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New Releases, week of 7/13/13: Street Trash Edition


Spring Breakers, Admission, Street Trash, and more on DVD/Blu-ray/VHS
Jul 09
// Hubert Vigilla
Of all things that are coming out on Blu-ray today, there's the bats**t crazy cult film Street Trash. There are melting bodies, exploding homeless people, scenes of extreme violence, lots of gore, and something to offend ever...
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New Releases, week of 7/6/13: Kung Fu Heroes Edition


The Kentucky Fried Movie, The Producers, 56 Up, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jul 02
// Hubert Vigilla
There were two notable deaths last week which I feel like I should acknowledge here: actor and filmmaker Lau Kar Leung and actor Jim Kelly (Enter the Dragon). Each left their own imprint on action films and martial arts movie...
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New Releases, week of 6/29/13: Achoo Resneezes Edition


The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Call, Upside Down, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jun 25
// Hubert Vigilla
I've been sick for the last three weeks, and it's gone from being unpleasant to just downright annoying. After looking up my symptoms online, I'm led to believe that I'm suffering from The Scriverner's Lung, The Hipster Drops...
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New Releases

New Releases, week of 6/22/13: Totes Stoked Edition


Stoker, 21 & Over, The Last Exorcism Part II and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jun 18
// Nick Valdez
Stoker is finally out. I'm happy to see it finally hit home video because it had a limited run in theaters and its been a film I've wanted to see for awhile. Nicole Kidman's in it, and she's one of my boos. I could go as far ...
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New Releases

New Releases, week of 6/15/13: Lilo & Snitch Edition


Oz the Great and Powerful, Snitch, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jun 11
// Nick Valdez
There are a lot of may/may not be good new releases on home video this week compared to last week's average affair. Leading the charge is Oz the Great and Powerful (which Matt found befuddling), Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunte...
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New Releases

New Releases, week of 6/8/13: Hard Bodies Edition


A Good Day to Die Hard, Warm Bodies, Identity Thief and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jun 04
// Nick Valdez
This week we have a good amount of average films releasing this week. Some may like them more than others, but we're talking middle of the road here. Buuuut, if TV's your thing I hear the fifth season of Breaking Bad is relea...
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New Releases, week of 6/1/13: Who Are You? Who, Who Ed.


Doctor Who Series Seven, Dark Skies, Cleopatra, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
May 28
// Hubert Vigilla
We don't usually highlight the TV releases on DVD and Blu-ray, but since this week is light on the movie side, we're making an exception. The biggie this week is Doctor Who: Series Seven - Part Two, which includes "The Name o...
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New Releases, week of 5/25/13: Arnold's Return Edition


The Last Stand, Side Effects, The ABCs of Death, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
May 21
// Hubert Vigilla
It's a week of many new releases and re-releases on DVD and Blu-ray. Leading the way is Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to the big screen The Last Stand, along with the horror anthology The ABCs of Death, the Jason Statham fli...
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New Releases, week of 5/18/13: Happy Little Cloud Edition


Cloud Atlas, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Beware of Mr. Baker, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
May 14
// Hubert Vigilla
Today's affirmation: whenever you're feeling down, just remember that the blue Jedi ghost of Bob Ross loves you like a little woodland critter. This will save your life some day, trust me. The big new release this week is Clo...
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New Releases, week of 5/11/13: Heading Upstream Edition


Upstream Color, Jack Reacher, Mama, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
May 08
// Hubert Vigilla
First off, sorry this edition of New Releases is a day later than usual. Running behind with lots of things this week. Netflix Now will also be a day late. I owe you an ice cream.* The new releases this week include Jack Reac...
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Cleopatra getting 50th anniversary re-releases


May 06
// Matthew Razak
Cleopatra, the epic film known as much for its off screen issues as it was for its grandeur, is turning 50 this year and 20th Century Fox isn't about to miss out on the opportunity to celebrate it. They've remastered the...
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New Releases

