Blu-ray Today: Pee-wee! Snowpiercer! Vincent Price!


Pee-wee’s Playhouse – Before the late teens kicked in and I became pathologically unable to wake up before noon on weekends, Pee-wee Herman was the reason I was always up by 10 a.m. (and Ernest P. Worrell at 11) on Saturday. To this day I can still cite all the lyrics of the theme tune, name every member of the Playhouse gang, and vividly recall the day Paul Reubens essentially self-destructed, masturbating in a porn theater while sporting a hairstyle cribbed from Twin Peaks‘ killer Bob. As he had already stopped filming new episodes, it feels in hindsight like a deliberate move…though one that has been thankfully reversed over the years, as fans have forgiven and Reubens has re-embraced the role.

There aren’t any commentaries on the new Blu-ray set, but there are multiple featurettes, and they even got the now-ultra-serious Laurence Fishburne to come back and discuss his Cowboy Curtis days. Today’s secret word is…”BUY!” AAAAHHHHH! HAA-HAA! Heh heh heh.

Now, Pee-wee, make that goddamn Judd Apatow movie already.

The Vincent Price Collection II [House on Haunted Hill, The Return of the Fly, The Comedy of Terrors, The Raven, The Last Man on Earth, Tomb of Ligeia & Dr. Phibes Rises Again] – Seven new-to-Blu features starring the master of hammy horror, including four bonafide cult classics, two lesser sequels, and one (The Comedy of Terrors) I’m truly unfamiliar with, so feel free to flog me in comments if it’s something great. New commentaries by film historians are included on most of the discs, while a handful of pre-existing extras have been ported over, including a Roger Corman commentary on Ligeia, and Price intro/outro on Comedy of Terrors. At $70, that averages to $10 per movie, which is an okay deal but for only four discs seems a tiny bit high.

Snowpiercer – It’s hard to talk about this futuristic fantasy-allegory without spoiling things, though I’ve tried once before. Suffice it to say that in order to buy into this tale of a futuristic train containing the last humans on earth, a rigid class system, and carriages that generally behave like mini-TARDISes, it helps to ignore the opening minutes that tell you this is happening on our world, and accept that it’s going on in a parallel fantasy dimension. It also helps to be open to a sensibility that’s quite mean-spirited, and philosophically very different to western philosophies of the way things should be (I found it quite darkly amusing, but I know it will piss many viewers off big-time). Extras include a look at the French comic-book you probably haven’t read, and a commentary track featuring several geek bloggers who aren’t me.

See No Evil 2 – Twin directors Jen and Sylvia Soska are charming, attractive and very personable, but they’ve yet to really impress me with their filmmaking. Still, they do what they can with what was obviously a microscopic budget that only allows for a couple of really gory setpieces for slasher-killer Jacob Goodnight (WWE’s Kane). As in the original, there is no nudity despite scenes that seem to call for it, though the Soskas spice up things with doses of sick humor and their ever-present love of surgical tools. Shot mostly in one location (a morgue), this is a movie made mostly for fans of Kane to see him take his psychotic persona one step further – he makes a great Jason rip-off. I’m not sure it’s worth much to anybody who doesn’t care about wrestling at all, but fans will have some fun.

The Scribbler – Maybe the most under-the-radar comic-book movie of the year, this innovative fantasy sees a young girl (Katie Cassidy) with multiple personality disorder trying to come to grips with her condition in a decaying psychiatric facility. A new technique has been designed to erase her personalities one by one – but what if the one she thinks is real is just an illusion? And which one keeps writing all over her body, and the walls? Director John Suits uses similar comic-book techniques as Robert Rodriguez, but takes them in another direction, creating a colorful nightmare that at times appears to be rewriting itself. Definitely worth a look.

Wrong Turn 6 – As TR contributor Fred Topel has asked elsewhere: are they ever going to make a right turn?

The Purge: Anarchy – The day of lawlessness gets a wider perspective, in a sequel that takes to the streets of downtown L.A. and has Frank Grillo doing his best Punisher impersonation. An improvement over the first one, it has a more overtly political skew and still leaves you wanting more – I await the Purge movie that actually manages to be better than the touring immersive Halloween attractions, which had superior production values.

Earth to Echo – Didn’t see it, but I gather from this morning’s list that Greggory Basore is a fan.

Fireplace 4K – The ultimate motherfucking super-duper, high-definition, 90-minute loop of a roaring fireplace. Fool your one-eyed friends who have no depth perception! And if you ever have Nicolas Cage over for a guest, be sure to yell “HOW DIDN’T IT GET BURNED? HOW DIDN’T IT GET BURNED?”

Those are my top picks. What’s on your list?