Thursday, July 30, 2015

Spasmo: Surreal Thriller Lite

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Director: Umberto Lenzi

Cast: Robert Hoffmann, Suzy Kendall, Ivan Rassimov, Monica Monet

Scorpion Releasing / All Region / Rated R / 2.35:1 widescreen (1080p) / English and Italian mono tracks / English subtitles option / 94 minutes

Extras: Interview with Director Umberto Lenzi / Original Theatrical Trailer / Reversible cover art ----

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Italian filmmaker Umberto Lenzi isn't given the respect I believe he deserves. His name should definitely be right beside the likes of Argento, Bava and Fulci as a master of Italian horror and exploitation films. His classic Man From Deep River was the first of the Italian jungle/cannibalsploitation craze in the '70s, made popular by Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust and Lenzi's own, more salacious Cannibal Ferox. But Lenzi also made some of the best Poliziotteschi (Italian crime) like Gang War in Milan and gialli (Italian slashers) like Seven Blood-Stained Orchids. Akin to and sometimes lumped in with the giallo genre, he also made a completely nonsensical thriller called Spasmo that will either draw you in with its weirdness or turn you off with the very tame sex and violence usually associated with these kinds of movies.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I Call It Sleeping Beauty but Some Call It Loving

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Review by: Rich Rattlesnake

Director: James B. Harris

Cast: Zalman King, Carol White, Tisa Farrow

Etiquette Pictures / All Region / Unrated / 1.85:1 (1080p) / DTS-HD Mono / 103 minutes

Extras: Commentary w/ Director James B. Harris / Video Featurette w/ Director James B. Harris / Video Featurette w/ Cinematographer Mario Tosi / Extensive Outtakes w/ Commentary / Booklet & Reversible Cover

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Stop me if you've heard this one before: A woman has been asleep for eight years as part of a carnival attraction where people can buy kisses from her for a buck. Enter a wealthy jazz musician who decides to purchase the entire attraction for a sizable amount of money, take the sleeping girl to his home that he shares with his two other girlfriends, and wait for her to wake up. Once she does, he tries to introduce her to his world of free love and debauchery, and their realities are shattered as a result. It's a story we've seen told dozens of times in film history. I'm being facetious, of course. But James B. Harris finds a fresh approach to the proceedings that is not only refreshing, but ultimately very rewarding. This countercultural freak out take on "Sleeping Beauty" is so unlike any other film I've seen before, that even if the entire film was awful, I would applaud it for its originality alone.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jess Franco: Sleazy Frankenstein

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Director: Jess Franco

Cast: Howard Vernon, Beatriz Savón, Britt Nichols, Anne Libert, Alberto Dalbés

Redemption Films / Region A / Unrated / 2.35:1 widescreen (1080p) / 2.0 French and English / English subtitles / 74 minutes

Extras: Commentary by editor of "Video Watchdog" magazine, Tim Lucas / Trailer

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If you know anything about Jesus "Jess" Franco, you know that his spin on classic horror characters and tropes is a little out there. Not only does he have an interesting view of the sometimes mundane, but it usually involves nudity and sadistic sexual violence of some sort. His perverted take on Mary Shelley's much traveled road "Frankenstein" is no different and is definitely signature Uncle Jess. Like Shelley's masterpiece, Dr. Frankenstein works in a gothic castle creating a soulless monster from the pieces of dead bodies, reanimating them through mad science. But that's about where the similarities end and the fun begins! In Franco's demented version, Frankenstein's monster is a metallic-looking, silver monstrosity instead of the boring old green oaf.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Isaac Hayes gets down in the ghetto as TRUCK TURNER

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Director: Jonathan Kaplan

Cast: Isaac Hayes, Yapher Kotto, Nichelle Nicols, Alan Weeks, Scatman Crothers, Dick Miller

Kino Lorber / Region A / Rated R / 1.85:1 (1080p) / DTS audio / 91 minutes

Extras: Audio Commentary by Director Jonathan Kaplan / "Trailers From Hell" with Ernest Dickerson / Q&A at The New Beverly Cinema with Jonathan Kaplan, Stunt Man Bob Minor, Hosted by Joe Dante / Theatrical Trailer / Radio Spot

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In the late sixties to early seventies, NYU film student Jonathan Kaplan was working at the Fillmore East–Bill Graham's live rock and roll venue in the East Village, Manhattan–and doing part-time film editing on the side. It was during this time that he got a call from Roger Corman to direct 1972's Night Call Nurses on the recommendation of one of his professors, Martin Scorsese. Yes, THE Martin Scorsese. The movie was such a hit that Corman had him close out the "Nurses Trilogy" (which started with Stephanie Rothman's The Student Nurses) with The Student Teachers the very next year. He kept it in the family working with Roger's brother Gene on his next film The Slams, a blaxploitation action flick starring the rugged Jim Brown.
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