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Cult Movies on DVD

All the best in Cult Movies released onto DVD

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Handgun from Tony Garnett out now on DVD“Handgun” was made in 1982, and was known as “Deep in the Heart” Stateside. It didn’t get a release there until early 1984, with the action set in the heart of Texas. Written, produced and directed by British film and television veteran Tony Garnett, his credits include the likes of “Kes”, Between the Lines and This Life. “Handgun”, like so many of Network Releasing’s recent titles, is featured on this DVD in a brand-new transfer from original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio.

Karen Young gives an intense performance as a victim of sexual violence who turns vigilante. With one broken relationship still fresh in her mind, Kathleen Sullivan is in no mood to take on a new boyfriend. Larry the lawyer (Clayton Day), however, in love with his own reflection and with a dubious obsession for guns and schoolgirls (glancing successively at one after another along a school corridor), will not tolerate her rebuffs. Treading the fine line of what the law of the land will let him get away with, he instigates an almost-textbook assault on her, which leaves the police nothing they can hang a conviction on.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Dead Mine comes to DVDA small but heavily armed group of explorers travel to a remote Indonesian island, looking for a mythical hoard of gold abandoned during World War 2. They discover a mine built by the Japanese and are trapped inside when a group of pirates attack their party. There is a chance that the mine could contain the treasure, but it definitely also harbours some very nasty surprises left by the previous occupants.

The film is an ambitious second feature for director Steven Sheil (“Mum & Dad”). It was shot in Indonesia with an international cast that includes Sam Hazeldine (Lightfields, Midsomer Murders), former stuntman Les Loveday (“Stardust”), Japanese actress Miki Mizuno (“Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion”), Carmen Soo from China and a host of Indonesian actors including Ario Bayu.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Magnificent Eleven shoot onto DVDFootball, racketeering and Indian cuisine collide in this new British comedy co-written by Irvine Welsh (“Trainspotting”). Dire Sunday soccer team Cowboy F.C. may have just played its final game. The coffers are dry, they have never scored a goal let alone won a match and are the laughing stock of the league. To make matters worse, their rowdy post-match antics have seen them get banned from virtually every pub and restaurant in town.

When all seems lost, two glimmers of hope surface in the shape of rival sponsorship opportunities. The first offer comes from The Taj Tandoori, a local Indian restaurant, the other from a big American firm looking to move into the area. The hapless team make a deal with The Taj’s hard-bargaining owners, only to discover that the restaurant is being squeezed by American Bob, a local crime lord (Robert Vaughn – The Man From UNCLE, Hustle).

Monday, 13 May 2013

Konga storms onto DVDHere we herald the home entertainment debut of one of the first monster movies to be made in the UK in colour. “Konga” is an alternative interpretation of the King Kong mythos, with Michael Gough as Dr Charles Decker, a botanist and university professor, and the only survivor of a plane crash in Africa (the less said about the effects on that scene the better).

When he returns from the jungle, he brings with him ‘Konga’, a baby chimpanzee. During the course of his experiments, Decker discovers a serum that causes Konga to grow and grow, and even to obey his will. He encounters much opposition to his experiments and, following an obsession with a female pupil where he looks like his amorous intent will be thwarted by a rival, he decides to put the supersized ape to terrifying use - which eventually terrorises the whole of London.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Collection - out now on DVDA mass-murdering psycho known as The Collector is still at large. Responsible for the deaths of dozens of people, the demented, masked killer captures one unfortunate soul from each crime scene for some unholy purpose. Enter Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick – “The Social Network”, “In Time”), a young woman who goes to a rave with her friends in the wrong place at the wrong time, and ends up in The Collector’s deadly, trap-infested lair.

Elena’s rich father (Christopher McDonald – “A Requiem for a Dream”, “Thelma & Louise”) hires some mercenaries to get her back, and they strong-arm the sole survivor from a previous attack, cat-burglar Arkin (Josh Stewart – “The Dark Knight Rises”, No Ordinary Family) into helping them locate The Collector’s lair. Heavily armed, the team track their quarry down and enter his decrepit old hotel den expecting an easy mission.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Spanish Fly comes to DVDPicture the scene.  It’s 1976, and the British cinema has become a home for mild titillation. With Page 3 of ‘The Sun’ in its heyday, mixing such study of the female form with a humour built on the foundations of male frustration seemed to be a winning recipe at the Box Office.  Marking the height, or for some the nadir, of such productions is “Spanish Fly”, now making its way onto the home market as a DVD, allowing it to be seen for the first time since its original cinematic release.

