‘The Flintstones’ Specials & Movies Set Is Enjoyable But Imperfect

Courtesy: Warner Brothers/Warner Home Video/WWE/Hanna-barbera

Hanna-Barbera’s animated series The Flintstones is a timeless franchise.  The show ran for a total of six seasons over the course of more than five years.  It also produced a handful of movies and TV specials, some of which proved more memorable than others of course.  The series has remained in syndication to at least some extent or another since its inception, and is readily available on separate standalone and full series sets, while its movies have been less available.  Early last month, Hanna-Barbera and Warner Home Video addressed that concern with a new collection of The Flintstones animated features.  Titled simply 2 Movies & 5 Specials, (which is problematic in itself), the collection is a mostly positive presentation, though is imperfect.  To the positive, the majority of the animated features are among the most well-known of the property’s most well-known and beloved.  There’s even one lesser-known but still enjoyable presentation featured as part of the collection.  For all that the inclusion of those features does for the set’s presentation, the inclusion of one other detracts notably in its own way, as does the complete lack of effort in titling the collection.  Keeping all of this in mind, the one other positive to this set is its average price point.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, they make the set a presentation that even with its negatives is still a collection that devotees of The Flintstones will welcome in their home video libraries.

The Flintstones 2 Movies & 5 Specials is a presentation that the most devoted fans of Hanna-Barbera’s beloved TV family will welcome into their home video libraries.  That is due in part to its featured specials and movies, the majority of which are well-known and beloved.  The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones is included in the collection, as are the equally well-known I Yabba-Dabba Do in which Pebbles and Bam-Bam finally get married, bringing together the Flintstones and the Rubbles at long last.  Even the 1993 special Hollyrock-A-Bye Baby is featured as part of the collection’s body.  It is in this prime-time special that Pebbles and Bam Bam become parents themselves, continuing their families’ collective lineage.  As if that is not enough, the lesser-known 1978 special Little Big League — which pits Fred and Barney against one another as opposing little league baseball coaches – and The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone – a Halloween-themed episode that finds Fred having to save Wilma from the clutches of Drac…er…Rockula —  are also part of the set.  This collection marks the first time ever that the noted classic specials have ever been released in one single box set.  The 2012 DVD collections from Hanna-Barbera were not official releases.  The specials were placed onto DVD-R discs in on-demand sets.  What’s more, those on-demand DVD-R sets were released separately, meaning audiences had to spend more money to own them in any fashion.  This plays into the set’s other major positive, its average price point, which will be discussed later.  Having all of these classics together in one official set for the first time is very much a selling point for the set.  Of course there is one other “movie” included in the collection that greatly detracts from that presentation.  That “movie” is the WWE-themed presentation Stone Age Smackdown.

Stone Age Smackdown was created through a partnership between Hanna-Barbera, Warner Home Video and WWE.  The “movie” is clearly little more than a cash grab for all involved.  It finds Fred trying to get his family’s vacation money back (after losing it himself) by creating a stone age wrestling mega event.  WWE superstars, such as John Cena, The Undertaker, and Mark Henry all provided their vocal talents to the direct-to-DVD and Blu-ray “movie.”  Its inclusion in place of another more well-known and beloved classic Flintstones special — A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994) – is bewildering.  Sure, A Flintstones Christmas Carol is just one more take on author Charles Dickens’ timeless novel, but there is still a certain heart to the holiday special because it takes a unique approach to the story.  It makes Fred a real Scrooge and Wilma the real star when everyone starring in Bedrock’s annual presentation of A Christmas Carol falls ill with “The Bedrock Bug.”  This use of a community putting on A Christmas Carol and making its lead into its own Scrooge is something that few if any adaptations of A Christmas Carol have done.   Stone Age Smackdown by comparison is clearly aimed at a very specific audience group.  Along with that, that it is aimed at a very specific audience base, it completely breaks up the sense of nostalgia and warm family messages featured in the other stories.  It really should have been omitted in favor of the noted holiday special (and maybe even its companion bonus holiday episode of The Flintstones).  Luckily, even with all of this noted, audiences do have the option to not watch that awful WWE-themed “movie” and the holiday specials are available on their own readily available standalone official DVD.  So the collection is not a total failure to that end.  It is not the set’s only con.  The fact that the set’s title is so lacking in any selling value detracts from its presentation, too.

The title of the new Flintstones specials and movies set is very simple:  2 Movies & 5 Specials.  The very use of the numbers hurts the title.  If it had stuck just with Movies & Specials, it would have worked, but that use of the numbers just does not work.  That is because the lines of what is defined a “special” and a “movie” are so blurred nowadays.  Case in point for comparison are the Peanuts primetime TV specials.  The only pure movie that has been produced from that property is The Peanuts specials.  The “Happiness Is…” DVDs and Blu-rays are just specials.  All of the classic holiday presentations are specials, not movies.  Taking that into account, the collection’s title does not ruin its presentation, but it cannot be ignored.  Together with the inclusion of that noted WWE-themed “movie,” this collection suffers plenty, but is not completely unwatchable.  They are just more examples of how the people at Warner Home Video continue to this day to come up short in their home releases.  The company has failed with its Hats Off To Doctor Seuss collection, its unnecessary recent re-issue of the Batman Beyond complete series set, some of its Tiny Toon Adventures DVD sets, the Scooby-Doo! and Scrappy-Doo: The Complete Season 1 set, and even its 2014 released Flintstones Kids collection.  Keeping that in mind, even with its failings, this set is not a complete failure.  It does have at least one other positive in the form of its average price range.

