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[Savant Links] [Year Five Report]
Write Savant (Glenn Erickson) at

August 25, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

Mad Max: Fury Road
Warner Home Video
3-D Blu-ray, 2-D Blu-ray,
Digital HD, DVD

  This year's hottest action movie revved up audiences more than anything since, well, since 1982's The Road Warrior. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron share top gun status in a sustained chase-gauntlet run-survival ordeal back and forth across 200 miles of post-apocalyptic Namibia. Ace director George Miller transcends genre limits, yet assembles a finely crafted epic in which CGI effects are subordinated to real-life daredevil stunt work. Even the corny stuff grabs us. The 3-D is sensational (and very smartly used); the extras made a big difference in my appreciation. I had assumed that most of the stunts came out of a computer, and that just ain't so. A Multi-Format edition on 3-D and 2-D Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD from Warner Home Video.


War-Gods of the Deep
KL Studio Classics

  Vincent Price!  Tab Hunter!  Susan Hart!  David Tomlinson!  Herbert the Rooster!  American-International's London-shot grab bag of genre flotsam is one of the best-looking, carefully-directed and most ill-judged fantasy films ever. American babe Hart is kidnapped by the ruler of an undersea kingdom, who commands soggy but fierce Gill-Men to enforce his perverted will. But wait -- are the citizens of the undersea city really immortal? Will everyone escape before the underwater volcanoes blow the forgotten city Mayonnaise Lyonesse back to the deep end of the pool? And what of Tomlinson's pet chicken, Herbert? He's the most important character in the movie, interrupting every grim Vincent Price speech and pulling off the darned-est cut-ups, Disney style. Who can resist? On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


More changes, more excitement. The vaunted Trailers from Hell page has stepped up and offered to guest-host DVD Savant while waiting for DVDtalk to renew access to the site. This is fun, being handed from one gracious group of online entrepreneurs to another. Trailers from Hell is of course a major web destination; I link to its contents often. I even like TFH's weekly quizzes, even though I don't score so highly. Anyway, my links here today will redirect readers to a galaxy website far, far away. Traveling without moving.

As for Stuart Galbraith IV and his page World Cinema Paradise, they have been a regular life preserver. I met Stuart in 1998, through completely selfish means: Gary Teetzel introduced us at a time when Stuart was living in Los Feliz. I think he was working for Warner Bros. as an archivist. He'd later do some film element research work at MGM as well. I found out that Stuart not only had written a book about Kaiju called The Monsters are Attacking Tokyo, but that he possessed a huge library of expensive Japanese laserdiscs of all the original Toho Kaiju and sci-fi thrillers. Years before most were made available on Region 1 DVD, I was able to finally see things like The Secret of the Telegian, Mothra and Gorath uncut, in widescreen, with their proper soundtracks and sometimes in stereophonic sound. The catch: no English subtitles. When begged, Stuart would comment on screenings for us and answer our questions about what was happening. Stuart has now become better known as an expert on the entire field of Japanese cinema, having written books about Akira Kurosawa and others. He's always been supportive of DVD Savant, we've written for each other's sites, etc. He's perhaps the most respected reviewer to appear regularly at DVDtalk.

Links for the day? Well, one's a simple Facebook page where some agreeable person regularly posts images from the golden age of space travel, futuristic iconography and '50s and '60s space fantasy. It's called The Vault of the Atomic Space Age. Typically, I went there only to see that Gary Teetzel has discovered the page before me, like Arne Saknussem.

I received eight full email notes in response to Ken Camp's letter about the old Vagabond Movie theater. I'm going to try to organize them as part of an article about the great days of vintage film-seeking in Los Angeles in the 1970s. I may not find any photos but it'll be easy to add details to make Angeleno film fans wax nostalgic.

Gary Teetzel sent me this boingboing article by Cory Doctorow about the files kept by the Federal Bureau of Investigation against author Ray Bradbury, "Definitely slanted against the United States". The key informant? Good old Martin Berkeley, who's credited on several Universal sci-fi pictures of the 1950s. It's somewhat strange that the author of Tarantula would so fervently denounce the author of the classic book Fahrenheit 451.

