"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Oct 022018

From the Big Screen:

“The First Purge,” “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” and “Three Identical Strangers.” For more information on other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.

This Week’s Best Bets:

“The Naked Prey” (1965): Glamorous leading man turned idiosyncratic auteur Cornel Wilde created in the 1960s and ’70s a handful of gritty, violent explorations of the nature of man, none more memorable than “The Naked Prey.” In the early 19th century, after an ivory-hunting safari offends a group of South African hunters, the colonialists are captured and hideously tortured. A lone marksman (Wilde) is released, without clothes or weapons, to be hunted for sport, and he begins a harrowing journey through savanna and jungle back to a primitive state. Distinguished by vivid widescreen camera work and unflinchingly ferocious action sequences, “The Naked Prey” is both a propulsive, stripped-to-the-bone narrative and a meditation on the concept of civilization. On Blu-ray Disc, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. photo for The Naked Prey From The Criterion Collection … “The Spiral Staircase” (1945), directed by Robert Siodmak and starring Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore, Rhonda Fleming, Elsa Lanchester and Kent Smith, is one of the all-time great Hollywood chillers. A murderer is targeting disabled young women in a New England town, and Helen (McGuire), a mute servant in a Gothic mansion, is terrified she’s next. Mrs. Warren (Barrymore), the invalid, bullying mistress of the house, warns Helen to leave at once, rather than rely on her weak son and stepson for protection. But even as Helen is packing her things, she suspects she may be too late and the murderer is closer than she ever imagined. Newly remastered in 4K. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … “Confessions of a Young American Housewife / Sin in the Suburbs / Warm Nights Hot Pleasures”: A pioneer of sexploitation cinema, American film director and photo for The Spiral Staircasescreenwriter Joseph W. Sarno’s (1921-2010) prolific career spans the evolution of the genre. “One of the true pioneers of celluloid erotica,” he was also dubbed the “Chekov of soft-core” by The Village Voice. Film Movement Classics has partnered with Film Media and Something Weird to debut three new Sarno classics, remastered in HD and on Blu-ray for the very first time with the third installment in the Joseph W. Sarno Retrospect Series. Sarno first explored the dark side of the American dream in his 1964 drama “Sin in the Suburbs”; 10 years later, his return to this theme resulted in one of the most critically and commercially successful films of his career, “Confessions of a Young American Housewife” (1974). Presented with these two major works is Sarno’s immediate follow-up to “Sin in the Suburbs”, “Warm Nights Hot Pleasures” (1964). Read more here. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Film Movement.

From TV to Disc:

