Death Note is one of the most famous anime series of all time. It began life as a manga in 2003 written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. From there came the anime series, four live-action films, assorted live-action TV series plus – at time of writing – an impending English-language version by Netflix and helmed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest). Continue reading
Shocks’s Jamie Oliver Box Set consists of eight DVDs of two different Jamie Oliver series. The run-time of the set is 1052 minutes. Each season consists of four discs. There’s Save With Jamie Series One and Two, which I reviewed a few months back in-depth here, and Jamie & Jimmy’s Food Fight Club Series One and Two.
One of the things I remember from my early childhood are my mother’s records. She had all the “it” albums for the time: Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, etc but by far my favorite were the Tour of Duty soundtracks. When I saw the complete series was due to get a region 4 release, all of these memories came back relating to those records and I wanted to review it straight away.
The final years in the life and career of notorious cult filmmaker Ed Wood (1924 – 1978) remains one of the most depressing yet intriguing stories in the strange and wonderful history of exploitation cinema. By the mid-1960’s, his days of making low-budget genre movies like Glen or Glenda (1953), Bride of the Monster (1953) and the infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) were far behind him, and Wood’s life was rapidly spiraling down into a whirlpool of alcoholism, low-rent Hollywood dives, and diminishing work options.
To help eek out a living, and keep himself tenuously connected to the business he loved so dearly, the eccentric Wood took to writing unique, smutty adult paperbacks and screenplays for softcore sex films like Stephen C. Apostolof’s strange and surreal classic Orgy of the Dead (1963). As the sixties came to a close, and softcore turned hard, Wood also found himself taking on work in the emerging X and XXX industries. Released by After Hours Cinema, Ed Wood’s Dirty Movies gathers together three long-lost sex films from the bottom end of Wood’s career. The main feature and highlight here is The Young Marrieds (1972), Wood’s final film as a writer/director, a 16mm print of which was discovered and acquired by adult film historian Dimitrios Otis during a search of the vaults of the Venus Theatre in Vancouver in 2004 (previous to its discovery, 1971’s quasi-horror themed porno Necromania was long thought to be Wood’s directorial swan song ).
In The Young Marrieds, Ben (Louis Wolf) hangs out at a strip bar with his work buddy, watching the gals dance while lamenting the frigidity of his wife Ginny (Patti Kramer). After picking up a female hitchhiker in his beach buggy and stopping for a quick dalliance in the bushes, Ben returns home and complains to Ginny that “You don’t get all steamed up”. Ginny, sick of her husband spending his time ogling strippers, slowly starts to loosen herself up, taking her clothes off while the lights are still on (gasp!), baring herself for Ben’s camera, and finally agreeing to participate in a partner-swapping orgy. While Ginny is initially nervous at the prospect, it is the very homophobic Ben who ultimately finds himself being tested, protesting his wife’s tryst with another woman, only to be told that part of the rules of this orgy is that everything and everyone is to be shared with one another (“What’s the matter Ben, haven’t you ever sucked cock before?”). The film ends with a freeze-frame of Ben locking lips with another of the males at the party.
Easily the most explicit of Wood’s sex films, you can certainly see traces of the filmmaker’s unique personality and perspective shining through in the dialogue and, in particular, the overtly serious and portentous narration (‘The very head of trouble that Ben feared lifts itself through the gay veil and confronts him with its presence’). Wood almost appears to be going back to some of the ideas he worked with in Glen or Glenda here, confronting the spectre of prejudice and making a plea for understanding. In a moment of almost cinema verite, a cheaply-mounted framed picture unintentionally falls from the wall and onto the couch during the orgy sequence, and ingratiates its way into the action, clearly moving its position between cuts and being idly played with by the actors as they initiate foreplay.