And I can say that I think there will finally be some news, perhaps soon, about the 1963 sci-fi gem Day of the Triffids. At the Asssociation of Moving Image Archivists' annual convention The Reel Thing last week, some presenters dropped the word that the film was being mastered on 4K video. Bob Furmanek broke the news online over the weekend. Here's hoping... there's a generation or two that's never seen the Howard Keel epic about galloping broccoli, and it's one of our favorites.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

August 22, 2015

Seas Rise!   Empires Fall!    DVD Savant Soldiers On!    Today's new reviews are:

Arrow Video (UK)
Region B Blu-ray + PAL DVD

  David Cronenberg's mind expanding, brain twisting prophetic sci-fi horror takes a menacingly honest look at the future of man's mingling with his media inventions. James Woods seeks out a mysterious pirate satellite feed, unleashing a channel of forbidden content - which rides on a carrier wave that induces psychophysical changes in anyone who gazes upon it. Deborah Harry is the sensationalist who embraces Videodrome's forbidden sexual unknowns, and enters its world of living hallucinations. This four-disc dual-format edition has unique extras, including a Tim Lucas commentary and a quartet of Cronenberg's early student/underground productions. On Region B Blu-ray and PAL DVD from Arrow Video UK.

Street Smart
Olive Films

  Christopher Reeve has a notable non- Kal-el role in Jerry Schatzberg's New York- set thriller about an ambitious writer who fakes a story and lives to regret it. The real acting honors and career boost go to Morgan Freeman as a crafty pimp accused of murder, and Kathy Baker as the top girl in his stable. The D.A. demands Reeves' non-existent interview notes, while the criminal blackmails the writer's cooperation in establishing an alibi. The trouble escalates from there. With Mimi Rogers and Andre Gregory. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.


Quick! Before It Melts
The Warner Archive Collection

 Mid-60s MGM sex comedies rarely play well today -- you know, the kind of adult 'shook up shopping cart' nonsense where the poster illustration promises make-out thrills that the show doesn't deliver. The gimmick in this farce sends George Maharis, Robert Morse and Anjanette Comer to a science research station in Anarctica. They get to watch pet penguins and play games with a Russian scientist and some cute female visitors, but Morse's fianceé Yvonne Craig stays home in New York. It's a weird movie -- everybody tries hard but the magic mostly ain't there. Directed by Delbert Mann, the best thing about the movie is a title, which sounds like it belongs on a Beach Party movie. On DVD-R from The Warner Archive Collection.

Hello! A couple more fast links this weekend -- !

Gary Teetzel sent me to a video interview at Nerdist, about Theo Kalomirakis, a guy who has a $300,000 Movie Collection. We get to see how he stores it -- it must be in the wing of his mansion labeled, 'Videoland.' The stinger -- he doesn't watch them very much.

Chicago Savant colleague and much-quoted film critic Sergio Mims is asked to comment about a resurgence (?) of black-directed films in Renaissance for Black Films Still Waiting. The subject is prompted by the new film Straight Outta Compton.

And correspondent Ken Camp responded to my link to an old review of The Night of the Lepus with a memory-inducing note about movie-going in Los Angeles in the '70s...

"Glenn, What a bizarre memory. Night of the Lepus closed the State Theatre I worked at in Long Beach in the early '70s. As to why it was even made, I didn't "get" it. However, the joke was that for weeks, whenever we would drive by the theatre, the marquee and posters were still advertising this movie, and there was always a line waiting to buy tickets for a screening that would never happen.

Franklin Urbach (sp?) who ran The Vagabond Theatre next to MacArthur Park had taken over the State Theatre. It was one of those huge old movie palaces next door to The Pike in Long Beach. His plan, which never materialized, was to have a team of painters project on the walls frame blow-ups from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and paint those images to the walls. He had already done this at The Vagabond, using frames from Battleship Potemkin. Too bad it didn't happen. The State was one of those big curvy archways type of places and it would have been a strange mind-blower to turn it into Dr. Caligari. -- Ken Camp"

I only remember seeing the State Theater around 1958 while visiting my Uncle in Long Beach, and staring at the giant roller coaster in The Pike. But I was a constant attendee at The Vagabond, which showed one-of-a-kind studio prints, often in original Technicolor. I also went there one night to see about becoming a projectionist. I wisely realized I didn't have enough experience -- I could just see myself mangling the irreplaceable 35mm prints that were screened at The Vagabond. Anybody else remember shows at that small but impressive theater? That's where I saw original nitrate prints of Val Lewton movies, with Rocco Gioffre and Hoyt Yeatman.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

