Miracle Mile - Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl and boy make a date, boy oversleeps and misses date, boy intercepts a phone call saying nuclear war has begun...boy needs to find girl again and possibly escape the city before everybody dies, if in fact the phone call is for real.
Full of specific locations to the eponymous midtown L.A. neighborhood, this is a cult classic from the late '80s starring Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham, little-seen and (as I recall) indifferently reviewed at the time, but well-liked by most people who've come across it since on video or cable. There's a reason nuclear war films tend to do better on TV - nobody wants to pay good money for a movie with the inevitable downer of an ending such stories eventually have, and if viewers feel baited-and-switched, thinking they've come to see a romantic comedy (which this sort-of is too), they might rebel. Now, though, it's a period piece that still packs power but can be placed at more of a remove to be enjoyed for what it is.
Blu-ray features include two new commentaries, an Edwards-Winningham reunion featurette, an alternate ending, deleted scenes, outtakes, bloopers and a reunion of many of the movie's secondary characters, including Denise Crosby, Kurt Fuller and Brian Thompson. Highly recommended. In fact, since the last time I saw it was before living in L.A., I very much need to see it again myself.More >>
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Ask most science-fiction fans to list their favorite genre movies of 1985 and they'll name Back to the Future, Brazil, Cocoon and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Ask me and you'll hear the same list, plus one extra title... Starchaser: The Legend of Orin. I first saw the film theatrically when it premiered on over a thousand screens in the fall of '85, and its cutting-edge mix of traditional and computer animation blew me away. Here was an original, independently produced space opera, filled with dazzling 3D imagery and an adult storyline! What a pity, then, that Starchaser never found an audience. As its 30th anniversary approaches, I spoke with the film's director/producer, Steven Hahn, and its screenwriter, Jeffrey Scott, about the challenges of bringing this groundbreaking 3D adventure to movie screens.
Burying the Ex is a fun movie from Gremlins director Joe Dante in which cinephile Anton Yelchin tries to break up with his obnoxiously vegan girlfriend Ashley Greene, only to have her die suddenly and brutally. While he soon finds a new kindred spirit in ice-cream vendor Alexandra Daddario, the ex does not die easily, and comes back as a love-obsessed zombie who isn't letting her man go without a fight. Yes, Dick Miller gets his cameo.
I have a prize package of the movie on Blu-ray, along with a poster signed by director Dante and stars Yelchin (a.k.a. Chekov in NuTrek) and Daddario (who also played the Rock's daughter in San Andreas). Let's close this one in a week, on July 28th at noon - and in comments below, tell me a story about your craziest ex and how you broke up with him/her/hir. [story need not be 100% true.] My favorite will win.
Sorry, prizes ship to North American addresses only. So if you want to enter outside the country, please find somebody in America who'll receive the prize for you.
Scooby-Doo and KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery - Considering how awful an idea this sounds, it had no right to come out as passably entertaining as it does. The Mystery Inc. gang show up to a KISS theme park that the real Gene Simmons presumably still dreams about, in search of an evil witch who looks like a cross between Big Barda and Elektra. Unlike in most Scooby stories, reality gets jettisoned at a certain point, as KISS display super powers and ultimately travel to another dimension - one equally inspired by Heavy Metal and Jack Kirby comics, complete with a Galactus/MODOK monster voiced by Darius "Hootie" Rucker.
Replete with ironic/not-ironic jokes about excessive KISS merchandise, and a stereotypical Jewish manager who resembles Transformers producer Don Murphy, the story sometimes appears cynical, but gains ground in smaller moments, as when KISS secretly cameo as the ultra-lame doo-wop band "Ascot 5," favored by team leader Fred.
Blu-ray extras include two vintage Scooby cartoons, a fake gag reel involving KISS in full makeup, and a brief short in which all the special guest stars - including Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and Pauley Perrette - declare whether they'd be Scooby or Shaggy.More >>
Clint Howard abides. He's spent his whole career, which in his case means his whole life, in the shadow of his more famous brother Ron Howard. He's been derided at times as the Roger Clinton of the Howard clan by nitwits who don't notice that he's had every bit as busy a showbiz career as Ron, even if you remove the numerous credits he gained working for Ron.