Having been remastered from original film materials, this version includes a print in the as-exhibited cinema aspect ratio. The premise declares that this is “Leslie Philips v Terry-Thomas”, with an onscreen battle of wills to see who comes out on top, in literally every possible meaning of the phrase. If you’re looking for a film that deepens the understanding of the human condition, then this isn’t it. However, if you want to see what sort of movie became the successor to the “Carry On” films, burning brightly for just a short time, then consider “Spanish Fly” as part of your education.

Monday, 22 April 2013

On The Fiddle - out now on DVDYou can be forgiven for not ever hearing of “On The Fiddle”, a jolly jape of a movie from 1961. On the verge of international stardom, Sean Connery took one of the lead roles in this adaptation of R F Delderfield’s novel “Stop at a Winner”, scripted by Harold Buchman (the co-creator of TV lawyer Petrocelli). The story has a couple of lovable service dodgers becoming accidental heroes. It’s a measured performance from Connery, not portraying any of the facets that would come to the fore the following year when he made his debut as 007 in “Dr No”. It’s almost like he’s channelling Bernard Bresslaw in his approach.

The film has been the subject of a brand-new transfer from original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio (1.66:1). Its wartime setting does make the film appear older than it actually is, such is the accuracy of the era that it manages to encapsulate. You can imagine it having raised many a knowing chuckle amongst those in the original audience who recalled wartime, which was then only a couple of decades in the past. Veterans will no doubt feel the same when viewing it today.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Lords of Salem on DVD“The Lords of Salem” is the latest horror movie from Rob Zombie (“The Devil’s Rejects” and the “Halloween” remakes). Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon stars as Heidi, a heavy metal radio DJ whose life is upended when she is sent a ghastly but somehow addictive vinyl record by an unknown band called ‘The Lords’. The track puts a spell on Heidi, causing her to have horrible visions and go into a trance-like state.

Her town, Salem, has a dark past surrounding a witches’ coven that was hunted down and burnt alive in the 1600s. Before they died, the witches were said to have put a hellish curse on the town. Local museum curator Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison – “X-Men”, Last Resort) becomes concerned that history is about to catch up with Salem’s inhabitants, and is convinced that the record is the key to unlocking the mystery before it is too late.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Blood Simple - Director's Cut out on DVDPreviously released on DVD in 2001, the Coen Brothers’ “Blood Simple” is being re-released in a new director’s-cut-guise, with three minutes excised to enhance the movie’s pacing and by all accounts a much better print. It was their first film and yet it bears all the hallmarks of their later work, including pitch-black humour, quirky characters, strong violence and a twisting story.

Jealous and brooding bar owner Marty (Dan Hedaya – “Mullholland Drive”, “Commando”) hires a swaggering P.I. (M. Emmet Walsh – “Blade Runner”, “Fletch”) to kill his wife and her new man after she leaves him. Naïve Abby (Frances McDormand – “Fargo”, “Burn After Reading”) and boyfriend Ray (John Getz – “The Fly”, “Zodiac”) seem like easy targets, so the execution should be a formality. Of course, nothing in a Coen Brothers’ film is simple.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Bay - out on Blu-ray and DVDJust when you thought it was safe to go back into the cinema, another ‘found footage’ horror movie emerges, doing its best to convince you that the genre is not dead in the water. The coastal town of Claridge, Maryland is in for a torrid time during its 4th of July festivities. Abruptly interrupting celebrations such as a crab-eating contest, 30 people are spontaneously afflicted with hideous boils and vomiting, and that is only the beginning.

Their condition rapidly declines, and the number of victims multiplies by the hour. Panic and confusion grip the bewildered inhabitants. Meanwhile, the police and medical experts try to solve the mystery before it can lay waste to the entire town. The movie’s crew includes some big names such as Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson (“Rain Man”, “Bugsy”), producer Jason Blum (“Paranormal Activity”, “Insidious”) and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (“Sinister”).

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Jack Taylor Collection One on DVDI commute to work courtesy of Britain’s railway network; therefore this gives me plenty of time to read novels. I like to read police procedurals which generally all have the same basic story, a gruesome murder is discovered and a police detective, generally with some ‘issues’ in his personal life is allocated the job of finding the killer.  A battle of wits ensues between killer and cop with the dogged copper emerging triumphant after a struggle either physically or mentally with the villain who generally ends up ever so slightly dead.

