Pieces Coming soon to Blu Ray!

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Grindhouse Releasing is blazing a bloody trail of chainsaw carnage in 2016 with the company’s best home video release to date: the highly anticipated 3-disc deluxe Blu-ray edition of the 1980s slasher classic PIECES. 

Hitting stores March 1, this jam-packed, definitive hi-def set (specs below) comes complete with an eye-popping PIECES jigsaw puzzle (limited to the first 3000 copies, available now for pre-order at Diabolik DVD (link) and Amazon.com (link).  Through an exclusive deal with Grindhouse Releasing, Diabolik DVD customers will receive PIECES a week early on February 23 – and get first crack at the limited edition, which is projected to sell out fast.

“We’ve had phenomenal response to our announcement of PIECES,” says Grindhouse Releasing theatrical director and publicist David Szulkin. “It’s been one of our most requested titles for the Blu-ray market, and already, in pre-orders alone PIECES ranked as one of Diabolik DVD’s top ten Blu-ray best-sellers of 2015. PIECES is also a real crowd-pleaser in theaters, and we will be screening it at midnight shows and on college campuses across the country to promote the Blu-ray, starting at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Boston (link) where the movie takes place.”

Directed by Juan Piquer Simón and starring Christopher George (Lucio Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, GRIZZLY, TV’s RAT PATROL), Edmund Purdom (DON’T OPEN TIL CHRISTMAS), Paul L. Smith (MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, David Lynch’s DUNE, and Robert Altman’s POPEYE) and Lynda Day George (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE), PIECES tells the story of a psychopathic killer stalking a Boston campus, brutally slaughtering nubile young college co-eds, collecting body parts from each victim to create the likeness of his mother who he savagely murdered with an axe when he was ten years old.

PIECES was a Variety Top 10 box office smash in its original release, debuting at #5 in its first week (ahead of RETURN OF THE JEDI at #6!). It has remained a favorite among connoisseurs of gore, including director Eli Roth who ranks PIECES as one of his top horror films of all time.

 “We are very proud of this release, “ says Grindhouse Releasing co-founder Bob Murawski, an Academy Award-winning film editor whose credits include THE HURT LOCKER, SPIDER MAN 1, 2, & 3, ARMY OF DARKNESS, and the hit Starz TV series ASH VS. EVIL DEAD. “The stunning 4K masters, the incredible 42nd Street documentary produced by Calum Waddell and Naomi Holwill, the terrific new audio commentary by Jack Taylor, Jim Kunz’ grueling 9 months of encoding, transcoding, authoring and menu design, the beautiful packaging by Tad Leger and Dan Harrington, and what we consider to be the coup of the century: the long-awaited, highly anticipated return of Rick Sullivan of GORE GAZETTE fame, contributing magnificent new liner notes to the release. We think it’s our best release yet!

PIECES is the latest in a series of essential horror Blu-ray releases from Grindhouse Releasing, following the best-selling success of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, CANNIBAL FEROX, and THE BEYOND.  Grindhouse Releasing is known for its lavishly restored, exhaustively detailed releases of cult-classic movies including Frank Perry’s THE SWIMMER, starring Burt Lancaster, which won the 2014 Satellite Award for Best Overall Blu-ray from the International Press Academy, Sergio Sollima’s classic spaghetti western THE BIG GUNDOWN, starring Lee Van Cleef and Tomas Milian, Duke Mitchell’s crime epics MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE and GONE WITH THE POPE. Robert Hartford-Davies’ CORRUPTION, starring Peter Cushing, and Amos Sefer’s AN AMERICAN HIPPIE IN ISRAEL, starring Asher Tzarfati and Shmuel Wolf.

For more information visit www.GrindhouseReleasing.com

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Grindhouse Releasing’s PIECES 3-disc Blu-ray/CD specs:

– TWO complete versions of this shocking gore classic:

   PIECES (83 min.) – the original, unrated U.S. theatrical version, presented in English

   MIL GRITOS TIENE LA NOCHE (86 min.) – the original uncensored director’s cut,

   presented in Spanish with original score by Librado Pastor

– Spectacular new 4K transfers – scanned from the original camera negative

– Brand new audio commentary by star Jack Taylor

– Special 5.1 audio option – the Vine Theater Experience!

