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Friday, May 22, 2015

Blood, Violence and Babes

A B-Movie Holy Grail by John Allman

If you’ve surfed the DVR pay-per-view options and seen a bunch of movies that you’ve never heard of, chances are John has watched them. Why? He loves movies. All kinds of movies. Good, bad, so-bad-they’re good, even the truly unwatchable ones. He mostly loves horror and science-fiction and drive-in exploitation movies that most upstanding model citizens wouldn’t dare watch. Then he writes up his thoughts so you can decide - watch, don’t watch or avoid at all costs. Sometimes he even gets to talk to the cool folks who make some of your favorite films.

New Releases for Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Published:
By JOHN W. ALLMAN

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

 

Fifty Shades of Grey

Genre: Drama

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New Releases for April 2015

Published:   |   Updated: May 6, 2015 at 02:30 PM
John W. Allman

What's new in stores and on video shelves in April:

April 7, 2015

Killers (Well Go USA, 137 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Brutal, nihilistic, brilliant – this Indonesian import from The Mo Brothers is a twisted take on the serial killer genre that refuses to blink in the face of pushing the envelope too far. It’s not for everyone, but good lord almighty, it sure leaves a distinct and lasting impression.

The Voices (Lionsgate, 103 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): If ever you had doubt that Ryan Reynolds can fully and perfectly inhabit the Marvel character of Deadpool, look no further than this blistering, pitch-black, unexpectedly hysterical serial killer thriller. “The Voices” is one of those rare little gems you stumble across that fully revives your faith in the power of cult movies.

Invaders from Mars (Shout! Factory, 100 minutes, PG, Blu-Ray): I always tend to discount Tobe Hooper outside of TTCM and Poltergeist, but then I re-watch one of his bat-guano crazy genre films from the 1980s and I realize that Hooper actually made a cottage industry out of kooky sci-fi flicks. This 1986 reimagining of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is campy cool and peppered with some awesome practical alien effects.

Also Available: I Am Steve McQueen, Flutter, Manhattan: Season One, Pelican Dreams, The Immigrant, Imitation of Life: 2-Movie Collection, The Simon Wiesenthal Collection, A Most Violent Year, Barney Miller: Season Seven, Breathless, Happy Valley, Home Sweet Hell, Mad As Hell, The Book of Negroes, Wingman Inc.

April 14, 2015

The Babadook: Special Edition (Shout! Factory, 93 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Rarely does the hype match the reality, but this Australian nightmare is a rare find indeed. It’s heartbreakingly poignant in its depiction of genuine grief and clutch your knees terrifying in its embodiment of loss and fear. I had to watch it twice to fully feel the immense weight of its impact, but it’s well worth a repeat viewing just to catch the chilling reveals of the title creature lurking in the shadows of several scenes that you barely register the first time around.

Maps to the Stars (Universal, 112 minutes, R, DVD): David Cronenberg returns to form with his best mind-screw feature since 1999’s "eXistenZ." Julianne Moore is a revelation. Robert Pattinson is less annoying. And there are several scenes of unadulterated shock that remind you just how good Cronenberg can be when trolling the fringes of humanity.

Long Weekend (Synapse Films, 92 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): This 1978 man-versus-nature thriller, a long lost classic from Australian cult cinema, holds up well in its well-deserved high-definition transfer.

Echoes (Anchor Bay, 88 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): “Echoes” is a horror movie that works better on paper than in practice, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its merits. Keep your expectations in check and this is a generally solid little thriller.

Class of 1984: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 98 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Kudos to Shout! Factory for dusting off this 1982 gem that accurately predicted the decline in public education and the need for safety measures like metal detectors at the front door years before they became a reality in most inner-city schools. Directed by Mark L. Lester, the pulpy mastermind behind “Commando” and “Firestarter,” and starring a young Perry King and a younger Timothy Van Patten, “Class of 1984” is a solid precursor to “The Substitute” and other like-themed flicks in the high school teacher versus evil students subgenre.