New Releases, week of 5/14/13: Big Bad Borg Edition


Silver Linings Playbook, The Guilt Trip, Manborg and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Apr 30
// Nick Valdez
While most folks will be interested in Silver Linings Playbook today (as it earned a bunch of awards and the like), I'll be trying to find myself a copy of Manborg. We've featured a trailer for the film on the site recently a...
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New Releases

New Releases, week of 4/27/13: Gangsta's Paradise Edition


Gangster Squad, Jurassic Park 3D, Promised Land and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Apr 23
// Nick Valdez
This week's biggest release is arguably the re-re-re-re-re-release of Jurassic Park (IN 3D!!!), oh, there's new stuff this week also? Well...then the biggest new release is probably Gangster Squad, which is ironic since Matt ...
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New Releases, week of 4/20/13: Djangowned Edition


Django Unchained, Repo Man, Dragon (Wu Xia), and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Apr 16
// Hubert Vigilla
Howdy, folks, and welcome to this week's new releases, a sort of pre-Tribeca reprieve for me. This week boasts two genre deconstructions. The biggie is Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx (who, as Nick p...
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New Releases, week of 4/13/13: Historical Hot Dog Edition


Hyde Park on Hudson, Down the Shore, Gate of Hell, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Apr 09
// Hubert Vigilla
It's another slow week on the DVD/Blu-ray release front. The most high-profile title is the disappointing Hyde Park on Hudson, which features Bill Murray as FDR. (More accurately, Bill Murray doing an impersonation of Cary Gr...
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New Releases, week of 4/6/13: All Cleaned Up Edition


Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One, John Dies at the End, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Apr 02
// Hubert Vigilla
I know something major happened yesterday... Hmm... weird. Don't know what it was. Funny how that works. An oddly sparse week with new releases. The biggest thing by far is a re-release: The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase O...
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New Releases, week of 3/30/13: Fightin' Abe Edition


Lincoln, The Comedy, Killing Them Softly, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Mar 26
// Hubert Vigilla
Today is the day that Steven Spielberg's Lincoln rolls onto DVD and Blu-ray. I think Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt are my favorite U.S. Presidents. Both were supreme badasses in different ways. Lincoln steered the count...
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New Releases, week of 3/23/13: Les Little People Edition


The Hobbit, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Mar 19
// Hubert Vigilla
Back from warm and awful nice Austin to the cold, jerk-filled New York and what do I see? Lots of major releases out this week on DVD and Blu-ray. (Worst thing about Austin by the way: limited free wifi at the airport. Damn y...
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New Releases

New Releases, week of 3/16/13: Rising Pie Edition


Life of Pi, Rise of the Guardians, Sound City and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Mar 12
// Nick Valdez
This week's arguably biggest home video release is Life of Pi (with its unfortunate two day early release date. Why not 3/14?) due to its baffling amount of Academy Awards (and I was sad when I realized it wasn't a docum...
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New Releases, week of 3/9/13: Wreckx-n-Effect Edition


Wreck-it-Ralph, Red Dawn, The Intouchables, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Mar 05
// Hubert Vigilla
This week's biggest release by far is Wreck-It-Ralph, Disney's CG animated offering chockablock with retro gaming references. (Wreck-It-Ralph was also the title of my unproduced sequel to King Ralph.) Also new and notable thi...
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New Releases, week of 3/2/13: Who is the Master Edition


The Master, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Holy Motors, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Feb 26
// Hubert Vigilla
Even though Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master didn't do well at the 2013 Academy Awards, it will always run Bartertown in my heart. If you watched Flixist's Google Hangout for the Oscars, you know we all expected Joaquin Phoe...
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New Releases, week of 2/23/13: Jack Kirby Saves Edition


Argo, Anna Karenina, Monster Squad, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Feb 19
// Hubert Vigilla
Ben Affleck's Argo is the big release of the week given all the momentum it has heading into the Oscars. Based on the true story of how Jack Kirby helped saved the day, Argo won Best Picture and Best Director at the 2013 BAFT...
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New Releases, week of 2/16/13: Bond... James Bond Edition