“The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official Fifth Season” (1966-67)is a four-disc set with all 30 episodes, digitally remastered. Starring Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas, Max Baer Jr., Raymond Bailey and Nancy Kulp (“The Love Boat”). The Clampett family, the Beverly Hillbillies, are the ultimate fish-out-of-water. After unexpectedly striking rich in oil, the newfound millionaires move photo for The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official Fifth Seasonfrom their backwoods mountain cabin to the upscale neighborhood of Beverly Hills. Despite their culture shock, the hilarious Clampett family tries their best to fit in among their affluent neighbors by living a lavish lifestyle while still retaining their mountain-grown values and essential decency. Two of the season’s best stories have Jed being targeted for blackmail by a pair of slick con artists, played by Leon Ames and Gayle Hunnicutt, and one in which Granny forces a trained gorilla (actually a costumed stunt man) to take over the chores at the Clampett estate. The fifth season includes special appearances from John Wayne, Gloria Swanson, Robert Strauss and Ted Cassidy. On DVD from CBS/Paramount … “The Love Boat: Season Four – Volumes One and Two” (1980-81) consist of two four-disc sets with all 28 episodes. The anthology series follows crew members aboard the Pacific Princess Cruise Ship, including Captain Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), Doc (Bernie Kopell), Gopher (Fred Grandy), Isaac the Bartender (Ted Lange) and Cruise Director Julie McCoy (Lauren Tewes). Guest stars from the fourth season include Debbie Reynolds, Tom Hanks, David Cassidy, Ted Knight, Rue McClanahan, Connie Stevens, Zsa Zsa Gabor and many more. On DVD from CBS/Paramount … In the cult TV classic “The Night Stalker (Special Edition)” (1972), starring Darren McGavin, Carol Lynley, Simon Oakland, Ralph Meeker, Claude Akins, Charles McGraw, Kent Smith, Elisha Cook Jr., Stanley Adams, Barry Atwater and Larry Linville, an photo for investigative journalist takes a stab at the supernatural. This unforgettable first entry in the “Night Stalker” series introduced the world to the quirky reporter with a penchant for the paranormal and became one of the top-rated TV movies of all time. Investigating a series of Las Vegas murders, Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) discovers that each victim has been bitten in the neck and drained of blood. Though Kolchak’s outlandish theory about the murders gets him nowhere with the police, his initiative to apprehend the killer himself gets him into hot water … with a modern-day vampire. New 4K restoration. On DVD, Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics … Supernatural phenomena, baffling murders and offbeat humor mark the second “Night Stalker” offering, “The Night Strangler (Special Edition)” (1973), with a great cast and suspense so palpable, it’ll feel like a presence right there in the room with you. Surfacing in Seattle, Kolchak (McGavin) uncovers another maddening mystery: Every 21 years — for the past century — a serial killer commits a spree of murders, drains his victims’ blood and then quietly disappears. But Kolchak is onto this monster and is about to discover a shocking underground lair … an army of rotting corpses … and the ageless madman behind it all. New 4K restoration. Stars Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Scott Brady, Jo Ann Pflug, John Carradine, Margaret Hamilton, Wally Cox, Al Lewis. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. By the way, McGavin springboarded from these TV movies into “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” TV series, which ran for 20 episodes from 1974–1975 … “The Originals: The Fifth and Final Season” (2018) is a three-disc set with all 13 episodes. The final season of The Originals begins seven years after the core members of the Mikaelson family – Klaus, Elijah, Rebekah and Kol – each absorb a quarter of the Hollow’s dark energy and flee New Orleans to keep their beloved photo for Saved By the Bell: The Complete Collection city and young Hope safe. In the interim, Vincent and Josh preside over the Big Easy almost devoid of conflict, while Hayley and Freya watch Hope grow into a teenager, eventually opting to send her to the Salvatore School so that Caroline can keep an eye on her. With Marcel following Rebekah out of town and Elijah stripped of his memory, the danger seems to be contained. … Until a sudden tragedy forces the siblings to return home. From Warner … “Saved By the Bell: The Complete Collection” (1989-1993) is a 16-disc set. Set in the fictional town of Palisades, California and in the hallways of Bayside High, the breezy adventures of Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and his friends — Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez), Jessie Myrtle Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies), and Samuel “Screech” Powers (Dustin Diamond) — were a cultural touchstone for a generation of teens, changing teen programming forever and launching the careers of its break-out stars. Now, home audiences can relive the laughter, lessons, and love all over again with this loaded set containing more than 46 incredible hours of Bayside bliss, including every episode from “Saved By the Bell,” every episode from 1988’s “Good Morning, Miss Bliss,” which became “Saved By the Bell: The Junior High Years,” “Saved By the Bell: The College Years” and the two feature-length TV movies that followed. From Shout! Factory … “Vikings Season 5 Part 1” (2017-18) is a three-disc set with 10 episodes. Season Five begins with Ivar the Boneless asserting his leadership over the Great Heathen Army, while Lagertha reigns as Queen of Kattegat. Ivar’s murder of his brother Sigurd sets the stage for vicious battles to come as Ragnar’s sons plot their next moves after avenging their father’s death. Bjorn follows his destiny into the Mediterranean Sea and Floki, who is suffering from the loss of his wife Helga, takes to the seas submitting himself to the will of the Gods. This season is full of startling alliances and unbelievable betrayals as the Vikings fight to rule the world. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Fox.

Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:

In a barren landscape ravished by war, a super-powered young woman, “Molly” (2017 — Germany), roams the violent post-apocalyptic landscape, armed only with a bow and arrow, to confront the dangers around her. When a sadistic ringmaster who runs an underground fight club hears of her supernatural abilities, he sends his sociopathic marauders to capture her and make her a star attraction in his cage fights. Meanwhile, Molly has discovered a young child living alone in the wasteland, waiting for the return of her parents, who are probably dead. Molly has to protect the child and fight off the marauders at the same time.Stars Julia photo for Molly Batelaan, Emma de Paauw, Joost Bolt, Annelies Appelhof. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Artsploitation … “The Catcher Was a Spy” (2018), starring Paul Rudd, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels, Guy Pearce and Paul Giamatti, is the incredible true story of how a professional baseball player became a World War II spy. A Jewish, Princeton-educated, multilingual catcher for the Boston Red Sox with a closely-guarded private life, the enigmatic Moe Berg was already a man of mystery when, in 1944, the U.S. government’s wartime intelligence agency enlisted his services. His mission: go behind enemy lines in Europe to assassinate the Nazi’s chief nuclear scientist before the Germans develop an atomic bomb. Trading in his catcher’s mitt for a trench coat, Berg must rely on his formidable, steel-trap intellect in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse—with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. From Paramount … A washed-up private security agent has to escort a valuable Chinese antique out of Shanghai but is ambushed en route in “S.M.A.R.T. Chase” (2017), starring Orlando Bloom, Simon Yam, Lynn Hung, Hannah Quinlivan and Lei Wu. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … photo for Tales From the Hood 2 In “Tales From the Hood 2” (2017), starring Keith David, horror is back in the hood. The sequel to the original film “Tales from the Hood” reunites executive producer and Honorary Academy Award winner Spike Lee and writers-directors-producers Rusty Cundieff (“Chappelle’s Show,” “The Wanda Sykes Show”) and Darin Scott (“Menace II Society,” “Caught Up”) for an all-new gripping, horrifying and oftentimes devilishly comical anthology. Keith David stars as Mr. Simms to tell bloodcurdling stories about lust, greed, pride and politics through tales with demonic dolls, possessed psychics, vengeful vixens and historical ghosts. Mr. Simms’s haunting stories will make you laugh … while you scream. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal … “Death Race: Beyond Anarchy — Unrated and Unhinged” (2018), stars Zach McGowan, Danny Glover, Fred Koehler, Christine Marzano and Danny Trejo in the wildest, bloodiest, Death Race ever, the deadliest fururistic competition on wheels, where brutal fights and explosive car races abound. After a failed attack on inmate and legendary driver, Frankenstein, Black Ops specialist Connor Gibson (Zach McGowan) infiltrates a super-maximum federal prison with one goal — enter the immoral and illegal Death Race and take Frankenstein down. Connor enlists the help of Baltimore Bob (Danny Glover) and Lists (Fred Koehler), and unexpectedly falls in love with bartending beauty, Jane (Christine Marzano). Connor will have to fight for more than his life in this brutal world of no guards, no rules, no track, and no fear. On DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, from Universal … photo for Afraid In “Afraid” (2017), starring Alanna Masterson and George Byrne, a couple on a getaway to a cabin in the woods starts out as a romantic weekend but turns into a nightmare when they discover they are being watched by the cabin’s voyeuristic owner. From Well Go USA … In “Housewife” (2017), starring Clementine Poidatz, David Sakurai, Alicia Kapudag, Ali Aksoz and Defne Halman, Holly (Poidatz) has been haunted by a horrific childhood trauma for 20 years and struggles with vivid, disturbing nightmares that leave her detached and unable to live a normal life. When an old friend recommends Holly meet with charismatic cult leader Bruce O’Hara (Sakurai), she is led on a twisted journey of waking dreams that will begin to unravel the fabric of reality and reveal the truth about Holly’s family … a terrifying destiny. From RLJE Films … photo for Leave No Trace “Leave No Trace” (2018), starring Ben Foster and Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, takes audiences into the lives of war veteran Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) who have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put into social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland. Directed by Debra Granik, who gave us 2010’s “Winter’s Bone.” On DVD, Blu-ray, from Universal … In “Sleep No More” (2018), starring Keli Price, Lukas Gage, Yasmine Aker, Brea Grant, Stephen Ellis and Christine Dwyer, five graduate students are conducting a study to prove the theory that once you’ve passed 200 hours without sleep, you will never need sleep again. As the hours tick by and their struggle to stay awake intensifies, they each start to have strange and unsettling experiences. Visions from the past, violent impulses and terrifying waking nightmares begin to take hold and turn the experiment into a desperate fight for survival. From RLJE Films … photo for Feral In “Feral” (2017), starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Olivia Luccardi, Lew Temple, Renee Olstead, Brock Kelly, Landry Allbrigh and George Finn, a wild animal attacks six medical students on a weekend hike in the woods. One by one, they become infected with a “feral disease”, turning them into rabid, bloodthirsty creatures, and the vacation becomes a nightmare as they fight to survive each other. On DVD, Blu-ray, from IFC Midnight/Scream Factory … “The Landing” (2018) is a riveting faux documentary that questions history in today’s world of “fake news.” “The Landing’s” fascinating story ostensibly revisits Apollo 18 more than 25 years after the mission’s controversial catastrophe that left two American astronauts dead and which marked the end of U.S. moon missions. A unique blend of perceived fact and fiction that demonstrates just how easy it is to be fooled, “The Landing” follows the feasible disaster and subsequent 20+ years of legal wrangling, as investigators take a disorienting look into what could be real … Or is it? An extraordinary work of filmmaking that, in today’s “fake news” environment, demonstrates how easy it is to fool the world. The story: In 1973, the United States manned space program experienced an extraordinary tragedy, an event that, despite its place as one of the most disturbing episodes of the “Space Race,” was nevertheless all but ignored during the emerging Watergate scandal that ultimately claimed the presidency of President Richard M. Nixon. Returning from a successful lunar landing mission, NASA’s Apollo 18 suffered a computer error that forced command module pilot Bo Cunningham to take the controls and fly the spacecraft to an emergency landing in the remote Taklamakan Desert of western China, far from the intended splashdown target in the Pacific Ocean. Thirty-six hours would pass before NASA located the spacecraft, by then the site of a national tragedy. What happened during the astronauts’ time in the desert, the inquiry that followed and the mystery surrounding the event is the subject of “The Landing.” (In reality, there were only 17 Apollo missions. Apollo 18 — scheduled for February 1972 — was scrubbed due to budget cuts.) From Random Media).