That Guy Dick Miller
  This hugely enjoyable docu-bio gives us a favorite character actor, who could very well represent the ambitions and aspirations of actors everywhere, and especially those that labor on the fringes of movie fame. Dick Miller is wholly recognizable but not often named, and Elijah Drenner's entertaining trek through his life puts us in contact with a tall list of fun movie personalities eager to talk about him. A Roger Corman regular, Miller has meant different things to succeeding generations of filmmakers... and has arguably never turned in anything less than an inspired performance. And it's a happy story, too --- just a little fame & riches-challenged. Great music, amusing film clips and a fine presentation all 'round. On DVD from Indiecan Entertainment.

The Hunger
  Tony Scott's first feature film is a flashy-moody modern vampire epic dressed up in trendy perfume-commercial images and played for atmosphere first and foremost. But it can also boast three very attractive performances from the always-interesting Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon; plus really classy makeup effects that do more than just provide gory shocks. And of course, there's the racy Deneuve-on-Sarandon sex stuff that pulled us all into the theater. A commentary track with director Tony Scott and Sarandon proves an informative listen. It may not be art, but it ain't Kitsch, either. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.

Nightmare Castle
  Steele yourself! Mario Caiano's graveyard valentine to the swoon-inducing horror queen Barbara Steele comes back in a visually perfect HD transfer from the original negative. The tale of infidelity, torture and vengeance from beyond the grave, gives us La Babs in yet another dual role, and briefly, in a major horror makeup. The disc generously includes two more Steele Euro-horror opuses, Antonio Margheriti's Castle of Blood and Massimo Pupillo's Terror Creatures from Beyond the Grave They're in HD, from reasonable-to-great quality 35mm prints. Plus, a tall stack of extras, including the best Steele career interview to date and a new audio commentary with Steele and David Del Valle. On Blu-ray from Severin Films.

Burn, Witch, Burn
  Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont's slick screenplay combined with great acting by Janet Blair, Peter Wyngarde and Margaret Johnston raise this witchcraft-in-academia tale to a high level of quality. A skeptical professor destroys his wife's occult amulets and other supernatural bric-a-brac, leaving him open to the evil spells of a college rival. It sounds like SOP back at the UCLA Film School. Very effectively filmed, this one pays off nicely with some good scares. With a commentary by Matheson and a new interview with star Wyngarde. On Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

House of Bamboo
  Sam Fuller's best movie? Well, it's probably his most lavish production. Thug Robert Stack muscles in on the mob of Robert Ryan, pushing out previous lieutenant Cameron Mitchell. The big deal is that the gang of thieves is operating out of a swank house in postwar Tokyo, each with a 'kimonah girl' by his side. High drama, terrific color, CinemaScope visuals and Fuller's terrific critical eye really make this one sing. With Shirley Yamaguchi, Brad Dexter, Sessue Hayakawa, DeForest Kelley. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

  Laura Poitras' Oscar-winning documentary is more than an exposé -- watching it makes one realize that any notion of personal privacy is now fast disappearing into history. The show doesn't preach, but just follows Edward Snowden as he prepares to leak a wealth of NSA documents proving that America spies on its citizens, its allies, everyone... for the benefit of...? Believe it or not, the carefully conceived docu simply shows us what's Snowden's doing, what kind of person he is, and how crucially important what he's done may be for the future. With some good extras as well. On Blu-ray from Anchor Bay / Radius.

The Andromeda Strain
  It's germs from outer space, I tell you. Savant takes a good hard look at a favorite, a sci-fi picture with integrity. Michael Crichton's debut technothriller is packed with narrative problems, only partly solved -- it's a movie made 80% of technical exposition, and it's still fascinating. Arthur Hill, James Olsen, David Wayne and Kate Reid star. Robert Wise's pricey production doesn't cut corners, especially not with Douglas Trumbull and Jamie Shourt's advanced special effects. Savant has the inside story on the scenes with the monkey, that looks like he's being killed on-screen. On Blu-ray from Universal Home Video.

Message from Hiroshima
  A former resident of Hiroshima constructs an ode to the memory of what was destroyed, employing the testimony of citizens that survived, and visual aids to reconstruct the little mercantile area that once existed directly under the air blast, at ground zero. Beautiful digital reconstructions bring a lost borough back to life; the survivors tour the memorial park at the site, speaking of their long-lost relatives buried underground. Masaake Tanabe's documentary is a personal statement to preserve memories. Actor George Takei provides the narration. On DVD from Cinema Libre Studio.

