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    Transformers: Dark of the Moon

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on September 27th, 2011

    In the wake of the financially successful but critically drubbed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Michael Bay and company return to the fray with this considerably more coherent exercise. Given that this movie committed to advancing the cause of 3D like no other film since Avatar, the question arises as to how well its visual splendour and over-the-top technological extravagance will translate to home video. The answer is: pretty damn well.
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    The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 20th, 2011

    The grindhouses may be long gone, but their memory lingers on, thanks to releases like this one, which, being released in 1993, is from the twilight years of theatrical exploitation, and thus more accurately from the second, virtual life the grindhouse aesthetic found on home video. This is the life of Jeffrey Dahmer, narrated in retrospect by the serial killer (screenwriter Carl Crew). Dahmer recounts his obsessions and growing need to kill, and a fair bit of the film’s running time consists of Dahmer hooking up with young men and murdering them.
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    Things

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 13th, 2011

    This is normally where I would summarize the plot of the film. I could tell you that this is the story of three friends in a woodland cabin who must fight monsters spawned by the wife of one of them. But that would be misleading. What the story is really about is two, sometimes three, guys sitting around and drinking beer. Later they switch to whiskey. And then there’s this one dude who puts a cockroach in the other dude’s sandwich…
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    Billy Two Hats

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 8th, 2011

    Gregory Peck is an aging Scottish outlaw, and Desi Arnaz Jr is his “breed” (as Jack Warden’s racist sheriff refers to him) partner. Warden captures Arnaz, but Peck, who could have been free and clear with all the stolen money, rescues him, much to Warden’s puzzlement. Peck is wounded in the getaway, however, and as the two friends are pursued by the law across a barren landscape (with Israel playing the role of the American West), the younger, less-experienced man must take on the responsibility of saving both their lives.
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    Nightmares

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 4th, 2011

    Having accidentally caused the death of her mother, Helen (Jenny Neumann) develops an unhealthy fixation with broken glass. Now an adult and an aspiring actress, she auditions for a role in an absurdist play. She gets the part, and also the attention of her handsome co-star. But then someone starts killing off the cast and crew of the play. Is it Helen?


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    Bloody Birthday

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 1st, 2011

    Three children are born at the moment of a total solar eclipse. On the even of their tenth birthday party, we discover that these kids, for astrological reasons, are complete sociopaths, and are having a merry time offing anyone in the community who even vaguely annoys them. The only ones who even gradually suspect that something is going on are high school senior Joyce (Lori Lethen) and her little brother Timmy (K. C. Martel). They soon become the target of the psycho kids’ wrath.
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    The Baby

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 30th, 2011

    Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) is a social worker with a new case, one that she specifically sought. She has been assigned to the Wadsworth family. It consists of a terrifying matriarch (Ruth Roman), sexpot daughters Germaine (Marianna Hill) and Alba (Suzanne Zenor), and Baby (David Mooney, credited as David Manzy), a grown man with, apparently, the mental development of an infant. But Ann suspects Baby is capable of more, and that there is something fundamentally wrong going on at the Wadsworth residence. The Wadsworths, meanwhile, do not take kindly to Ann’s prying, and will stop at nothing to preserve their way of life.
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    BloodRayne: The Third Reich

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 28th, 2011

    The third BloodRayne film (and second with Nastassia Malthe in the title role) sees the titular dhampir slicing up Nazis, and so the chronology of the third film rejoins that of the first game. During a raid on a death camp train, Rayne accidentally infects a Commandant Michael Paré. Becoming a dhampir himself (a human/vampire hybrid), he and Mengele-figure Clint Howard (because who else are you going to cast as a Nazi scientist other than Clint Howard?) plan to use Rayne’s blood to grant Hitler immortality.
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    My Own Love Song