Next up is Nympho Cycler (1971), in which poor Ed not only writes and directs (both uncredited) but also appears, playing basically himself, an alcohol-bloated middle-aged pornographer in lipstick and false eyelashes, cavorting with his onscreen wife Misty (the lovely Casey Larrain) in a hot tub, taking nude snapshots of her to sell, and hooking her out to all of his friends and associates. When Misty has enough, she takes off on her motorbike to broaden her horizons, getting abused, seduced or raped by a procession of grotty men and women, and seemingly enjoying all of it. Clearly the main interest here is getting the chance to see Wood in front of the camera, as sad a spectacle as it may be (it’s hard to relate what he had become to the almost matinee-star handsome young man of two decades earlier).
The final film on Ed Wood’s Dirty Movies is Shot on Location (1972). With writing and direction credited to John Donne, Wood’s involvement in this film is the subject of much debate and contention amongst his fans. While no claim is made that Wood actually directed Shot on Location, Dimitrios Otis, in his four pages of liner notes included with the DVD, outlines his reasons why he believes the movie had at least some kind of involvement from him (such as the name-dropping of Wood’s close friend, the infamous television psychic Criswell, and similarities in character names and dialogue with The Young Marrieds). Whether Wood was involved or not, Shot on Location is a rather fun title about the making of some strange nudie western film, and is worth watching for the cast alone, which includes real-life couple Ric Lutze and the legendary Rene Bond (both of whom starred in Necromania) and the lovely, late Sandy Demspey (billed here as Tiffany Stewart).
As expected, the quality of the prints of these three films is scratchy, faded, jumpy and washed-out, just as adult sinema from this era should be. The sex is clumsy yet psychologically and historically fascinating, though mostly unarousing, with dicks half-limp at best, and some girls who don’t look very keen at all with some of the acts which they are being asked to perform. Of the three films, only The Young Marrieds would really classify as hardcore, the others hard-R or soft-X at best. Perverts probably need not apply – they will be far better off elsewhere. This one is something to be enjoyed and examined by the Wood purists, and those with an historical interest in this particular period of adult filmmaking.
After Hour’s release of Ed Wood’s Dirty Movies also includes the original trailer for The Young Marrieds (courtesy of Rudolph Grey, whose definitive biography of Wood, Nightmare of Ecstasy, was published by Feral House in 1992). The disc also features trailers for other classic XXX scuzz such as Pleasure Palace, Punk Rock (“Explores the seamy underside of the New York rock scene”), The Love Couch and Teenage Twins.
- Trailer Vault
- Booklet/Liner Notes by Dimitrios Otis
Available on DVD.
Despite producing only six feature films (and a handful of shorts) over the course of his long career, Jacques Tati is one of the most famous and influential French directors and actors of all time. This is particularly impressive given how relentlessly unusual his work was at the time, and remains today.
Oh yeah, all my Christmases have just come at once – four W.I.P. Roger Corman productions in one box! Break out the cold spoons honey I’m gonna need ‘em. Corman takes the tried and true formula of the innocent gal sent to priz and amps up the violence, nudity, stupidity and fun with these drive in classics. With groovy 70s chicks, bamboo cages, tiny outfits, lots of Asian extras who seem to be doing their best to keep a straight face, mud wrasslin’, sadistic prison guards, food fights, sexual perversions and wonderful hair he really couldn’t go wrong…
BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971) Continue reading
*02/04/2016. At time of writing this was the complete set. Please see comment section for more info on further releases.
Finally a Region 4 complete Trailer Park Boys collection, well complete television series collection, the films are not featured in this set. But fear not we’re treated to the Christmas Special as well as 7 seasons (there are other sets claiming to be complete but only have 6 seasons).
