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Favorite Discs of 2014

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

Saturday November 28, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Brain that Wouldn't Die
Scream Factory

  Forget your 'Jan in the Pan' jokes and 'thing in the closet' remarks about gay subtext. This loopy, kooky and kinky horror offering from New York's Tarrytown is a keeper despite its primitive direction and campy screenplay. When it becomes impossible to tell whether an effect is plain awkwardness, unconscious expressionism or raw cinema gold, choose the last. Mad scientist Herb Evers answered the call to Bring Me the Head of Virginia Leith, and goes on a sleazy shopping spree to find a voluptuous body to make her complete, in the literal sense. It's all in the worst of taste - in other words, delightful. The special edition has some good extras, including a nude outtake for foreign use -- or maybe that was for the director's private reel. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.


Queen of Blood
Scream Factory

  Curtis Harrington took an assignment nobody else would and fashioned a gem of low-budget Sci-Fi. A Russian space epic purchased at a bargain sale provides expensive-looking special effects scenes for Harrington's new space-horror drama about a deadly alien (Florence Marly) rescued from a crash landing on Mars. John Saxon, Judi Meredith and Dennis Hopper lead the space mission, while Basil Rathbone checks in by radio. The show looks great in HD, and the extras include excellent interviews with Roger Corman and effects specialist / historian & archivist Robert Skotak. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.


A quick notice today, as holiday and family commitments have kept me busy much of the week. I do have a cute link on tap. Joe Baltake of The Passionate Filmgoer sends us to a new article about an Australian stage play version of Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest. The play is said to dramatize the film's famous action scenes.

I'm just beginning to get a look at the movies being pushed for Oscar consideration. The Assassin was highly recommended but I found it too slow and too complicated to follow. I imagine that on a screen or on Blu-ray the images alone would hold my attention. Brooklyn is very good, a no-tricks story of an immigrant in a romantic bind. Very nice character work and a charming performance from Saoirse Ronan. I think we now all need a primer in the pronunciation of Irish names.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson

Tuesday November 24, 2015

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Hurricane
KL Studio Classcis

 John Ford and Samuel Goldwyn's South Seas disaster picture has spectacular action and compelling romance. The unjustly imprisoned Jon Hall crosses half an ocean to rejoin his beloved Dorothy Lamour under The Moon of Manakoora, before an incredible (and incredibly expensive) hurricane blows his island to smithereens. With Mary Astor, Thomas Mitchell and Raymond Massey. Ford's direction is flawless, as are Dudley Nichols' screenplay and Alfred Newman's Hollywood-exotic music score. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Forbidden Hollywood Volume 9
The Warner Archive Collection

 Depraved convicts ! Crazy Manhattan gin parties! Society dames poaching other women's husbands! A flimflam artist scamming the uptown sophisticates! All these forbidden attractions are here and more -- including Bette Davis's epochal seduction line about impulsive kissing versus prudent hair care. The five pre-Code attractions in Volume 9 are: Big City Blues, Hell's Highway, The Cabin in the Cotton, When Ladies Meet and I Sell Anything. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.


Dont Look Back
The Criterion Collection

 D.A. Pennebaker puts cinema verité on the map with his terrific up-close docu portrait of Bob Dylan. The poet songwriter runs from concert appearances to hotels, cuts up with his friends, practices with Joan Baez and gives reporters grief. The extras include the filmmaker's early work and excellent discussions about the rest of his career. This is the best look yet at Pennebaker's innovative approach: don't direct, observe. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.


Hi -- sort of a hairy weekend leading into Thanksgiving. That and the five movies in one of the new reviews slowed me up a bit. Or should I say I reviewed seven titles today, covered in three entries?

These years are melting away fast -- the fact that 2015 is almost over seems impossible until I look back at the calendar and see indeed everything I did this year. No comparison with many, but for me I was fairly busy. A very nice thing happened over the weekend. I was contacted by a childhood friend from San Bernardino I hadn't seen in 44 years, James Heath. I made my first 8mm movies with James. Together we got into all kinds of fun that kids just aren't up for anymore, like racing his father's car up and down the driveway at age 13, or setting half the back yard on fire playing with Tiki Torches and alcohol-based fuel. Great stuff, and we never actually got run over, or electrocuted, or burned up. Nor did we ever shoot each other, not once. I was overjoyed to hear what a great life Jim has had... and pointed out to him that I mention him in my recent commentary for The Satan Bug: he was my best pal for downtown double feature matinees.

Another wild card research question: does anybody have any detailed release information on the Czech sci-fi movie Ikarie XB 1?   I have a research inquiry from a Czech contact, who wants to know more about its domestic and English release as Voyage to the End of the Universe. He has info asserting that an English-language cut is out there, that's longer than the standard American cut, to wit, it has more of the original Czech scenes in it. Did A.I.P. dub the movie, or was there an English-language export version that perhaps went to the U.K.first? My studio contacts turned up nothing.