The average price range for The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials is $14.87.  That price is obtained by averaging prices listed at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Walmart offer the least expensive listing at $9.96.  Target and Best Buy each list the set at $14.99, just above the noted average price point.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million have the set listed respectively at $19.31 and $19.98.  They are the retailers for audiences to avoid while the others still give audiences plenty of options.  Those four relatively affordable price options couple with the overall positive content to show why that financial aspect is so important to this set’s presentation.  Even with the one confusing addition to the set in the form of Stone Age Smackdown, that price is still a point that audiences will find appealing in its own right.  Hopefully one day, this collection will get its own re-issue with the Flintstones Christmas Carol in place of that awful WWE “movie.”  Until then though, this set is still a positive presentation for any true devotee of The Flintstones.

The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials is a positive but imperfect presentation from Warner Home Video, Hanna-Barbera and WWE.  It succeeds in large part because of the inclusion of so many classic Flintstones movies and TV specials.  They reach all the way back to 1966 and all the way up to 1993.  For all of the good that those specials do for the set’s presentation, its one modern “movie,” 2015’s Stone Age Smackdown detracts considerably.  Thankfully it does not make the set a failure, since audiences do not have to watch that forgettable presentation.  The set’s title detracts from its presentation, too, but not so much that it makes the set unwatchable, either.  Considering that there is more positive content featured in this collection than bad, the average price point of less than $15 proves itself a positive investment for families.  That item, considered with the overall content, makes The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials a welcome addition to the home DVD library of any devotee of The Flintstones.  More information on the DVD is available along with all of the latest Flintstones news at http://www.facebook.com/TheFlintstones.

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Arrow Video’s ‘Flash Gordon’ Re-Issue Is The Movie’s Best Presentation Yet

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group

Arrow Video’s recently released Blu-ray re-issue of Universal’s classic sci-fi flick Flash Gordon is the new gold standard for the movie’s home release.  Released Aug. 18 on Blu-ray and 4KUHD, this latest re-issue of the 1980 comic strip adaptation is the movie’s first domestic re-issue since 2012, when it was re-issued alongside The Last Starfighter, Dune, and the pilot for the original Battlestar Galactica series in a four-disc DVD set.  The movie’s audio and video form the foundation for its latest re-issue, and will be discussed shortly.  The extensive bonus content that accompanies the movie’s home release builds so much on the foundation formed by the movie’s production values.  It will be discussed a little later.  Flash Gordon’s story rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the movie’s latest re-issue a presentation that is without question one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.

Arrow Video’s new Flash Gordon re-issue is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  From sci-fi fans to fans of comics to action movie aficionados to classic cinema connoisseurs, this movie’s appeal will find plenty of appreciative audiences.  That is proven in part through the production values presented in this re-issue.  The colors in the sets and the costumes are so rich, especially the reds (red was allegedly the favorite color of the movie’s famed Producer Dino De Laurentiis according to information provided in the movie’s bonus content) of Ming’s palace.  In comparison to footage from the movie in its original presentation (which is shown in the noted bonus content), it is clear that painstaking efforts were taken in order bring forth the true, rich color.  If De Laurentiis were alive today, he would be just as impressed by this aspect.  In the same vein, every laser blast and every note of rock band Queen’s feature-length soundtrack is expertly balanced, enhancing the viewing experience for audiences even more.  Even a minor touch, such as the ambient sounds of Planet Mongol and its moons get their own attention.  From that production aspect to the noted deep, rich colors and the balance in the music and sound effects, it is clear that painstaking efforts were made in order to offer viewers the best possible presentation once again.  It’s another way in which Arrow Video continues to prove itself one of the leading names in the home media world.  Those efforts also go a long way toward making this presentation so enjoyable for viewers.  It is just one of the most notable aspects of the movie’s new home re-issue, too.  Its bonus content adds even more enjoyment to its presentation.

The bonus content that is featured in Flash Gordon’s latest re-issue is extensive to say the absolute least.  Audiences get two separate feature length audio commentaries, — one from director Mike Hodges and the other from star Brian Blessed (who played Prince Vultan) – a series of interviews with the movie’s cast and crew, two episodes of the Flash Gordon cartoon series, and a vintage “making of” featurette as well as photo galleries from the movie’s creation.  The bonus content alone makes for literally hours of entertainment and engagement.  The vintage making of featurette reveals that creation of the set for Ming’s palace alone took four months.  That and the other sets were so extensive that production had to take place primarily in a six-million cubic foot aircraft hangar.  It was just one of the facilities that was used for the movie’s production.  As director Mike Hodges reveals (off the cuff) during his audio commentary, Elstree Studio was also used.  That is the same studio in which Star Wars was created by George Lucas.  This is especially important to note because it is also revealed in one of the bonus discussions, that George Lucas apparently wanted to make Flash Gordon before Star Wars, but could not afford the rights, so he ended up making Star Wars.  How is that for a little six-degrees of separation?

As if everything already noted here is not enough reason to check out the bonus content, viewers will learn that there apparently was quite a bit of tension behind the scenes during the movie’s creation.  Hodges points out during his commentary that De Laurentiis viewed the movie’s creation in a very serious fashion, even though Allin was extremely displeased with the final product.  The vintage making of featureette does point out that De Laurentiis was himself very much a Flash Gordon “fan boy” prior to producing the movie.  To that point, his “seriousness” was perhaps chalked up to that fandom, even though he might not have thought he was going to such extreme.  There is nothing wrong with his approach, either, since he wanted to pay proper tribute to the original, timeless Flash Gordon comic strip.

Allin, on the other hand, said during the new bonus featurette “Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon,” that he and Roeg wanted to make a serious film in Flash Gordon complete with sociopolitical commentary, but that De Laurentiis wanted to stay true to the original Flash Gordon comic strip, which ran daily from 1934 to ’92.  Its Sunday edition continued until 2003.  The movie does just that with its special effects and its overall look (what with its costumes and sets).  The short and simple here is that Allin and Roeg’s story would have been a good fit among today’s comics based movies (since dark, brooding stories are about all that audiences get nowadays in comics-based movies).  De Laurentiis’ version has remained a cult favorite for four decades meanwhile maybe because of his dedication to its source material.  Regardless of which side viewers take, all of the noted discussions are sure to engage audiences thoroughly and generate plenty of discussion among audiences.  All things considered here (along with the bonus content not directly noted – again the bonus content here in fully immersive) the bonus content featured with Arrow Video’s recent Flash Gordon re-issue more than makes the movie worth owning.  When it is considered with the outstanding production values presented in this re-issue, the two elements together make for so much enjoyment for audiences.  They are still not all of the positives provided in the movie.  The movie’s central story adds even more to that enjoyment.

The story at the center of Flash Gordon is relatively easy to understand.  It starts with Flash and Dale Arden taking a flight somewhere (it’s never pointed out where the pair is going interestingly enough) and ending up crashing in the lab of the mad scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov.  Zarov basically kidnaps the duo and the trio ends up flying into space where they end up rocketing to another galaxy that is ruled by the evil emperor Ming The Merciless.  Along the way Flash unites the peoples of the worlds ruled by Ming, befriending them in the process.  The story has a happy ending, but also leaves the door open for a sequel (which going back to the bonus content, could have happened, but never did).  It has to be assumed in the movie’s story that as the clock reaches zero near the movie’s end, Ming does stop his attack on Earth before his alleged death, though that is never made 100 percent certain.  The only way audiences can assume the Earth is safe comes in the final scene in which Dale tells Flash that she is a New York girl and would rather go home than stay on the planet Mongol.  Next to that note, the only other odd note from the story is centered on all of star Sam J. Jones’ constant costume changes.  It just so happens that everything he wears is Flash Gordon-themed.  It is never fully explained where he gets all of his attire, but oh well.  That aside, the story’s simple approach is very much in line with the original Flash Gordon comic strip.  Yes, comics often do have deep philosophical language, but they are also meant to entertain the masses, and that is what this story does.  It entertains while also presenting at least some philosophy.  To that end, the story succeeds just as much as the movie’s bonus content and its production values.  When all three elements are considered together, they make the movie in whole the best presentation yet of this cult classic flick.

Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Flash Gordon is an applause-worthy presentation that will appeal to a wide ranger of viewers.  That is proven in part through the movie’s production, which fully brings out the deep, rich colors in the sets and costumes.  The same can be said of the movie’s sound, which is so well-balanced in terms of the soundtrack and special effects noises.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s new re-issue will immerse audiences even more in the movie.  From everything noted here to other items, such as the realization that Queen was not the first choice for the movie’s soundtrack, and the note that the movie never got the merchandising push that other movies have gotten over the years, the bonus content adds so much of its own appeal to the movie.  The movie’s simple story does its own part to appeal to audiences with its simple presentation.  All three items noted here are important in their own way to the whole of the movie’s latest re-issue.  All things considered, they make this presentation, the best yet for the movie.