August 2015
 Viva Villa!  DVD  For Whom the Bell Tolls (Wem Die Stunde Schlägt) Region B Blu-ray  Baby It's You  Blu-ray  Our Mother's House  DVD  Agnès Varda in California: Uncle Yanco, Black Panthers, Lions Love (...and Lies), Mur Murs, Documenteur  DVD  Thunder Road  Blu-ray  Black Sabbath U.S. version  Blu-ray
July 2015
 Fearless Frank (Frank's Greatest Adventure)  DVD  Pit Stop  Blu-ray  Places in the Heart  Blu-ray  The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension  Blu-ray  Night and the City  Blu-ray  Mississippi Mermaid  Blu-ray  Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau  Blu-ray  The World of Henry Orient  Blu-ray  The Clay Pigeon  DVD  The Best of Everything  Blu-ray  He Ran All the Way  Blu-ray  The Spider  Danish miniseries;  Region 2 DVD  Around the World with Orson Welles  Blu-rayDVD  The Monster that Challenged the World  Blu-ray  Come and Get It  DVD  Hiroshima mon amour  Blu-ray  Storm Fear  Blu-ray  Escape from East Berlin  DVD  It Follows  Blu-ray  Miracle Mile  Blu-ray  The Young Lions  Blu-ray
June 2015
 Kern & Hammerstein: Showboat  Blu-ray  Riffraff '47  DVD
 The Killers '46 & The Killers '64  Blu-ray  Report to the Commissioner  Blu-ray  Absolute Beginners  Blu-ray  The Incredible Shrinking Man  Region B Blu-ray  3-D Rarities  3-D Blu-ray   The Golden Year: Five Classics from 1939: Dark Victory, Ninotchka, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dodge City, Gone With the Wind  Blu-ray  The Thing with Two Heads  Blu-ray  The Night of the Generals  Blu-ray  Pandas: The Journey Home  3-D Blu-ray  Monte Walsh  Blu-ray  The Hound of the Baskervilles  Region B (UK) Blu-ray  John Ford: Dreaming the Quiet Man  Blu-ray  Mississippi Burning  Blu-ray  Vincent & Theo  Blu-ray  The Sunshine Boys  Blu-ray  The Onion Field  Blu-ray  American Guerilla in the Philippines  DVD
 The Bridge  Blu-ray  Tentacles &  Reptilicus  Blu-ray  Show Them No Mercy!  DVD
May 2015
 State of Siege  Blu-ray  The Island of Dr. Moreau  Blu-ray  Magician: The Astonishing Life & Works of Orson Welles  Blu-ray  Wolfen  Blu-ray  Shy People Savant Revival Review  A Man for All Seasons  Blu-ray  Carla's Song  Blu-ray  Cops and Robbers  Blu-ray  The Best House in London  DVD  1776  Blu-ray  Face to Face and  The Tramplers by Lee Broughton  DVD  The First Deadly Sin  DVD  Jamaica Inn  Blu-ray  The Confession  Blu-ray  Hombre  Blu-ray  Moonlighting  Blu-ray  Thank Your Lucky Stars  Blu-ray  Tarantula  UK Region B Blu-ray  It! The Terror from Beyond Space  Blu-ray  Ladyhawke  Blu-ray  The Midnight Special  DVD  Make Way for Tomorrow  Blu-ray  Seven Angry Men  DVD  The Beyond  Blu-ray  Richard III 1995  Blu-ray  The Premature Burial  Blu-ray  The Long Good Friday  UK Region B Blu-ray & PAL DVD
April 2015
 The Secret Invasion  Blu-ray  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night  Blu-ray  Face of Fire  DVD  Mr. Turner  Blu-ray  Mysteries of the Unseen World  3-D Blu-ray  Blood and Black Lace  Region AB Blu-ray & DVD  Inherent Vice  Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD  42nd Street  Blu-ray  April Love  Blu-ray  Le Silence de la mer  Blu-ray  "X"  Blu-ray  Dance with Me, Henry  Blu-ray  That Man from Rio and  Up to His Ears  Blu-ray  Invaders from Mars 1986  Blu-ray  Zardoz  Blu-ray  Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas: Walk Cheerfully, That Night's Wife, Dragnet Girl  DVD  The Way Things Go  Blu-ray  The Friends of Eddie Coyle  Blu-ray  Why Be Good?  DVD  Blue Sky  Blu-ray  Hoop Dreams  Blu-ray  A Most Violent Year  Blu-ray + Digital HD  Solomon and Sheba  Blu-ray  Sullivan's Travels  Blu-ray
