Blu-ray Today: German Pube-Monsters, Underground Dinosaurs and Liam Neeson

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 6:30 am

Wetlands - You may remember this one as "the German microscopic pube-monster movie," though that's just the tip of the yellow snow cone in this coming-of-age tale about a girl with hemmorhoids and a defiant anti-sense of personal hygiene. But for all the talk of vaginal odors, shit, ejaculate, bloody tampons and anal fissures, it's a surprisingly sweet tale underneath, all about a girl who just wants her parents to get back together and acts out in the hope of getting their attention. Sex in real life is a lot messier - literally - than the movies usually show, but here we get little held back in terms of the less savory moments, and ultimately a more realistic portrayal of how most of us are varying degrees of fucked-up when it comes to that kind of intimacy.

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray doesn't feature many extras - if you were looking for a "Creation of a Pube-Monster" featurette, keep looking.

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Before Jurassic World, Here Comes Jurassic City

Friday, January 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm


Stone Ages? Is that like Internets?

It's not even the Asylum this time. It's distributed by Vertical Entertainment, who look like they spent maybe $100 more than the Asylum would, and - full disclosure - directed by Sean Cain, a friend of mine whom I've worked with in the past. Still, if you can watch the trailer and tell me I wouldn't have shared it anyway, I'm pretty sure you won't be doing so with a straight face.

Despite the mega-Rex over a cityscape on the poster, it looks like the focus here will be more on raptors in a prison, facing off against the likes of Ray Wise, Kevin Gage and Vernon Wells, all of whom are considerably less pretty than Chris Pratt, but in my experience, just as sarcastic.

The movie hits DVD Feb. 3rd.

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Ed Wood's Plan 9 Remade as a "Serious" Zombie Movie?

Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 8:00 am


This seems like only slightly less bad an idea than trying to redo The Room as an actual romantic drama (pro tip if you try it - Paulette has to actually die from breast cancer). Yes, Edward D. Wood Jr. was trying to make a film about alien grave robbers making the recently deceased rise from their graves, but the real heart of the movie was his entirely wrongheaded parable for nuclear war in the form of "Solaranite" - a space super-weapon that can make sunlight itself explode. Just trying to do the zombie part feels like a cash-in missing the point - and if the goal is to be more serious, casting a Tor Johnson lookalike doesn't really work.

Then again, maybe this trailer is just hiding the best parts; the poster seems to promise flying saucers, after all. See for yourself.

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Blu-ray Today: Daniel Radcliffe Gets Horny, as Nicolas Cage and Ayn Rand Nosedive

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 8:00 am

Horns - Audiences didn't seem to quite know what to make of Alexandre Aja's detour from pure horror into blackly comic fantasy. Promoted as a scary movie, this Joe Hill adaptation features more laughs than thrills, and most of that strikes me as intentional rather than a misstep. Daniel Radcliffe plays a small-town burnout suspected of killing his girlfriend; already demonized by most of the locals, he becomes literally so when he one day starts growing horns. Along with the new protrusions comes a weird kind of power that forces anyone around him to confess their worst thoughts and secrets - a power he has to learn to use to his advantage if he is to find the real killer. Assuming there is a "real" killer that isn't him. And yes, fanfic readers, you get your Harry Potter sex scene.

Sadly, there aren't many extras on the disc - in their stead, I recommend you watch my video interviews with both director Aja and writer Hill.

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Blu-ray Today: Kevin Smith, Troma and Riki-Oh

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 6:30 am

Tusk - If only Kevin Smith had taken his premise a little bit more seriously, Tusk could have been the movie that would redefine him as more than just the fat guy who makes comic-book and penis jokes; a piece of body horror - about transformation into a walrus - that also feels like revenge-porn against all smug podcasters. Unfortunately, while it shows moments of brilliance, Tusk never coheres because its own filmmaker fails to fully invest in his own premise, killing any horror atmosphere he might have generated with an absurd, unfunny, over-the-top performance by Johnny Depp as a Quebecois detective named after hockey player Guy LaPointe. You can practically envision the cartoon devil and angel on Smith's shoulders as he directed, giving their otherworldly two cents at every turn, and totally see the devil winning as the end credits roll audio of Smith's original podcast-spitballing, in which he laughs at how stupid his own idea is, and by extension how stupid an audience would be to emotionally invest in it.

The Blu-ray includes multiple featurettes, some deleted scenes, commentary by Smith and the full original podcast where he came up with the idea. Whatever else you can say about the man, he never shortchanges his fans.

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Top-Down Smackdown: Belatedly Watching the Ultimate Warrior Blu-ray

Monday, December 29, 2014 at 3:38 pm


The Ultimate Warrior, a.k.a. the man who legally changed his name to just "Warrior," comes out passionately swinging at the beginning of his recent Blu-ray set, defiantly noting that for years, fans were told that there were no great Ultimate Warrior moments, and no good matches, but that the WWE archives tell "a far different story." Now, he assures us, we are going to get the record set straight.