Skyfall, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Man with the Iron Fists, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Feb 12
// Hubert Vigilla
Today is the day that Skyfall hits DVD and Blu-ray. Not only is the movie badass, it was declared Best British Film at the BAFTA Film Awards last weekend. Skyfall's release today is accompanied by a number of James Bond Blu-r...
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New Releases, week of 2/9/13: My Bloody Valentine Edition


Flight, Alex Cross, Peter Pan, and more on DVD, Blu-ray, and VHS
Feb 05
// Hubert Vigilla
[UPDATE: Just received notice of a new addition to today's new releases. The horror anthology V/H/S is available today on VHS.] All of your dorky music nerd friends probably wet themselves last weekend over the new My Bl...
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New Releases, week of 2/2/13: Creepy Jet Lag Pillow Ed.


Hotel Transylvania, Seven Psychopaths, Paranormal Activity 4, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jan 29
// Hubert Vigilla
It seems my idiocy abroad and last night's cross-country red-eye have started to catch up with me because I am jet lagged something fierce. At this point, time has no meaning, space is a misinterpretation of proximity, matter...
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Dredd is number one in Blu-ray, DVD, and digital sales


Dredd is now officially the law
Jan 22
// Nick Valdez
Although Dredd may not have been my favorite film of last year, it was one of the best. Unfortunately it came and went from theaters sad and alone because of stupid reasons (it was a reboot of a sort of unknown property, it w...
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New Releases, week of 1/26/13: Hong Kong Action Edition


End of Watch, Searching for Sugar Man, The Quiet Man, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jan 22
// Hubert Vigilla
I'm continuing my idiocy abroad, which included a brief rush through Hong Kong last week. Soon it's back to California for a few days before returning to New York, jetlagged and poorer. I've included some recreations of my ad...
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Watch a clip of Del Toro discussing Alfred Hitchcock


From the Criterion release of The Man Who Knew Too Much
Jan 15
// Thor Latham
It's a beautiful thing to see a great director discuss one of the greatest directors in all of filmdom, and to do so as eloquently as Guillermo Del Toro always manages to be. This is a clip from the DVD/Blu-ray extra of Crit...
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New Releases, week of 1/19/13: Bananas Edition


Taken 2, To Rome with Love, About Cherry, and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Jan 15
// Hubert Vigilla
I am currently abroad, and by this point I should have a decent palate for the bananas of the Philippines. (I may also have dysentery and ringworm.) I could share a photo of these exotic 'naners and describe the rich flavors ...

