‘The Man From Planet X’ BD Re-Issue Shows There Is Still A Clear Place And Need For The Classics Today

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Scream! Factory/MGM/United Artists

Science fiction and horror are not what they once were. They are focused so much on quantity than quality. The amount of special effects and over the top violence to be exact. That is something about which audiences did not have to be concerned during Hollywood’s golden era. Classic science fiction and horror — including even the cheesiest flicks such as It Came From Outer Space, The Invisible Boy, and The Man From Planet X among so many others — stand head and shoulders above today’s largely forgettable flicks because they focused more on quality than quantity. Thanks to the work of the people at Shout! Factory, the latter of that trio recently received new life through a new Blu-ray re-issue this past July. That re-issue gave the movie its own new life while also helping to show why classic sci-fi and horror is just as good as its modern counterparts, if not better. That is due in part to the movie’s familiar yet still entertaining story, which will be discussed shortly. The movie’s production values (I.E. sets, special effects, etc.) also play into its enjoyment and will be discussed later. The bonus audio commentary tracks included in the movie’s re-issue round out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own way in showing why this movie is so enjoyable. All things considered, they prove clearly that this movie is in fact one more example of why classic sci-fi and horror is just as good as its modern counterparts if not better than them.

Scream! Factory’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of MGM and United Artists’ 1951 sci-fi/horror flick The Man From Planet X is a fun watch for any classic sci-fi and horror fan that proves clearly why movies of its ilk and era are just as good as their descendants if not better. That is proven in part through the movie’s simple story. The story centers on an alien from another planet that lands on a small fog-filled Scottish island in order to start an invasion of Earth. In order to start paving the way for that invasion, the unnamed alien puts the tiny village’s residents under its control by taking over their minds. It’s not the only time that Hollywood presented a story involving a villain using mind control for a nefarious purpose, but it is one of the earlier films to take this route. Interestingly enough, even when under the alien’s mind control, the villagers are still cognizant of their surroundings — enough so that they can give the movie’s protagonist, John Lawrence, the information he needs to stop the alien. Obviously in the end, Lawrence is able to stop the alien. How he does that won’t be given away here. The truly surprising aspect of the whole story is that the alien is not the only villain. Dr. Mears is also a villain, yet manages through his own greed, is the one who unwittingly uncovers the alien’s plot. It is definitely an interesting twist, and one that makes the movie that much more entertaining. Keeping all of this in mind, the movie’s story does plenty to make the movie entertaining, and is not the movie’s only key element. Its production values play into its entertainment value, too.

The production values at the center of The Man From Planet X are collectively speaking just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story. Those values include the movie’s sets, special effects and even collective editing and cinematography. There are those out there who have lamented the movie’s production values, but the simplicity of the movie’s production values are a big part of its interest, but those behind the lens used the resources that they had at the time. They are even discussed in the movie’s bonus audio commentaries. Those commentaries will be discussed shortly. The simplicity in the sets is in fact part of what makes the movie’s look so endearing. They show that a movie (whether sci-fi, horror or both) doesn’t always need over the top effects, etc. in order to have a great look. In fact they show that sometimes, a minimalist can have more impact than the overblown approach taken by so many of today’s sci/fi and horror blockbusters. The same applies to the movie’s cinematography and editing. The angles and cuts are simple in their own right, using the simple sets to their fullest for just as much impact. The combination of that expert editing, cinematography and set design makes suspension of disbelief even easier for audiences, and in turn, insures even more audiences’ maintained entertainment and engagement. When this is considered along with the impact of the movie’s story, the whole of those elements strengthens the movie’s presentation even more. They are not the movie’s only key elements. The movie’s bonus audio commentaries round out its most important elements.

As was noted previously, one of the items noted in the bonus commentaries included in The Man From Planet X‘s home release is that of its budget. Author Tom Weaver, who provides one of the two full-length audio commentaries, notes that the movie’s budget was low. He does so in a respectful manner, though. He explains that the movie did not have a major budget, yet still managed to make the most of the budget. His discussion on this topic is just one of the items that makes the bonus commentaries so engaging. Weaver also notes early on in his commentary that this movie is both sci-fi and horror because of elements such as the “mad scientist” (Professor Elliot) in his castle and of course the evil, mind-controlling alien. Another interesting item that he notes is that of when he first saw the movie in the 1980s and became a fan of the movie from then on. That he openly admitted not having seen it until almost 40 years after its debut, but still became a fan, shows its impact, despite being a b-flick.

Weaver’s is not the only commentary included as a bonus for the movie. Glenn Erikson, who sometimes writes for Turner Classic Movies, sits down for an interview with Arianne Ulmer, daughter of the movie’s famed director Edgar Ulmer as an additional commentary. Audiences learn through the younger Ulmer’s interview that he was concerned about his legacy being forgotten and about her father’s favorite films. The Man From Planet X apparently was one that her dad liked, but apparently was not one of his “favorites.” Early on, there is also discussion on her own efforts to preserve her father’s works. That dedication to keeping her father’s legacy and memory alive is a touching sentiment. If not for her efforts, audiences in fact might not have this re-issue today. Keeping that (and all of the other discussions) in mind, such commentary proves fully important to this presentation. the same can be said of the movie’s other bonus commentary. When this is considered along with the importance of the movie’s simple yet engaging and entertaining story and its equally laudable production values, the whole of those elements makes this presentation in whole full proof of why there is still a place and need for classic sci-fi and horror in today’s market.