One look at December's Twilight Time offerings, and I want to write up every one of them: Born Free, The Detective, Kings Go Forth, 1984, Mysterious Island, and Harlock Space Pirate 3-D.

The same goes for Kino: Love At Large, Queen of Blood, Welcome to L.A., Tabu and Moana with Sound... and just announced, The Vikings in Technirama!

Also just in, today's Greenbriar Picture Shows has a nice article (November 23) on the new German Blu-ray of This Island Earth. The subject is film budgets for Sci-fi in the '50s. If space movies were so popular, I thought, why weren't there a lot more of them? John McElwee has the same answer, with money figures, that he wrote up for my Sci Fi Reader a few years back -- the Sci-fi spaceships and monsters never were grandly successful, not even the big titles. I guess we should be grateful for what we got.

Just enough time for a silly link, generously provided by Gary Teetzel. It's intended for only the most serious and discerning genre fans, the kind that read only refined film-related resources, like DVD Savant. If you're not certain that you qualify, send $10.00 by money order to this site, and I'll readily assure you that you are. I know you'll thank us for this one.

Happy Turkey Day -- we'll probably have a fancy salad! --- Glenn Erickson

Black Widow
 Forget film art for a minute: Bob Rafelson and Ronald Bass's smart and sexy murder thriller throws Debra Winger and Theresa Russell into a slick neo-noir with fancy glamour trimmings, and comes up a bright, intelligent entertainment. A government agent tracks a serial killer against the wishes of her superiors -- who ever heard of a female Bluebeard, who marries 'em and burys 'em? With Sami Frey, Dennis Hopper, Nicol Williamson, Terry O'Quinn and D.W. Moffett. On

No Man's Woman
 Shall we sing the praises of actress Marie Windsor?  A self--assessed Queen of the Cheapies, Windsor was anything but cheap, gracing some of the better films noirs and delivering some of the most deliciously acidic dialogue ever heard on screen. The woman doesn't just have bedroom eyes, she has bedroom everything, and a wicked smile to go with it. This Republic whodunnit also stars John Archer, Nancy Gates and Richard Crane. When a conniving, greedy art gallery owner turns up dead, everybody else in the movie seems to have a viable motive for murder. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

In Cold Blood
 More than one movie has been made about the story behind this lurid, unthinkable crime on the Kansas prairie, and its author-commentator Truman Capote. Criterion's disc returns the discussion to Richard Brooks, the director that dared adapt Capote's unfilmable novel. The show may also be the last gasp of artistic B&W cinematography from Hollywood, thanks to the indelible images of Conrad Hall. Scott Glenn and Robert Blake are the mass murderers; the great music score is by Quincy Jones. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.

Terror at the Mall
 Is this exploitation, or needed documentation of a modern horror that's become all too frequent?  It's a Terrorist assault on a restaurant, mall and supermarket complex packed with afternoon shoppers, many of them women and children. The camera coverage includes dozens of surveillance recordings plus cell phone snaps and images taken by a photojournalist who accompanied brave plainclothes police into the killing ground. Meanwhile, dozens of government troops stood by, as the shots rang out for literally hours. The show is disturbing and controversial. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection / HBO Documentary Films.

Pitfall (1948)
 This is a GREAT film noir, a domestic drama about a straying husband whose innocent dalliance wrecks lives and puts his marriage in jeopardy. Been there, done that?   Dick Powell and Lizabeth Scott are menaced by Raymond Burr, while wife Jane Wyatt is kept in the dark. Andre de Toth's direction puts everyone through the wringer, with a very adult look at the realities of the American marriage contract. With little Jimmy Hunt, and great shots of Los Angeles circa 1948. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.

Come Fly With Me
  Flight attendants Dolores Hart, Pamela Tiffin and Lois Nettleton aim to pick off attractive, wealthy husbands from among their guests on the new passenger jets -- Karl Boehm, Hugh O'Brien and Karl Malden. There's more social comment in this 'coffee, tea or me' romantic comedy than can be found in a graduate thesis about the sexual habits of liberated stewardesses. It's a soap opera fantasy, by turns funny, dramatic and sentimental. And Hey, Frankie Avalon warbles the classy title tune! On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection

Phase IV
 The ants are taking over, and they mean business. The proving ground for world conquest is a research lab in Arizona, where Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy and Lynne Frederick try to hold out against super-intelligent hormigas that cut them off, develop sophisticated weapons and instantly adapt to any chemical attempt to stop them. The eerie ecology-minded thriller is given a psychedelic edge by brilliant graphic expert-turned director Saul Bass. I have the full rundown on the notorious spacey alternate ending, with links. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.