– In-depth interviews with director Juan Piquer Simón and genre superstar Paul L. Smith

– 42nd STREET MEMORIES – all-new feature-length documentary containing interviews with Bill Lustig, Larry Cohen, Frank Henenlotter, Buddy Giovinazzo, Jeff Lieberman, John Skipp, Lynn Lowry, Terry Levene, and many other exploitation icons

– Extensive gallery of stills and poster art

– Exhaustive filmographies

– Liner notes by legendary horror journalists Chas. Balun (DEEP RED) and Rick Sullivan (GORE GAZETTE)

– BONUS CD – original soundtrack – newly remastered from the original studio tapes

– Beautiful embossed slipcover

– First 3000 units include an actual jigsaw puzzle! Strictly limited to 3000 units!

– AND OTHER SURPRISES!

 

A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series, 2d ed (2010)

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I don’t remember the first Godzilla movie i ever watched. I feel like it must have been at a time in my life before solid memories were formed. I’m sure i first saw one of the films as a very young child on TV. He became a part of my DNA. I have always known who the Big G is and I’ve always loved watching the films. Information about the series has become somewhat more available in recent years but my own personal knowledge bank is scant at best. At least it was until I read this fantastic book.

The author covers every single Japanese made Godzilla film, from the original all the way to Final Wars, the last Japanese film made. This is no mean feat as there are nearly 30 Godzilla movies. He also covers related films like Mothra, Varan, Rodan, and Dogora among many others to put the canon films into perspective. No stone is left unturned in this deeply researched book. We get biographical information about the film makers, related filmography, and accurate timelines of the creative teams responsible for each film. We learn what the directer was doing before the Godzilla film, what other films the writer had been penning, what other special effects the SFX masters were laboring on before during and even after the film in question was made. Critical analysis of each film is also included in each entry. We learn what was going on in the culture at the time and how it affected each film. There are jokes and references that were always lost on me, that now make more sense because of the thorough picture the author gives of the time and place each film came from. This perspective is very helpful when trying to understand the cultural shifts that were going on which each film was made. Remember, the films span many decades, first starting in 1954 and ending in 2004. Each film serves as a barometer of the culture in which it was made which explains why the films change so dramatically during the run.

We also get a detailed comparison of the American versions of each film which in some cases is dramatically different than the original vision for the film.  Beyond that the book is actually fun to read. This could have easily been as dry as toast with no butter but instead the author writes in an authoritative yet sometimes playful and certainly admiring voice. He has a true passion and love for the series and it shines through. He is however  capable od fishing out heavy criticism for elements that fail in each film so you need not worry about the book being too much of a fanboy tribute. His vision is loving by not myopic. He can see the shortcomings just as easily as you or I but he also has information that explains why those shortcomings were present.

If you’re looking for a book that deeply researches, analyzes, and seeks to understand the Godzilla franchise, look no further. This book is a treasure and a pleasure to read.

http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/

Alternative Movie Posters II (2016)

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Earlier last year I had the chance to read Alternative Movie Posters, a collection of movie posters made by artists from around the world. Some were commissioned pieces for special screenings or special packaging on a dvd release and some of them were from larger collections by the artist exhibited in galleries. The book was a visual feast so I was excited to find out that a second volume was forthcoming. It was worth the wait.

The second volume works as a fantastic companion piece to the first. We get once again full color reproductions of the pieces along with information about the artist and a short Q & A for every single one. Again the art styles vary dramatically from cartoony to minimalist to heavily detailed, from modern to retro and everything in between. There is enough variety here that you will find some fantastic work that will demand to be on your wall. Of course the large variety also means that some of the work didn’t blow my socks off but different strokes for different folks. The good outweighs the bad for sure and since art is subjective your “good” may be my “bad.”

The book is lovingly assembled and continues the work laid down in the first volume. It does not feel like a rehash of the first one but an extension and a well curated one at that. To put it simply, if you dug the first volume, pick this one up too. If you haven’t, picked up the first volume then pick up either one or even better yet, both. If you enjoy looking at movie posters, especially by modern artists, you can do wrong with either book.

Bloody Knuckles (2015)

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I didn’t get to cram in Bloody Knuckles during my annual horror-athon where I watch 100% horror for at least a month but I finally got around to it this week, knowing that artsploitation always delivers.

Bloody Knuckles is a Canadian film about a guy who draws offensive underground comics with a cult following. He decides to aim his next issue at a local businessman accused of corruption only to find out that the businessman takes no guff. He sever the artist’s hand in retribution for his insult but his hand comes to life and gets sweet revenge.