Also Available: Double Feature: Eddie and the Cruisers/Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!, A Haunting: Season 7, Little House on the Prairie: Season 5 – Deluxe Remastered Edition, Walker: Texas Ranger - Flashback, I Really Hate My Ex, Metal Hurlant Chronicles: The Complete Series, The End of the Civil War, Saban’s Power Rangers, Super Megaforce: The Perfect Storm, Whitney, The Missing: Season One, The Toxic Avenger Part II, Class of Nuke’Em High 2, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, Big Eyes, Enter the Dangerous Mind, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken, Vengeance of an Assassin, William S. Burroughs in the Dreamachine, Manny, Joe 90: The Complete Series, 42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection – Volume 9, The Man with the Iron Fists 2, Mom’s Day Away, That Man from Rio, Up to His Ears, From the Dark, Beside Still Waters

April 21, 2015

Everly (Anchor Bay, 92 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Director Joe Lynch borrows liberally from a handful of female empowerment action flicks like “Lucy” while heaping on the pulpy lunacy to its breaking point in “Everly,” his human trafficking/sex slave/drug mule bullet-fest starring a very game and agile Salma Hayek. The should-be cult favorite is at its best when Hayek is dispatching with bloody efficiency a handful of crazed assassins, both male and female, but it lags whenever Lynch tries to push a tired maternal subplot that really isn’t necessary.

Escape fromNew York: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 99 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): You know, watching “Escape from New York” for the umpteenth time, you begin to realize that much of the fun and fandom that has elevated this dated 1981 relic into rarified cult classic air comes early on. Once Snake makes it to NYC, the plot just sort of bounces around with no real narrative thrust other than finding the POTUS and getting the hell out of there. The action scenes feel dated. The climatic bridge chase needs more oomph. But despite any nitpicking, John Carpenter deserves continued praise for goosing a stale action genre with some genuine subversive themes and for creating an anti-hero for all ages.

Taken 3 (Fox, 108 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): “Taken 3” is like the third and fourth “Lethal Weapon” films. It exists simply because. Fans love the character of Bryan Mills and they love Liam Neeson playing the character. Deviating ever slightly from the formula, this third installment, and hopefully last, thrusts Mills into playing detective to solve the brutal murder of his ex-wife. There’s a few too many last-minute twists, and several shoot-em-up set pieces where no one, not even Mills, could escape without significant injury or detection. But it all goes down smoothly, an empty calorie, light as air confection that capably holds your attention even as you snicker at poor Neeson having to fake excitement while talking about adopting a puppy.

Also Available: Scream Factory Double Feature: Carrie/The Rage: Carrie 2, Deep in the Darkness, Supremacy, The Marine 4: Moving Target, Little Accidents, Scream Factory Double Feature: Ghoulies/Ghoulies II, Jonah Lives, Where’s the Love?, Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Series, Bleaching Black Culture, Naked and Afraid: Season 1

April 28, 2015

The Boy Next Door (Universal, 91 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): J-No. That’s what you walk away with once the credits roll on “The Boy Next Door,” a by-the-numbers erotic thriller that never deviates from the tried and true script that so many erotic thrillers before it navigated with marginally better success.

The Wedding Ringer (Sony, 101 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): It’s funnier than you expect it to be, and it firmly cements Kevin Hart as a likeable, bankable leading man, but poor Josh Gad – why would he willingly sign up for a thankless role that does more to knock geek cred back to the stone age than 100 sequels to “Revenge of the Nerds”?

Also Available: Miami Blues: Collector’s Edition, Mommy Bedlam From A Whisper to A Scream, Always Woodstock, I Love Lucy: I Heart Mom Edition, Inherent Vice, The Gambler, Paddington, The Mentalist: The Complete Seventh and Final Season, Covert Affairs: Season Five, Suits: Season Four

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New Releases for Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Published:   |   Updated: May 5, 2015 at 01:50 PM
John W. Allman

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Interstellar

Genre: Sci-Fi

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Social media shows Leguizamo, Bratt and other "Infiltrator" stars enjoying Tampa

Published:   |   Updated: May 1, 2015 at 02:47 PM
By CHRISTOPHER SPATA TBO.com staff

As “The Infiltrator” continues filming in locations around Tampa, the stars of the film are enjoying the area in their off time, or at least it looks that way on social media. 

John Leguizamo was photographed having a meal at Arco Iris in West Tampa with some of his co-stars.

 

Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis and Yul Vazquez were there too. Remember him from “Seinfeld” (and a bunch of other stuff)?

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New Releases for Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Published:   |   Updated: April 6, 2015 at 04:15 PM
John W. AllmanTribune correspondent

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Genre: Fantasy/Sequel

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New Releases for Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Published:
By JOHN ALLMANTribune correspondent

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

“Muck”

Genre: Horror

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BVB helps make Big Hero 6 birthday dreams come true

Published:   |   Updated: March 24, 2015 at 11:54 AM
John W. Allman

Sometimes, you just need an inflatable robot to complete the party.

That was the dilemma for Steven McClure, whose twin daughters Honor and Avery were about to turn 5 years old on March 11. McClure and his wife Charity had watched Disney’s “Big Hero 6” with their daughters, and the entire family became enamored with the film’s story and its message of family, friendship and overcoming adversity to realize one’s full potential.

“With the girls’ birthday fast approaching, it was a unanimous family decision that we would theme the party to reflect our excitement with the movie,” McClure said.

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New Releases for Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Published:   |   Updated: March 16, 2015 at 09:11 AM
John W. Allman

What's new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Wolfcop and Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf
Genre: Horror/Werewolf
Directed by: Lowell Dean, Adrián García Bogliano
Run time: 79 minutes, 96 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Format: Blu-Ray

The Lowdown: Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for a good werewolf movie.

And anyone who knows werewolf movies knows that good werewolf movies are surprisingly difficult to find.

It makes no sense whatsoever how vampires remain perpetually in vogue but werewolves just can’t get a fair shake. The last good werewolf movie that I saw was “Wer,” a French independent film from 2013. Before that, maybe “Dog Soldiers” way back in 2002. How is it that the two best werewolf movies ever made, “The Howling” and “An American Werewolf in London,” were both released in 1981 – 34 years ago.

Now, however, we’re experiencing a mini-Lycanapocalypse (see what I did there?) with two original werewolf thrillers releasing on the same day. Could this be 1981 all over again?

Sadly, no. Neither of the new films comes anywhere close to the classics.

But, there is some good news – “Wolfcop,” a low-budget throwback to the glory days of Troma Studios and awesomely awful 1980s direct-to-VHS horror, is ridiculously good. It’s a carnival ride. It’s fast food. It’s Genesis without Peter Gabriel – somehow it succeeds against all odds.

The bad news, however, is that “Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf” is nowhere as good as I was expecting, and that’s a crushing admission to make given how much I love every other film directed by Adrián García Bogliano.

If you would have asked me to bet on which film I would have liked more, I would have gone with Bogliano’s “Late Phases,” no questions asked, no hesitation.

His previous films, most recently “Here Comes the Devil,” have been master-thesis-level studies in discipline, white-knuckle adrenaline and genuine unease and terror. But he also wrote or co-wrote all those films. Here, he’s merely directing, and I think that’s the problem. “Late Phases” never finds its narrative footing. It unfairly prejudices you against its protagonist, making you miss any emotional connection, and the werewolf action isn’t clearly enough explained or fleshed out to make much sense. What should have been a natural companion piece to “Bubba Ho-Tep” with werewolves running amok at a senior citizen retirement village instead never rises above “Bubba Ho-Hum.” I blame the script more than Bogliano, and I still would like to see what he could do on his own writing an original lycanthrope thriller.

“Wolfcop,” by comparison, should not be nearly as good as it is. It’s the crude, metal-loving brother to the all-star quarterback jock. It’s “Night Patrol” to the superior “Police Academy.” The effects aren’t as good, but boy are they fun. The humor is 100-percent junior high boy’s locker room stuff.

Put it this way, “Wolfcop” answers two burning questions I never knew I wanted answered until I watched “Wolfcop”: What would it look like to have your male plumbing turn into wolf plumbing at that point in the full-moon transformation and how exactly would a werewolf/hot shapeshifter bartender sex scene unfold?

That’s right – “Wolfcop” has full-frontal wolf-junk and boobs and jail sex and I haven’t even gotten to his secret weapon, which is whiskey, lots of whiskey, so he’s really a super drunk, super randy werewolf cop who rips criminals apart to avoid doing the arrest paperwork. And he’s got a sidekick who says the funniest crap possible at exactly the right moment with exactly the right surprise or snark. And he’s got his own customized Wolfcop-mobile. And he’s got a theme song. And…and…

And maybe that’s exactly why “Wolfcop” works.

It’s just fun. Ridiculous, gory, cheesy, spit out your beer from laughing fun.

I would contribute money today, this instant, to a Kickstarter fund so they could begin work immediately on “Wolfcop 2.”

You can’t ask more from a movie than that.

The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Smoking hot (Wolfcop)
Nudity – Yes (Wolfcop)
Gore – Considerable (both)
Drug use – No
Bad Guys/Killers – Evil werewolves (Late Phases), evil shapeshifters (Wolfcop)
Buy/Rent – Buy (Wolfcop), Rent (Late Phases)

R100 (Cinedigm, 100 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Hitoshi Matsumoto’s perverse examination of the Japanese male psyche is not without its sexual charms, its litany of smoking hot, raven-haired, leather-and-latex-clad dominatrixes that suddenly appear to throttle, stomp and torture the film’s protagonist throughout.