But discerning fans, otherwise known as nerds, recognize that Clint Howard is a character-acting treasure. Back in 2011, TR writer Brian Heiler listed his picks for "The 10 Greatest Nerd Roles of Clint Howard," which included such essentials as his turns on Fringe and in Rock n' Roll High School, or in the teen shocker Evilspeak, or, of course, as Balok in the original Star Trek's "The Corbomite Maneuver." But we've decided that a sequel list of cool Clint credits is warranted, just because, well, Clint Howard.More >>
Robot Jox - Decades before Pacific Rim, Robot Jox imagined a world where nations built giant effin' robots, and used them to fight...not monsters, but a surrogate Cold War for control of disputed territories. Uncharacteristically directed by Re-animator's Stuart Gordon, the movie does clever things with elaborate miniatures. However, being ultimately a low-budget film, it rations out the robo-action to the point that most of the good bits are in the trailer already. The rest involves champion robo-jock Gary Graham deciding to quit the games following a nasty accident rather than defeat his Soviet foe, only to come back when a younger female pilot has to take his place in the rematch. It's fairly by-the-numbers stuff in white rooms with futuristic jumpsuits.
The new Blu-ray features a slightly grainy transfer, and commentaries by both Stuart Gordon and the effects team. Worth watching once, but only worth the own for completists of giant robot movies. Blink and you'll miss young Jeffrey Combs in a small role.More >>
Full disclosure: I've known this filmmaker, Spooky Dan, a little while - like me, he's had a foot in the world of entertainment journalism and indie horror. But I think we can all agree that whether I knew him or not, I'd be talking about the first live-action Christmas demon Krampus to show schlong. Part of the Krampus mythology is that he has quite the libido, and, says Dan,
when we designed the beast, we knew we had to go all Magic Mike on you and show him in his full glory. When I asked makeup FX artist Vincent Guastini and his team to make Krampus animalistic and sexy ...and to add a Krampus dick, he delivered... OH BOY he delivered. On the first day that Krampus walked onto the set, everyone on the crew was staring at the towering beast which stood over 7.5 feet tall from feet to horns. But no one could help but notice his impressive manhood. Thankfully, he does wear a loin cloth through most of the film. Running around without one would have been quite ... distracting. The big question remains though, should he be circumcised or not?See the uncut pic on Dan's blog if you dare, and if you want to help crowdfund the movie, you can win perks like Barry Bostwick's underwear.
The trailer is below.More >>
Ghosthouse/Witchery - released in Italy as the third and fourth installment of the Evil Dead series for marketing reasons (House II and The Horror Show were also released as part of the alleged same franchise), these two movies have little in common beyond the loose premise of victims in a house. In Ghosthouse, a haunted clown doll is the primary evil, while Witchery pits David Hasselhoff against the wrath of an evil witch. I pity the hag.
The Fisher King (The Criterion Collection) - Terry Gilliam gained popular acclaim with his dark hybrids of fantasy and satire, but he had to do a movie explicitly clarifying the fantasy elements as schizophrenic hallucination in a realistic universe before he would be taken ultra-seriously - and win an Oscar for one of his cast members, Mercedes Ruehl. Jeff Bridges plays a Howard Stern-ish shock jock who quits after inadvertently inspiring a crazed listener to kill; Robin Williams is a seemingly crazy man in search of the Holy Grail who somehow persuades Bridges' character to come along for the ride. You could call it a brilliant deconstruction of both Williams' and Gilliam's usual shtick as childish delusions that are actually dangerous, or you could see it as making both a lot less fun. It's fascinating regardless.
The Criterion edition includes new interviews with Gilliam; producer Lynda Obst; screenwriter Richard La Gravenese; and actors Jeff Bridges, Amanda Plummer, and Mercedes Ruehl, as well as a newly shown interview with Williams and Criterion-exclusive commentary by Gilliam. Deleted scenes with optional commentary are also included, as are new featurettes on Bridges, all the trailers, and much more.More >>
Spirited Away - Simply put, one of the greatest movies of all time, and if you don't own some form of it, your life thus far has been lacking. There's just nothing quite like this animated tale of a young girl who is put to work at a bath house for elemental spirits in order to undo the curse that has turned her parents into pigs from eating too much magic food. Spider-limbed engineers, giant-headed witches, river dragons, overfed faceless blobs and tiny soot sprites are among the many creatures that play key roles in what I consider to be Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece. If you ever loved books like the original Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio growing up, this is a story that will immerse you just as they did.
I actually persuaded my mother to see this and she liked it. And fantasy is not her thing AT ALL. The Blu-ray includes many of the DVD special features, and most notably an option to replace the film's visuals entirely with the original Japanese storyboards.More >>