Scream! Factory’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of MGM and United Artists’ classic sci-fi horror flick The Man From Planet X is a work that shows clearly and fully that there is both a place and need for classic science fiction in today’s movie industry. It shows that the classics are just as good as their counterparts, if not better, in many cases. In the matter of this rarity, that is shown through the movie’s story, which insures entertainment and engagement through its simplicity. Its production values, which are simple in their own right, join with that simple story to strengthen the movie’s presentation even more. Both of the in-depth feature-length audio commentaries included as bonus material to the movie, adds even more to its presentation. When all of these noted elements are joined together, they make the whole of The Man From Planet X a movie that easily rivals its modern counterparts and will entertain sci-fi and horror fans of all ages. It is available now in stores and online to prove that argument to everyone. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

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Shout! Factory TV Debuting New Reality Series Next Week

Courtesy: Scream Factory/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Scream Factory/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory TV and Scream Factory will debut a brand new reality TV program next week.

Horror Hunters will debut Wednesday, Oct. 26 exclusively online via Shout! Factory TV at 9pm ET/8pm CT/6pm PST.  The series follows horror experts Adam Rockoff and Aaron Christensen as they trek across the world in search of the greatest horror memorabilia out there.

At each of the duo’s stops, the duo offers rare and valuable pieces from their own collections as they try to get their hands on some of the most sought after, one-of-a-kind items that they’ve seen.

The series’ pilot episode finds Rockoff and Christensen visiting Frankenstein uber collector Phil Meenan and discover a real, operational (and dangerous) Jacob’s Ladder device. Chicago, IL is next up for the guys in the series’ pilot episode, where Adam and Aaron meet well-known horror blogger John Kitley inside the famed Kitley’s Krypt, where they try to make a huge deal with Kitley.

More information on Horror Hunters is available online now at:

 

 

 

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Every Horror Movie Purist Should “See” ‘I Saw What You Did’

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Hollywood’s horror genre has come a long way from what it once was and not for the better either.  It seems like every other horror flick churned out by Hollywood today is either an overly dark and violent movie centered on demons and the like or it is an equally violent (and gory) slasher flick.  That wasn’t so much the case in Hollywood’s golden age.  It was wholly possible for studios in that age to make horror flicks—regardless of their specific subgenre—without being so dark, bloody, and violent.  Alfred Hitchcock’s classic slasher flick Psycho is proof of this as is the 1963 nightmare-inducing ghost story The Haunting and Allied Artists’ 1959 fright fest House on Haunted Hill.  All three of these movies are examples of what once made horror such a great genre.  They are also examples, when set against their newer counterparts, of just how far the genre has fallen from its pedestal.  The comparison is stark to say the very least.  Earlier this year Scream Factory, Shout! Factory’s horror division released another example of what once made Hollywood’s horror realm so great when it released the classic slasher flick I Saw What You Did on Blu-ray.  This 1965 flick from William Castle Productions (which was also behind House on Haunted Hill) and Universal Pictures is a must have for any horror fan looking to escape the glut of cookie cutter slasher flicks and ghost stories currently being churned out by Hollywood’s Big Six studios.  That is due in no small part to the movie’s story.  That will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in its presentation as its story.  Last but hardly least of note in the movie’s presentation is its general lack of blood, gore, and violence.  This element rounds out the movie’s most important elements and is no less important than the movie’s story or the work of the movie’s cast.  Keeping that in mind, each element does its own part to make this movie an entertaining work of horror.  Altogether they make this movie another must see for any horror purist.

Universal Pictures’ 1965 slasher flick I Saw What You Did is a must see for any horror movie purist.  That is because like so many horror flicks of its age it is the antithesis of everything that Hollywood’s horror genre has become.  That is clear in examining the story at the center of the movie.  The story centers on the antics of teenagers Libby Mannering (Andi Garrett—The Wild Wild West, Black Sheep Squadron) and Kit Austin (Sarah Lane—The Virginian, The Trial of Billy Jack, Billy Jack Goes To Washington) and the eventual terror that comes as a result of what they think are harmless phone pranks.  The pair’s prank calls end up having a rather far-reaching effect, causing (indirectly) the murder of Judith  Marek (Joyce Meadows—The Brain From Planet Arous, Two Faces West, The Girl in Lovers Lane) by her husband Steve (John Ireland—Spartacus, All The King’s Men, Red River).  Libby calls Steve’s number, pretending to be another woman, which leads Judith to confront Steve while he’s showering.  What’s interesting is that when Judith goes to confront Steve, she notices that their bathroom is a shambles.  It is clear that Steve’s intent was to murder Judith regardless and make it look like someone else did it.  But her confrontation leads Steve to murder her in the shower and then get rid of the body.  When Libby calls back later, she tells Steve, “I saw what you did and I know who you are,” he thinks that she is serious, which leads to even more tension.  What’s really interesting in all of that tension is that in adapting author Ursula Curtiss’ novel Out of the Dark to cinematic form, writer William P. McGivern unknowingly included a story element that is wholly relevant today.  The element in question involves the young, naïve Libby actually going to meet Steve because she thinks he actually wants to meet her, not knowing that he is a murderer.  This is an issue that the world faces even more today than ever before due to the advent of online messaging services, chat rooms, etc.  Who would have thought a story crafted more than fifty years ago would have such a relevant element within its script?  This revelation makes the movie’s story all the more believable, and in turn engaging.  Of course the movie becomes somewhat cheesy in its final act.  That aside, the rest of the story will still keep audiences on the edge of their seats.  That being the case, the story in whole shows just how important it is to the movie’s overall presentation.  It is just one of the elements that make the movie such an entertaining work of horror.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note as its story in examining what makes the movie a must see for horror purists.