Jack Taylor is exactly this type of detective. We first meet Jack as he performs a high speed car chase despite his quarry being a government minister. The subsequent punch to the minister’s face is enough to have Jack thrown out of the Garda. Jack Taylor is something of a maverick, he appears to have no respect for authority, throughout this first story he is continually asked for his ‘all weather’ uniform coat to be returned, he refuses, even when visiting his former colleagues at the station he used to work at.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Ray Harryhausen immortalised on Blu-ray and DVDSeven merciless, untiring skeletons that cannot be wounded. A hissing, and very deadly Medusa. Pegasus, serene and sleek. The towering and creaking bronze statue of Talos. These are just a few of the many classic beings that stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen has enchanted audiences with for sixty years. This new documentary celebrates the work of a genius and ropes in many cinematic heroes to raise a glass to Ray.

Amongst the fellow special effects artists, directors and actors who put in a good word for Harryhausen are Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam and Guillermo del Toro. The film charts Ray’s career from the 1940s to 1981, featuring anecdotes and clips from perennial favourites such as “Jason and the Argonauts”, “Mysterious Island”, “Clash of the Titans” and “One Million Years B.C.”

Monday, 25 February 2013

Reign of Assassins on DVDMartial arts movie supremo John Woo (“Red Cliff”, “Mission Impossible II”) co-directed this “Wuxia” flick alongside Su Chao-Pin (“Silk”), with the ageless and incomparable Michelle Yeoh (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Tomorrow Never Dies”) in the starring role. Set in ancient China, the plot concerns the ancient remains of a monk bestowed with magical powers, and the efforts of a gang of deadly assassins intent on seizing them.

Drizzle (Yeoh), a particularly efficient member of the brutal Dark Stone gang, decides to change her ways and makes off with the prized remains to prevent them falling into the wrong hands, which basically means those of her murderous colleagues. She undergoes dramatic facial surgery to change her identity, relocates and sets up shop as a cloth vendor. She falls for a kindly, handsome neighbour (Woo-sung Jung – “The Warrior”) but the Dark Stone posse is closing in.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Race is On - A Trio of CFF films on DVDCatch a young Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer of Some Mothers do 'Ave 'Em fame) in “Soapbox Derby” from 1957, the most senior entry in a trio of Children’s Film Foundation (CFF) movies collected together under the banner “The Race is On”. Crawford plays Peter Toms, the club-leader of The Battersea Bats who, are determined to win a soapbox derby – home-made go-karts, basically. As always seems to be the case, they face betrayal when local rivals, The Victoria Victors, enter the competition too.

Also in contention on this release is “The Sky-Bike” from 1967, which features Liam Redmond (Henry in You’re Only Young Twice) as Mr Lovejoy, the down-on-his-luck mastermind behind a flying bike. Completing the line-up is “Sammy’s Super T-Shirt”, a 1978 parody of The Six Million Dollar Man (Sammy even has an illustrated poster of Steve Austin on his bedroom wall) with an irradiated Tiger T-shirt seemingly the key to the unlocking of super-human powers. Once again, the care put into CFF releases like this is clear for all to see, and rightly these titles power through extreme levels of nostalgia. And you could have won one of three copies of the DVD, plus a Tiger T-Shirt for the person first out of the electronic hat, in our prize competition.

Monday, 04 February 2013

Manborg comes to DVD“Manborg” is a demented, $1,000-budgeted movie that pours “Robocop”, “Mortal Kombat” and Robot Chicken into a melting pot and comes up with an entertaining, pulpy throwback to the 1980s. A portal is opened and the mutant, jack-booted forces of Hell spew forth. A soldier (Matthew Kennedy) witness his brother being killed in action before he also succumbs to their vampire-like leader, Count Draculon (Adam Brooks).

Skip forward many years into the future and the soldier awakens in a strange laboratory, discovering he has been surgically altered into Manborg, a cyborg with some neat weapons up his sleeves. Hell won the war against mankind and has enslaved most of those who remain, forcing many of them to fight for their lives in a gladiatorial arena. Our hero teams up with some freedom fighters and together they take on Draculon and his vile army of freaks and robots.

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Campaign - out on DVD and Blu-rayOne of the cinematic highlights of 2012 quickly becomes one of the DVD/Blu-ray highlights of 2013. Jay Roach is a Director who has bought us all the entries in the “Austin Powers” and “Meet The Parents” franchises. He's been over twenty years in the business, as both Director and Producer, with some considerable success. “The Campaign”  continues this good form. However, I do fear for his career: this is a satire based on what’s really going on in the world. For all of its crude humour, the cornerstones of the plot are a savage and totally accurate commentary on what has happened, not only to American but also to World politics and governance.  This is a movie that tells the truth, wrapped in jokes.

