Category Archives: DVDs

MVD Rewind Collection continues to release camp classics with relish

Since launching in December of 2017 with the Blu-ray release of D.O.A., MVD Rewind Collection has quickly established itself as one of the premiere labels in the home video market.
Already in release are Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God…Be Back by Five. This story about a pair of friends looking for a third childhood friend that they fear may be homeless and mentally ill was co-written, produced and stars ’80s icon Jon Cryer. The plot is loosely based off on a true story involving Cryer and a former classmate he heard was homeless.

Swamp Thing sprouted from the pen of Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson and took root in the pages of his award winning DC Comics’ series. Dr. Alec Holland, noble scientist out to cure the ills of our ravaged planet Earth, is caught in a powerful explosion that coated him with his bio-restorative formula and set him ablaze. Jumping into a nearby swamp for relief from the flames, Alec Holland was transformed into everyone’s favorite muck-encrusted half-human/half plant Swamp Thing. Dick Durock starred as Swamp Thing in both the original movie and The Return of Swamp Thing. Trapped in his monstrous physical form, Alec Holland retained his intellect, emotions, and capacity to love. That love appears in the form of Abigail Arcane (Heather Locklear), step-daughter to the world’s maddest scientist, Dr. Anton Arcane.
The Return Of Swamp Thing
Abby owns a plant store, and is more comfortable talking to her plants than to men in the local singles bar. When she meets Swampy she sees beyond the horror of his physical form and falls in love with Alec Holland. Swamp Thing has to single-handedly battle the evil Dr. Arcane, his security forces, and his army of mutant creatures in order to rescue Abby.  Both BR and DVD were created from a brand-new HD transfer made from the original internegative, released now for the first time ever. Directed by Jim Wynorski.
Pierre De Moro’s Savannah Smiles. In this charming family comedy the young daughter of a politician runs away in an effort to get some attention from her parents. She ends up hiding in a car that belongs to a pair of two-bit criminals and what could turn into an awful nightmares becomes an unlikely bonding experience between the three.
Released in 2006, Abominable is easily the newest film to see entry into the MVD Rewind Collection but don’t let that fool you – all the old-school, retro appeal that you’ve come to expect and love with this collection is very much present in this one.
Abominable (Special Edition)
A paraplegic convinced he was attached by the legendary Bigfoot returns to his cabin in the woods hell-bent on proving all those that called him crazy wrong. This fun monster movie features horror icons Jeffrey Combs, Lance Henriksen and Dee Wallace.
Claude Van Damme appears in the MVD Rewind Collection with the release of 1990’s Lionheart. Van Damme stars as a paratrooper legionnaire that is forced to return home to Los Angeles after his brother is seriously injured. With his brother’s family desperately needed money, Van Damme decides to earn it the only way he knows how – entering an underground fighting circuit.
Lionheart (2-Disc Special Edition)
Often overlooked in the Van Damme catalogue, Lionheart is every bit the action classic as the more popular Bloodsport and Kickboxer films. Lionheart is also notable for being the first time Van Damme showed his signature buns onscreen.
By the mid-80’s Nicole Kidman was well on her way to becoming a star but she was still considered to be a child actor. In 1986, at the age of 19, she started to shed that image as she starred in first film aimed at adults with the romantic comedy Windrider. The film co-stars Tom Burlinson as an enthusiastic surfer attempting to develop a new, high tech surfboard. Along the way he meets and begins to fall in love with a rockstar played by Kidman. MVD Rewind Collection is proud to present Windrider on special edition Blu-ray this July, given the film its debut home video release in North America.

Donald Petrie serves a most tasty “Little Italy”

As an Italian (or “Eye-italina” as people from the Bronx would say) I love when I hear two words: Little Italy . . . as in Little Italy,  the romantic comedy starring Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen. Get the DVD and On Demand on Friday, September 21 from Lionsgate.

The director of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Miss Congeniality (Donald Petrie) serves up a delicious new comedy topped with passion, playfulness and pepperoni. Former childhood pals Leo (portrayed by Hayden Christensen) and Nikki (Emma Roberts) are attracted to each other as adults—but will their feuding parents’ rival pizzerias put a chill on their sizzling romance? The tasty all-star cast also includes Alyssa Milano, Danny Aiello and Andrea Martin.

Mangia!

Undercrank Productions goes back in history with “The Kinetophone: A Fact! A Reality!”