Bloody Knuckles is a hamfisted attempt at commenting on freedom of speech. The entire movie was created to say, “free speech in all it’s forms, offensive and inoffensive needs to be protected.” So the movie has it’s gross troma-esque moments and tries to push a couple of buttons but doesn’t smash the viewer in the face with offensive material. I appreciated that the director didn’t feel the need to offend every audience member (as troma so often does) in order to get their message across. The film feels juvenile but doesn’t suffer too much for it. Honestly it’s a fun flick and doesn’t set out to be much more than that. The makeup effects are good and so is the gore. I think when it comes to Bloody Knuckles, I’m just not really the right demographic for it. I probably would have been more into it had I seen it about 10 years ago, but at this point in my life I didn’t bowl me over.

Ironically the fight for freedom of speech isn’t one that burns deep inside me. I feel (perhaps ignorantly) that freedom of speech is well protected in the states and frankly there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to today’s modern problems. I was passionate about it in high school for sure but now I’m more concerned about other issues. By the end of the film I enjoyed it but in a “shrugging my shoulders” kind of way.  I’m sure the director will move onto doing great work as there is nothing here on a technical level to dislike. It’s a solidly made movie with understandable characters, great pacing, and a fun vibe. I guess I just wish the movie didn’t wear it’s agenda so much on it’s sleeve, it made the movie feel thin for me.

Splintered Visions (2015)

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In that annals of horror cinema Lucio Fulci is a giant name when it comes to sleaze and gore. For many of us he is the first touchstone into the wild word of Eurohorror, led there by promises of uncompromising vision and boat loads of red stuff. From there the world of Eurohorror and more specifically Italian exploitation cinema, is cracked open wide. Fulci is the gate keeper, the carnival barker that gets you into the tent to see the world of exotic and extreme cinema. Unfortunately many film fans check out his pantheon films (Zombie, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead), but neglect his extensive catalog of films from all genres.

Splintered Visions sets out to inform the world of cult film fans of Fulci’s incredible filmography and does so with an encyclopedian gusto. The book covers Fulci’s entire career and I mean that. We get extensive information about how he began his career and there are several pages dedicated to his early work as a screenwriter (also including his later screenplays too) and then goes on to begin with his very first film until his very last work, skipping nothing. Fulci made comedies, gialli, westerns, crime, adventure films and more. He dabbled in nearly every corner of cinema. I knew he had done a lot of work but I honestly had no idea just how many films he made during his lifetime. Many of the films are still unavailable in the US and may never see release here so this is the only place where you’ll get a chance to learn more about them. Each entry (listed in the order he made them) has extensive notes on cast/crew as well as a synopsis and a very lengthy review of the film. Included are quotes from people who worked on the film and there are a bevy of interviews with actors/crew that were conducted specifically for this book. Posters, screen shots and lobby cards are also included in every single review as well. Splintered Visions is totally comprehensive on every level.

It’s clear the book was painstakingly researched to provide the maximum amount of information for every entry in it. The book is massive, in depth, well organized, and thorough. This is the book that Fulci fans have been wanting for years. I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re into Fulci’s films, you cannot go wrong with picking up this book. It will give you all the information you crave and more.

Italian Crime Filmography 1968-1980 (2013)

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Back in my early 20’s I really got into European horror films, especially those from Italy. Their films were more unhinged, had better soundtracks, pretty girls, and crazy violence in them. I purchased a copy of (now defunct) Film Fanaddict Magazine. In the back of one issue it stated there would be an article about poliziotteschi or Italian crime films. I had never heard of the genre before. I had no clue it even existed. Unfortunately that issue never came out and at the time there was little information available elsewhere. It was like a secret club of movie lovers were hoarding all the info and there I was on the outside looking in. In the past couple few years that has changed.

Blue Underground released a handful of Italian crime films around the same time they were releasing a big bundle of horror films. More recently RaroVideo has been pumping out Italian crime flicks here and there but still to this day many of them are unavailable in the states or scattered across many labels making finding them tough. Thanks to the doc Eurocrime, finally the films are getting attention again and now we have this fantastic film guide to help us through the genre. The book’s author Roberto Curti claims that the book is the most complete filmography of Italian Crime films in the English language. I don’t doubt it. The book is stacked with information lovingly researched and presented to us. Included are all the cast and crew that made the film, alternative titles, synopsis, a review and also included are quotes from various cast/writers/directors that made the films. He also writes about the historical context the films were made in. For instance some of the films were ripped from Italian headlines, slightly changed but basically commentary on what was going on at the time in Italy, something that we would have no knowledge of here in the states 40+ years after they happened. Also included are movie posters and stills from the films.