On the Indie Front:

In “No Postage Necessary” (2017), starring George Blagden, Charleene Closshey, Robbie Kay, Michael Beach and Raymond J. Barry, wrong decisions seem apparent for Sam (Blagden), a convicted computer hacker, who is single, jaded and barred from using the Internet. Forced to crash on his brother’s couch, he makes ends meet by working at the local Twistee Treat and stealing mail while disguised as a postal worker. Then, a single pink envelope changes everything. Handwritten by a heartsick Josie (Closshey) to her late husband and fallen Marine, the tender missive awakens something in Sam. Desperate to be worthy of such love, he conspires to meet the beautiful, young war widow, longing to become a better man. As the two grow closer, she warms to the idea of a new chance at love, but not before Sam’s past comes knocking in the form of an FBI agent looking for missing bitcoins. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Two Roads Picture Co.

Foreign Films:

“Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc” (2017 — France), starring Lise Leplat Prudhomme, Aline Charles, Elise Charles and Nicolas Leclaire, is a weird, wild musical. France, 1425. In the midst of the Hundred Years’ War, the young Jeannette, at the tender age of 8, looks after her sheep in the small village of Domremy. One day, she tells her friend Hauviette how she cannot bear to see the suffering caused by the English. Madame Gervaise, a nun, tries to reason with the young girl, but Jeannette is ready to take up arms for the salvation of souls and the liberation of France. Carried by her faith, she will become Joan of Arc. Features a musical score by renowned death metal artist Igorrr (Gautier Serre) and dance sequences staged by world acclaimed choreographer Philippe Découflé (Lyon Opera Ballet, the Cirque du Soleil). On DVD, Blu-ray, from Icarus Films … “La Familia” (2017– Venezuela) is the acclaimed debut from director Gustavo Rondón Córdova, is the first Venezuelan film to ever compete at Cannes Critic’ Week, and was Venezuela’s official submission for Best Foreign-Language Film. Twelve-year-old Pedro roams the concrete jungle of Caracas with his friends, learning how to live by the law of the streets. His single father, Andrés, struggles to provide for his son, working multiple odd jobs in order to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. But when Pedro fatally injures another photo for The Misandristsboy during an altercation, Andrés realizes they face imminent danger. Fearing retribution, the two flee the city and go into hiding, setting into motion a series of events that will bring father and son closer to each other than they have ever been before. From Film Movement … In “The Misandrists” (2017 — Germany), starring Susanne Sachse, Viva Ruiz and Kembra Pfahler, when an injured male leftist on the run discovers the remote stronghold of the Female Liberation Army — a radical feminist terrorist group whose mission is to usher in a female world order — one of the members takes pity on him and hides him in the basement. However, the man in the basement is just one of many secrets threatening to disrupt the FLA’s mission from within. Balancing sharp social commentary and salacious popcorn entertainment, iconic filmmaker Bruce LaBruce has created an experience that’s a blast to watch and just as much fun to dissect afterwards. From Strand Releasing … In “Number One Fan” (2014 — France), starring Sandrine Kiberlain and Laurent Lafitte, Muriel (Kiberlain), a beautician who for the past two decades has been French crooner Vincent Lacroix’s (Lafitte) number one fan, spends most of her free time keeping up with his new songs and going to his performances. She also is a big talker who lies compulsively. One night, Muriel opens her door to find Vincent — her idol –standing on her doorstep. His arrival turns Muriel’s life upside down as she embarks on a journey that even she could have never invented. A comedy that turns into a Hitchcockian thriller. From Icarus Films.

