Your time is short. We know this. So in order to expedite your buying and Netflix decision making, we provide you with a list of the cool and not-so-cool titles coming out for movies, television and everything in-between. So put your feet up, grab some popcorn and check out this week’s selections.
It is a huge week for video with a whole slew of vintage titles reborn onto Blu-ray, cool TV shows and the latest hot releases coming out May 12, 2015.
BROADCHURCH: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON – The second season of BROADCHURCH proves why the Americanized version of this brilliant BBC series failed to capture the same emotions, tension, drama and fans as the original. The settings, the acting, the storyline all are superior to what GRACEPOINT presented to American viewers despite also featuring David Tennant in the lead role. This is not to say that the first season of BROADCHURCH didn’t also do this but since these are closer together in their release it makes sense to compare the two. This isn’t necessarily a knock against bringing things to America or America in general, just for this particular show, the BBC blows it out of the water. The second season begins shortly after the end of the first season with the man charged with killing a 12 year old boy pleading not guilty to the crime – sending the same town once again into turmoil of having to have a lengthy trial after such a gruesome and eye-opening investigation.
While Season 1 showed how a small town can fall into chaos when a brutal murder takes place that opens up all the dirty little secrets hiding there, Season 2 is divided into two parts – a courtroom drama about the 12 year old murder and the reopening of the Sandbrook case (the case Alex Hardy (Tennant) worked prior to investigating the murder in Broadchurch). It is an interesting dynamic and different enough from the first season to not cover the same ground walked already. While the tension is reduced do to the content of the storyline, the trademark beautiful countryside, the use to negative space and the strong acting of all parties really shines.
VAMPYROS LESBOS – Severin Films has a powerful pair of titles this week beginning with the first time in high definition version of Jess Franco’s VAMPYROS LESBOS. This has long been considered to be Franco’s crowning achievement in a long line of films from the European director. Famous for his ample amounts of nudity, softcore porn, strange imagery and crazy horror elements, Franco, considered to be the king of Eurotrash films, really out does himself in this crazy tale of a female vampire (played by the lovely cult movie icon Soledad Miranda) that woos a sexually frustrated lawyer to her island retreat in the Mediterranean in order to satiate her need for blood, and, of course, flesh. The film has been restored using the latest technology to high definition and for a film that was released in 1970 looks simply amazing. The ability to take an older film and transform it into something that holds up in today’s world of 4K resolution is pretty amazing. About as amazing as seeing Miranda strutting around naked the whole time in HD. The Blu-ray release also features new interviews with Franco and a Soledad Miranda historian as well as a very amusing look at the works of Franco and some other pretty cool features that Franco fans will eat up. If this isn’t good enough, