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John Payne

John Payne

Monday, 14 October 2019 16:22

The Dark Half: Dual Blu-ray and DVD

Based on a novel by Stephen King, “The Dark Half” is an attempt by zombie maestro George A. Romero to make a more commercial, studio-produced horror movie. Timothy Hutton (The Haunting of Hill House, “Ordinary People”) plays author and university tutor Thad Beaumont. Unbeknownst to Thad, as a child he had remnants of a partially-absorbed twin removed from his brain after experiencing a series of debilitating headaches.

Some twenty years later, grown up Thad is married with two baby children and is doing rather well for himself thanks to the success of some grizzly horror novels, released under the secret pseudonym George Stark. A blackmailing incident forces Thad to go public and abandon his alternate career, but this triggers the onset of some horrific murders, with all the evidence pointing to Thad himself. Is the writer going crazy or is some supernatural force emerging?

Sunday, 06 October 2019 16:16

High Noon on Limited Edition Blu-ray

Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his starring role in this taut Western. He plays Will Kane, a newly-retired marshal who is brimming with joy after his marriage to a beautiful woman (Grace Kelly), but who finds himself obliged to return to duty when a ghost from his past threatens his home and civilised way of life. Kane turns to the townsfolk for support but struggles to find anyone willing to stick their neck on the line.

The movie collected a further three Oscars for Editing, Music and Original Song ‘High Noon (“Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’”)’, but was vilified by some who perceived it as a critique of the McCarthyite, anti-Communist witch-hunts going on at the time. The narrative was based on an idea by writer Carl Foreman combined with a short story by John W. Cunningham called ‘The Tin Star’, and directed by Fred Zinnemann (“From Here to Eternity”, “The Day of the Jackal”).

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 16:16

Lock Up: 4K UHD, Blu, DVD, VOD

Sylvester Stallone and Donald Sutherland star in this prison thriller from the late 1980s. Stallone (“Rocky”, “First Blood”) plays Frank, essentially a good man seeing out the end of his sentence for protecting a friend in danger. Frank is transferred to a max security facility where Sutherland (“Don’t Look Now”, “The Hunger Games”) is Warden Drumgoole, a man bent on revenge against Frank for a past escape that harmed his career.

Drumgoole rigs the system so that Frank’s life is made a living hell, manipulating the guards and inmates in a bid to force him into committing an act that extends his stay indefinitely. Meanwhile, Frank tries to form a small group of trustworthy, like-minded cell mates who will look out for each other and make the experience tolerable. John Amos (“Die Hard 2”), Sonny Landham (“Predator”) and Tom Sizemore (“Saving Private Ryan”) also star.

Friday, 13 September 2019 13:47

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith

“Jimmie Blacksmith” is a movie that puts Australia’s struggle with institutionalised racism and colonialism at the turn of the 20th Century under a microscope. Jimmie (newcomer Tommy Lewis – “The Proposition”) is the son of a white father and Aborigine mother, fostered by missionary parents who educate him and send him out into the world, hoping their charge can break free of the perceived backwardness of the indigenous people

Jimmie is highly motivated and refuses to let a few rejections break his will to succeed. He gets a series of menial jobs but is persistently exploited and mistreated by his white bosses. Marriage to a white girlfriend only serves to stir tensions up further, and when some of his Aborigine family come visiting, events take a bloody, tragic turn. The story is based on real-life events which were fictionalised by author Thomas Keneally.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019 08:40

The Incident - Dual Blu-ray and DVD

Martin Sheen and Tony Musante make their feature film debuts in this hard-hitting, urban thriller from 1967. Sheen (“Apocalypse Now”, “Badlands”) and Musante (“The Last Run”, Oz) play a couple of street thugs who terrorise the passengers on a New York subway train in the middle of the night. Drunk and unruly, the pair block the exits and work their way around the coach, mentally and physically poking and prodding their fellow travellers to try to provoke a reaction.

The cast also includes Beau Bridges (“The Fabulous Baker Boys”) as an injured army Private, Brock Peters (“To Kill a Mockingbird”, Admiral Cartwright in the 4th and 6th “Star Trek” movies and DS9’s Joseph Sisko) as an angry, anti-white rights activist, Ruby Dee (“American Gangster”, “Do the Right Thing”) as his quiet wife, Jack Gilford (the “Cocoon” movies) as one half of an older couple and Robert Fields (“The Stepford Wives”, “The Blob”) as an awkward gay man seeking friendship.