For the Family:

“DC Super Hero Girls: Legends of Atlantis” (2018) is the newest feature in the popular, groundbreaking universe celebrating young girls. It seems like an uneventful day at school until the powerful Book of Legends is suddenly stolen from Super Hero High. In order to uncover the mystery, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Bumblebee and the rest of the Super Crew must journey through the depths of the ocean to Atlantis. There, the girls encounter Mera and Siren, the ocean-dwelling thieves, who prove to be a formidable match. In order to recover the stolen tome and return it to its rightful place, DC Super Hero Girls must band together and use their collective powers to successfully get back to land…and back to class. From Warner … photo for Sesame Street – Elmo’s World: Elmo Explores! “Sesame Street – Elmo’s World: Elmo Explores!” (2018) is a two-hour collection of “Elmo’s World” episodes, appearing for the first time on DVD. Using the power of his imagination, Sesame Street’s little red monster explores kid-friendly topics such as painting, cooking, and habitats from a child’s point of view. Joined by the hilarious Mr. Noodle, Smartie the Smartphone, and his pet goldfish Dorothy, Elmo asks questions that lead to fun discoveries. An age-appropriate launch pad for imagination and learning,” Elmo’s World: Elmo Explores!” indulges children’s natural sense of curiosity about the world around them. Each engaging installment of this newly-reimagined Sesame Street segment presents young viewers with lessons to help them grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. From Shout! Factory … “The Wiggles: Nursery Rhymes” (2018) is a collection of nursery rhymes that Emma, Lachy, Simon and Anthony have selected, arranged and performed. Families all around the world have sung nursery rhymes to each other for many generations, and nearly everybody has a favorite nursery rhyme from when they were children. Simon tells us his favorite was, and still is, “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”, Emma can’t go past “Three Little Kittens”, Lachy loves “Wheels on the Bus”, while Anthony’s favorite is “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Children learn best through play and “The Wiggles Nursery Rhymes” will encourage children to sing, dance, play and tell stories inspired by these great renditions. From Kino Lorber.

Special Interest:

“Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like” (2018) is a celebrity-filled special that celebrates “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” the pioneering PBS series that premiered nationally 50 years ago and became an iconic and enduring landmark in the world of children’s television and beyond. Cast members from the groundbreaking series share their personal perspectives and insights in this new program, which pays tribute to television’s longest-running children’s series, still broadcast on many PBS stations today. The program also features interviews with numerous celebrities who have been influenced and inspired by Fred Rogers, a modest man who always said, “I am not a teacher, I simply help children learn.” From PBS Distribution … “Strangers on the Earth” (2017) Europe’s most popular pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago attracts wayfarers of all stripes to walk its ancient paths in search of meaning. One such pilgrim is Dane Johansen, an American cellist who walks the Camino with his instrument on his back, performing music for his fellow pilgrims along the way. From First Run Features.

All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.

 Posted by on October 2, 2018  Add comments

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