William P. McGivern’s cinematic adaptation of Ursula Curtiss’ novel Out of the Dark is an important part of the presentation of I Saw What You Did.  That is because it is by and large, a thriller that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.  It manages to do so even without the use of any overt violence and bloodshed.  That is not to say that there is no violence or bloodshed.  It is there.  Don’t mistake that.  But it is kept to an extreme minimum since censors at the time didn’t allow but so much of said elements.  It shows that horror can be enjoyable even without blood, gore, or overt violence.  Of course the movie’s story is just one of the most important elements to examine in McGivern’s adaptation of Curtiss’ novel.  The work of the movie’s cast in interpreting McGivern’s script is just as important to examine here as his story.  Garrett and Lane are completely entertaining as lead stars Libby and Kit.  The pair makes audiences shake their heads in disbelief at Libby and Kit.  That is because the actresses fully embrace the girls’ lack of forethought in their actions.  While teens today might not make prank calls for their own fun that lack of foresight, teens today still act just as thoughtlessly even if in different ways.  And it gets them into their own share of trouble, too.  On the other end of the spectrum John Ireland is just as entertaining to watch as the villainous Steve Marak.  Steve’s actions might not seem all that believable on the surface.  But anyone that has ever watched an episode of 48 Hours or Dateline knows that what he did is in fact rather commonplace in real life crimes.  He does such an impressive job in presenting Steve’s paranoia about having been seen.  That is especially considering that only two people saw what he was doing over the course of the movie.  Each of the movie’s other cast members do their own part in adding to the movie’s enjoyment.  But it is really the trio noted here that most shines through.  Their work in interpreting their parts (and McGivern’s script) is just as important to the movie’s presentation as McGivern’s own work.  It still is not the last remaining element to note in examining what makes this classic slasher flick so surprisingly entertaining.  The general lack of overt violence and bloodshed, as slightly mentioned earlier, plays a part in the movie’s presentation that is just as important to note as the movie’s story and the work of the movie’s cast.

The story at the center of I Saw What You Did and the work of the movie’s cast are both important in examining what makes this classic slasher flick so entertaining.  Each element plays its own part in making it a movie that any horror purist should see as has already been noted.  They are not the only elements that make the movie so surprisingly enjoyable either.  The movie’s general lack of blood, gore, and overt violence is just as important to note in examining the movie’s presentation as its story and the work of its cast.  There is some blood and violence incorporated into the movie.  But most of it comes when Steve Marak murders his wife and his mistress.  Even when he does this, the bloodshed is virtually nothing when compared to most of the slasher flicks that are available to audiences today.  Rather it is more comparable to the bloodshed used in the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).  Given that is the result of standards set by censors and the MPAA at that time.  But it is a good thing.  That is because it forced McGivern (as with every other writer at the time) to actually rely on story more so than on the violence factor (I.E. quality versus quantity).  It is a standard to which this critic personally wishes horror movies would return.  McGivern did an admirable job in focusing on the movie’s quality.  He showed that a story can stand on its own literary merits even in a horror setting without having to rely on blood, gore, and violence.  It really serves as a model for today’s horror screen writers.  It shows that a horror movie can be fun without being overly violent, bloody, gory or even nightmare-inducing.  Keeping this in mind, it rounds out the movie’s most important elements.  Together with McGivern’s work and that of the movie’s cast all three elements join together to make the movie in whole a surprisingly fun ride for any horror movie purist.

Scream Factory’s recent re-issue of I Saw What You Did is a surprisingly fun ride for any true horror movie purist.  That is because it shows that it is possible for horror flicks to be fun without being overly violent and sexualized.  That is evident most prominently in the movie’s story, written by William P. McGivern.  The story relies more on its literary elements than its actual visual content to keep audiences entertained and engaged.  The movie’s cast is just as notable in its work in front of the camera.  Garrett, Lane, and Ireland are completely believable in their respective roles and in turn envelope audiences in the story.  The story’s general lack of blood, gore, violence, and sexual content is Just as important to note here as the story itself and the work of the movie’s cast.  It brings everything full circle and shows together with the previously noted elements that it is possible for a horror flick to be entertaining without being questionable in its content.  All things considered the recent re-issue of this classic horror flick proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable ride for any true horror movie purist.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-horror/i-saw-what-you-did.  More information on this and other titles from Scream Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

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‘Death Becomes Her’ Has Plenty Of Life And Laughs

Courtesy: Scream! Factory/Universal

Courtesy: Scream! Factory/Universal

Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep, and Goldie Hawn are about as far apart as three actors can get from one another in terms of their bodies of work.  Willis is largely known for his work on 20th Century Fox’s hugely popular Die Hard franchise.  Hawn largely made a name for herself in the 1980s and ‘90s in movies such as Overboard (1987), Private Benjamin (1980), and The First Wives Club (1996).  Streep on the other hand has remained one of Hollywood’s top draws to this day, exhibiting her broad range of talents in the likes of The Devil Wears Prada (2006), The River Wild (1994), and Julie and Julia (2009) just to name a few of her entries.  She also singlehandedly saved the otherwise lackluster biopic The Iron Lady in 2011 and spread her wings just as much (if not more) in the 2002 indie flick Adaptation.  So it goes without saying that when the trio teamed up in 1992 for Universal’s Death Becomes Her it was anybody’s guess how the movie would turn out.  The original reception to the movie was lukewarm at best.  And sadly it has remained a relatively forgotten and underappreciated title for all three actors.  Yet now thanks to Shout! Factory it has gotten a new lease on life in a new “Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray re-issue.  It proves in its new re-issue to be well-deserving of a second chance.  That is especially the case considering how little Hollywood has to offer in theaters today.  In shorter wording, its story alone makes it well worth that second chance.  That will be discussed shortly.  The special effects that were utilized in the movie are just as important to note as the movie’s story.  Last but hardly least of note in this movie’s presentation is the work of its cast.  Willis, Streep, and Hawn are surprisingly entertaining together.  Their work rounds out the movie’s most important features.  Of course one can’t ignore the new “Making Of” featurette included in this presentation of the movie.  It is not what would be considered one of the movie’s main elements.  But it is an interesting bonus in its own right.  Keeping this in mind, each of the elements noted here is important in its own right to the movie’s new re-issue.  Altogether they give a whole new life to this undervalued offering from Universal.