Thomas Edison’s “Kinetophone” brought talkie to the theaters in 1913–and now, the Library of Congress has taken surviving films, restored them, and Undercrank Productions (undercrankproductions.com) has just released them on DVD.

That sound you hear? A standing ovation!

The Kinetophone: A Fact! A Reality! is an amazing disc that features eight sound films made by the Thomas A. Edison Company in 1913 that have been newly restored by the Library of Congress. Collectors will want to know the films: The Edison Kinetophone, Musical Blacksmiths, Nursery Favorites, The Deaf Mute, The Edison Minstrels, The Five Bachelors, The Old Guard and Jack’s Joke.

The disc also includes a nifty bonus, a mini-documentary on the Kinetophone. So Amazingly Perfect They Are Really Weird (2018) not only details the Kinetophone films’ history, technology and their restoration, but there’s alsoThe Politician (1913), a Kinetophone film whose sound cylinder is still lost and is presented here with a musical score by Ben Model.

Arthur Housman (left) and Edward Boulden (right) in “Jack’s Joke”

More than a dozen years before Al Jolson proclaimed “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” in the The Jazz Singer (1927), American movie audiences had already experienced synchronized sound in movies. In 1913, the Thomas Edison Company debuted talking pictures whose exhibition lasted for about a year. Showing the films in theaters involved a complex system involving a hand-cranked projector connected by a system of pulleys to a modified Edison cylinder player at the front of the theatre, operated at both ends by technicians connected by head-sets.

The Kinetophone films, like the early Vitaphone shorts, were of theatrical or vaudeville acts, dramatic scenes and musical performances. Of the 200 films made, only eight currently survive with both film and cylinder elements intact, and they have now been painstakingly restored by the Library of Congress.

The Kinetophone films are a unique record of performance techniques of the time, and are each six minutes long, a duration dictated by the maximum recording time of the cylinders used. Made in a pre-microphone era, the performers of the dramatic and comedic sketches or musical numbers speak and project as if they were in a theater. This technique was necessary for the actors’ voices to be picked up by the cylinder recording horn, placed a safe distance to be out of camera range. These techniques are covered in a mini-documentary on the history of the Kinetophone films, technology and restoration process as a bonus on the DVD.

Each of the eight Kinetophone films has been digitized from rare, unique cylinder sound elements preserved by the Thomas Edison National Historical Park and from original 35mm prints or camera negatives preserved by the Library of Congress. Utilizing state-of-the-art digital technology, the films have been restored and synchronized by the Library of Congress to a state that both surpasses their original 1913 presentations and also realizes the effect originally intended by Edison and his technicians. With the exception of Nursery Rhymes, previously available in a decades-old restoration of lesser quality, these Kinetophone films have not available to the public since their original exhibition in vaudeville houses more than 100 years ago.

Three new hot “Frontline” DVDs, from war to violence to drugs to that prick, Harvey Weinstein

A trio of three more PBS Distribution DVD Frontline DVDs . . .

Frontline: Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia
From the devastating war in Syria, to the crisis in Yemen, to continuing turmoil in Iraq, much of today’s widespread violence across the Middle East has been portrayed as part of an ancient battle between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. In this show, Frontline tells the epic, inside story of how this dangerous feud has plunged the Middle East into unprecedented levels of violence, with exclusive, on-the-ground reporting from inside both countries as well as Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Lebanon.

This program illuminates the essential history – and profound ripple effect – of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s power struggle. It draws on scores of interviews with political, religious and military leaders, militia commanders, diplomats, and policy experts, painting American television’s most comprehensive picture of a feud that has reshaped the Middle East.

Frontline: The Gang Crackdown
In a spate of brutal violence that has become a focal point of President Frump’s stance on immigration and a priority of his Justice Department, some 25 dead bodies have been found on Long Island since 2016—all linked to the violent gang MS-13.

Many of the gang’s victims, like its members, have been immigrants. Drawing on interviews with murder victims’ families, accused gang members, top Justice Department officials including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, local law enforcement and ICE leadership, and civil rights and immigration lawyers, this program explores the reasons behind the spike in violence on Long Island—and examines whether law enforcement and the government have overreached in trying to combat it.

Frontline: Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein was once one of the most successful producers in Hollywood. But beneath the glitz and glamour, there was a pattern of sexual misconduct going back to the very start of his career. This program investigates the disgraced mogul’s spectacular downfall, the efforts to silence his accusers, and what Hollywood itself knew. Drawing on exclusive insider accounts, this program examines how Weinstein used lawyers and private detectives to help him suppress sexual harassment allegations.