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 26th, 2011

    Renée Zellweger is Jane, a former country singer who has lost the will to live since an accident left her in a wheelchair. Forest Whitaker is Joey, who can talk to angels and ghosts since he witnessed the death by fire of his family. These two wounded souls bond and bicker, and when Joey finds a letter from Jane’s son, whom she gave up for adoption years ago, he decides that she must see him.
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    Rango

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 25th, 2011

    Rango (Johnny Depp) is a chameleon with an enormous imagination. In his terrarium, he has developed a social network with inanimate objects that would be the envy of Castaway’s Tom Hanks. He essentially lives inside his head, but then reality (perhaps – the film maintains a certain ambiguity here) suddenly intervenes and he finds himself cast from his safe, hermetic world. Marooned in the desert, he arrives in the town of Dirt, where his inclination for the dramatic has him claiming to be a sharp-shooting, quick-drawing hero.
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    Daughters of Satan

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 22nd, 2011

    MGM’s Limited Edition Collection heads into enjoyable but far-from-classic territory with this goofy horror tale. Tom Selleck is an art historian living in the Philippines with his in-therapy wife (Barra Grant). He buys a painting (supposed to be centuries old, but looking for all the world as if it were commissioned for a motel) that depicts witches being burned, and the central witch bears an uncanny resemblance to Grant. Then the weirdness begins.
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    William & Kate

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 19th, 2011

    This is a biopic about two very obscure people whose relationship has escaped the attention of all but a select few. All kidding aside, what we have here is a dramatization of how the heir to the British throne (Nico Evers-Swindell) meets Kate Middleton (Camilla Luddington), and how their romance gradually blossoms. He arrives at university, and every blue-blooded young woman has him in her sights, but it is, naturally, the down-to-earth girl who draws him, the turning point being when she shows that she’s sexy as well as smart during a student fashion show.
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    Trailers from Hell! Volume Two

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 13th, 2011

    Courtesy of the website of the same name (check it out at http://trailersfromhell.com/index.php) comes this collection of trailers of horror, SF and exploitation films. The collection is eclectic, following no particular theme (though there are several Hammer films present), and the era covered ranges from 1941 (The Invisible Ghost with Bela Lugosi) to 1998 (Trauma’s Terror Firmer). Present are the likes of The Devil-Ship Pirates, Gorgo, Donovan’s Brain, Deep Red, Flesh Gordon, and so on. Twenty altogether.
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    Death at a Funeral (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 11th, 2011

    The setting is a comfortably large house in the English countryside. Kin and friends have gathered for the funeral of the family patriarch bringing with them their foibles, eccentricities, and disasters waiting to happen. At the centre are the two brothers, Daniel and Troy (Matthew MacFayden and Rupert Graves). The former struggles under the shadow of his famous brother’s success as a writer, his plight encapsulated by the fact that everyone in attendance is disappointed that Troy will not be giving the eulogy. But his problems are about to become much, much greater, as the funeral descends into a chaos of unwelcome revelations, blackmail, drug freak-outs.
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    Heaven & Hell: Radio City Music Hall — Live! (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 7th, 2011

    A good friend of mine and I have had long-standing difference of opinion about Black Sabbath. He has no interest in anything post-Ozzy. I continued to buy Sabbath albums though all the band’s different incarnations, and while some releases did, I confess, require a greater degree of loyalty than others, the Ronnie James Dio studio albums (Heaven & Hell, Mob Rules, Dehumanizer) have always been favorites of mine.
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    New York, New York (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 6th, 2011

    World War II has just ended, and the recently discharged Robert De Niro hits New York on the prowl for sex. He runs up against WAC Liza Minnelli, and the more she resists his advances, the more determined he becomes. There is more: he is a saxophonist, and she (of course) is a singer). So begins a tempestuous relationship between two artists whose enormous talents and equally enormous personalities mean they can neither live with nor without each other.
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    Original Sin (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on June 24th, 2011

    The second version of Cornell Woolrich’s novel “Waltz Into Darkness” (previously filmed as François Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid), this is a decidedly steamier version, especially here, in its unrated form.