Shout! Factory’s new re-issue of Death Becomes Her breathes new life into what has been an otherwise forgotten flick from Universal.  It proves in the long run to be a movie that was then and is now an undervalued offering from the studio.  This is exhibited in large part to the movie’s writing.  More specifically it is exhibited in large part through the story at the heart of the movie.  The story is centered on a rather familiar plot—a love triangle leading to murder.  It’s the basis of so many movies (especially Lifetime movies) and episodes of Dateline and 48 Hours.  Yet in the case of this movie the writing team of Martin Donovan and David Koepp has given that familiar plot quite the paranormal twist of sorts here.  Rather than just letting Madeline (Streep) stay dead, Donovan and Koepp prove that indeed sometimes they come back again.  Yes, that was in itself a bad pun, for any other movie buffs out there that get it.  Thanks to a magical potion Madeline comes back to life after supposedly being killed by Ernest (Willis).  This leads to a confrontation with Ernest’s ex-wife Helen (Hawn) and the revelation that Helen had also taken the potion, leaving both women immortal.  After a brief conflict the pair reconciles and agrees that they both now need Ernest in order to remain in pristine condition due to his talents as a mortician.  The result will leave anyone with a real sense of humor laughing right to the story’s final scene.  The story itself is dark.  But it is still funny in its own right.  It also is just the surface of what makes the movie’s story so entertaining.  As is discussed in the new “Making Of” featurette included in the movie’s re-issue, the real story at the heart of the story is the story of Hollywood’s shallow, self-centered nature.  This will be explained in more depth later.  Getting back on track, the twist that Koepp and Donovan put on an otherwise all-too familiar plot line makes the movie’s central story a breath of fresh air especially when compared to the stories currently being churned out by Hollywood’s Big Six studios.  The movie’s story is just one element that makes it worth the watch.  The special effects that are incorporated into the movie are just as important to note as the movie’s allegorical story.

The story at the center of Death Becomes Her is in itself both funny and thought provoking.  That makes the movie well worth the watch in its new re-issue.  It is just one of the elements that makes the movie so entertaining.  The special effects that are incorporated into the movie are just as notable as its dual-pronged story.  This is another topic tackled in the new “Making Of” featurette included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue.  The use of computer generated special effects was a relatively foreign concept at the time in which Death Becomes Her was filmed.  This is another topic tackled in the new “Making Of” featurette included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue.  It will be discussed later, too.  Staying on the subject at hand, the special effects that were used to bring Madeline and Helen back to life are collectively a wonderful touch to the movie.  That is not just because of their use but because of their look, too.  There is almost a certain cartoonish look to the special effects in question that audiences will love.  One moment in which this is exhibited comes as Helen hits Madeline over the head with a shovel.  Madeline’s head is pushed into her shoulders, making her look like a turtle.  It is in fact a bit that has been used by quite a few cartoons.  Madeline pulling her head out of her shoulders and straightening it is just as familiar and funny.  In another equally entertaining scene, Madeline throws a pole through the hole that had only minutes earlier been blown in Helen’s body when Madeline shot her.  The action itself, and Madeline’s reaction are both priceless.  It’s one more way in which the special effects prove so important to the movie’s overall presentation.  It isn’t the last, either.  Audiences will be interested to learn that as Ernest hangs precariously from a gutter pipe late in the movie, he is not as high up as it seems.  There was obviously some move magic going on there.  But thanks to the work of those behind the scenes, it actually looks believable.  It isn’t just one of those scenes where a subject is splashed up against a blue (or green) screen with a random background haphazardly thrown in.  It really does look like Willis is hanging high atop the building so close to his own demise.  And even as he falls from the building (not to give away too much) the corridor of sorts through which he falls is clearly computer generated.  Yet it still doesn’t look anywhere as bad as similar sequences used in other movies both before and since.  That is a real tribute to the work put in by those responsible for handling the movie’s special effects.  It is yet another way in which the movie’s special effects show themselves to be so important to the overall presentation of Death Becomes Her.  There are plenty of other moments that could be cited, too.  When those moments are set alongside the moments noted here, the whole of said moments gives the movie just as much “life” as its story.  Keeping this in mind, the story at the center of Death Becomes Her and the movie’s special effects make this movie quite the entertaining horror/comedy hybrid.  They are not the movie’s only notable elements.  The cast’s work in front of the cameras is yet another notable part of the movie’s whole.

