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Tuesday, Jun 30, 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, June 16, 2015

Published:   |   Updated: June 24, 2015 at 04:28 PM
John W. Allman

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

The House with 100 Eyes

Genre: Horror/Found Footage

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New Releases for Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Published:   |   Updated: June 15, 2015 at 04:18 PM
By John W. Allman

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

"Der Samurai"
Genre: Horror
Directed by: Till Kleinert
Run time: 89 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Format: Blu-Ray

The Lowdown: “Der Samurai,” the wonderfully wacky German film by director Till Kleinert, is a story of discovery – both self and sexual – disguised as a head-screw adventure about an aspiring police officer tracking a wolf/werewolf as it terrorizes a small village.

When we first meet the officer, Jakob, we immediately get a sense of his station in life at that moment. He is caring for a dying, dementia-addled relative. His law enforcement colleagues think little of his competency. The town’s collective of law-breaking youth mock his lack of prowess with a gun, a not so subtle reference to his genitalia. And his sole job seems to be responding to animal attacks and public destruction by a lone wolf wandering the woods.
Jakob tries to control the beast by leaving bags of raw meat from the butcher in the woods to keep the wolf from descending down into the village, but it’s no good. The beast won’t be contained.

And then, one night, he receives a parcel in the mail and a strange phone call that he somehow tracks to a remote house where a gender-bending blonde male in a flowing white dress reveals the package to be a samurai sword.

Again, a not so subtle reference to Jakob’s manhood.

What follows is a trippy, surreal journey through the darkness that cloaks the town as Jakob shadows the cross-dressing swordsman as he/she literally escalates from destroying lawn ornaments to dispatching a gang of bike-riding hooligans in a bloody orgy of head-severing excess. Is the samurai really the wolf in human form? Is the samurai even real, or is he just Jakob’s manifestation of his own inner animal?

There are several scenes that, much like “Fight Club,” suggest that the samurai is Jakob’s own Tyler Durden, his inner-Id brought to hallucinatory life, while Jakob simply serves as an out-of-body observer, or Narrator, to his own awakening.

“Der Samurai” rails against the stigma of sexual identity, casting all manner of motifs to substitute for the one weapon that Jakob has resisted, his own sword, and his need to be free and accepting of who/what he is.

It’s a fast-moving, free-flowing film that doesn’t linger long on answers but provides, in its final few minutes of jubilant release, the joy of realization that likely comes for many people when they take those first, tenuous steps out of their own self-fortified cage and become that which they long fought to suppress.

The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – No.
Nudity – Yes.
Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – A deliriously crazy cross-dressing samurai werewolf.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.

"Kingsman: The Secret Service" (Fox, 129 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Hands down, one of the best action movies – hell, one of the best, most enjoyable films, period – to be released in recent memory.

“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” based on a series of graphic novels by writers Mark Millar and Matthew Vaughn and artist Dave Gibbons, is at once similar to and superior to its comic book form. It takes the story from the comics and expands it, building a world and a mythology that goes well beyond the one contained in the book.

But it’s Vaughn’s kinetic, signature style and his ability to craft ballets of violence so excessive and giddy that you very well may never look at a movie fight the same way again. Building on the promise of “Kick Ass,” Vaughn literally trumps himself over and over and over again in “Kingsman,” constantly ramping up the action to a fever pitch that makes your jaw drop and your fist pump the air.

I can’t remember a movie with as high a body count that left you feeling so good by its final frame. It’s an orgy of visual chaos that wraps you up and swoops you away.

Do not hesitate – buy this movie now.

"Project Almanac" (Paramount Pictures, 106 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): Director Dean Israelite’s debut, “Project Almanac,” a found-footage time travel thriller, makes for a fun viewing experience. It plays with physics without bogging down, producing a series of ethical quandaries and teenage misadventures that ultimately disrupt the space-time continuum and effect specific historical change that must be autocorrected before it’s too late. It’s fast-paced and capable of exceeding its limited fixed-camera vantage point to make for a wholly enjoyable genre diversion. This one is a lot better than you probably thought, based on the trailers, and it’s definitely worth a watch.

Also Available:

The Duff
Back to the Jurassic
Giuseppe Makes a Movie
Free the Nipple
Hart to Hart: The Final Season
The Facts of Life: Season Six
The Last Unicorn: The Enchanted Edition
Walker: Texas Ranger – Standoff
The Swirl
Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce: Sky Strike
Gunslingers: Season 1
Comeback Dad
Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers – Collector’s Edition
Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland – Collector’s Edition
The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series
The Last Ship: The Complete First Season
Teen Wolf: Season Four
Thunderbirds: The Complete Series
Pastor Brown/Sins of the Mother

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A Conversation With: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Published:   |   Updated: June 11, 2015 at 11:38 AM
John W. Allman

The reveal comes about 45 minutes into “Spring,” the latest collaboration between co-writer-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

They’ve teased this moment throughout, ever since Evan (the fantastic Lou Taylor Pucci), a young man adrift in life following the death of his mother, first sets foot in a tiny, coastal Italian village. As viewers, we know there’s something a little off about Louise (a hypnotic Nadia Hilker), the gorgeous flirt he first meets in passing before she propositions him at a café. But we just don’t know what exactly it is.

But when the reveal comes, and it’s a doozy, rivaled in recent memory only by the elevator lobby scene in “The Cabin in the Woods,” you know that Benson and Moorhead have just handed you a gift, something to be treasured and protected and shared with other like-minded horror fans.

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New Releases for Tuesday, June 2

Published:   |   Updated: June 10, 2015 at 10:28 AM
John W. Allman

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


Genre: Horror

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New Releases for Tuesday, May 26

Published:   |   Updated: June 1, 2015 at 08:25 PM
John W. Allman

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

Let Us Prey

Genre: Horror

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New Releases for Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Published:   |   Updated: May 26, 2015 at 12:53 PM
John W. Allman

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


Genre: Thriller

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New Releases for Tuesday, May 5, 2015


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:


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

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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