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Cult Movies on DVD

All the best in Cult Movies released onto DVD

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Monday, 11 October 2010

The music industry has been parodied at many levels, from “This Is Spinal Tap” through to the “Bad News Tour” episode of The Comic Strip Presents, and even more surreally in The Glam Metal Detectives. Director James Abadi, along with brother Adam Abadi, decided it was time for their own unique take on the PR machine behind mass market music, and the result is “The Story of F****”. The title is problematic, mainly because the expletive in it is also the name of the talentless quartet which is being manufactured into the limelight.

There are not many films these days that can be described as having a totally unique narrative style.  In the hundred or so years that cinema has been churning out material, you would have thought everything had been done.  Here is a film that will actually make you feel that you’ve discovered a new storytelling style.  Yes, there are elements of what has gone before, but as every good cook will know, it’s not the ingredients on their own, but how you cook up the recipe. Prepare to be amazed.

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Monday, 11 October 2010

On New Year’s Eve, 1969, a sexy lesbian couple take a break from driving through the American desert and get attacked by a strange swirling cloud of energy. Brooke (Sophie Monk – “The Hills Run Red”, Entourage) is killed instantly; Rhea (Anya Lahiri – Keen Eddie) is spared and given a mission by God (Angela Lindvall – “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”). She becomes a vampiric angel of death tasked with eradicating evil from the planet.

Rhea agrees on one condition, that Brooke is also brought back as a vampire, even though she has just killed a jerk in a bloody frenzy. God agrees, but warns Rhea that they must only use their powers to fight malevolence. Fast forwards to 31 December 2009, and the two undead ladies burst forth from cocoons. Brooke cannot resist her new-found urges and goes on a killing spree, forcing Rhea to confront her head-on.

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Saturday, 02 October 2010

This movie tells the legendary story of Confucius (aka Kong Ze), a master politician, philosopher and moralist in China around 500 BC. Chow Yun-Fat (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hard Boiled”) plays the titular man of immense wisdom, and he is joined by a huge cast. The film follows Confucius and his loyal disciples through his rise to high political office and then his descent to destitution.

The film opens at a time when the sage is in his early fifties, and at the height of his mental powers. Confucius is elevated to Minister of Law in the Kingdom of Lu by General Ji (Chen Jianbin), a man who recognises Confucius’ potential despite his common upbringing. This contentious manoeuvre risks offending members of the region’s three highly influential noble families, who seemingly will not rest until Confucius is deposed.

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Saturday, 02 October 2010

“Higanjima” is one crazy movie, and the subtitle pretty much says everything that needs to be said about the plot. A bunch of school friends are lured to a mist-shrouded island, ostensibly so that Akira (Hideo Ishiguro) can rescue his long-lost brother from the clutches of blood-thirsty vampires. When they arrive, they quickly realise the whole thing is a blatant trap, and must fight for their lives against overwhelming odds and escape.

The movie set out its super-charged stall from the very beginning. A terrified, injured man tears through a forest pursued by an unseen menace. He is surrounded by a couple of vampires in a hut when a man in a cloak appears, shoots arrows through their eyes, slices and dices both before crushing their heads with a huge log weapon. This is Atsushi (Dai Watanabe), Akira’s brother, still very much alive and kicking!

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Saturday, 02 October 2010

Was the Gulf of Mexico ecological disaster the result of equipment failure, inadequate safety procedures, incompetent personnel … or something far more sinister? In this outstanding presentation, former Oilfield Executive Ian R Crane draws attention to the significance of the date ‘20 April’, and identifies the individual who was ultimately responsible for what transpired

This is the person who must now answer deep and probing questions regarding his allegiances outside of BP. This disaster bears all the hallmarks of a contrived event; an event which will have long-lasting and far-reaching impact upon the lives of tens perhaps hundreds of millions of people. Ian comments: “The long term impact upon Florida and the Gulf Coast makes Chernobyl look like an attractive vacation resort!"