For those of you who have not seen the series, it follows a recidivist name Julian, his inept (at everything but growing dope) friend Ricky and the kitty loving Bubbles. In season one a documentary crew records Julian’s transition back into society after serving 18 months in jail alongside his friend Ricky. The crew follows Julian back to the trailer park where he lives and for the next 6 seasons we meet the lovable, charismatic and very odd trailer park residents. From a drunk ex-cop turned trailer park supervisor, a wannabe rapper and his crew, skanky chicks, fat guys whose shirts don’t cover their bellies (or Randy, an ex-male prostitute, who never wears a shirt), there’s a whole heap of oddball characters here who shine as much as the main characters.
In the first episode of season one Julian says to the camera: “I’m going to lead a good, clean life, I’ve matured now. Things are going to be totally different”. Julian plans to stop hanging around with Ricky and wants to go back to school. As soon as he gets outside of the jail Ricky is there expecting a free ride home . When Julian gets back to the trailer park, despite proclaiming that he’s going to go to community college, it’s clear he can’t escape the park life without consequences imposed by trailer park supervisor Jim Lahey. Soon enough Julian and Ricky are back committing greasy crimes and at the end of every season (well nearly) the pair end up back in jail.
Over seven seasons we see many scams and get rich quick plans go awry, these include ventures such as: stealing meat from supermarkets, parking meter picking, starring in pornos, opening illegal bars and massage parlours in the park, producing rap albums and throwing rap concerts, selling dope, growing dope and smuggling drugs across the Canadian border into the US (for Sebastian Bach) via a toy train – not just any train though, Patrick Swayze’s train “the Swayze Express”. For those who don’t find crime, cursing and drug comedy amusing then stay well away from this one.
Loaded with obscure Canadian references (you’ll have to Google a few of them), filled with “oh my god I know someone who did that” or “I know someone like that” moments, the show is a riot plain and simple. It’s not highbrow, it’s silly and the characters are utterly ridiculous but so charming and lovable. Apart from a few stupid plots (Conky was just too much) the show was pretty good at keeping the characters real and their environment as well. The creators even ended up building their own trailer park as they often had trouble shooting the show in real parks due to the swearing and constant gun firing.
A remarkable show that kept this viewer glued til the end. I’ll admit I didn’t like the first movie as it was too high concept and lacked the visual qualities that made the show so great. The movie was too polished and slick not rough like the show. Anyway, TPB is a Canadian gem that is simply a must own TV series, you’ll never get enough.
This set has an edge over the R2 release which only contains seasons 1-6 and doesn’t have the Christmas special either. It also retails for $85NZ which is a steal compared to the R1 version which costs $115 US dollars.
The box-set looks awesome, the discs come housed in two separate fold out cardboard sleeves with full colour artwork. My only complaint is that the plastic holders that the discs click into are a bit flimsy and at first were pretty hard to get around. Apart from this, an exceptional release that is a must have for Trailer Park Boys fans.
Not only do you get 1555 minutes worth of episodes there’s also loads of extras:
SEASONS ONE AND TWO
Disc One includes: Alternate Openings, 5 Lost Interviews, 3 deleted scenes and 4 Alternate takes.
Disc Two: 4 Lost Interviews, 5 deleted scenes, 7 Alternate takes and “Cartboy” – a 9 minute short film about Bubbles and his carts.
Disc Three: Bubbles Interview (47 seconds), 2 Deleted scenes and 2 Alternate takes. “Fuck Ups Montage” (10 mins) – 10 minutes worth of the cast corpsing and making errors. “Ricky Wipes Out Montage” – a minutes clips of Ricky falling over. “Mike Clattenburg Directs” – A two minute clip of Mike Clattenburg directing the actors. He also dresses up as Bubbles and does a scene with Julian which is incredibly funny. “Walkie Talkie” – A seven minute clip of footage with walkie talkies.
Disc One: 5 “Lost Content” clips, 4 deleted scenes (including Microphone Assassin outtakes), and 6 alternate takes.
Disc Two: 6 deleted scenes, 7 alternate takes and 4 “Lost Content” clips including a fuck up reel and a clip of Brian from Helix.