The story at the center of Death Becomes Her and the special effects that are incorporated in to the movie are both key to the movie’s overall presentation in their own way.  The story takes an all too familiar plot and gives it a funny albeit dark, almost Tim Burton-esque twist.  The cartoonish special effects that are used add even more enjoyment to the movie.  That is because they show neither the cast nor crew took themselves or the movie too seriously.  They will leave any viewer laughing at their look.  Both elements in themselves are hugely important to the movie’s presentation.  Collectively they show why this movie deserved to have been resurrected (bad pun fully intended).  As important as they are they are not the movie’s only important element.  The cast’s work in front of the cameras should be noted, too.  It was previously noted that Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, and Goldie Hawn each come from a very different background.  That is in reference to the films in which they have starred.  Considering this one can only imagine the uncertainty in bring the trio together on camera.  Yet surprisingly all three actors worked quite well together.  Bruce Willis, at that time, was known largely for his action roles.  Yet he actually pulls off quite well the role of Ernest.  Ernest’s alcoholic, somewhat neurotic persona comes through expertly thanks to Willis’ take on the character.  Again, considering that this was something of a departure for Willis, he is to be commended for his work here.  One of his best moments comes as Madeline and Helen are fighting in the background.  The camera focuses on him and he says something to the extent of, “If anyone needs me I’ll be upstairs.”  Willis’ deadpan delivery of the line is a great contradiction to the chaos behind him.  And his reaction early on when he discovers that Madeline is alive when she should be dead is just as funny.  For those who are familiar with the classic horror comedy Arsenic and Old Lace Willis channels a little bit of Cary Grant in this moment.  It is just one more of so many great moments from Willis in the movie and just one more way in which the movie’s cast proves so entertaining.  Meryl Streep is wonderful to watch in her own right as Madeline Ashton.  One can’t help but wonder in watching her take on the self-centered, egotistical woman, if perhaps she channeled a little bit of her for her role in The Devil Wears Prada.  That is inferred from early on as she pushes her assistant aside in her dressing room.  Her constant verbal abuse of Ernest hints at her character as an influence for Miranda Priestly, too.  Goldie Hawn is just as entertaining as Helen.  This is especially true early on as Helen resides in a mental ward.  The deadpan manner in which she says, “Yes, I want to talk about…..Madeline Ashton” is perfect.  Her timing of the line is just as expert.  The reaction of the other actresses in the scene makes the moment all the funnier.  They obviously did not want to hear about Madeline Ashton again.  Her reactions to her body falling offer just as much entertainment as do so many other moments.  Between those comical moments and those presented by her cast mates, the overall work of the movie’s cast offers plenty of laughs from the movie’s opening scene to its end.  They show in whole that the cast’s work is indeed just as important as that of the movie’s writing team and those behind the lens.  All things considered Death Becomes Her proves in the end to be an undervalued and underappreciated movie and one that more than deserved its new life.

Death Becomes Her is an undervalued and underappreciated cinematic work.  Looking at everything that it has to offer it is clear that it more than deserved its new life.  This is exhibited through the work of the movie’s writing team, its crew, and its cast.  As important as these elements are to the movie one would be remiss to ignore the bonus “Making Of” featurette that is included in Shout! Factory’s new BD re-issue of the movie.  It offers new interviews with both writers and the cast that offer a whole new insight into the movie and what makes it so undervalued.  The movie’s original “Making Of” featurette is also included alongside the new feature.  The two features together paint quite an interesting picture not just of the movie but of the cast and crew then and now.  It shows that little has changed in terms of the opinions held by the cast and crew.  With any luck, audiences that perhaps have seen the movie before will take that into account along with the movie’s story, its special effects, and the cast’s work on camera, and have their own change of opinion to the positive should their opinions previously have been more negative.  With any luck said viewers (and those new to the movie) will see in its new re-issue just how undervalued and underappreciated it is and that it indeed deserved the new life that it has received thanks to Shout! Factory.

It should be clear by now that while not a major hit Death Becomes Her is an undervalued and underappreciated movie.  It is a work that more than deserved a new life.  It is evident in the movie’s writing.  It is just as evident in the movie’s special effects and the work of the movie’s cast.  The new bonus “Making Of” featurette and the companion original “Making Of” featurette partner to enrich the movie’s viewing experience even more.  All things considered, Death Becomes Her shows in the end to be a movie with plenty of life and that deserved new life.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-comedy/death-becomes-her-collector-s-edition.  More information on this and other titles from Scream! Factory—Shout! Factory’s horror division—is available online now at:

 

 

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The Brain That Wouldn’t Die Is A Movie That Will Never Die

Courtesy;  Scream Factory/MGM/Orion Pictures

Courtesy; Scream Factory/MGM/Orion Pictures

On March 11th, 1818 author Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein was first introduced to the world.  In the almost two centuries since its original publication, it has been done and done again more times than can be counted on two hands.  This includes both on screen and on the printed page in various fashions.  Interestingly enough, in the nearly two hundred years since Shelley’s now groundbreaking novel was first published, the very topics tackled in that novel have shown just how far ahead of her time Shelley was.  Taking this into account, it is difficult to say for certain which movies and novels that have been churned out since then stand out among its seemingly endless sea of remakes and re-imaginings.  Later this month, Scream Factory, Shout! Factory’s horror division, and MGM will re-issue one candidate for that list of noteworthy reboots and re-imaginings in the form of the classic sci-fi horror flick The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.  Originally released in theaters on August 10th, 1962, this classic flick is a must have for any fan of true sci-fi and horror.  The main reason for this is the movie’s very story.  On the surface it very much follows Shelley’s Frankenstein formula complete with mad scientist trying to play God.  There is just one minor change that makes the story work.  Of course the deeper concepts interwoven into the story are just as important as the story itself if not more so.  This will all be discussed at more length shortly.  It is just one aspect of the movie that makes it well worth the watch.  The movie’s special effects are just as important to the whole of the movie as the story.  The main special effect is tied right in to a classic magician’s trick, too.  This will be discussed more later.  The bonus material included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is also worth discussing here.  It most certainly is not the only other aspect that can be discussed either.  The work of the movie’s cast in front of the camera is just as important to the whole of this movie as is the work of those that re-mastered it for its release on Blu-ray.  All things considered, Scream Factory and MGM’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is both a must have for classic sci-fi and horror fans, and one of the year’s best new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