Friday, 19 July 2019 11:36

Alita: Battle Angel - 4K, Blu-ray, DVD

First announced in 2003 and a labour of love for James Cameron before he handed over directorial reins to Robert Rodriquez, “Alita” is a wondrous movie about a cyborg rescued from a scrap heap who goes on a quest to find out who she is, and who she used to be. Floating above the Earth is Zalem, the only sky city to survive a devastating war with Mars. Only the privileged live there, whilst those down on the planet’s surface face a daily struggle to survive.

In this dystopia, Alita (Rosa Salazar – “Bird Box”, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”) is rebuilt by altruistic Dr Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz – “Spectre”, “Django Unchained”). She befriends a friendly lad called Hugo (Keean Johnson – Nashville, Euphoria) and soon realises that although she is suffering from amnesia, she has very special fighting and acrobatic skills that will come in handy in such a competitive and dangerous environment.

Thursday, 18 July 2019 14:36

Coming Home on Blu-ray

Triple Oscar winner “Coming Home” is an emotional drama about the impact of the Vietnam War on U.S. soldiers mentally and/or physically injured in battle, and their families back home. Jane Fonda, John Voight and Bruce Dern headline the cast. Sally (Fonda – “Klute”, “Barbarella”) says goodbye to her slightly starchy husband, Captain Bob Hyde (Dern – “Silent Running”, “Nebraska”) as he heads off to join the conflict.

Forced to move off the military base, Sally befriends the girlfriend of another soldier, and takes a job in a local hospital caring for wounded troops. She hits it off with Luke (Voight – “Midnight Cowboy”, “Deliverance”), a furious and immensely frustrated spinal injury victim who she went to college with and helps him find a new purpose in life. As the reacquainted friends grow closer, the distance between Sally and her absent husband increases.

Friday, 21 June 2019 09:11

The Running Man: Blu-ray and DVD

Based on a book written pseudonymously by Stephen King, “The Running Man” stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Ben Richards, a police helicopter pilot who is framed and forced to take part in an ultra-violent gameshow after refusing to slaughter innocent protesters. Released in 1987 and set in a 2019 where the USA has become a totalitarian police state, the film depicts a nightmarish world of censorship, poverty and corruption.

Richards and two Lycra-sporting buddies are thrust into the game as ‘runners’, unarmed, on foot and with the odds stacked massively against them. Hunting them are ‘stalkers’, celebrity killers who go by monikers like Fireball, Dynamo and Buzzsaw, each armed with deadly weapons and some aided by vehicles. They are cheered on by the studio audience and impoverished gamblers huddled outside the studio, eager for carnage.

Sunday, 16 June 2019 09:45

Vanishing Point - Blu-ray/DVD

The Californian police carefully construct a roadblock out of numerous cop cars; into the centre trundle a couple of heavy plant loaders, buckets placed in a V shape with barely a sliver of light gleaming from the gap between them. In the distance, a throaty 1970 Dodge Challenger speeds into view pursued by additional police cars. So begins “Vanishing Point” before the narrative jumps a couple of days earlier to enlighten us.

Kowalski (Barry Newman – Petrocelli, “Daylight”) is an illicit car delivery specialist with a background in professional racing who thrives on tight deadlines. His journey stretches three states from Denver, Colorado to San Francisco, with a 15 hour deadline. To begin with he only attracts a couple of weedy police motorbikes, but as the blacktop flies by, the authorities and media sharpen their focus, the former on stopping him, the latter broadcasting the incident.

Monday, 13 May 2019 16:02

Cujo - Limited Edition Blu-ray

An adaptation of an early Stephen King novel, “Cujo” is about a lovable St. Bernard dog that catches rabies and turns very nasty. Donna (Dee Wallace – “ET - The Extra-Terrestrial”, “The Howling”) is having an extramarital affair whilst her relationship with Vic (Daniel Hugh Kelly – “Star Trek: Insurrection”, Hardcastle and McCormick) is stagnating. Young son Tad (Danny Pintauro – Who’s the Boss?) is the glue that is keeping them together.

When Vic goes away on a long business trip, Donna takes Tad to an out of town mechanic to get her car fixed. She arrives at the remote location only to discover that there is nobody around, and mum and son become trapped in their vehicle, terrorised by a slobbering, snarling Cujo. The thriller was directed by Lewis Teague (“The Jewel of the Nile”, “Alligator”).

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