Disc One: 3 deleted scenes, 7 alternate takes and 6 “Lost Content” clips including: a bottle attack montage and another montage of characters breaking the 4th wall.
Disc Two: 3 deleted scenes, 2 alternate takes and 5 “Lost Content” clips including: “ Trailer Park Life” – 31 minutes of interviews with cast and crew, “Directing is Easy” – 10 minutes of cast and crew talking about Clattenburg‘s directing habits, a 2 minute clip of “Rickyisms” and a 7 minute “fuck up reel”.
Disc One: 6 deleted scenes, 5 extended takes, 5 lost interviews, 6 alternate takes, and 18 minutes of bloopers and gags.
Disc Two: 4 deleted scenes, 4 extended takes, 5 lost interviews, 8 alternate takes and “A Park of Our Own”, a featurette which runs for 15 minutes and is about how the TPB crew actually created their own trailer park so they had more freedom with their shoots.
Disc One: Behind the Scenes on “Don’t Cry Over Spilt Piss Jugs” which runs for 15 minutes. There’s also 10 alternate takes and 6 deleted scenes.
Disc Two: 7 lost interviews, 2 extended takes, and a feature called “Trailer Park Boys Fun” which runs for 10 minutes and consists of interviews.
Disc One: a 43 second montage of crew members sleeping called “in-between takes”, a 1.37 minute clip called “stunts”, “Weed Hunt” a 3 minute clip about the weed they use for the show, “casting” a one minute clip about casting, a 1 minute interview “Mike O’Neil” clip (he plays Thomas), and two 1 minute clip with an animal wrangler.
Disc Two: An interview with Sebastian Bach, “Car Dump” a 3 minute clip of some car damage, and “Crew Moments” a 6 minute feature with members of the crew playing around.
3 deleted scenes, 8 alternate takes, 3 extended takes, a 1.31 minute gag reel, and a 16 minute feature called “From Shit Flurries to Shit Blizzards” which includes footage and interviews.
A nice selection or worthwhile extras that will keep you entertained for hours.
Available as a 14 disc box-set on DVD from Magna Home Entertainment.
The ‘Video Nasty’ furore in Great Britain in the 80s was perhaps the ultimate argument that any publicity really isn’t necessarily good publicity. When an attempt by Go Video to build interest in the UK release of Cannibal Holocaust included a faked letter of outrage to moral crusader Mary Whitehouse, things massively backfired and a tabloid furore was whipped up that resulted in the wholesale banning of a whole range of titles including, most famously, Evil Dead – which at the time was top of the national video sales chart.
Since the BBFC at the time had no classification process for home video, a rush of lurid titles had hit the market. Seizing on this, the British tabloid press – never a group collectively likely to shirk the possibility of a good scandal – sprang a succession of provocative headlines and public pressure led to the banning of 39 films. These titles would remain banned in Britain until the mid-1990s, with most being passed by the BBFC upon their various DVD releases in the early 2000s.
And so to Umbrella Entertainment’s three-film collection entitled simply, Video Nasties. As it turns out, the title is something of a misnomer as in fact only one of the three movies on board (Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left) was ever actually on the Video Nasty list. Somehow, such a transparent marketing pitch seems oddly in keeping with the history of misunderstandings of the whole saga that led to things like Tobe Hooper’s tame The Funhouse getting the ban when the real target was rumoured to be Last House on Dead End Street, which had bootlegs under the title The Funhouse.
So what we actually get on this DVD set are Last House on the Left, Maniac and Basket Case.
Basket Case (1982) is the brainchild of writer/director Frank Henenlotter and tells the tale of Duane Bradley, who carries his deformed twin brother Belial around in, well, a basket. The pair were Siamese twins and now seek vengeance on the trio of doctors who separated them.
