallone as Rocky to take off the gloves and start helping pass the torch, which he did. This film is doing the same thing and in doing so sets itself up for more movies down the line. Rather than deal with the question of an aging car still winning races against all comers we have a new hot rod in mind. Now it’s up to her to take that torch and carry it across the finish line…or not.

I’ve read a number of reviews that have bad mouthed this film and almost all had the same complaint: it wasn’t the same movie they’d seen before. It made me wonder why they didn’t see the positives in this film, the fact that it extended the life of the series with this new development. It also provides a great lesson for young people to learn and draws in older viewers as well who understand what it’s like to go through what McQueen does.

The animation by Pixar remains top of the line. I’ve seen other movies doing this sort of CGI animation and while good they don’t compare. The story moves along at a steady pace and never involves moments where you wish it would move along faster. It’s a compelling story that needs to be told.

It’s great that the voice over actors have returned time and time again to do the voices and keep continuity in doing so. New actors in new roles do an amazing job as well. Now if they will all continue to do so in the future.

CARS 3 is not the first film but one unto itself. It may involve the same characters but there is a slightly different story going on here. Push play and know that going in and you’ll be delighted to see the old crew, the new crew and the new story unfold. For me it was a delight and a movie I know I’ll pop back in every once in a while. Come to think of it this would make a great movie marathon with the first 2 for my younger nieces and nephews. Time to go out and pick up some microwave popcorn and have them over.

Click here to order.

WARRIOR: FAMILY TIES



The movie WARRIOR is out this week in a new 4k resolution edition. Looking back I was surprised that the movie is already 6 years old and for some reason flew under my radar. Don’t get me wrong, I mean I heard about the movie but for some reason never got around to seeing it. Until now.

The movie focuses on the lives of three men. First up is Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), an ex-boxer turned alcoholic in the midst of going sober. Paddy was a terrible father whose boozing ways broke up his family and left him with next to nothing. Then there is Tommy (Tom Hardy), a tough young man who left with his mother long ago, a high school wrestling champ with a chip on his shoulder, forced to watch his mother die and just returned to visit Paddy. And lastly there is Brendan (Joel Edgerton), the elder son who remained with Paddy suffering his abuse and eventually cutting ties with him, now a physics teacher, happily married and the father of two. These three stories connect as we learn about the various issues each is facing, the stories culminating in the ring of a special MMA fight.

The focus is mainly on the two brothers. Tommy has changed his name to his mother’s maiden name and is filled with an ancient rage that won’t let go. He goes to work out in a local gym while visiting Paddy and in a sparring match knocks out the local MMA top dog cold. This was the man who was supposed to enter Sparta, an event bringing together the top 16 fighters to determine once and for all who the best is. But Tommy is also carrying a secret with him, another reason for the name change that comes out later in the film.

Brendan is having financial issues that cause a problem at work. A refinancing structure by the bank has left his family with potentially losing their home. In an effort to make extra money he fights in an off the books MMA match in a strip club parking lot. This incurs the wrath of his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) since the couple decided he’d never fight again. Footage of the fight ends up online and also finds himself in trouble with the school system, getting suspended pending an investigation. Now the fight circuit is the only way for him to make money until that suspension is lifted. Training with an old friend, an injury to that schools champion for the Sparta event leaves an opening for him to enter.

Reasons for both to win the match and the $5 million dollar prize are presented before the match begins. Each of the brothers is the underdog, Brendan more so, as they battle the opposition to get to the finals. Brendan even has to face off an undefeated terror from Russia named Kobar (Kurt Angle). The Rocky type story find you rooting for both men. But what happens when they must face off against one another? With noble motivations who can you root for?

Some might consider this film just another fight flick and they’d be wrong. It is the story of a family torn apart years ago, who no longer communicates on the basest level, formed by three men who still carry the pain from their shared past experiences. It is a story where you wait to see if they can surmount those differences and come together once again.

The movie is exceptionally well made, directed by went on to direct JANE GOT A GUN and the recent THE ACCOUNTANT. As co-author of the script he’s also crafted a well spun story giving what could have been just another fight film some depth. The performances are fantastic to watch. Nolte may have a more supporting role but he plays it remarkably well. Edgerton displays the sensitive fighter who may be in over his head but who struggles anyway. And Hardy, who has become a force to be reckoned with in the acting field, gives early signs of what was to come over the years. The movie is a treat to watch.

This new release of the film comes packed with extras that are as interesting as the film itself. They include the usual blooper reel, the documentary REDEMPTION: BRINGING WARRIOR TO LIFE, PHILOSOPY IN COMBAT: MIXED MARTIAL ARTS STRATEGY, a breakdown of the climactic fight, an audio commentary track, an enhanced viewing mode and a tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr. a consultant on the film and one of the founders of Tapout, the clothing manufacturer for the MMA circuit.

The biggest news here though is that the film is being released in a 4k ultra HD format. The format yields the cleanest and sharpest picture you can achieve currently. In addition to that disc there is the blu-ray version as well as the digital code to place your copy in your online digital account. Watching and enjoying the film in the blu-ray format made me long for a 4k system to enjoy the movie that much more. In the meantime I’ll hold on to it until that day comes and plan on enjoying the movie once again on that day.