Reading this book you will become an expert on the genre. The reviews are well written, informative and interesting. The book sidesteps the dry reference guides you may be familiar with and instead reads like a history book of Italy and Italian cinema. It’s clear that the author is incredibly knowledgeable about his subject and that the films were researched very thoroughly. The book boggles my mind. I can’t believe how much information is provided. It’s a treasure trove of information and film recommendations.

If you have any interest in poliziotteschi, you need to have this book on your shelf. I’m so glad I have this book and I can’t wait to dig deeper into the genre with this book as my guide.

Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman (2015)

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Paul Newman will be remembered by film fans as one of the greatest actors to have ever graced the silver screen. His filmography is chock full of fantastic films the nestle in the hearts of many cinephiles. He is also known for his philanthropy, we’ve all had a bottle of his salad dressing at some point in our lives. It wasn’t until a few years ago however, that I discovered his racing career.

Winning is a documentary about his prolific career as a race car driver. Starting in his late 40’s, an age when many race car drivers retire, he had a very long and very successful career as a driver. Winning documents his early racing experiences and interviews many of those who were there when he raced. We hear from his racing instructors, his competitors, his team mates, and fellow actors who moonlight as race car drivers. The documentary is well edited and the story is well told without becoming hyperbolic. It reveals the motivations, successes, and losses of the very private Newman. It’s as much a biography and character study as it is about racing.

The doc is an enjoyable ride that sheds light on Newman’s unique life and personality and his drive to win. Who knew Adam Carolla could direct such a fantastic film? I hope he sticks with it and continues to make films, even if they’re all about race car drivers. I’m game.

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

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The second film in the deluxe boxed Black Cat set from Arrow Films is a giallo with a most wonderful title. Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972), might just be the longest title of a giallo that has ever existed. I’m not a scholar on the subject but it’s at least got to be in the running.

Loosely based on the Black Cat by Poe (that’s why it’s in the set), Your Vice is about an abusive novelist who hasn’t written in ages. This artistic impotence has turned him into a savage alcoholic and he spends his days boozing and abusing his wife both verbally and physically. The first scene in the film we find him holding court in his palatial home surrounded by hippies as he forces his wife to drink from a bowl filled with partially consumed drinks “donated” from around the room. This is a giallo so really no one cares much and after the debacle soon everyone is singing and one girl dances naked. It was the 70’s, what do you expect? Soon we find out that the husband has been cheating on the wife too and with any old strumpet lying around, but one particular strumpet is blackmailing him. She’s found dead and he doesn’t have an alibi and was blind drunk at the time and honestly can’t remember if he killed her or not. We don’t know either. From there the bodies start to pile up and the novelist is suspect #1. This is a giallo however and it couldn’t be that simple. To spoil the rest would be wrong but rest assured, this one is a hoot to watch.

Director Sergio Martino has 67 directing credits on IMDB.com including Torso, 2019: After The Fall of New York, Mountain of the Cannibal God, and Hands of Steel among other genre favorite high notes and low notes. Fear not dear reader, Vice is not one of his hilarious stinkers but one of his triumphs. The film stars Italian favorites Ivan Rassimov (who was in the recently reviewed Contamination) and Edwige Fenech (whom we get to see in the buff) and features a very appropriate and mysterious soundtrack by Bruno Nicolai, who also did the music for a few Jess Franco movies and The Case of the Bloody Iris, All the Colors of the Dark, and The Case of the Scorpion’s Tale among others.

Your Vice is a fun twisty giallo that hits all the hallmarks. Beautiful women, bloody deaths, a whodunit, great soundtrack, twists, and that eurohorror vibe that you can’t get anywhere else. Of the two films in the set, I feel that this is the more successful. Black Cat didn’t feel like Fulci was giving his all to the project but this film has Martino firing on all cylinders. The film itself looks fantastic and has never looked better. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Arrow. There’s an interview with Sergio Martino, a mini doc about his contributions to the giallo genre, trailers, optional italian and english tracks, and more stuffed into the package to make your day.