A schlocky premise, to be sure, but Henenlotter shows personality and originality to transcend the film’s tiny budget. Kevin Van Hentenryck is charming as the naive Duane (despite his frightening 80s perm-mullet), securing audience sympathy right off the bat and when his loyalties begin being torn between his murderous brother and his burgeoning romance with local girl Sharon (Terri Susan Smith), Henenlotter keeps the character orientation centremost. This gives the film a weight and strength often missing from films of its ilk. Basket Case is definitely an underappreciated gem.
Last House on the Left is well-known in genre circles for both its gritty realism and the fact it is the debut of Wes (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream) Craven. It is based on Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring as two girls out on the town fall into the clutches of a marauding gang of thugs, who take them to the woods and murder them before ending up staying at the house of one of the girls. There, the well-to-do parents discover who is under their roof and decide to take bloody vengeance.
There are many problems with Last House on the Left as a film. It is poorly constructed – the flick never matches the emotional gut-punch of the murders that occur halfway through the piece – it contains ill-advised attempts at comedic relief that come off as tasteless in the face of the grim violence and it also has a poorly-fitting soundtrack (written and performed by David Hess, who plays main villain Krug) that awkwardly juxtaposes jaunty music over dark visuals, the exception to which is the surprisingly haunting balled “The Road Leads To Nowhere”. The latter song also crops up in a tip-of-the-hat in 2003’s Cabin Fever.
Despite these flaws, the documentary-style filming and some surprisingly strong acting means the film still packs a hell of a punch. Whilst it is certainly not a good movie, the anger and power of it remains undimmed even after more than three decades.
The extras are interesting, with the cast and crew viewing the film mostly with embarrassment (such as an almost apologetic Craven on the commentary track) and some with pride (most notably Hess, and rightly so) while critically neither of the lead girls appear anywhere in the interviews or commentaries while Fred Lincoln (who plays flick-knife wielding thug ‘Weasel’) decries the film as “a piece of shit” and “the only thing in my career I’m embarrassed about.” The latter is especially pointed given that Lincoln is a prolific porn actor and director with over 250 credits to his name.
Maniac shares with Last House on the Left some lofty goals. It is an intense character portrait of a mother-obsessed sociopath and we witness him struggling with his own demons as he kills (and scalps) women across the city. Perhaps intended as an evil twin of Taxi Driver, the anti-hero of Frank Zito (played with single-minded dedication by Joe Spinell) is simply harrowing to be with. He is a twisted loser, and perhaps engenders some pity but mostly only disgust. In turn, Maniac is a seedy, difficult viewing.
There is a lot of skill involved in the making, however. As well as Spinell’s anchoring performance there is some quality gore work by Tom Savini (most notably a graphic shotgun-to-the-head blast where the recipient is played by Savini himself) and excellent direction from William Lustig, who would go on to helm the underrated Maniac Cop series. One expert sequence of a woman being stalked through a public toilet would later be homaged in Alexandre Aja’s Haute Tension (2005).
Again, the extras are absorbing, with Spinell clearly passionate about the material. He saw this as a potential award-winning effort, the kind of performance to break him into the big time. Instead, the nasty tone of the piece saw it buried in controversy (a lot centred around its iconic poster showing a man holding a severed female head while wearing jeans tight enough to reveal his erection from the act) and consigned Spinell to playing a succession of minor Italian gangster roles for the remainder of his career.
The Video Nasties package, then, may sport only one genuinely good film in the shape of the modest Basket Case, but it is always interesting, with all three films having significant artistic credibility. Disappointingly, the transfers on all three are sub-par, although this is partially down to the low budget of the original prints. Fortunately, solid extras on all three films more than make up for this.
The mixed bag of quality and nasty tone of two of the movies means this is not one for the casual viewer but for horror fans, all three are essential viewing.
- Audio commentaries
- Interview featurettes
- Scoring Last House featurette
- Image Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
- More gore
- The Joe Spinell story
- TV spots/poster gallery
- In Search of the Hotel Broslin
- Outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage
Available on R4 DVD from Umbrella Entertainment.