More information on Arrow Video’s Flash Gordon re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/phispicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Scoob!’ Will Leave Audiences Asking Where Is The Real Scooby-Doo

Courtesy: Warner Animation Group/Hanna-Barbera

Scooby-Doo has, for more than forty years, entertained generations of audiences.  From its earliest iteration in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? to the even more kid friendly A Pup Named Scooby-Doo to Be Cool, Scooby-Doo, to all of the Scooby-Doo movies, Hanna-Barbera’s beloved cartoon canine has remained a key part of America’s pop culture, offering so much entertainment.  Even the many straight-to-DVD movies have offered their own value.  Some have proven better than others along the way, of course.  Warner Animation Group’s latest offering Scoob! is among the least memorable and enjoyable of that mass of Scooby-Doo offerings.  Released through streaming in May due to COVID-19 and later to DVD and Blu-ray, this latest addition to the Scooby-Doo franchise offers little if anything to appreciate.  Its story is its most glaring concern and will be addressed shortly.  The general lack of any bonus content with the physical release is its own concern and will be discussed a little later.  The movie’s general animation style detracts from its presentation, too.  All three elements are their own negatives.  When they are combined, they make Scoob! easily one of the absolute worst entries in an otherwise beloved franchise.

Warner Animation Group’s latest addition to Hanna-Barbera’s beloved long-running Scooby-Doo franchise is a failure and a disservice to the legacy that the franchise has created for itself over the decades.  That is due in large part to the movie’s story.  The story at the center of this movie makes the movie come across as little more than a cash grab for Warner Animation Group and Hanna-Barbera.  The basis of the story is this:  Scooby-Doo learns that he is “the key” to infamous HB villain Dick Dastardly opening the gates to the underworld and getting a bunch of treasure.  Getting the treasure also means releasing Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the gates of hell.  When Scooby-Doo learns of his place in history, it creates a strain on his friendship with Shaggy.  Of course, the pair parts ways at one point, but eventually reunite at the story’s finale, with the overlying message about the power of friendship tied into the whole.  That element is so schmaltzy that audiences can’t help but shake their head at that presentation.  Now along the way, WAG and HB use the story as a chance to throw in a bunch of references for other classic HB series, such as Hong Kong Phooey, Captain Caveman and even The Flintstones.  Not to give away too much, but the final skull for which the Mystery Inc. gang is searching is called the Slaghoople by Captain Caveman (voiced awfully here by Tracy Morgan — 30 Rock, the Box Trolls, Cop Out).  For those who don’t know, Wilma Flintstone’s maiden name in The Flintstones is Slaghoople.  Even the inclusion of The Blue Falcon (who as it turns out is not the original Blue Falcon here, but rather the more cowardly son of the original Blue Falcon) is in himself little more than another classic HB reference and foil for the bigger story.  The underlying story with this Blue Falcon is not connected at all to the 2013 movie Mask of the Blue Falcon movie, so really, it just comes across as the people at WAG and HB using this character as a way to play to the nostalgia of long-time Scooby-Doo fans.  Simply put, this movie’s story is really just one big contrived composition that is anything but memorable.

As if everything noted is not enough, this is at least the third time that audiences have been “treated” to an origin story showing how Shaggy, Scooby and the rest of the Mystery Inc. gang met has been told.  Audiences were presented with an origin story of sorts way back in 1989 in an episode of the beloved Scooby-Doo series A Pup Named Scooby Doo.  The story of how Mystery Inc. met was again told in 2009 in the TV movie Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins. According to the story in the noted episode of A Pup Named Scoobby-Doo, Shaggy and Scooby had been pals since they were both much younger (I.E. toddlers).  The pair was relatively young to begin with in the series, with Shaggy and company being middle schoolers.  The story presented in Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins presents a distinctly different story, with Shaggy and company being high school students, and the meeting of Shaggy and Scooby being a chance encounter.  In this situation, the group met as pre-teens, all by chance, too, but in a completely different fashion from that of the past stories.  In other words, it’s beyond tiring getting yet another origin story for Mystery Inc. and the friendship between Shaggy and Scooby.

Between the latest reboot on Mystery Inc.’s origin story, the clearly contrived story itself and the attempt by the movie’s writers to play off of older viewers’ nostalgia in an attempt to fool audiences, the story just fails.  It outright fails, and there is no saving it.  It is just one of the problems from which the movie suffers.  The general lack of any real bonus content detracts from the movie’s presentation, too.  The only actual bonus content featured with the movie’s physical release is a “lesson” so to speak on how to draw Scooby-Doo.  Yes, that is the only bonus content that comes with the movie’s physical release.  There is no audio commentary.  There are no bonus discussions on why the movie’s creative heads even decided to go to the lengths of creating the movie’s story.  Their explanations likely would fall short anyway.  Regardless, the very fact that this little “lesson” is the only extra is more proof of the importance of bonus content to movies and TV shows in their home physical releases.  Some bonus featured can make a bad movie or TV show at least slightly better.  Others, such as this one, do nothing at all.  To that end, it does even more to show why Scoob! should stay on the shelves or unwatched on Netflix and other streaming services.  Staying on the “lesson,” the movie’s animation style is its own detriment to its presentation.

The animation style that is used in Scoob! is full on CGI.  While it does look at least somewhat better than the style used for say Mystery Incorporated and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo (those shows’ animation styles were abhorrent), it still suffers from its own problems.  There is just something about the overall designs and the use of colors that makes the animation style problematic.  It is as if those responsible for the movie’s look tried too hard to make the clearly computer generated presentation look like hand drawn.  The end result is that the movie’s look just looks too spit shined.  Audiences know they are watching a presentation that was created on computers.  It decreases viewers’ ability to suspend their disbelief that much more.  When this is considered along with everything else noted here, they combine to leave zero doubt that Scoob! is unquestionably among the very worst Scooby-Doo properties ever created.