Review: Wake in Fright

Jan 15 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]214236:39481[/embed] Wake in FrightDirector: Ted KotcheffRated: RRelease Date: October 9, 1971 (original release); October 5, 2012 (US re-release); January 15, 2013 (DVD, Blu-ray release)Country: Australia In last week's Cult Club piece on Six-String Samurai I quoted the following line from Douglas Sirk: "There is a very short distance between high art and trash, and trash that contains the element of craziness is by this very quality nearer to art." While it may seem lazy to re-use the quote, it just so happens that Wake in Fright is another film in which the craziness elevates the content and calls attention to its power. Psychological horror movies share a lot with melodrama since both are about heightening the inner emotional world of a person so that it hits harder on screen. Since we're dealing with a man's private hell, what we get is the darkest, ugliest stuff in a dark and lonely heart. It all happens in an Australian shithole called Bundanyabba, a place the locals in the film call "the Yabba." And yet maybe it's not quite the shithole it seems since the film is told from John Grant's point of view. Played by Gary Bond (who looks like a young Peter O'Toole), John is a self-righteous, haughty jerk who looks down on everyone whether they deserve it or not because he's bitter. He's bonded by the Australian government to teach middle schoolers in a podunk town. At one point he jokes about being a slave rather than an educator. Still, John carries himself with air of a major intellectual. He talks up his education and quotes love poetry in a nauseating, self-fellating way to chat up a woman. With class dismissed for Christmas break, John stays in the Yabba en route to Sydney. Everyone around him is a roughneck and an oaf, and it's heightened by a key detail in John's wardrobe: he's wearing a safari jacket. He doesn't think he's in a small town, he thinks he's surrounded by dumb savages and dumber animals. Things start to go wrong that first night in the Yabba when the local sheriff buys round after round of drinks for John. Then there's a bit of gambling involving coin flips. What was supposed to be one night in the Yabba becomes many, each spent spiraling lower and lower with the beasts around him. During this lengthy fall, kangaroos are slaughtered, values are devalued (as John might put it when sober), days are wasted in squalor, and there's rough housing to put the rednecks in Gummo to shame. Fueling this descent is a reckless, bottomless pour of alcohol, and all of it given to John by the good folk of the Yabba. What seems like hospitality uncovers a deeper wretchedness in the town and its people. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Kenneth Cook, one thing that makes Wake in Fright work so well is what it reveals and doesn't reveal about our hero John. We learn very little about his life, but we get enough hints to keep us guessing -- a few glimpses of skin, but mostly shadows and outlines; the enticement of backstory without the whole thing. He mentions that he has a girlfriend who lives in Sydney who we only see in old photos and in a single flashback, but that's it. (This flashback of John's girlfriend is the only sensual moment in the entire film. Anything else resembling a love scene is unerotic.) Maybe their relationship ended? Maybe it's on the rocks? We know John wants to leave Australia if he could just get out of his teaching gig, but there's no greater sense of purpose. He's a prisoner who wants out who's now a prisoner of the Yabba, which may or may not be some manifestation of his deeper anxieties. Which is where, I think, Tydon (Donald Pleasence) comes in. Tydon was a doctor, an intellectual just like John thinks he is, but now he's just one of the Yabba's many comfortable alcoholics. In between his moments of insight -- Tydon's first line, an assessment of the Yabba, is "All the little devils are very proud of hell," of which he is one of them -- are moments of creepy abandon. Pleasence is a subtle force of evil in this movie. His eyes have something scheming in them, and the way Kotcheff pieces his film together, there are many moments of uncanny dread that come just from one of Tydon's little looks. It adds a sense that everyone in the Yabba knows what's really going on. (The paranoia also creeps in from some cultish behavior, setting the unhinged, uneasy tone of the film.) Pleasance's performance reminds me what a brilliant and horribly underappreciated actor he was. This isn't to sell Bond's performance short, since he's more than just a young O'Toole lookalike. As John gives in to his urges, Bond's performance zigs into elation and zags back into revulsion. There are urgent questions loaded into Bond's expression and carriage: "What am I doing? Why do I like doing this? Why can't I stop? What is wrong with me?" There's a kind of dark comedy underlying all the darkness, I think, which comes through in Bond's performance as well as many other touches that rest of the cast adds. But it's comedy that's pitch black, the sort of stuff that may make you ask "Why am I laughing at this? What is wrong with me?" One of the more controversial aspects of Wake in Fright involves actual kangaroos getting maimed and killed on camera. Kotcheff and his crew weren't responsible for the brutality themselves. They instead filmed hunters in the act of killing as a means of highlighting real-life cruelties in the bush. It's effective in an unpleasant, visceral way, maybe even an unnecessary one. How much uglier can it get? Uglier still than this dose of mondo carnage. The kind of real-life cruelty Kotcheff caught on film might be too much for some people to take. (According to Wikipedia, there were at least a dozen walkouts when Wake in Fright played a special retrospective screening at Cannes in 2009; the film debuted at Cannes to rave reviews back in 1971.) I don't know if Kotcheff is able to make the ugliness of the film's private hell match the ugliness of real-life cruelty, but he does manage to make the movie all-ugly in the best possible way: at a deeply personal level, and a deeply affecting one. This is a melodrama of the grotesque. Though difficult to watch, I actually want to watch Wake in Fright again just to see how the movie deepens and intensifies. Some nightmares can be worth revisiting, as long as they're someone else's, and as long as they're as riveting as this film.
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On holiday in a private hell -- go on, have a drink, mate
I've always wanted to delve deeper into the world of Ozploitation movies (exploitation films from Australia). I have a major fondness for Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000), and Razorback, and my intere...


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