The Fireman's Ball
 Milos Forman was the prince of the Prague Spring with this Czech New Wave classic, a hilarious black comedy about the cheerful corruption and incompetence of petty bureaucrats. A fire brigade throws a bash, and by the end of the evening the lottery prizes are all stolen and the beauty contest has become a travesty. And they can't even put out a simple fire. Forman's non-actors are splendid, and the movie's just too affectionate to be cynical -- although the joke is clearly aimed at the Soviet-influenced government. When repressive measures kicked in again, Forman and his writer Ivan Passer came to America. On Region-Free Blu-ray and PAL DVD from Arrow Films UK.

November 2015
 Mr Holmes  Blu-ray + Digital HD  Dr. Terror's House of Horrors  Blu-ray  Broken Lance  Blu-ray  Passage to Marseille  Blu-ray  Devil in a Blue Dress  Blu-ray  Croupier  Blu-ray  The Mask  3-D Blu-ray  Run of the Arrow  DVD  Living in Oblivion  Blu-ray + DVD  Mulholland Dr.  Blu-ray  Tenderness of the Wolves  UK Region B Blu-ray + DVD  A Special Day  Blu-ray  Rashomon  UK Region B Blu-ray  Deep in My Heart  Blu-ray  J t'aime, j t'aime  Blu-ray  Thieves' Highway  UK Region B Blu-ray + DVD  Scream and Scream Again  Blu-ray
October 2015
 W.C. Fields Comedy Essentials Collection: Million Dollar Legs, If I Had a Million, International House, Tillie and Gus, Alice in Wonderland, Six of a Kind, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, You’re Telling Me!, The Old Fashioned Way, It’s a Gift, Mississippi, Man on the Flying Trapeze, Poppy, The Big Broadcast of 1938, You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, My Little Chickadee, The Bank Dick, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break  DVD  My Darling Clementine and  Frontier Marshal  UK Region B Blu-ray  The High Cost of Loving  DVD  Jurassic World  3-D Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD  The Brood  Blu-ray  Randall William Cook: As Never Seen Before, 'New' Vintage Stop-Motion on Blu-ray Guest Review /  Special Effects Collection: Son of Kong, Mighty Joe Young, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Them!  Blu-ray  Kwaidan  Blu-ray  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl  Blu-ray  Spartacus  Blu-ray  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance  Blu-ray  Mad Men: The Final Season Part 2  Blu-ray  DVD Savant's Guide to the New Wave of Classic Hammer Blu-ray  (by Phantom Guest Reviewer)  Five Films by Patricio Guzmán: The Battle of Chile, Chile Obstinate Memory, The Pinochet Case, Salvador Allende, Nostalgia for the Light, Filming Obstinately: Meeting Patricio Guzmán  DVD  Tomorrowland  Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD  The Sentinel  Blu-ray  A Room with a View  Blu-ray  San Andreas  3-D Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD  Horror Classics: Four Chilling Movies from Hammer Films: The Mummy (1959), Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Frankenstein Must be Destroyed, Taste the Blood of Dracula  Blu-ray  The Invisible Monster  Blu-ray  Two O'Clock Courage  DVD  Diary of a Lost Girl  Blu-ray  Masterworks of American Avant-Garde Experimental Film 1920-1970  Blu-ray
September 2015
 The Honeymoon Killers  Blu-ray  Emperor of the North  Blu-ray  Arts in Exile: Nine East German Shorts on Artists Forced to Flee the Nazis.  DVD  That Phantom of the Opera  Blu-ray  The Oblong Box  Blu-ray  The Satan Bug  Blu-ray  Fat City  Blu-ray  Turkey Shoot  Blu-ray  Man With the Gun  Blu-ray  The Old Gun  DVD  Deutschland 83  DVD  Breaker Morant  Blu-ray  Eaten Alive  Blu-ray  The Reivers  Blu-ray  The Black Stallion  Blu-ray  The Little House  Blu-ray  The Bear  Blu-ray  Kings of the Sun  Blu-ray  The Wonderful Country  Blu-ray  Alraune  Region 2 DVD  I, Madman  Blu-ray  Daniel  Blu-ray  Innerspace  Blu-ray  The Robin Hood of El Dorado  DVD  Murder, My Sweet  Blu-ray
August 2015
 Mad Max: Fury Road  3-D Blu-ray  War-Gods of the Deep  Blu-ray  Videodrome  Blu-ray  Street Smart  Blu-ray  Quick! Before It Melts  DVD  That Guy Dick Miller  DVD  The Hunger  Blu-ray  Nightmare Castle + Castle of Blood, Terror Creatures from Beyond the Grave  Blu-ray  Burn, Witch, Burn  Blu-ray  House of Bamboo  Blu-ray  Citizenfour  Blu-ray  The Andromeda Strain  Blu-ray  Message from Hiroshima  DVD  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!


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