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Thursday, August 10, 2017
I continue to praise the efforts of those who discover lost movies that saw the light of day decades ago and then suddenly disappeared from movie screens forever. Many of these movies were not blockbusters, some were good and some bad, but all of them deserve to at least be found and for people to have access to. Fans of those movies can rejoice in now having access to them and those who never saw them can enjoy or frown at them as well. In the case of THE INTRUDER I think we have one to enjoy.
The story is one used before but with a bit of a twist before the final credits roll. A group of well to do guests are on a yacht heading for a secluded island. Each has ties to the island’s owner, a man who may have passed away and has now summoned them to the island to search for gold that he discovered and hid there. Of course there doesn’t appear to be any among them who isn’t self-centered and out to keep the gold for themselves rather than share. When they begin to be killed one at a time they begin to suspect one another while we are aware that there is a sinister presence on the island with them.
It’s a simple set up and there’s a reason for that. The man behind the movie is actor Chris Robinson who many will recall for numerous TV series as who starred as Dr. Rick Webber on GENERAL HOSPITAL from 1980-2002. In 1975 Robinson’s brother was willing to give him $25,000 to make a movie but he had to put it all together in a matter of weeks. Robinson put together his script, his cast, locations and set to filming, coming in under the time allotted. Not only did he write the screenplay he directed and starred in it as well. To do so is a feat in itself. To make a movie that’s as good as this one is even more so. That’s not saying its Shakespeare but it is an entertaining slasher flick from that time period.
The film was mired in difficulties when it came time to distribute it, something that always seems to be the downfall of independently made movies from those days. It may have screened a few times but never received national distribution. Before the film could even make it to home video the only 35mm print was lost and the odds of seeing the film disappeared. Until 2012.
Harry Guerro, the owner of Garagehouse Pictures, found a copy by chance in when he purchased a lot of films in a storage facility on the outskirts of the Mojave dessert. Among the rusty cans of film that was deteriorating in said building was this one. Curiosity got the better of Guerro since he’d never heard of the film. Investigating it he discovered even less. But through perseverance he finally found some information on the film. Restoring it he discovered it was better than expected and digging deeper was even able to contact Robinson who had no idea that a print even still existed.
Now Garagehouse Picture is releasing the film for the first time on blu-ray in as cleaned up a condition as you will find. Since his discovery they’ve even added the film to IMDB.com and added the stars who were in the film, notable names that many would be surprised are here. Mickey Rooney is featured the small role of the man who takes the guests to the island via yacht. Yvonne DeCarlo is one of the guests on the island. And Ted Cassidy is included in the cast as well. How many movies can claim to have a Munster and a member of the Addams family in the same film?
In addition to just having the film there to enjoy it has been transferred in 4k (note that this doesn’t mean the film grain is changed but the print is as clean as can be expected). The sound has been remastered digitally from the original optical tracks. The extras include an audio commentary track by Robinson, an interesting interview with Robinson, liner notes, new original artwork by Stephen Romano and a trailer collection of other films offered by Garagehouse Pictures.
As I said from the start, the movie is not a mega-budgeted million dollar film. But what it lacks in dollars it fuels with creativity, solid production value, good acting and a story that while familiar still holds your interest from start to finish. This movie is enjoyable enough to watch more than once and become a welcomed addition to your movie collection. It would make a great movie to watch during a drive-in night with friends. And it is a lost treasure that deserves to be finally discovered.
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As movie have progressed we’ve seen more and more use of CGI (Computer Generated Images) in films. In some cases, most of the SyFy channel films, we see how poorly it can be done making viewers long for the stop motion animation we grew up with in the Sinbad movies. In others, as in all of the LORD OF THE RINGS movies, we see how it can be done right and help a story along depicting things we could never see otherwise.
Then there is the all CGI film, the one where actors are no longer seen emoting but animated images portray the characters. I’m not talking about animated Disney films like FROZEN or Universal’s MINIONS. I’m talking about realistic images, stories with people as the main characters instead of cartoonish images. Not many have been made but there have been several using the hit video game RESIDENT EVIL for their stories. The latest in this series, RESIDENT EVIL: VENDETTA is now out and it’s the best yet.
If you’re new to the series all you need to know is that an evil corporation known as Umbrella has released a toxic agent into the world that turns people into zombies. This movie opens much like the very first original game as a special ops team enters an old mansion in search of survivors. That in itself will bring glee to fans of the game. The horror that they encounter is much like the game as well, catching the viewer off guard and allowing for some intense physical combat between the team and zombies. Team leader Chris Redfield (one of the main characters from the game) remains standing and is evacuated without what he came looking for, a weapons dealer named Arias who has annihilation in mind.