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Saturday, 02 October 2010

“American: The Bill Hicks Story” brings into focus the tragic and moving life of one of the most underground comedians in history. Its theatrical release saw it become one of the top three documentaries of the year. With acclaimed reviews from critics and audience alike, it is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Bill Hicks began performing at the age of 13, and developed a unique and fearless style that tackled issues head on. His outlook challenged the injustices of life, but also pointed his audience to a better understanding of our lives here on Earth, via a very informed spiritual dimension.  Cancer robbed us of him back in 1994, at the tender age of 32. This film is an exhaustive tribute to Hicks, with a forensic level of DVD extras to get a total immersion in his life and motivations.

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Sunday, 26 September 2010

Andrei Borissov’s movie charts the birth, childhood and rise to power of the huge historical figure who would become Genghis Khan (or “Ultimate Ruler”) in the late 12th and early 13th Centuries. Khan is famous for pulling together the warring nomadic tribes of Mongolia and using them to establish the largest empire in the history of mankind. It is an epic story of destiny, power, religion, betrayal and love.

Eduard Ondar takes the title role. Khan’s real name was Borjigin Temujin, and from an early age he became friends with two other boys who would become influential men in their own right. One was Jamuka (Orgil Makhaan), who also became a fearsome warrior and leader; the other was Khokochoi (Efim Stepanov), who took the path of the shaman and influenced others by communing with the spirits of heaven and earth.

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Sunday, 26 September 2010

“Twelve” is a short and sweet slasher film with a typical horror premise. Despicable paedophile Leonard Karlsson (stuntman Jeremy Fitzgerald) is convicted by a unanimous jury and sentenced to an eight year stretch. Soon after arriving in prison, he is brutally attacked by other inmates and left terribly disfigured. On his early release five years later, hell-bent on revenge he vows to track down and murder all twelve jurors.

Most of the jurors inhabit the same remote Arizona desert town, which makes Karlsson’s job pretty straightforward. Nevertheless, it takes FBI Special Agent Naughton (Steven Brand – Mistresses) and sleepy local Deputy Kent (Nick Searcy – Justified) quite a while to piece the glaringly obvious evidence together, and by that time Karlsson has already crossed-off half his list of victims!

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

This zombie horror marks the first outing for its writer/director team of Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher. On the surface it is a run-of-the-mill zombie movie. The plot is the basic ‘dead walk, living run away shooting as they go’ type of thing. But unlike most of these movies the infighting amongst the living is there from the start, not introduced half way through to up the tension. 

Instead our ‘heroes’ - and I use the term loosely – are forced together at the beginning of the narrative and gradually build an uneasy truce. The story begins with a group of renegade police officers attempt to seek revenge for the mob killing of one of their team. Under the cover of darkness they enter the mobster’s hideout, a dilapidated and condemned tower block; they are quickly outnumbered and overpowered by the gangsters.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Set in Nanjing, China in 1937 and based on real events, “City of Life and Death” tells the awful story of the merciless Japanese invasion of the city and the slaughter, rape and pillaging that took place. Lu Chuan’s movie has won many awards (including a 2009 Asia Pacific Screen Award and a 2010 Asian Film Award for direction), and it is guaranteed to leave a lasting mark on the psyche of anyone that watches it.

The movie opens with the Japanese arriving at the outskirts of the city. All that stands in their way is the imposing city wall, but they make short work of it with bombs and explosive tank rounds. When they enter the city, they find that many of the Chinese troops and inhabitants have fled, but thousands remain. The Chinese ranks are quickly crushed, and small pockets of resistance are efficiently flushed out with mortar rounds.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

“Tears For Sale” is a quirky fairytale from Serbian first-time director Uros Stojanovic. Events take place in the 1920s in the little village of Pokrp, a settlement that shares a major problem with the rest of post-World War I Serbia. Two thirds of the male population have died on various battlefields, and the women that have been left behind are extremely desperate. Villages treat their men like gold dust and fight to retain them.