Warner Animation Group’s latest addition to Hanna-Barbera’s beloved Scooby-Doo franchise is a completely forgettable entry in that ongoing series of titles.  There is nothing redeeming about this movie.  Its story attempts (unsuccessfully) to play on older viewers’ nostalgia to cover up its completely contrived nature.  The lack of any real worthwhile bonus content with the movie’s home physical release detracts from its presentation in its own right.  The animation style used in this presentation is a display of animators who tries to hard to make the movie look more like a hand drawn cartoon than a CGI feature.  Each noted item is important in is own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they will leave longtime fans of this franchise agreeing that Scoob! is among the worst entries to date in the otherwise beloved Scooby-Doo franchise.  More information on all things Scooby-Doo is available online at http://www.facebook.com/scoobydoo

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May, Jones Praise The Lonely One’s ‘Flash Gordon Theme/The Hero’ Cover

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

The Lonely Ones’ cover of Queen’s Flash Gordon theme song/’The Hero’ is getting some high praise.

The song, which the band debuted in July has received praise from Queen guitarist Brian May and Flash Gordon himself, Sam J. Jones.  A comment from May on the song was released Wednesday, noting of The Lonely Ones’ cover, “What a fantastic cover! I didn’t realize they were going to go into The Hero and the whole reprise…magnificent!”

Jones also praised the band’s cover.

“This is one of the best covers I have ever heard and seen,” he said. “What a gifted group – The Lonely Ones are for everyone of us, from the 1980’s to right now!”

The band’s take on the song pays full tribute to Queen’s version of the classic work.  The Lonely Ones’ rendition is longer than that of Queen, with the original clocking in at just under three minutes and the cover coming in at five-and-a-half-minutes.  Even with that in mind, the band’s cover is still very much in line with Queen’s original work.

The band talked about its take on the song in a collective statement.

“We recorded Flash in 2019 – a pretty dark year for the four of us on all fronts,” the statement reads. Our original musical output reflected that darkness, so recording a cartoonishly triumphant, heroic cover song seemed like a good counter-balance. Fast forward to spring 2020 and the impending COVID-19 Stay at Home order. With limited time and help from some fans we got our friends together to film a music video while we were still able. It’s July now and, with the future more unclear than ever, it seems like the perfect time to release the most positive song we have.  I hope you enjoy it. “Flash/The Hero. A Queen Cover.”

The Lonely Ones’ cover of the Flash Gordon theme song/’The Hero’ is available to stream and download here.

 

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group

The debut of The Lonely Ones’ cover of the song came less than a month ahead of the Blu-ray and 4KUHD re-issue of the classic movie Flash Gordon.  Arrow Video re-issued the movie on the noted platforms last month.  The debuts are not connected, however.

The new re-issue features a companion booklet with new liner notes on the movie penned by a variety of film critics and historians; separate feature length audio commentaries by Mike Hodges and Brian Blessed; cast interviews; a behind-the-scenes making of featurette; archival interview with Mike Hodges, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. and comic book artist Alex Ross as well as much more.

More information on The Lonely Ones’ cover of ‘Flash Gordon’/’The Hero’ is available along with all of the band’s latest news at The Lonely Ones’ official Facebook page.

More information on Arrow Video’s forthcoming re-issue of Flash Gordon is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/phispicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Craft Recordings Announces Release Date For ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Soundtrack Vinyl Re-Issue

Courtesy: Craft Recordings

The soundtrack to the timeless holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas is getting the re-issue treatment again.

Craft Recordings is scheduled to re-issue to soundtrack on vinyl on Sept. 25.  The re-issue — at least the seventh for the soundtrack since its original release in 1965 — is meant to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the debut of Good Ol’ Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang.  Its first re-issue was in 1986 on CD and its most recent was in 2012, with other re-issues coming in 2010, 2009, 2006, and 1988.

The forthcoming vinyl re-issue of A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ soundtrack stands out from its predecessor primarily because it will feature a limited edition lenticular cover art. That means it looks like Charlie Brown and company look like they are dancing around the Christmas tree when the LP’s cover is moved.

The soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas was certified 4X Platinum in 2016 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).  It is one of the best-seeling jazz records of all time, second only to Miles Davis’ timeless album Kind of Blue.

Pre-orders for Craft Recordings’ forth coming re-issue of A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack are open.  The soundtrack’s track listing is noted below.

Track List:

 

Side A

  1. O Tannenbaum
  2. What Child Is This
  3. My Little Drum
  4. Linus & Lucy
  5. Christmas Time Is Here (instrumental)

 

Side B

  1. Christmas Time Is Here (vocal)
  2. Skating
  3. Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
  4. Christmas Is Coming
  5. Für Elise
  6. The Christmas Song
  7. Greensleeves

** Craft Recordings’ forthcoming vinyl re-issue of the soundtrack does not feature the bonus tracks ‘Great Pumpkin Waltz’ and ‘Thanksgiving Theme’ that were featured on the soundtrack’s 2012 CD re-issue.