Scream Factory and MGM’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is one of this year’s best new DVD/Blu-ray re-issues.  The classic sci-fi/horror flick is a must have for any fan of the genre.  It is especially so for fans of classic titles within the genre.  The main reason for that is the movie’s story.  On the surface it can easily be said that it is just another re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  But on another level, it is actually a rather deep story.  It follows a surgeon named Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers–The Green Berets, Escape From The Planet of the Apes, Channing) as he uses his knowledge of transplanting to try and find a new body for the head of his girlfriend Jan after a wreck.  The wreck severed her head from her body.  But thanks to his then unorthodox means he essentially reanimates her (or at least her head) while he searches for a new body on which he could put her head.  Thus he becomes the standard mad scientist figure.  Interestingly enough, when Jan (Virginia Leath–Fear and Desire, A Kiss Before Dying, Violent Saturday) regains consciousness in Bill’s secret lab, she pleads, “Let me die!”  It is a simple statement.  Yet it is hugely important to the story.  That is because it takes a largely unfamiliar path within this sub-genre of the sci-fi/horror realm.  It is also because it raises a very relevant discussion on the issue of right to life.  It is one of so very few movies within its genre (and sub-genre) that actually makes a valid attempt to entertain and get audiences thinking at the same time.  It could be argued that considering this, everything tackled in this story from the topic of transplant technology to the discussion on medical ethics really makes it stand out from its counterparts both past and present.  In turn it makes the movie that much more worth the watch.  It is just one reason that the movie’s new re-issue is so impressive.  The movie’s special effects are just as worth noting in its enjoyment as its dual purpose story.

The story presented in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die gives audiences plenty of reason to watch the movie in its new Blu-ray re-issue.  It is but one part of the whole that makes this movie such an interesting watch.  The special effects that were utilized in the movie’s relatively short eighty-one minute run time are just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story.  The reason that the movie’s special effects are worth noting is their simplicity.  Considering similar movies that have been released since, this movie doesn’t rely on its special effects.  Rather it keeps them to a bare minimum.  Audiences will be amazed at the crew’s ability to hide Virginia] Leath’s body and make her look like a disembodied head, sitting on Dr. Cortner’s desk.  At no point do those efforts go over the top or even look the least bit cheesy.  The result of those efforts is in fact movie magic that is just as impressive as an illusion put on by a professional magician.  And in regards to the special effects used when Dr. Cortner’s friend has his arm ripped off by the beast behind the door, the work there is just as notable.  What is more here, the fact that those behind the lens opted to not go the over-the-top blood and guts route (which so many horror movies today take) makes the overall production all the more enjoyable.  That could very well have been the result of censor control.  Even if censors didn’t play a role in that limitation, it still adds so much to the movie’s overall viewing experience.  That is because it shows the attempts by those behind the cameras to provide audiences with substance versus shock.  On a related note, the work of the makeup department on the “creature” that is kept locked up is to be just as commended since it is just as much a part of the movie’s special effects division.  It definitely looks creepy but not too creepy or cheesy for that matter.  In all honesty, one can’t help but wonder if the creature’s look is what inspired the character Sloth from the 1985 teen action flick The Goonies.  The similarity in the pair’s look cannot be ignored.  In the same breath, one can’t help but wonder if the very concept of keeping Jan’s head alive was the influence behind the “bottled heads” in Futurama.  Getting back on track, the minimalist and responsible use of special effects in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die shows in the long run to be just as important to the whole of the movie as its story.  That is because it shows an emphasis on substance over shock.  That’s something that is painfully absent in so many of today’s sci-fi, horror and combined offerings.  It is just one more element that makes the movie’s viewing experience so enjoyable in the case of its new re-issue.  The bonus material included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is yet another element that makes the overall viewing experience so impressive.

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die might be more than half a century old.  But the story that lies behind the movie is one that is just as relevant today as it was in its debut fifty-three years ago.  It is also just as entertaining if not more so.  This is especially the case considering the movies that have been churned out within its genre in the decades since its debut.  The same can be said of the movie’s special effects.  The minimal and responsible use of special effects throughout the course of the movie’s relatively short run time adds just as much enjoyment to the movie.  While both elements are equally important to the overall viewing experience of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die the bonus material that has been included with the movie in its new Blu-ray re-issue is just as important to that experience as either of the noted elements.  Scream Factory and MGM have included in the movie’s new re-issue a complete episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that features this exact movie as its main feature.  It’s kind of fitting that it has been included considering the current push to have the cult classic series resurrected.  There is also a rather interesting addition in the form of the movie’s photo shoot sequence in which model Doris Powell (Adele Lamont—The Tall Man, The Phil Silvers Show) is posing for a group of photographers by itself.  What makes this sequence an interesting addition is that in its presentation here, Powell is actually posing nude.  There is some partial nudity from the back.  But in front she is fully topless.  Here’s the thing.  This take on the photo shoot sequence comes from an international cut of the movie.  It is important to note not so much for its content but for the allowance of said content internationally versus its censorship domestically.  It serves to show the differing views on such material at the time by American censor groups and those in other nations.  When one compares that level of censorship not only to that of other nations then, but to other nations today, the picture that is painted is even more dramatic. Simply put, the addition of this sequence to the movie’s re-issue adds to the movie’s overall viewing experience in that it enriches viewers’ appreciation for not only the movie’s history but for film history in whole in all of its reaches. It is hardly the only other part of the movie’s presentation here that makes it such an enjoyable new release. The work of the movie’s cast in front of the camera and that of those that re-mastered the movie for its presentation on Blu-ray both play just as much of an important part in the movie’s overall presentation as the previously noted elements. All things considered, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is a must have for any sci-fi and/or horror fan as well as classic film buffs in general. Not only that but in considering everything noted here, it can be said of the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue that it is one of the year’s best new DVD/Blu-ray re-issues.