The Black Cat (1981)

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The name Lucio Fulci looms large over the world of horror cinema. Images of incredibly gory deaths, fog, great music, and lots of make up effects jump to my mind when I hear the name. Director of horror classics like Zombie, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, not mention his forays into every other popular genre from sex comedy to western to crime to giallo and more. He’s a director that is loved my many, and honestly loathed by many. But those folks aren’t any fun so they don’t count. The Black Cat is a film that was made during his classic era of horror cinema, but one that for some reason I don’t believe I had ever seen. Thanks to Arrow, and this fantastic Blu set, I finally had a chance.

The Black Cat is a well known Poe story that has had numerous screen adaptations. In this version we meed an old curmudgeon who claims to have super natural powers and generally creeps everyone out. A black cat decides to take residence in his home, but this cat is like no other. It’s a killer evil cat with mysterious intelligence that it uses to trick folks into dying in terrible ways. These people are people that have mocked our curmudgeon and so of course he’s suspect #1 but he claims it’s the cat, not him. The trouble is the cat is no longer taking orders from him and is now an evil cat with no master. Trouble ensues.

The Black Cat has many of those Fulci hallmarks that we all hope for. It’s got fog. It’s got a good soundtrack. It’s got David Warbeck. It’s got some gore. It’s got atmosphere. It doesn’t have enough of any of them though for me. It’s still a good ride but a lesser film from the maestro for me. It’s never dull and features some great cinematography and framing but it doesn’t have the life and vibe of his more well known films. The movie feels like he did it for a paycheck and not because he was passionate about it like he clearly was about The Beyond or House by the Cemetery. Maybe he was burnt, he had made 3 films the previous year and in ’81 made three more. This feels like the one that got what was left of his time while making 6 films in two years. But that isn’t to say it’s a stinker. It isn’t. There’s a great performance from the always reliable Patrick Magee, playing the curmudgeon of course. There’s some decent gore on display and it all feels very Fulci. I just wouldn’t say that this would be a good staring off point with his filmography. This one is for Fulci fans who have seen a good chunk of his work. It’s good, not great.

The presentation is fantastic though and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Arrow. It looks truly beautiful as Fulci’s films were meant to look. The disc features a commentary by Chris Alexander (Fangoria), an interview with horror encyclopedia Stephen Thrower, an interview with Dagmar Lassander, an old interview with David Warbeck and a then and now look at the locations.

Check back here later for my review of Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, also included in this set by Arrow.

Turkey Shoot (1982)

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I love Severin Films. They are a unique small label that is willing to take risks when it comes to their releases. Everything they release they personally love and it resonates every time they get something out. Turkey Shoot is a rare Australian flick that’s over 30 years old that doesn’t have a huge following here in the U.S. Most companies would say no, especially if they were a relatively small label. Severin says yes with gusto.

Turkey Shoot, made during the golden age of Australian exploitation is an obvious riff on The Most Dangerous Game. In the future, the country is controlled by a vicious police state where defectors and law breakers are sent to slave camps to work until they’ve been re-educated. Our hero, played by Steve Railsback, can’t be broken. The character is obviously modeled after Paul Newman’s character in Cool Hand Luke, which for this reviewer is just fine. If you’re going to rip something off, why not rip off the best? Our hero, along with a few other inmates are chosen to participate in the Turkey Shoot, where rich politicians hunt the inmates. If they survive, they get sent back to the world, their records expunged. If they don’t, well…obviously they die.

This was the second time I had seen Turkey Shoot, first time in HD. What a hoot the film is! Rampant nudity, cartoonish bad guys, a man beast in a top hat, a generous amount of gore, this one hits all the marks for a good exploitation film. Never dull, always propulsive and fun, the movie starts with a bang (and a whip!), and ends with one too. This belongs in every cult film fan’s hands. It’s cheesy, violent, and a bit of sleaze for good measure.

The film looks great, though I wouldn’t expect anything less from Severin. They always put out a quality product and this one is no different. We get some solid special features, including a fascinating roundtable interview with director Brian Trenchard-Smith, Antony I. Ginnane, and Vincent Monton, an interview with actors  in the film, another interview with Brian Trenchard-Smith, extended interviews with cast/crew from Turkey Shoot that were filmed for Not Quite Hollywood, Audio Commentary by Brian Trenchard-Smith and more. This thing is stacked and packed for behind the scenes hounds.

Turkey Shoot is a blast and this is a fantastic presentation of the film filled with oodles and oodles of info. This one is a winner.