When Grandpa Bisa – Pokrp’s last man - is accidentally startled to death, two feisty but naive sisters in their early twenties are given an ultimatum. Either burn like witches or find a new man within three days. As luck would have it, their bizarre adventure leads them to not one but two eligible young men, but they find themselves torn between running off with their prizes or honouring their agreement with the village folk.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

“The Sword With No Name” is an historical epic set in 19th Century Korea, during the Joseon Dynasty. The movie is an adaptation of the controversial life of Empress Myeongseong, with layers of forbidden romance, action-packed sword fighting, dark political and imperial intrigue, and military confrontation. It comes from director Kim Yong-gyun (“The Red Shoes”).

Su-Ae stars as Min Ja-Young, a young lady of noble birth who is selected to become Korea’s next Queen. Prior to her marriage to the King, Ja-Young encounters a humble fisherman called Moo-myoung (Cho Seung-Woo) who agrees to ferry her up the river to see the sea. En-route, the pair are attached by ninjas and Moo-myoung deftly saves her from certain death. This event establishes that neither person is what they seem.

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Monday, 13 September 2010

Dario Argento’s “Inferno” is the spooky and blood-drenched middle part of his classic “Three Mothers” trilogy, the other two chapters being “Suspiria” (1977) and “Mother of Tears” (2007). “Inferno” concerns the hazardous exploits of Rose (Irene Miracle), a young poetess who buys a dusty, leather-bound volume from a local antiques dealer and finds a terrifying, occult link between the book and her own apartment block.

Entitled “The Three Mothers”, the tome tells of three mysterious witches called the Mothers of Sighs, Tears and Darkness.  Each Mother has an abode in one of three separate cities across the world, and each house has a hidden key that can unlock the dark secrets they contain. As Rose embarks on her adventure to track down the keys, to her horror she soon realises that some secrets are better left buried. Fans of Argento’s other tales of terror will quickly settle into the bizarre but magnificent imagery and gory, graphic murder scenes featured in “Inferno”.

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Saturday, 11 September 2010

Werner Herzog (2009’s “Bad Lieutenant” and “Rescue Dawn”) directs and David Lynch (Twin Peaks, “Blue Velvet”) executive produces this quirky little tale set in San Diego, about a man-child who gradually goes mad and ends up murdering his own mother. The excellent cast includes Willem Dafoe, Michael Shannon, Chloë Sevigny, Brad Dourif, Udo Kier and Grace Zabriskie.

Shannon (“Jonah Hex”, “Revolutionary Road”) plays Brad, a bit of a loser who lives with his mother (Zabriskie – Twin Peaks, Big Love) and their two flamingos (or “eagles in drag” as Brad prefers to call them). They live in a garish pink bungalow with a flamingo mural painted on the garage door. Brad’s fiancée, Ingrid (Sevigny – also Big Love, “Zodiac”) has the patience of a saint, and hopes they will soon have a place of their own away from the mother’s suffocating attention.

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Monday, 06 September 2010

Shera Bechard stars as Karma, a stunningly beautiful femme fatale with just one thing on her mind: revenge. Karma’s sister, Anna (Patricia Stasiak) signed up to a scheme which purports to export attractive Russian ladies from their Motherland to Toronto to become exotic dancers. Unfortunately, Anna has gone missing and Karma suspects that the gang responsible for the immigrants may not have their best interests at heart.

Once she has tracked down the gang’s base, Karma intends to get to the boss, brutally executing anyone who is unfortunate enough to get in her way. As she faces a criminal organisation full of brutish, armed thugs, she is going to have to use stealth, intelligence and her not inconsiderable feminine assets to complete her mission. It will not be easy, not least because she is a mute, but she will not stop until the boss is dead, or she is. “Sweet Karma” is a low budget, independently made thriller with a fair amount of style and some effective direction.

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Monday, 06 September 2010

Billed as the next step up from the torture porn highs (or lows, depending on your stance) of the “Saw” and “Hostel” franchises, “Meat Grinder” is a Thai horror movie that actually manages to cook up something refreshingly new in this decidedly tired genre. Mai Charoenpura stars as Buss, a sexy noodle restaurant proprietor with some rather unusual fare on the menu.