It’s not without its psychedelic-fueled imagery, a live-action confection of anime colors and swirling visuals that makes your head swim.

It’s not without its subversive societal backmasking, sprinkled liberally throughout, but if you don’t catch the subtle allegories and inside jokes about everyday Japanese male life, Matsumoto employs a troupe of film critics to address the viewer at different intervals, explaining or just making note of the director’s intentions.

About the only thing that “R100” is without is that full-throttle nihilistic glee that other social-statements-masked-as-dangerous-cinema, films like “Fight Club,” so gloriously captured.

Make no mistake, “R100” is a runaway train for long stretches, a drunk driver on a mountain road making hairpin turns while accelerating, especially in its final act.

But too often it’s as cold and clinical as the unsatisfied, wanting father at its core. It longs to explode in an orgy of excess, but too often it pulls back right at that moment instead of leaping laughing over the cliff.

That doesn’t mean “R100” isn’t worth your time. It is. It demands to be watched and appreciated. I just wanted more. A little less of the critics explaining the movie to me and a little more of the wicked women teaching the weak man how to let go.

Also Available:

The Breakfast Club: 30th Anniversary Edition

Remote Area Medical

Fireball XL5: The Complete Series

The Red Tent

Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Seasons 3, 4 & 5

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Collection: Volume 1

Quincy, M.E.: The Final Season

Low Down

The Red Road: The Complete First Season

Listen Up Philip

White Haired Witch

Subconscious

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B

Dark Haul

Shane: The Complete Series

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Pioneer

Matlock: Greatest Cases

Petticoat Junction: Family Favorite Episodes

Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. – The Complete Series

From Asia with Lust – Volume 1

Rabid Grannies

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New Releases for Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Published:   |   Updated: March 10, 2015 at 03:44 PM
John W. Allman
What's new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Exterminators of the Year 3000
Genre: Action
Directed by: Giuliano Carnimeo, aka Jules Harrison
Run time: 103 minutes
Rating: R
Format: Blu-Ray

The Lowdown: This 1983 Italian rip-off of “The Road Warrior,” complete with a terrible English dub track, is an absolute blast to watch and, most surprisingly, remains a largely competent post-apocalyptic fantasy feature, even 32 years after its release.

There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before: In a dusty wasteland, water remains the prized possession. A ragtag band of survivors knows the location of a secret reservoir of fresh spring water. One brave man sets out with a tanker truck to retrieve the water, but he’s met with heavily armed resistance by the Exterminators, the vile villains who rule the wasteland. Enter a mysterious loner with a penchant for driving fast and taking what he wants. The loner encounters the son of the man who died trying to reach the reservoir. Together, they must form an unlikely allegiance in order to survive.

Yep, that’s basically the plot of George Miller’s classic sequel to “Mad Max,” with a few tweaks included.

The car chases look the same. The post-apocalyptic wardrobe looks the same. The only difference is that the main hero of “Exterminators” looks more like Patrick Swayze in “Steel Dawn” than Mel Gibson in “The Road Warrior.”

There’s something here though that still catches your attention. “Exterminators of the Year 3000” is the best kind of cinematic trash, a low-budget reimagining of a cult classic that manages to succeed despite the seemingly insurmountable odds.

Thank you Scream Factory for dusting this one off and making it relevant again.

The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – No.
Nudity – No.
Gore – No.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Post-apocalyptic marauders.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.

Foxcatcher (Sony, 134 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): If you were a scholastic or collegiate wrestler growing up in the 1980s, you knew the names Dave and Marc Schultz. This fascinating true-crime drama about Dave Schultz’s murder by billionaire John du Pont is riveting from the opening frame, and Steve Carell does an amazing job in a role unlike anything he’s ever attempted. He deserved his Oscar nomination, and I might argue he deserved to win for his chilling take on the odd, rabidly patriotic du Pont.

Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife (Well Go USA, 81 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): “Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife” is a light as air, pitch black comedy that exists in a world where a friend automatically understands if you happen to kill his spouse because he didn’t like her that much anyway. It’s funny, gory and – surprisingly – filled with heart. My only quibble is that it’s so featherweight that once it’s over, the film is immediately out of mind.

Also Available:

Scream Factory Double Feature: Blacula/Scream Blacula Scream

The Captive

Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete Second Season

The Humbling

Outlander: Season 1, Volume 1

Hill Street Blues: Season Four

Innocence

The Better Angels

Life Partners

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Blood, Violence, Babes: New Releases for Tuesday, February 24

Published:   |   Updated: March 4, 2015 at 02:39 PM
John W. Allman

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

VANish

Genre: Thriller

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