 

More information on this and other titles from Craft Recordings is available at:

 

Website: http://CraftRecordings.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/craftrecordingsofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/craftrecordings

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Knotfest.com To Stream Horror Flick ‘Alive’ This Month

Horror movie fans have a new way to get their fix.

Knotfest.com officials have partnered with officials at Cranked Up Films to bring advanced screenings of the horror flick Alive later this month.  The screenings are scheduled to take place Sept. 11-18 through knotfest.com.  Audiences can pre-order the movie here.

Cranked Up Films’ movie should not be confused with the 1993 Paramount Pictures movie, which focused on a Uraguayan rugby team that is forced to resort to very horrific measures after its plane crashes on a snowy mountainside.  Cranked Up Films’ movie focuses on a man and woman  who wake up in a sanitarium with no memory of how they got there.  The facility’s evil operator will stop at nothing to keep the pair inside the building.  However when the duo finally escapes, the horror worsens.

Courtesy: Cranked Up Films

The movie stars Thomas Cocquerel (Kidnapping Mr. HeinekenCelesteTable 19), Camile Stopps (KilljoysHome in TimeLearning to Ride) and Angus McFadyen (BraveheartWe Bought A ZooSaw III).  The story was co-written by Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent.  The pair also co-produced the movie alongside Lars Lehmann (KnuckleballRat RaceExit Wounds) and Michael Peterson (BloodthirstyKnuckleballLloyd The Conquerer).

Rob Grant (HarpoonWar for the Planet of the ApesDeadpool 2) directed Alive.  Grant has won “Best Director” at the HorrorHause Film Festival New York City Horror Film Festival for his work on Alive.

Alive‘s soundtrack was composed by Slipknot member Shawn Crahan (a.k.a. Clown).

A live streaming question and answer session is scheduled to take place September 17 with the cast and host Ryan J. Downey.  The session will allow fans to ask their own questions to the cast.

More information on Alive is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.alivethemovie.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Alivethemovie

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Animals As Leaders Renew Deal With Sumerian Records; Tobin Abasi, Javier Reyes Featured ‘Bill & Ted 3’ Soundtrack

Animals as Leaders will stay at Sumerian Records for the foreseeable future.

The band announced Thursday that it has renewed its deal with Sumerian Records.  The band released its past two albums — The Madness of Many (2016) and The Joy of Motion (2014) — through Sumerian Records.  The trio released its sophomore album Weightless (2011) and its self-titled debut (2009) through Prosthetic Records.

Sumerian Records CEO Ash Avildan said in a prepared statement, he was happy to have the deal renewed.

“I have known Tosin and Javier longer than anyone else in the music business,” he said. “We came up together as kids in DC figuring it out with the most DIY, take no prisoners approach we could. They have both played big parts in my life and career. I can honestly say my path could have ended up very differently had I not become so close with them when we were rookies. I am honored to continue our relationship on an artist/label level and couldn’t be more proud to have Animals As Leaders on the Sumerian roster. They are one of the most influential groups of our generation in this world of music. As for Matt G, he is a true G. As for his alter ego Dirty D, I am not at liberty to comment.”

Animals as Leaders guitarist Javier Reyes shared Avildan’s optimism.

“We are happy to announce that Animals As Leaders has re-signed to Sumerian Records,” said Reyes. “We have known the folks at Sumerian for years on both a personal and professional level and it honestly feels great to continue our journey together. Sumerian has been an integral part in the growth of Animals As Leaders, even before we ever signed to Sumerian. We look forward to working together with Sumerian for the next few years to continue growing our brands and legacies.”

Front man Tosin Abasi expanded on his band mate’s comments.

“I’ve seen the birth and ascension of Sumerian Records to one of the most important labels in modern metal and beyond,” he said. “Animals as Leaders is stoked to be continuing our journey with them.”

In other news, Abasi and Reyes are among many artists featured in the sound track to the long-awaited new Bill & Ted sequel Bill & Ted Face The Music.  The duo joins with fellow musician Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah to form the fictional band Wyld Stallions and perform the song ‘Face The Music.’

Additionally, Abasi is credited with all of the air guitar sound effects that audiences hear throughout Bill & Ted Face The Music.  Steve Vai previously handled the famed sound effect in the second of the Bill & Ted movies, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

Bill & Ted Face The Music Music Supervisor Jonathan Leahy had the following to say about Abasi taking on the franchise’s iconic musical role.

“Getting the right guitarist to handle Bill & Ted’s air shredding was one of my top priorities from the very beginning,” Leahy said. “The director asked me “what does shredding sound like in 2020?” and my answer was “it sounds like Tosin Abasi.” Tosin’s virtuosity is mind-blowing and he leads the vanguard of modern players who push the limits of what’s capable on electric guitar. Everything about his approach, from the compositions to the techniques to the physical instrument itself, seems like it arrived via time machine from the future.”