In a similar manner to Sweeney Todd, Buss murders those she has a grievance with and then makes sure that every last ounce of flesh and bone is used to make her noodle dishes the tastiest in town. As you can guess from the torture reference, though, Buss does not simply kill people. She nails her wounded victims down or hangs them up on hooks to ensure the “meat” stays fresh for as long as possible! So far, so what, you might be asking? Well, despite its horrendously unsubtle title (the superior Thai title is “Taste Before Carving”), this movie is actually quite arty in its direction, storytelling and ambience.

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Monday, 30 August 2010

Jet Li takes the titular role in this period martial arts spectacular, set during China’s Ching Dynasty (1644-1911). The story concerns village life under a despotic emperor, and an underground resistance movement’s efforts to overthrow the unpopular regime. The tone of the first half of the movie is nowhere near as dark and serious as that sounds, though, and it is really just an excuse for lots of acrobatic kung fu action!

Fong Sai-Yuk is a mischievous and cocky young man with his heart in the right place. He comes to the aid of a beautiful girl being pestered by ruffians, and promptly falls for her. The girl is called Ting Ting (Michelle Reis); she turns out to be the daughter of a rich merchant who amusingly decides to put donate her as the prize for a martial arts tournament he sponsors, hoping to gain popularity with local villagers.

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Monday, 16 August 2010

Danny Dyer (“Severance”, “Doghouse”) stars in this new British horror film, which is being released near-simultaneously across all media. Dyer plays Gary, a disillusioned anti-war protester who bizarrely finds himself locked in a terrifying underground bunker along with some fellow demonstrators. As annoyance quickly turns to desperation, it is not long before tempers fray and bitter accusations fly between the group members.

Friendships start to crumble, people mysteriously disappear and disturbing noises suggest they are not alone. What was or is the purpose of the labyrinthine tunnel network? Who has locked them in and why?  And does someone in the group know more about their predicament that they are letting on? The group must get to the bottom of these questions and escape before their time runs out. Writer-director Asham Kamboj’s premise a group of people being trapped in a maze with an unseen threat is not exactly original.

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Monday, 16 August 2010

“14 Blades” is a lavish, award-winning, martial arts adventure movie along the lines of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “House of Flying Daggers”. Set at the dawn of the Ming Dynasty (around the 14th Century), this epic yarn follows Qinglong (Donnie Yen – “Ip Man”, “Kill Zone”), once commander of the Emperor’s elite guards, now a hunted rebel seeking to restore dignity to his ruler and himself.

Armed with an amazingly compact and versatile, not to mention deadly box of 14 blades (imagine Batman’s utility belt but in spring-loaded box form), Qinglong must call on his immense kung fu and weapon-wielding abilities, and build new alliances to help him return the Imperial Seal to its rightful owners, defeating those who have betrayed him and are seeking to usurp the Emperor. 

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Friday, 13 August 2010

Hoping to catch the wave of interest in family-friendly martial arts films generated by the new remake of “The Karate Kid”, this movie features an extended cameo by genre hero Jackie Chan. The star of the piece, however, is Yishan Zhang who, in an inspired bit of script writing, plays Zhang Yi-Shan. Yi-Shan is a sixteen-year-old school boy who is utterly obsessed with Chan, and dreams about becoming his disciple.

Ridiculed at school by his peers for failing his grades, Yi-Shan vows to seek Chan out, be taught kung fu by him and then return to punish those who have teased him. On a trip to supposedly stay with his grandparents in Beijing, he instead opts to blindly wander off in search of his idol. Along the way he encounters a dangerous gang who believe he really is associated with Chan, and consequently kidnaps him for a huge ransom. This film, directed by Gangliang Fang and Ping Jiang, is what I would term “kung fu light”, much like the original “The Karate Kid”. It is aimed squarely at teenagers and consequently features no blood, guts or limb-snapping. That does not mean it is without merit and of no interest to adults, though.