Along with this we have to concurrent stories running. One involves Rebecca Chambers, another special ops fighter who has turned in her gun to search for a cure for the zombie plague. All of that may be for naught when her lab is attacked and all inside turned into zombies. She escapes with the help of Chris before becoming infected herself. The two of them find compatriot Leon Kennedy and recruit him to help in their mission, finding Arias.
Arias story is the third part of this triangle. It seems the arms dealer was in the process of getting marred when the party was bombed by a drone. Surviving he has set his sights on those responsible and now has in mind changing the world to suit his desires, one of which is resurrecting the love of his life. Aiding him in his quest are the only other survivors of that bombing, now mutated with his help.
The story moves along in a reasonable manner, with plenty of background provided and a depth of story most movies like this tend to ignore. The action flows at a steady pace but is complimented by those story elements, making it a more well-rounded film.
The CGI here is pretty amazing to witness. While it still has some minor flaws it does make you wonder if the day won’t come when CGI created actors fill the screen in place of those now performing. From an economic point of view one might expect it. But my guess is that real life actors and technicians will be with us for some time. It doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy films like this at the same time though.
For me what made this movie more enjoyable than the others I’ve seen in the series is that homage back to the original game. I’ve never been a huge game player but my son was for a time. I can recall the time we sat together playing the original game, both jumping when startled by some attacking creature. We laughed, our hearts beat faster and we had a good time. This movie reminded me of those days and for fans of the game it’s likely to do the same for you.
If you’re new to the world of RESIDENT EVIL find a game player and have them show you the first game. You could also watch the live action series of films which tend to move in and out of the world created by the games. Or you can jump into the middle of things with this movie and have a good time as well. For me I’ll think I’ll add this one to my shelf and give it a watch every now and then. It was just that much fun.
Growing up in the sixties and seventies the sound of Al Green coming through a radio was always there for me. I can remember hearing his soulful strains coming over the air and enjoying every minute of those songs. But music changes, performers come and go and after a while I stopped hearing Green but never really noticed. That’s because his hits continued to play for decades.
GOSPEL ACCORIND TO AL GREEN tells us what happened to Green. He never really left, but his music changed. Why? Because Green found God. He took his talents and focused them on God rather than being the pop/R&B performer he had been.
Director Robert Mugge, known for his numerous documentaries on music, takes on the task of telling us Green’s story. In the extras he tells us of tracking down Green and talking to him, convincing him to talk about his life. Fortunately he finally agreed and we now have this film.
Released in 1984 the movie combines an interesting mixture of interviews with Green and others in his life. Sure, this is the normal method used in most documentaries to present the life of the main subject but there is a way that Mugge does it here that is different than most. While the interview with Green, done at one time, is set in his recording studio it doesn’t have that over lit preplanned look that most documentary interviews seem to have now. Instead it is low key, low light and highlights Green in a way that makes him more comfortable and reachable.
Greens life from the time he found he could perform until the time this film was made are covered. He talks about finding a tune that he just couldn’t get out of his head, one that his girlfriend at the time tired of and that record execs were not thrilled with. He finally convinced them to push the song. The song was “Tired of Being Alone” and was his first major hit.
He reveals what happened in his own words, which seem kind of jumbled, about what happened when another girlfriend poured boiling hot grits on him before shooting herself in his home. It was a story I was unfamiliar with or had forgotten. You can tell in the way he discusses the matter that it still bothers him and he still has trouble grasping what happened.
The movie talks about Green finding God, or I should say God finding Green. Moved by the spirit that filled him Green left behind a hugely successful performing career to begin his own church in Memphis. It wouldn’t be until years later, after this movie was released, that he would go back to singing his earlier hits. As he says here he didn’t feel he could serve that lifestyle and God at the same time.
The interview material with Green is mixed with other interviews with individuals like Willie Mitchell who discovered Green and recorded his early albums and critic Ken Tucker talking about the impact of Green and his music. There is also footage of a performance by Green and his band at an NCO club. The last major portion of the film shows Green preaching at the church he founded 7 years before this film was shot.
The film doesn’t look as polished and perfected as many documentaries on musical performers do these days but then it was made over 30 years ago. That doesn’t detract from the subject matter. It may actually enhance it, focusing more on Green and his change rather than on the images that could have been brought into play. What we are left with is a historical document of a man who found his calling, who left behind all that most would think is the most important aspect of life and instead discovered what was truly important instead.
The presentation is well done by MVD with a solid transfer. But again, you have to consider the source material that it was made from. No blu-ray or restoration technique can make a slightly grainy film look like a completely shot on digital movie. The extras are limited but enjoyable as well, especially an interview with Mugge about the making of this movie. Green fans will find this movie a must have. Music fans will enjoy it start to finish. And those who believe in God will find his story one that they will enjoy as well.
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