Bill & Ted Face The Music Director Dean Parisot expanded on Leahy’s comments.

“When Jonathan Leahy suggested Tosin Abasi for Bill and Ted, I have to admit my first response was “Are you kidding? Absolutely! But will he even do it?” Miraculously, he did, and as expected, he blew us all away!,” he said. “Absolutely brilliant virtuosity and musicianship, an artist of the highest caliber, and a very nice man. I still can’t believe he did it, so so grateful he did.”

Abasi was humble and brief as he talked about taking part in the movie’s soundtack.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the Bill & Ted Universe. Most excellent!,” he said.

Bill & Ted Face The Music is scheduled for release Aug. 28.  The movie’s trailer is streaming below.

 

Courtesy: United Artists/Orion Pictures

 

More information on Animals as Leaders’ new record deal is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.animalsasleaders.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/animalsasleaders

Twitter: http://twitter.com/animalsasleaders

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Metal Rock Films Announces Release Date For New Flying V Guitar Documentary

Courtesy: Metal Rock Films

Metal Rock Films will release a new documentary next month, about the history of one of rock’s most well-known guitars.

Flying V is scheduled for release Sept. 11 on DVD.  The documentary, which is part of the studio’s Inside Metal documentary series, focues on the history of the Flying V style guitar.  The documentary was produced and directed by Peter Hansen and co-produced by Michael Denner.

The program tells the guitar’s history through interviews with metal luminaries, such as James Hetfield (Metallica), Kerry King (Slayer), and Michael Schenker (Scorpions, UFO, Michael Schenker Group, Michael Schenker Fest).

The documentary follows the creation of the Flying V in the 1950s and follows its evolution through the decades, including its use by guitarists in a variety of musical styles, not just metal.  The documentary’s trailer is streaming here.

Flying V is available to order through Amazon and MVD Entertainment Group.

More information on this and other titles from Metal Rock Films is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://metalrockfilms.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/InsideLAmetMovieDoc

Twitter: http://twitter.com/insideLAMetal

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Monster Factory Launches Its Official Website

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations
From left to right (Top to bottom row): Jessica Dupré, François Toutée, Roxana B.L., Viky Boyer, Maya Kuroki, Raphael Osorio, Simon Girard, Sébastien Croteau, Maude Théberge, Marie-Hélène Landry, Philippe Langelier, Misha Standjofski, Jeff Mott (CNW Group/La fabrique de monstres S.E.N.C.)

Voice over artists in Canada have a new way to get their names (and voices) out there for companies looking for talent for their productions.

Talent company The Monster House which formed in 2018, launched its official website Friday.  The website allows film and video game companies to hear voice work samples and see profiles of various voice actors.  It also allows representatives to contact those actors about working on select projects.

Members of The Monster Factory have been featured in video games, such as Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft), Resident Evil 7 (Capcom), and Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Eidos).

Among the members of The Monster Factory are death metal singers.  Their unique vocal delivery styles make them natural selections for various video games and movies.

Corrine Cardinal, one of the co-founders of The Monster Factory, talked about the company’s talents in a recent interview.

“In a world where video game and film companies strive to reach unparalleled levels of realism, the quality of the sounds we produce is still unmatched. Our talent pool, comprised of women and men, offers a sonic and textural diversity for all types of projects,” said Cardinal.

The Monster Factory recently debuted a short film titled Horde as a means to showcase the talents of its member death metal singers.  The nearly four-minute film is streaming  here.

More information on The Monster Factory is available along with all of its latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.lafabriquedemonstres.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lafabriquedemonstres

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DeMonstres

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

‘Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations’ Is “Definitely” An Enjoyable Presentation

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group

Audiences need a laugh today more than ever.  With broadcast news agencies churning out a constant stream of negativity about the COVID-19 pandemic and everything happening in the political world, it’s tough to find something positive.  Enter MVD Entertainment Group and its recently released Laurel & Hardy Blu-ray collection The Definitive Restorations.  This four-disc collection gives audiences plenty of laughs throughout its overall presentation.  Additionally, it ensures audiences’ engagement just as much as their entertainment.  That is thanks to its extensive primary and secondary content.  Each item will receive its own attention here.  The set’s restoration rounds out its most important elements.  Together with the set’s content, all three elements make this collection unquestionably one of the year’s top new family DVD/BD sets and a welcome watch for any viewer looking for an enjoyable way to pass that time indoors.