The film shines new light on what those around Weinstein knew about his behavior, and when. Filled with fresh insights from those who worked with Weinstein, those who tried to confront him, and the journalists who ultimately broke the story, this documentary is an in-depth look at the long history of allegations against the powerful producer.

“Endeavour Season 5” thrills, chills and makes us want more seasons!

 As 1968 dawns, a year of change promises to disrupt the private and professional lives of Endeavour Morse (played by Shaun Evans) and his colleagues. Endeavour’s recent promotion leads him to reluctantly mentor new recruit Fancy (Lewis Peek), while Thursday (Roger Allam) is beginning to think about life after the police. But in Oxford, crime never sleeps, and the team continues to be challenged by mysterious and intriguing cases of murder, greed, and deception. Meanwhile, the rise of organized crime in the city promises to change Oxford forever. When 1968 comes to a close, will things at Cowley Police Station ever be the same again?

A description of each of the episodes from Endeavour Season 5 is listed below:

“Muse”
Past and present collide in Oxford, as the auction of a priceless Fabergé Egg gets underway at Lonsdale College. It soon attracts the attention of an infamous international thief – and the police – when a failed burglary attempt is reported. However, they soon have a bigger case to solve, as a series of gruesome deaths have Morse and Thursday searching for a serial killer. Meanwhile, newly-promoted Endeavour struggles with his role as he’s forced to mentor young detective constable George Fancy.

Cartouche
Hollywood glamour comes to Oxford as the stars of a horror movie begin filming in the city. Meanwhile, the unexplained poisoning of a former detective sergeant leads Endeavour and Thursday to a local cinema, which is playing host to the film’s stars in a special event. While Thursday fears a link to growing unrest in Oxford’s underworld, the case takes a turn when the cinema’s organist is also dramatically poisoned. The film’s star is convinced a mysterious Egyptian curse is to blame, and Endeavour and Thursday find themselves uncovering long-kept secrets and a revenge plot determined to expose the truth behind a hero’s past.

Passenger
Endeavour investigates the disappearance of a local woman – with initial fears linking it to the unsolved murder of a teenager, killed several years earlier. Meanwhile, Thursday is absorbed in the investigation of a lorry hijack – which he suspects is linked to local gangster Eddie Nero. The murder investigation takes a surprising turn when a woman’s body is discovered, but Endeavour notices anomalies at the murder scene which point away from the cold case theory. An invitation to Joan’s new flat reminds Endeavour of the past, but could it also offer a chance for the future?

Colours
A photoshoot on an army base turns sinister when one of the models is found dead. But the investigation is complicated when Sam Thursday is revealed to be involved. With Thursday side-lined by protocol, Endeavour and Strange take the lead on the investigation – the first time without their mentor. Tensions rise, and the pair clash as their differing opinions push their friendship to breaking point. When another body is discovered on the base, Endeavour uncovers family secrets, political affiliations and thwarted love affairs to find the truth.

Quartet
An assassination attempt at an international sporting event opens a new case for Endeavour and Thursday, but their investigation is quickly brought to an unexpected end. While Thursday wants to step away, Endeavour is determined to find out more. He soon finds himself embroiled in the dark dealings of espionage, big business and a long-held secret that goes to the very heart of the Oxford community. While Endeavour chases down the real story behind the assassination, Thursday works closer to home, attempting to protect a battered wife from her violent husband. When tragedy strikes, Thursday has to make a tough moral decision about how to administer justice.

Requiem
After the mysterious disappearance of a teacher, Endeavour finds himself undercover, investigating the dark world of a public school. When a body is unexpectedly discovered, Endeavour has to question who he can trust – and uncover the truth about the crimes before more people are hurt. Thursday is determined to solve the ongoing unsolved murders linked to Eddie Nero, and charges Fancy with tracking down the elusive Cromwell Ames. Meanwhile, Thursday’s life is turned upside down by the return of his brother, and Endeavour looks towards the future with the possibility of a new relationship.

Undercrank Productions, an amazing new company, that “discovers” rare films

We are bit embarrassed to admit that we only recently learned about Undercrank Productions (undercrankproductions.com). We learned that this marvelous company, the brainstorm of the marvelous historian and Undercrank founder Ben Model, releases must-see, must-have DVDs that we assumed have been long lost.

The Marcel Perez Collection: Volume 2 features eight slapstick shorts that star the largely forgotten silent-era comedian Marcel Perez. The award-winning first volume, released by Undercrank in 2015, has earned Perez a new fan base among classic film buffs and silent comedy aficionados.

Marion DaviesFollowing a 15-year career in movies in Europe,  Perez came to the U.S. in 1915 where he made another 60 comedy shorts as the character Tweedledum or “Tweedy” or “Twede-Dan” for a number of independent studios in Florida, New York and New Jersey. Perez is the only silent screen comedian besides Max Linder to have had this kind of long-reaching career on both continents. Perez’s charming and acrobatic screen persona, as well as his inventive directorial flair, make his short comedies stand out from those made by most of the better-known “second-tier” slapstick comics.  Sadly, only a fraction of Perez’ output, which spanned 1900-1928, survives. In the three years since the release of the first DVD, however, eight more films have either surfaced or become available for this home video release.

“What continues to impress me in seeing more of Marcel Perez and his films,” says Model, “is how inventive the humor, storytelling and filmmaking is considering they’re from 1916-1922. He’s doing stunt work and surreal gags before Keaton or Larry Semon did, and one of the shorts–A Scrambled Honeymoon (1916)–opens with a gag sequence that is nearly directly copied in a Chaplin short made the following year. It’s been a thrill working with the Library of Congress and MoMA on the disc, as well as being supported by fan crowdfunding, to be able to restore Perez’ reputation and renown. Hopefully it won’t take another three years for more of his films to turn up, and I’ll bet there’s more of them out there.”

Marcel Perez and Nilde Barrachi in “Oh! What a Day” (1918)

The films on the The Marcel Perez Collection: Volume 2 were preserved by or were sourced from the Library of Congress and the Museum of Modern Art. The rare archival 35mm copies are presented in new 2K digital scans, with new musical scores by noted silent film accompanist Ben Model.

“An Elephant’s Journey” is a remarkable lessons-to-learn family adventure

We continue to celebrate elephants. The truth is: We believe poachers should have their dicks cut off . . . and left to die.
We love the new film An Elephant’s Journey. It has been released on DVD and Digital by Lionsgate; it arrives On Demand October 23 .

This adventure is family fun. When Phoenix Wilder (portrayed by Sam Ashe Arnold), a 13-year-old orphan, moves in with his Aunt Sarah (Elizabeth Hurley) – his only surviving relative, living in Africa with her husband, Uncle Jack–Phoenix quickly falls in love with his surroundings. However, while on safari with his uncle, Phoenix gets separated from the rest of the group. As the search for Phoenix continues, the boy becomes fast friends with a giant bull elephant he was able to free from a trap. Phoenix names the elephant Indlovu, and, as they begin to bond, he decides to try to stop a band of poachers who prey on African elephants

PBS Distribution serves up “The Great British Cooking Show: Season 5”

Something tasty is always cooking  on DVDs from PBS Distribution.

On September 11, they serve up The Great British Cooking Show: Season 5. The delectable baking competition that has grown into a beloved international phenomenon returns for a fifth season. The program features the original cast of Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, in a season never before seen in the U.S.

Once again, viewers will meet twelve of Britain’s best amateur bakers who will don their aprons, enter the iconic tent and tackle culinary trials that increase in difficulty as the competition unfolds. Vying to be crowned star baker, challengers prepare three creations in each episode: a signature bake, which tests their creative flair and baking ability; the devilishly difficult technical challenge, in which contestants have to bake creations using only ingredient lists and minimal instruction; and finally, the showstopper, designed to fully showcase each baker’s skill and creativity.

Contestants face the demanding but endearing judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, two icons of British baking who are now household names in America. Comedy duo Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc are the series hosts, providing the bakers with much-needed emotional support and comic relief. Offering viewers the perfect sweet summer escape, this program features unforgettable contestants attempting some of the series most difficult challenges, from bagels to strudel, treacle tarts to choux gateaus.

Seconds?

Five hot new “Frontline” DVDs, all must-see and must-have

No wonder we love Frontline. Such great shows, now on DVD from PBS Distribution.

