Welcome back! This week the pitches come straight from the actual marketing for each release. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of them sound just as ridiculous as the ones I make up every week.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
100 Bloody Acres
When the going gets tough the tough get grinding, and in the Morgan Brothers’ case what they’re grinding are human bodies. They’re not murderers per se as they rely almost exclusively on accident victims, but what else are small business owners to do when they discover that humans are the secret ingredient that makes their fertilizer more popular than ever? When Reg (Damon Herriman) passes three twenty-somethings on a back road and offers to give them a lift the trio learn the lengths he and his brother Lindsay (Angus Sampson) will go to secure the necessary ingredients to satisfy their customers.
Writers/directors/probably brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes deliver an incredibly fun and bloody romp for their feature debut that manages to shake up character conventions in regard to the protagonist/antagonist distinctions. As familiar as the setup feels it’s actually Reg and Lindsay who become the most interesting characters here as the trio of potential victims drown in their own bickering. It’s a damn funny film, but that doesn’t mean they shy away from the red stuff. Just the opposite in fact leading to a bloody good time for all. (Except the folks who get ground up into fertilizer of course.) [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes, interviews, featurettes, gag reel, gallery, short film]
The Amityville Horror Trilogy
Pitch: “Warning: In this movie, you are the victim…”
The Lutz family has gotten a great deal on their new home, but it’s not long after they move in that odd things start happening. Could the murders from a year prior have something to do with the bloody walls, swarms of flies, and creepy as hell basement? Part two tells the prequel story of the Montelli family whose time in the home comes to a murderous end at the wrong end of a shotgun. And then part three follows a skeptical reporter as he moves into the legendary house hoping it inspires him and his first novel. Too bad it’s haunted in 3D!
It should come as no surprise that the two sequels don’t live up to the original, but they each offer some entertainment value of their own. That first film is still quite good though with some legitimate creepiness and a fantastically aggressive James Brolin. Even though the films in Scream Factory’s new trilogy boxset are a mixed bag quality-wise, the set as a whole is a must-own for horror fans if for no other reason than this is the first time part three has been made available in 3D. [Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, featurettes, trailers, interviews]
This Is the End
Pitch: “Nothing ruins a party like the end of the world…”
Jay Baruchel (Jay Baruchel) is in LA to visit his friend Seth Rogen (Seth Rogen), but the trip isn’t going as planned. The friendship is hitting some hurdles, most recently personified by Seth’s new BFF James Franco (James Franco), but that takes a backseat when the unthinkable happens and the world comes to an end by way of the rapture. Soon celebrities are dying left and right leaving only six famous friends trapped in a house and struggling to survive.
First and foremost, Michael Cera steals the ever loving sh*t out of the first act here, and happily he’s far from the only funny thing happening. The movie is ridiculously funny, absurd, and just plain bonkers. Fans of the six, which also includes Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, and Academy Award-nominated Jonah Hill, will find much to enjoy here as they riff off their personas, both real and imagined, with gleeful abandon. It’s raunchy as hell and offers up the most big laughs since 21 Jump Street. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes, gag reel, deleted scenes, ]
The Big Parade
Pitch: “The epic of the American doughboy…”
James Apperson (John Gilbert) didn’t expect to see the grimy side of war, but when it comes calling he answers with an energetic naivete. That innocence doesn’t last long though as the trials and tribulations leading him to the front lines take their toll on him and his fellow soldiers. Through it all he hopes to return home to the girl he loves, but the only promise offered during wartime is that there are no promises.
This 1925 silent classic has long been held in high regard, and the recent restoration from the original camera negatives is a gift to fans and film lovers the world over. It’s an uncommon epic telling a big tale over the course of its 150 minute run time, and the new Blu-ray release from WB is a fitting presentation. There’s much to enjoy and admire in the film, but it certainly feels its length at times. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: 64-page book, commentary, short, trailer]
Pitch: “Loyalty is a lie…”
An explosion at a Hong Kong movie theater puts the entire city on edge, but it also creates a clash of wills at the highest levels of the police department. With the commissioner out of the country on official business his two deputies step up with differing plans of attack, and things get even worse when an entire van full of police officers are abducted by unknown bad guys. MB Lee (Tony Leung Kar-fai) is old school through and through and favors an immediate and aggressive response, while Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok) prefers negotiation in order to secure the safety of his officers and Hong Kong’s citizens.
The film features some entertaining and electric set pieces, but they’re few and far between until the third act which sees some fun gunplay and fireworks. They’re hurt slightly by obvious CGI, but they remain the movie’s high point. Action and drama aside there is an interesting subtext here about Hong Kong’s relationship with China that for better or worse is presented without a heavy hand. It’s definitely interesting, and as the film ends with the expectation of a sequel (and possible franchise) it’s something that may be explored more in the future. [DVD extras: Making of, trailer]
Pitch: “Meet the first modern family…”
A caveman family is forced onto a dangerous adventure when their home, a cave they’ve spent most of life within, is destroyed. With no choice but to brave the open world they set off in search of a new home and discover along the way that life is boring when you only stick to what you already know. Again though, they have adventures in addition to learning stuff about themselves.
