Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.
Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles, and what follows are not necessarily reviews, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.
The Prisoner: The Complete Series (Blu-ray). I have been wanting to see this series for a long time. I remember watching episodes of it on PBS, but never got to see the entire run. Many times I had considered purchasing the DVD set, but it was always so expensive. It is now arriving on Blu-ray at a much more reasonable price (less than half of what the old DVD set was going for). The series stars Patrick McGoohan as Number Six. He is a former secret agent who is abducted and taken to an island, which serves as a very strange prison. His captors want information, he offers nothing and continually attempts escape. This series has been rumored to be turned into a feature in the future, with, I believe, Bryan Singer helming.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (also Blu-ray). Yes! More Battlestar! This has to be one of my favorite series. You know how it is when a favorite series goes away, you are always left wanting more. This film takes us all the way back to the beginning of the series and gives us the story through the eyes of the Cylons. I am looking forward to getting this new look at the conflict, not to mention more Battlestar!
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (also Blu-ray). Despite being a step up from the second film, I cannot throw my support behind this one, as it still feels like a franchise stretched past its expiration date.This time out our ragtag group of critters find some dinosaur eggs and embark on a journey into dinosaur country underneath the ice. The kids will like it, but will likely move on to something else rather quickly.
Monty Python: Almost the Truth (also Blu-ray). The troupe reunites for the first time in decades, taking to the screen alongside some of today's top comics. I hear it is very funny and I look forward to giving it a spin at some point.
Night of the Creeps (also Blu-ray). Have wanted to see this for years. It is finally arriving on DVD and Blu-ray. The 1986 horror film from director Fred Dekker has alien brain parasites turning victims into killers. The way I understand it, Slither owes a lot to this film, and I love Slither.
Stargate: 15th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray). How often does a television series outshine the movie that spawned it? I can only think of two examples: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stargate. Still, this movie is quite good and I think better of it now than I have in the past. I remember being very impressed with one of the DVD releases of this film, will they be able to impress me again on Blu-ray?
Nothing Like the Holidays (also Blu-ray). This is a great slice of life holiday film centering on a Puerto Rican family living in Chicago. The movie feels very genuine in its portrayal of family as everyone pulls together when issues arise. Some of it may be considered cliche, but the story is handled with skill and tact here.
Orphan (also Blu-ray). I loved this movie when I saw it on the big screen. It had a great build up, great characters, and was genuinely surprising. This is a film for which I had low expectations, expecting just another creepy kid movie. I was so glad to discover it was something much more than that. I look forward to revisiting it on Blu-ray.
Whatever Works (also Blu-ray). Rumor has it this Woody Allen film was written in the 1970s intended for Zero Mostel, but was shelved following Mostel's death. It has now been unearthed and repurposed for Larry David. The movie turns out to be quite funny and more in line with old school Woody than anything he has done in years. It is quite cynical and talky, but works perfectly for David.
42nd Street Forever 5: The Alamo Drafthouse Edition. Another collection of strange, weird, and bizarre trailers for movies none of you have ever seen. This set focuses on the collection found at Austin's Alamo Drafthouse theater, a theater I want to visit at some point in my life. If you want to see something weird, this is for you.
The Living Dead of Manchester Morgue (Blu-ray). This movie is also known as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. It begins with police chasing hippies accused of Manson-like murders. Unbeknownst to them, the true culprits are zombies! This has been on my horror "to see" list for awhile after neglecting to pick up the DVD release. Perhaps I should jump on this one.
The Asphyx. I have read that this early 1970s movie is rather talky and has more in line with Hammer films than with The Exorcist and what followed. It follows a man's search for immortality. He is intent on capturing his asphyx, an apparition that appears at the moment of death, but only shows on photo plates. Sounds good to me!
Night of Death This 1980 horror film is one I am not familiar with at all. I did read that is a good gore film. On top of that, the star is Isabelle Goguey. Can you think of a better name for a horror actress?
The Butcher. I recently viewed this film and it is either a brilliant piece of exploitative, bloody horror, or one of the biggest pieces of trash ever made. The film comes from South Korea and is the story of making a snuff film. It is shot first person on digital video and it will definitely get under your skin and cause a reaction.