Will Farrell is congressman Cam Brady, who looks like he’s going to be able to stand again in his district unopposed. Zach Galifianakis plays Marty Sylvester Huggins, manager of the town’s Tourist Centre, who is backed by Washington insiders and corporate lobbyists, The Motch Brothers (John Lithgow as Glenn, Dan Aykroyd as Wade). Early on, we get to see the actual way lobbying works behind closed doors at the hub of American decision making – if they want it, they will get it, as all those in office know where their next campaign contributions are coming from.  Both sides paid for, hence you can never lose.  But that’s just the start of the humour which gets its bite from telling how things really are.

Monday, 21 January 2013

American Mary - on DVD and Blu-rayAn original horror film is hard to come by these days, so thank heavens for “American Mary”, a seriously warped piece by the Soska sisters, Jen and Sylvia (“Dead Hooker in a Trunk”). Katharine Isabelle (“Ginger Snaps”, the USA Being Human) stars as Mary, a med student who is struggling to pays the bills and stumbles into a lucrative new line of work as a body modification surgeon. Before she knows it, her services in high demand.

The body-mod jobs start small but soon ramp up as increasingly weird requests come Mary’s way, drawing her deeper and deeper into a strange underworld of people who are unhappy with their bodies. Meanwhile, Mary develops a dark thirst for revenge following an incident with one of her medical tutors at a party. Imagine “Human Centipede” crossed with “Frankenstein” and “Hard Candy”. The squeamish need not apply!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Nowhere to Go - out on DVD“Nowhere To Go” is a dark thriller about a thief and con-artist who robs a rich heiress of her valuable vintage coin collection and then is forced to go on the run when his elaborate plan goes awry. One of the last Ealing Films’ productions to be made, the movie headlines George Nader (“Robot Monster”) as Paul ‘Greg’ Gregory, and is notable for Maggie Smith’s film debut as Bridget Howard, a young woman Greg encounters whilst in London.

Other prominent stars include Bernard Lee (‘M’ in the early James  Bond features) as Victor Sloane, Greg’s co-conspirator, Geoffrey Keen (also a Bond regular including “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker”), Bessie Love (“Reds”) as the gullible heiress Harriet Jefferson and Harry H Corbett (Steptoe and Son, “Carry On Screaming”) as a city crime lord. This is a re-mastered and extended version, reinserting 15 minutes cut from its original theatrical release.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Christmas Evil - out now on DVD“Christmas Evil” (sometimes called “You Better Watch Out”) is all about an unhinged killer who goes on a rampage dressed as Santa Claus, having been disturbed as a child by witnessing Santa getting intimate with his mother. Harry (Brandon Maggart – “Dressed to Kill”) is a loner who works in a toy factory; he is ridiculed by his family and colleagues, and lives in a spooky flat full of strung-up toys, puppets and Christmas memorabilia.

Harry imagines he is Santa, spying on the local kids whilst scribbling their good and bad behaviour down in a notebook. Come Christmas Eve, he dons the famous red outfit and fake white beard, setting out into the cold winter night to reward the good kids with stolen toys, and get his revenge against the adults who have tormented him all his life. Harry becomes an insane combination of Robin Hood and Michael Myers!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Breaking Glass comes to DVDIt’s not often that a movie from as long ago as 1980 can suddenly have so much resonance with our current situation in the 21st Century. The groundswell of foreboding for what may be just around the corner, the spin applied to the media for personal and professional gain, and the manufacture of pop stars who have no concept of just how much they are being manipulated immediately comes to mind. So it is that we are treated to the welcome release of “Breaking Glass”, out now on DVD from Strike Force Entertainment and Cherry Red Records.

The movie’s star, Hazel O’Connor, whose character is initially principled and not wishing to ‘sell out’ to the music industry, finds out that compromise leads to exactly what she doesn’t want. She loses everything which is important, and gains nothing which was sought within her original plans.  Her manipulation reminds us of the likes of today’s Lady Gaga, Jessie J, Katy Perry and most recently Ke$ha (plus a host of others), who have no idea what they are getting into.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Arrival of Wang on DVDOut of the blue, Gaia, a Chinese-language interpreter is offered a big payday for an unspecifed job. She accepts and is whisked away from her home in Rome by some shady government types, but only after she agrees to don a blindfold. They arrive at a top secret base, and march downstairs to a concrete vault shrouded by darkness. Gaia (Francesca Cuttica) is not permitted to see the face of the person she is going to interpret.