Yet his particular opinion on what comprises the right story is as unusual as the man himself.

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Blu-ray Today: If You're out Buying Blu-rays Today, It May Be Too Late

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 8:00 am

Today is not a good day for Blu-ray releases, which is just as well, because walking into any store that actually sells them today is going to be a nightmare, and unless you're a die-hard fan of Otto Preminger films (not really our purview here, since he isn't playing Mr. Freeze in any of them), it isn't really worth it.

So this will probably be the shortest Blu-ray Today column ever. Because the only stuff worth releasing two days before Christmas should either be (a) an impulse-buy item nobody in a shoulder-to-shoulder Walmart crowd can resist; or (b) a set aimed only at hardcore fans who'll buy it whenever, whatever. Most of today's picks fall into the (b) category, and they all fall in the (c) category of "stuff I haven't seen, and maybe will someday, but there really isn't anything compelling me to do so any time soon"

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The 12 Messed-Up Days of Christmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 6:00 am


Despite the assurances of Andy Williams to the contrary, this is not, for everyone, the most wonderful time of the year. The non-religious, or those of other religions, or strict interpreters of the First Amendment of any faith, may be offended by its feeling of overbearing Christianity. On the other hand, some Christians may be troubled by the even more overbearing consumerism and vulgarization of the holiday.

But even in its most secular form, Christmas can get on some people's last nerve. Even people who like Christmas most of the time can have a rough season or two. In short, for some people most of the time, and for most people some of the time, Christmas can suck. Fortunately (for some), pop culture affords plenty of Christmas entertainment options, ranging from the horrific to the merely snarky, even in these cases. Here, in honor of the Twelve Days of Christmas, are twelve of them. So, on the First Messed-up Day of Christmas, in addition to a stocking stuffed with heartache, anxiety and bitterness, my true love gave to me...

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10 Movie or TV Insults to North Korea You Could Watch Instead of The Interview

Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 6:00 am


In one of the stranger showbiz stories of recent years, it appears that the government of North Korea has been able to shut down a big-studio America movie release. Sony has decided to indefinitely shelve The Interview, previously slated to open December 25, because of emails from hackers implying that theaters showing the film might be the target of terrorist activity.

Thus Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's wacky comedy in the Hangover vein, about two numbskull TV entertainment journalists who are pressed into service to assassinate North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, could end up as a legendary inaccessible movie. It could take its place with the likes of The Day the Clown Cried by Jerry Lewis or The Other Side of the Wind by Orson Welles.

But if you resent the hack, there are still movie and TV choices you can make which mock Kim Jong-Un or his father Kim Jong-Il - two of the more easily mock-able world leaders, especially since the departure of George W. Bush - and/or reflect badly on their regime. Here are a few examples:

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Blu-ray Today: Cowboys vs. Ninjas

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Cowboy Bebop: The Complete Series - Whether or not you're an anime fan this is a must-have. Cowboy Bebop is the quintessential sci-fi action series of all-time. Seriously, Firefly wishes it was this good. Go ahead, fight me.

If you're unfamiliar with Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein then leave your house, right now, and go to Best Buy. If there ever was a series that transcends its genre, this is it. The opening theme and animation is rivaled only by ThunderCats, but this is no kids series. If you're looking for something with outstanding storytelling, action, style, and music that you can sit back and soak in over and over, with a glass of Johnny Blue or a rich glass of 2008 Barone Ricasoli then watch the series that challenged every convention of its time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - I'm obliged to include this because it exists. But you'd be better off with pretty much any version of the animated series, the films from the '90s or the 2007 CG TMNT.

Maze Runner - The smash hit YA series comes to the screen starring MTV's Teen Wolf's Dylan O'Brien to mixed reviews. Fans of the books seem to almost universally love the film, and O'Brien is good in everything he's in, so if you're looking for a teenage sci-fi love story, this is one of them. I think. I haven't seen it.

Batman: The Complete Series - There are many ways we like our Batman but none so much as bright and campy! As amazing as TAS, Gotham, Batman 1989, and The Dark Knight all are, none hold up to a pot-bellied Adam West and the greatest portrayals of his rouge's gallery ever put on screen. The only miss here is that the set doesn't come in a Shakespeare bust or red Bat Phone.

Lord Of Illusions (Collector's Edition) - One of the best of Clive Barker's string of '90s supernatural/horror films, stars Scott Bakula and is notable as Famke Janssen's first big screen appearance.

The Love Bug - Included here because it was my first film in a theater. And it's awesome. And I'm dating myself.