March 2015
 Odd Man Out  Blu-ray  Massacre Gun  Blu-ray  U Turn  Blu-ray  Hand of Death  DVD  Without a Clue  Blu-ray  The White Buffalo  Blu-ray  The Day Mars Invaded Earth  DVD  The Imitation Game  Blu-ray + Digital HD  The Babadook  Blu-ray  Journey to the Center of the Earth  Blu-ray  First Men in the Moon  Blu-ray  The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry  Blu-ray  Miami Blues  Blu-ray  Day of Anger  Blu-ray + DVD  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies  3-D Blu-ray  Goodbye to Language  3-D Blu-ray  Forbidden Hollywood Volume 8: Blonde Crazy, Strangers May Kiss, Hi Nellie!, Dark Hazard  The Soft Skin  Blu-ray  The Falcon and the Snowman  Blu-ray  Alice's Restaurant  Blu-ray  Like Water for Chocolate  Blu-ray  Musicals: 4-Movie Collection: Kiss Me Kate  3-D, Calamity Jane, The Band Wagon, Singin' in the Rain  Blu-ray  Kiss Me Kate  3-D Blu-ray  The Liberator  Blu-ray  Muscle Beach Party  Blu-ray  Ride the Pink Horse  Blu-ray  The Manchurian Candidate  UK Region B Blu-ray & PAL DVD  Dear Heart  DVD
February 2015
 In the Land of the Head Hunters  Blu-ray  The Prowler  Blu-ray  The End of Violence  Blu-ray  The Sure Thing  Blu-ray  Incident  DVD  To Sir, With Love  Blu-ray  Caveman  Blu-ray  A Day in the Country  Blu-ray  Stormy Weather  Blu-ray  The Night They Raided Minsky's  Blu-ray  The Killing  UK Region B Blu-ray  The St. Valentine's Day Massacre  Blu-ray  Syncopation  Blu-ray  How to Murder Your Wife  Blu-ray  Black Sunday  Blu-ray  The Connection  Blu-ray  Rabid  UK Region B Blu-ray  Lust for Life  Blu-ray  The Wild Angels  Blu-ray  Watership Down  Blu-ray  Kiss Me, Stupid  Blu-ray  The Day They Robbed the Bank of England  DVD  Nightcrawler  Blu-ray  The Purple Rose of Cairo  Blu-ray  A Hole in the Head  Blu-ray  Don't Look Now  Blu-ray  Far from the Madding Crowd  Blu-ray  God Told Me To  Blu-ray
January 2015
 Why Don't You Play In Hell?  Blu-ray  Running On Empty  DVD  55 Days at Peking  UK Region B Blu-ray  Pork Chop Hill  Blu-ray  The Palm Beach Story  Blu-ray  The Black Scorpion widescreen  DVD  No Highway in the Sky  DVD  The Weapon  Blu-ray  The Bride Wore Black  Blu-ray  May in the Summer  Blu-ray  World for Ransom  Blu-ray  Breaking Away  Blu-ray  The Night Porter  Blu-ray  The Girl Who Knew Too Much  Blu-ray  The Russians are Coming the Russians are Coming  Blu-ray  Fury  Blu-ray  Bloody Sunday  DVD  52 Pick-Up  Blu-ray  Till the End of Time  DVD  Into the Woods  Blu-ray  The Twilight Samurai  Blu-ray  The Ultimate Invaders from Mars Savant Article Reboot  Ten Seconds to Hell  Blu-ray  Adua and Her Friends  Blu-ray  Kinoshita and World War II  DVD  The Boys from Brazil  Blu-ray

  Reaching further back in time?
A Chronological List of DVD Savant's Reviews for 2014
... and for 2013 ... 2012 ... and 2011

 Savant's DVD Wish List FINAL NOTE 2012

Hundreds more Savant reviews at the Other End of this Link!


Don't forget to write Savant at dvdsavant@mindspring.com.

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