Scream Factory and MGM’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is a must have for fans of the sci-fi and horror realm as well as for classic film buffs in general. It is yet another prime example of everything that once made both genres (and their hybrid offshoots) so great. The story favors an actual story and substance over unnecessary blood and gore. The special effects are used minimally and responsibly. The bonus material included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue add even more enjoyment and appreciation for the movie and its place in the rich annals of sci-fi and horror film history both in itself and culturally. The work of the movie’s cast is just as noteworthy as is the work of those that worked so hard to re-master the movie for its presentation here. The end result of all of the noted elements is a movie that is, again, a must have for sci-fi and horror fans and for classic film buffs in general. It will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, December 22. It can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-horror/the-brain-that-wouldn-t-die. More information on this and other titles from Scream Factory is available online now at:

 

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Robot Jox Is One Of 2015’s Top New Reissues

Courtesy/Shout! Factory/Empire Pictures/MGM/Orion Pictures

Courtesy/Shout! Factory/Empire Pictures/MGM/Orion Pictures

The 1980s was one of the movie industry’s best eras and one of its worst. That is because a lot of great classic movies were born in that era. However, just as many really bad movies came out of that decade. There was also a handful of movies that while seemed bad at the time, have since proven to be so far ahead of their time and underappreciated in hindsight. Orion Pictures’ 1989 sci-fi action flick Robot Jox is one of the latter of those movies. And thanks to Shout! Factory, Robot Jox a new generation of moviegoers will see for themselves just how underappreciated the movie has been ever since its debut some twenty-six years ago. That is because Shout! Factory’s horror division Scream Factory re-issued the modern classic b-movie on Blu-ray this summer. Audiences that give this movie a chance will see for themselves that there is a lot that makes this movie well worth the watch, its script being the most important of its elements. The script presents a story that is more than just two men facing off in a pair of giant, fighting robots. Rather it is something deeper. That something deeper will be discussed at more length shortly. Its special effects are, colletively speaking, another important part of the movie’s whole. In comparison to both action movies from that era and from today’s age of big budget special effects blockbusters, Robot Jox boasts special effects that are surprisingly impressive. They are impressive both in themselves and in juxtaposition to the movie’s story. That will be discussed at more length later. Last but hardly least worth noting of the movie’s re-issue is its bevy of bonus material. Audiences get an extensive amount of interviews with those that worked behind the cameras in order to bring the movie to life. It adds plenty of insight and in turn enjoyment to the overall viewing experience. The result of that enjoyment is the agreement that Robot Jox is in fact one of the most underrated movies of its time and perhaps even of its genre and in knowing this, it proves itself to be one of the best of this year’s crop of new re-issues.

Scream Factory’s (Shout! Factory’s horror division) recent re-issue of the classic sci-fi B-flick Robot Jox is one of the best of this year’s crop of new re-issues. The main reason for the honor is the movie’s script. On the surface, it would seem to the untrained eye that the script presents a story that is just another movie about giant, fighting robots. But in reality it is far more than that. The script presents a story with just as much commentary and drama as with enjoyable fight scenes. The commentary in question can be argued to be the product of then Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Russia as Achilles–an American robot jock–faces off against Alexander–who interestingly enough is a Russian character played by an American actor–in a battle for the rights to Alaska and its resources. It is interesting to note that writer/director Stuart Gordon never makes clear which countries are on which side of the two post-WWIII factions. So it can only be assumed from this subtlety and the use of the movie’s two main characters that in fact Stuart was reflecting tensions in the real world as a model for the tensions divisions within the world of Robot Jox. It is just one part of what makes the movie’s script such an important part of the movie’s whole. The human drama element incorporated into the movie makes for even more interest and enjoyment. Achilles’ (Gary Graham–Alien Nation, All The Right Moves, Star Trek: Enterprise) personal drama was nothing new to the world of movies and television then nor is it now. But the fact that Gordon was able to keep that element overtake the story’s other elements or even become too schmaltzy is a tribute to Gordon’s attention to detail. The same can be said of his ability to prevent the action sequences from overpowering the script, too. In comparison to so many of today’s major action flicks, too many of those movies rely more on the quantity of explosions than the quality of the story in whole. Thankfully Gordon’s creation wasn’t and isn’t one of those movies, even having been released in 1989. It balances that element with the movie’s commentary and human drama to make a script that ensures audiences’ engagement from beginning to end. In turn, that balance proves the movie’s script to be one of its most important elements if not its most important.

Stuart Gordon’s script is one of the most important elements of Robot Jox’s presentation. It balances each of its elements so well that it will assuredly keep audiences fully engaged. On a side note, considering the amount of foul language peppered throughout the script and Athena’s short scene featuring her bare backside, it is a surprise that this movie got a “PG” rating. Maybe that’s just the sign of changing times. Regardless, the script behind Robot Jox is just one part of what makes the movie such a welcome re-issue. The special effects utilized in Robot Jox are just as important to the whole of the movie as the movie’s script. The special effects are such an important element in that in comparison to action flicks churned out in the 80s, few if any relied on models and stop motion photography in the same fashion or extent of this movie. Rather, most action flicks of the time were beginning to rely on bigger budget special effects including what was then the earliest incarnations of computer generated special effects and other movie magic. To see that those behind the cameras went the low-fi (for lack of better wording) route instead in this case just makes it all the more enjoyable. That is because it throws back to the days of Roger Corman’s classic B-flicks. It shows that such an approach could at the time still result in a movie that looked surprisingly impressive and that movie makers didn’t necessarily have to use the more modern approach to entertain audiences. For that matter moviemakers could probably use such an approach today and it would still look better than most of the explosion-laden action flicks that currently pollute American theaters. That in mind, the special effects used in Robot Jox, which are themselves discussed at more length in the bonus commentary included in the reissue’s bonus material, show just how important they are to the whole of the movie even nearly four decades after the movie’s original debut.