MVD Entertainment Group’s recently released Laurel & Hardy Blu-ray box set, The Definitive Restorations is a must have for classic movie and TV aficionados just as much as for the most devoted Laurel & Hardy fans.  That is thanks in no small part to its featured primary content.  The content in question is a deep dive into the legendary duo’s shorts, including the ultra rare short “The Battle of the Century.”  The story centers on Laurel as a boxer whose quest to get insurance should he get injured.  This after Laurel ended up losing a boxing match.  The result of that search for insurance is the noted pie fight, which is the ultimate slapstick bit on the highest level.  In yet another enjoyable short, titled “Me and My Pal,” Oliver’s wedding to the daughter of an oil magnate is put in jeopardy all thanks to a puzzle that Laurel bought for him as a wedding gift.  Laurel and others inadvertently become completely wrapped up in assembling the puzzle, leading to plenty of laughs.  In yet another great moment, Stan and Oliver are delivery men who are trying to get a piano delivered to a house in “The Music Box.”  This short immediately conjures thoughts of some of The Three Stooges’ best bits.  Much the same can be said of the short, “Busy Bodies,” in which the pair plays a pair of carpenters who get into all kinds of trouble.  These are just some of the set’s most notable moments.  The physical comedy that is incorporated into each story, such as Oliver getting stuck on the ladder, which itself is in a car driven by Laurel – in “Hog Wild” – is classic comedy in its own right and will entertain audiences just as much as the story.  That moment in “County Hospital” when the doctor hangs out a window a la Harold Lloyd in the 1923 short “Safety Last!” makes for its own share of laughs, too, adding even more entertainment value.  Even the more subtle physical comedy in “Their First Mistake,” which finds Oliver accidentally feeding Stan with a bottle at one point, makes for its own laughs.  Simply put, the stories featured in this set and their overall content is sure to keep audiences engaged and entertained.  Sure, it isn’t the complete shorts collection – It features 20 shorts in all, and the one “movie” “Sons of the Desert” — but it certainly is a rich presentation that any viewer will appreciate.  Keeping all of this in mind, the content featured in Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations more than makes this collection worth watching.  It is only one part of what makes the set so appealing.  Its secondary content – the bonus content – adds to that entertainment and engagement.

The bonus content that accompanies the set’s shorts is important to note because it takes viewers behind the scenes of Laurel & Hardy’s shorts.  Hal Roach’s audio interview is one of the most notable of the interviews.  Roach, who’s studio handled Laurel & Hardy’s presentations, reveals in his interview that the writing process for the shorts was handled mainly by the writers and by Stan and Oliver.  He stresses that he kept a hands-off approach to the shorts’ creative process during his discussion.  He goes so far as to admit that, “I’d just slow them down on set.”   This gives viewers a glimpse into how the stories in these shorts came to life.  It creates a new appreciation for the final product.

Another notable interview that accompanies the set comes from actress Anita Garvin.  Featured in the set’s first disc, Garvin’s interview finds her talking about her initial fear of Stan Laurel, because she had never met him or Oliver Hardy.  As she continues, Garvin reveals that in meeting them, she realized that Laurel was actually a very “sweet, lovable man.”  She talked about his positive work ethic in the process.  Additionally, Garvin revealed that scripts were rare in Stan and Laurel’s features, and that ad-libbing was commonplace.  This goes back to what Hal Roach noted in his interview about taking a hands-off approach to the features.  This is just one more example of what audiences will appreciate in the way of the interviews.  Joe Rock’s interview adds its own share of interest to the set, even  despite being shorter than other interviews.

Rock reveals in his interview, that the budget for “Sons of the Desert” was very tight.  He tied that in to an anecdote about discussions surrounding Stan Laurel’s salary at the time.  On yet another topic, Rock also makes a statement about how much he enjoyed working with Stan and Laurel because the features at the time did not rely on sex and violence, unlike today’s comedy.  He could not be more right.  Between that discussion, his others, and those from the other noted figures (and those not noted here), the interviews in whole make for their own share of entertainment and engagement.  When this item is considered with the overall content in the featured shorts, the overall content makes the overall viewing experience that much more enjoyable for audiences.  Even with this in mind, there is still more to consider.  That “more” is the actual presentation of the shorts.

The shorts featured in this set are presented in 2K/4K, remastered from the original 35mm film.  The restoration was not just a one and done sort of process.  It took painstaking efforts to bring them back to their original glory.  There was first, a process to restore the film negatives, using chemicals.  That was followed by another process to further define the footage and make it sharp and clear.  The time and effort that was used to restore the footage clearly paid off.  Each short is crystal clear yet still has that original grainy feel, which will certainly generate a sense of nostalgia among audiences.  What’s more, that general clarity of the picture and sound adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of the set.  That appeal ensures in its own right, viewers’ maintained engagement and entertainment because it will keep audiences watching and laughing at each featured short.  The result of all things considered is a presentation that is just as wonderful for its actual content as for the presentation of said content.  Simply put, they come together to make the set, again, a must have for any classic movie and TV aficionado and any Laurle & Hardy devotee.

MVD Entertainment Group’s recently released Blu-ray set The Definitive Restorations is a presentation that so many audiences will appreciate.  Its stories and their featured comedic content is sure to give audiences the happy escape that they need from all the negativity in the news and the world.  The interviews that accompany the shorts adds its own share of entertainment and engagement for audiences.  The painstaking efforts that were made to restore the featured shorts adds even more appreciation for the set.  Given, it is not the definitive collection of Laurel & Hardy features by any means, but it definitely is an enjoyable presentation.  It is available now.

More information on this and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group is available online at:

 

Websitehttp://mvdentertainment.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/MVDEntertainmentGroup

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/mvdentgroup

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and ‘Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.