    Cuban plantation owner Antonio Banderas advertises for a wife, and the woman who answers his ad is, he believes, plain but pure. Who shows up, however, is the beautiful but duplicitous Angelina Jolie, who has larceny rather than matrimony on her mind. Her scam runs smoothly at first … but she hasn’t counted on the depth of Banderas’ obsession with her.
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    Sexy Pirates

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on June 13th, 2011

    When the ambassador husband of Lady Elena Hamilton (Anita Rinaldi) is kidnapped by pirates, and she receives no help from the authorities, she decides to rescue him herself. To this end, she recruits the roguish Captain Thomas Butler (Carlo De Palma), and together they put together an eccentric band of misfits for the mission.
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    Transgression

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on June 13th, 2011

    Pierfancesco Campanella (who also wrote the film) stars as a university psych grad student working on his doctorate. He embarks on some radical research by shooting up, and the next thing we know, he’s killing his mother by depriving her of drugs, poking a baby with a needle, and generally behaving rather badly. He winds up at a rich man’s residence, hooks up with his spoiled daughter, and the two embark on a picaresque journey of debauchery and murder.
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    The Real Cannibal Holocaust

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on June 13th, 2011

    Sigh. Another day, another misleading title. Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. This is NOT a sequel to Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust. It isn’t even an imitator. It isn’t even fiction (at least, it isn’t meant to be). It’s original title is “Nuova Guinea, l’isola dei cannibali” (“New Guinea: Island of Cannibals”), and it’s a 1974 mondo movie, purporting to feature footage shot for the benefit of Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her visit to the island, so she would have a better idea of the culture she was encountering. Whatever. In any event, this is a film made five years prior to the movie its title suggests it is following, and doesn’t actually have any cannibals, as such, in it.
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    Betty Blue (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on June 13th, 2011

    Jean-Hugues Anglade plays Zorg (yup, that’s his name), a handyman living in a beach-front house, scribbling away quietly in his spare time. Not so quiet is his tempestuous affair with Betty (Béatrice Dalle in her debut), whose passions overwhelm both of them. First, she moves in on him with no warning. Then, when she discovers his writing, she decides they must move to Paris so he can have a career as a writer. To make sure Zorg complies, she burns his house to the ground. Once in Paris, her plans for him fall apart, and so, bit by bit, does she.
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    Sledgehammer

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on June 6th, 2011

    A mother locks her child in a closet so she can have an uninterrupted tryst with her lover. But the couple is rudely interrupted after all, as they are bludgeoned to death. Ten years later, a group of friends arrive at the deserted house to party down. After doing so for a fair bit of running time, they then fall prey to a hulking masked maniac, who not only has the titular hammer, but also has all sorts of supernatural powers.
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    Fernando Di Leo — The Italian Crime Collection

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on June 6th, 2011

    Looking for a something a bit different for you gangster flick fix? Then look no further than this box set of gritty, thematically linked Italian crime pictures from director Fernando Di Leo. Things don’t get much more delightfully 70s than this.
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    Manchurian Candidate (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on May 19th, 2011

    During the Korean War, a platoon led by Laurence Harvey and Frank Sinatra is captured and sent off to Manchuria. Here the men are brainwashed into believing that Harvey saved them all in an incredible feat of heroism (which he did not) and that he’s a loveable guy (which he isn’t).The unfortunate Harvey is programmed to become a remote-control assassin. Back in the States, Sinatra is plagued by nightmare memories of the experience, and gradually comes to believe that something … really did happen.
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    The Clowns

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on May 17th, 2011

    Clowns have been a recurring obsession for Fellini, by the director’s own admission, and after having been memorable presences in his films (perhaps most notably in La Strada), here they have an entire film devoted to them. Fellini here offers a mixture of biography, documentary and comedy. The film opens with a young boy (meant to be Fellini) first encountering (and being frightened by) clowns at the circus.
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