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Saturday, 07 August 2010

Take the set design of Season 2 of Space: 1999, direction and special effects with the budget of Blake’s 7, and the costumes and dialogue style from “Barbarella” and you are probably getting close to a genetic description of “The Beast In Space”.

Played out in its original Italian language with English subtitles, this is an off-the-peg story of a spaceship landing party finding out the dark secrets of a planet that they would have been better off leaving well alone.  The eye candy for the lads is sufficiently “Charlie’s Angels” in aspect to satiate those of us who loved that style of female coiffure, while the male ‘talent’ is far more patchy.   If ‘Space Odyssey’ is your SF of choice, then best to steer clear, but if ‘Space Opera’ is your bag, then this title is sufficiently cheesy to raise a giggle if screened late-night with an alcoholically steamed audience.

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Friday, 06 August 2010

Kamui is an expert ninja who strongly desires his freedom and consequently breaks away from his warrior clan. Unfortunately for our headstrong hero (played by Ken’ichi Matsuyama – “Death Note”, “Kaiji: The Ultimate Gambler”), such actions are forbidden and expose him to a deadly fatwa. He must spend the rest of his life trying to outrun, outfox or kill those sent to execute him.

During his travels he comes across a peaceful fishing village on a tropical island. Whilst he initially distrusts everyone around him, he gradually comes to accept the villagers and even begins to think he might finally be able to settle down. Meanwhile, a suspect gang of shark-hunting pirates lands on the island and offers their services. Kamui joins their ranks to help out but trouble is never far behind.

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Friday, 06 August 2010

“Invisible Target is an explosive martial arts action-thriller set in the bustling city of Hong Kong. It comes from director Benny Chan, renowned for energetic movies such as “New Police Story” and “Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?”. Chan has tried to outdo himself this time with even more daring stunts, and fight sequences that will surely make you wince once you have picked your jaw off the floor!

A gang is responsible for an armed robbery that results in the accidental death of a cop’s fiancée. The detective, Chan Chun (Nicholas Tse – “Storm Warriors”, “Dragon Tiger Gate”) goes all-out for revenge, accompanied by egotistical Inspector Carson Fong (Shawn Yue – “Internal Affairs”, “Dragon Tiger Gate”). During the investigation they are joined by rookie Wai King-ho (Jaycee Chan, none-other than Jackie Chan’s son).

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Monday, 26 July 2010

The reimagining of “Clash of the Titans” is out now on Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and Digital Download from Warner Home Video.  It is billed as a ‘colossal battle between men and the gods as this epic tale takes you on a non-stop, jaw-dropping adventure’.  There’s no doubt there’s plenty of spectacular CGI effects and heart pounding action, directed by Louis Leterrier (“The Incredible Hulk”, “Transporter 2”). It’s a question of immense star-spotting, too, with a cast headed up by Sam Worthington of “Avatar” and “Terminator Salvation” fame – he’s also tipped to be the next James Bond when the financial dire straits surrounding that franchise are sorted. However, it was a production plagued with problems which this release does not address.

Liam Neeson (“The A Team” movie, “Schindler’s List”), Ralph Fiennes (the Harry Potter franchise, “The Hurt Locker”) and the pneumatic Gemma Arterton (“St Trinian’s”, “Quantum of Solace”) are amongst the headliners to also look out for.  

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Monday, 26 July 2010

Kaiji Ito (Tatsuya Fujiware – “Death Note”, “Battle Royale”) is a depressed, unemployed gambler who has run up a sizeable debt. Full of resentment, he vandalises a flash car, only to be given an unbelievable ultimatum by its owner, a beautiful loan shark (Yûki Amami – “Ponyo”). He can either spend the next decade settling his account, or stand a chance of clearing it in one go by taking part in a mysterious challenge.

The high-stakes adventure starts on a cruise ship called “Espoir” (“hope” in French). Unable to resist, our hero turns up only to find dozens of other young male losers looking to wipe their slates clean. They start by playing games of Rock, Paper, Scissors using playing cards to win (or lose) stars. Those who can retain at least three stars and get rid of their cards will make it through; the rest are doomed to years of slavery.

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