The script behind Robot Jox and its special effects are both equally important in considering what makes this movie such a welcome return. As important as both elements are, they are only a couple of parts of the whole of the movie’s enjoyment. The extensive commentaries from those behind the cameras are just as important as the movie’s script and it special effects in considering its enjoyment. Audiences will note of the movie’s bonus commentaries, that they get to hear from the movie’s writer/director Stuart Gordon as well as others behind the cameras including members of the movie’s special effects and visual effects department. Audiences learn through the interviewees’ discussions about the work that went into assembling the robot models used in the fight scenes, and the work put in to hide the wires on which the miniatures were mounted as well as the very work put in to bring the robots to life per se among so many other topics. Those and all of the other topics tackled along with the bonus gag reel and interview with star Paul Koslo (Joe Kidd, The Omega Man, Vanishing Point) combine to show why the bonus material included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is just as important to the movie’s script and special effects. It gives an in-depth look at just how much work went in to bringing to life not just the robots, but the movie in whole. According to one of the interviewees, the movie actually took some four years to be completed. That is a lot of time and work; time and work that paid off quite well in the end as the movie’s re-issue reveals. It paid off so well that the result is, again, one of the best of this year’s crop of re-issues.

Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray re-issue of Robot Jox is one of the best of this year’s crop of new re-issues. It is more than just another cheesy 80s action flick. Rather it is a movie with a script that seems to reflect the world’s political climate at the time of its debut and boasts special effects that are surprisingly impressive compared to both those of other 80s action flicks and those released in recent years. The discussions on those special effects and other aspects of the movie’s creation in the reissue’s new bonus commentaries rounds out the movie’s presentation makes for even more appreciation for the movie. In the end, all three elements together show clearly why Scream Factory’s re-issue of Robot Jox is one of the best of the year’s crop of new re-issues. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/action-adventure/robot-jox. More information on this and other titles from Scream! Factory is available online now at:

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Scream Factory Resurrecting Carrie Next Month

Courtesy:  Scream Factory

Courtesy: Scream Factory

Author Stephen King has spent the better part of his life creating some of the darkest stories and most frightful characters ever developed in literary history. Some of his scariest stories include the likes of The Stand, The shining, and Misery. Misery also featured what is to this day one of King’s most frightful characters in the form of Annie Wilkes. His novel Needful Things featured an equally scary villain in the form of Leland Gaunt. Gaunt is of course the devil in one of his infinite human guises in this story. Pennywise from King’s novel It and the evil, killer dog Cujo whose name is also the title of another of King’s scariest stories should both be added to that list. For all of the scares that each of these stories and characters have created among audiences over the years, perhaps none of King’s characters have generated as much fear as Carrie. In 1974, King’s teenage character made her literary debut. Two years later, she would be brought to the silver screen courtesy of United Artists. Roughly twenty-three years after that movie made its debut, United Artists would revisit Carrie when it debuted The Rage: Carrie 2. Only three years would pass between the release of that movie and MGM TV’s small screen reboot of the original 1976 movie. Now thanks to Shout! Factory’s horror division Scream Factory, audiences will get to own both The Rage: Carrie 2 and MGM TV’s small screen reboot of Carrie next month in one package.

Scream Factory, Shout! Factory’s horror division, will re-issue United Artists’ The Rage: Carrie 2 and MGM TV’s 2002 small screen reboot of the 1976 original on Tuesday, April 14th. The movies will be released together in a single Blu-ray package. Audiences will note in MGM TV’s small screen reboot that said movie follows Stephen King’s original literary work more so than the 1976 movie that was inspired by that book. It was written by Bryan Fuller (TV’s Hannibal, Pushing Daisies). It stars Emilie de Ravin (Lost, Once Upon A Time, Roswell), Katharine Isabelle (Being Human, Hannibal, Insomnia), Chelan Simmons (Kyle XY, Good Luck Chuck, Final Destination 3), and Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island, The Green Mile, Easy A).

The Rage: Carrie 2 follows much the same story as that presented in its predecessor with a few minir changes to the story for this outing. It stars Emily Bergl (Blue Jasmine, Desperate Housewives, Men in Trees) in the lead role. She is joined by cast mates Jason London (Dazed and Confused, Jason and the Argonauts, The Man in the Moon), Rachel Blanchard (Snakes on a Plane, 7th Heaven, Are You Afraid of the Dark?), Mena Suvari (Six Feet Under, American Beauty, Chicago Fire), and Amy Irving (Carrie, Alias, Yentl). Irving returns in The Rage: Carrie 2 to once again take on the role of Sue Snell from director Drian DePalma’s 1976 original take on Carrie.

Scream Factory’s upcoming Carrie double feature will be released on Blu-ray on Tuesday, April 14th. It will retail for MSRP of $24.97 but can be pre-ordered online at a reduced price of $19.97 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-horror/carrie-the-rage-carrie-2-double-feature. More information on this and other releases from Scream Factory is available online at:

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