Frontline: Trump’s Takeover
President Frump’s first year in office has been marked by ongoing turmoil—including in his own Republican party, where presidential tweet storms, inflammatory rhetoric and high-profile dissent have fueled open conflict.
Gripping and revealing, this program tells the story of Frump’s takeover of the Republican Party—from the perspective of Republican lawmakers and insiders themselves.
Trump’s Takeover examines the president’s unorthodox governing style, showing how after taking office, he displayed a lack of interest in the ins and outs of legislation and policy, and instead took to Twitter, attacking opponents. The film goes behind closed doors in the negotiations to repeal and replace Obamacare—Trump’s first major legislative test—revealing through accounts of people who were there how little Trump seemed to understand or care about the details of the bill.

Frontline: McCain
The program follows the story of the Republican Party’s evolution and an exploration of Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.)’s complicated relationship with President Trump and the Republican Party, as well as his life and politics.

Drawing on both new interviews and Frontline’s deep rchive of reporting, McCain traces the conservative standard-bearer’s motivations and his political history, from his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, to speaking out against torture during the Bush administration, to his dramatic vote against the GOP’s health care bill last year.

Frontline: Blackout in Puerto Rico
More than seven months after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, more than 100,000 Americans are still without power, as part of the worst blackout in U.S. history.
This program investigates how the federal response in Puerto Rico left millions of Americans in the dark for months—and the storm before the storm: how Wall Street, Puerto Rico’s government, and Washington fueled a debt crisis that left the island’s economy in ruins and its infrastructure crippled even before Maria hit. The investigative team uncovered a trove of insider documents that show a government relief effort in chaos, struggling with key contracts, basic supplies, and its own workforce.

Produced with the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, the program uncovers a series of shortcomings after Maria, including how half of FEMA’s staff on the island were trainees or unqualified, how contractors FEMA turned to failed to deliver hundreds of thousands of tarps, and how the Army Corps’ temporary roof repair program was glaringly slow compared to other storms—putting up just 439 roofs in the first 30 days after the storm compared to more than 4,500 in the first month after Irma in Florida.
Gripping and riveting, this program is a must-watch look inside the ongoing recovery effort in Puerto Rico—and the economic crisis that devastated the island long before Maria.

Frontline: Trafficked in America
This program investigates how teenagers from Central America were smuggled into the U.S. by traffickers who promised them jobs and a better life—only to force them to live and work in virtual slavery to pay off their debt.

This documentary shines new light on a labor trafficking case in which Guatemalan teens were forced by a third-party contractor to work against their will at Trillium Farms in Ohio, a major egg producer. The investigative team exposes a criminal network that exploited undocumented minors, the companies who profited from their forced labor, and how U.S. government policies and practices helped to deliver some teens directly to their traffickers.
Gripping and revealing, this program presents viewers a rare look inside the hidden reality of labor trafficking in the United States.

Frontline: Myanmar’s Killing Fields
With secret footage filmed by a network of citizen activists, and firsthand accounts from victims and their families, this program is U.S. television’s most comprehensive investigation of the Myanmar military’s violent crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority—an effort that has been described by the UN as having the “hallmarks of genocide.”
The Myanmar military insists that its campaign was simply a counter-insurgency “clearance operation” targeted against a militant Islamist Rohingya group, ARSA, that had attacked and killed security forces at police and army bases. But with shocking footage filmed by citizen activists, the documentary depicts an orchestrated campaign to target civilians, state-sanctioned violence, and mass murder—and uncovers new accounts of atrocities against the Rohingya people, from mass rape of women and children, to babies and children thrown into fires.

The program also investigates the role of Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar in the crisis. The Nobel Laureate was once seen as Myanmar’s hope and a beacon for democracy—including by President Barack Obama, who lifted all sanctions on the country in 2016. But Suu Kyi, who has continued to defend her country from international criticism, has now been accused of standing by as her country’s military led an operation that killed thousands of civilians.

“Affairs of State” combines love, lust and political scandal and make for sizzling flick

The affairs of the state suck.

But the gripping thriller Affairs of State combines love, lust and political scandal and is hot.

In his quest for power, D.C. aide Michael Lawson (played by David Corenswet) will do anything to take part in Senator Baines’s (David James Elliott) White House campaign, including blackmailing Baines’s shady advisor (Adrian Grenier) and sleeping with the candidate’s wife (Mimi Rogers)

But when he gets involved with the senator’s alluring daughter, Lawson (Grace Victoria Cox) learns his dangerous game could have a deadly payoff. Also starring Thora Birch, this pulse-pounding thriller is a perfect match for today’s turbulent political climate.