Having put some seemingly innocent questions to her hidden subject, Gaia interrupts the process, demanding to see the person she is speaking to, in order to facilitate the process. Her new employer, Mr Curti (Ennio Fantastichini – “Loose Cannons”), is under extreme pressure and grudgingly agrees. The lights go on, and Wang is revealed to be an extra terrestrial being strapped to a chair. Who is he, and why is he here?

Monday, 05 November 2012

Super Bitch - out now on DVDI wasn’t familiar with the ‘Italian Cop Genre’, of which “Super Bitch” is a highly-regarded entrant. It doesn’t help that, in common with many such dubbed movies, this one has a succession of different titles.  This 1973 example is also known as “Mafia Junction” (USA), “Piège pour un tueur” (France) and “Blue Movie Blackmail” (original UK title). It has to be said, all these are a little more ‘snappy’ than the original Italian title of “SI PUO' ESSERE PIU' BASTARDI DELL'ISPETTORE CLIFF?”

But wait!  Before all you Brit-philes surf on, you need to be told that Stephanie Beacham, yes, Connie (and Sable Colby in The Colbys) herself, is the star. Not only that, but we see more of her flesh than we have ever seen since. She plays the ‘Femme Fatale’ luring businessmen into inadvertently starring in home movies that are blackmail of the highest order. Not only that, but in short cameos we also have the likes of Gareth Thomas (Blake in Blake’s Seven), Michael Sheard (Mr Bronson in Grange Hill) and George Murcell (a familiar-faced character actor who was also the voice of Prof Popkiss in Supercar).  There!  I knew that would get your attention. And you could have won one of three copies of "Super Bitch", as well as "The Night Child", in our prize competition.

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Night Child comes to DVD“The Night Child” (aka “The Cursed Medallion”) is a 1970s Italian horror movie in a similar vein to “The Exorcist” and “The Omen”. Michael Williams (Richard Johnson – “Zombie Flesh Eaters”, “The Haunting”) is documentarian working for the BBC. His current project covers satanic art, and the keystone is a disturbing painting by an unknown artist that he travels to Italy to research with his daughter Emily and Jill, her nanny. And now you have a chance to win one of three copies (as well as a copy of "Super Bitch") in our prize competition.

Michael’s wife died in horrific circumstances, and Emily (Nicoletta Elmi – “Demons”) still suffers from nightmares about it. The nanny (Ida Galli) has a crush on Michael, and neither of them approve of his attraction to Joanna (Joanna Cassidy – “Blade Runner”, Six Feet Under), his glamorous producer. As the truth behind the painting is uncovered, Emily’s behaviour grows more erratic. The local countess (Lila Kedrova – “Torn Curtain”) urges them to leave but dark forces intervene.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Monstro! Out now on DVDSometimes a movie’s tagline says it all and makes a reviewer’s life simple. “Monstro!” aka “El Monstro Del Mar!” is one such film, and its pithy pitch is ‘Killer vixens vs the creature from the deep’. The buxom sirens are Snowball (Kate Watts), Beretta (Nelli Scarlet) and Blondie (Karli Madden), and they are very bad girls. They do hard drugs, drink heavily and delight in murdering unsuspecting men lured to them like moths to a flame.

Having ensnared and executed a couple of blokes who pull over on the pretence of offering the women some automotive assistance, the trio then make their way to a small Australian village on the coast. They are warned by an old man (Norman Yemm – Neighbours, Prisoner Cell Block H) to stay out of the water, but of course they do not listen and as a result a giant, many-tentacled and rather hungry beast is awoken from its slumber.

Monday, 08 October 2012

Rock of Ages - available on DVD and Blu-rayA little admission to make – the AOR music featured in “Rock of Ages” was not my soundtrack to the 1980s. It was too American in aspect, over-produced and lacking innovation, to my ears anyhow.  However, travel on to the 21st Century and the songs of Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison and Whitesnake evoke a trans-Atlantic downtown dream-world – literally thousands of miles away from uptown Wolverhampton! Just as with the Broadway and West End musical it derives from, you can forget being inspired by the love story at the centre of it – this is all about style and sensory overload.

Directed by Adam Shankman, who turned a similar trick on 2007’s “Hairspray”, we focus from the get-go on small town girl meeting city boy, who collide by accident on the Sunset Strip, both with dreams of stardom.  The girl wants to be a singer, the boy wants to blossom as a songwriter. It’s 1987, and the centre of their universe becomes ‘The Bourbon Room’, a live rock venue. In a world of cynicism, exploitation, theft of innocence and sharks of all persuasions, what could possibly go wrong? The girl has hardly stepped off the bus before her suitcase of vinyl records are stolen straight out of her hands.

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