Dreamworks Animation’s latest animated tale ups the ante on what the studio is most known for, and that’s loud, colorful, empty noise. There’s no doubt the CGI animation looks incredibly good, but the humor is so incredibly basic (and mostly reliant on prat falls and “hilarious” acts of violence) that any real entertainment value is nil. Even the story is generic enough to fall by the wayside in exchange for action set pieces that blur past your eyes with explosive urgency. Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, and others do passable voicework if that’s your bag. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
Dead Before Dawn
Pitch: “Half zombie. Half demon. All zemon…”
Casper Galloway (Devon Bostick) was just a little boy when he saw a murder at the hands of a supernatural entity, and now in his teens circumstances have led to him being forced back to the antique shop where it all happened. It’s not long before he accidentally frees a spirit that curses him and his friends and leads to the townspeople killing themselves and returning as the undead.
On the plus side Christopher Lloyd has a small role in the film. On the down side though it’s a really small role. The actors give it their all, but ultimately the script just isn’t funny. But hey, comedy is subjective, so fans of heavily comedic horror may find something here that I don’t. But undead transferring their affliction by way of hickies is just a bit too stupid. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes, trailer, bloopers, making of, gallery, music video]
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec: Director’s Cut
Pitch: “A face of beauty, a mind for adventure…”
Adèle Blanc-Sec (Louise Bourgoin) is a novelist and adventurer who proves on a daily basis that being a woman is no disadvantage when it comes to skirting danger, but her greatest challenge is attempting to help her dying sister. Her quest sends her to Egyptian tombs in search of a long dead physician, but she’s interrupted by a Parisian museum’s famed pterodactyl egg which hatches and unleashes a flying monster into the skies above the city.
Writer/director Luc Besson had a brief run in the ’90s as a known entity here in the States thanks to films like The Professional and The Fifth Element, but the past fourteen years have seen him on US screens as producer and story-guy only. That doesn’t mean he’s stopped directing, though, as he’s actually made six or so films since then. His latest is actually a bit too goofy at times, and its attempt at aping Amelie don’t quite gel, but fans of the director should give it a watch as his creativity and visual mastery are on full display here along with a playful sensibility. This director’s cut comes less than two months after Shout! Factory released the standard version, and in all honesty I didn’t notice a difference. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, deleted scenes, featurette]
Fright Night 2: New Blood
Charley and his buddy, Evil Ed, are on a class trip to Eastern Europe when they discover just how deadly higher learning can truly be. Their temporary professor, Gerri Dandridge, is hiding a secret that just may be the end of them. Soon the pair, along with Charley’s ex, Amy, are up to their necks in vampire hijinx and bloodletting. Lucky for them TV host Peter Vincent is in town too.
So they remade Fright Night and then made a direct to DVD sequel that is not only unrelated to the the original sequel but entirely unrelated to the recent remake too. And while we know the answer it still brings into question the film’s relevance. There’s absolutely no reason for this to have been called Fright Night aside from the obvious quick cash grab, and that’s a shame because director Eduardo Rodriguez shows some real skills crafting set pieces. It looks good, but it’s just so damn unnecessary. And not for nothing, but for a movie intent on featuring so many naked people the film really goes out of its way to not show nudity. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
The Frozen Ground
Pitch: “The Hunt for Alaska’s Most Prolific Serial Killer…”
Trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) is just weeks away from a transfer out of Anchorage when he catches a case with far reaching implications. A body is found, and Halcombe discovers it’s one of many over the past several years. When a young woman (Vanessa Hudgens) is found handcuffed and battered she reveals that she narrowly escaped from a man named Robert Hansen (John Cusack). Could there be a connection? Hmm? Could there?
This is actually a true story, a pretty incredible one in regard to the killer’s gruesome accomplishments, and the film delivers the tale in a mostly matter of fact style. That’s not a criticism necessarily as the story remains engaging due both to the subject matter and the three lead performances. Cage and Cusack are both effectively restrained, and Hudgens actually shows some worthwhile chops of her own. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailers]
House of Wax 3D
Pitch: “You’ve never been scared until you’ve been scared in 3D…”
Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) is the foremost wax sculptor in the city, but when his business partner chooses insurance money over common decency Jarrod is burned beyond recognition and forced into the shadows. Some time later he returns, seemingly bigger and better than ever, all thanks to a very particular new ingredient in his very life-like wax figures.
This chiller from 1953 runs a brisk 88 minutes and keeps itself moving at a steady pace. The opening fire sees some fun stunt work that today would be accomplished with CGI flames, and later scenes feature some chilling examples of human candles, but this really is Price’s show. He manages to earn some early compassion before turning up the terror with his dastardly creations. The disc includes both the 3D and 2D versions of the film. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary, trailer]
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:
The Castle Project
Downton Abbey: Season 1, 2, & 3
Glee: The Complete Fourth Season
How I Met Your Mother: The Complete Season 8
Jack Irish: Set 1
The Little Mermaid
The Monster Club
New Girl: The Complete Second Season
There Is No Sexual Rapport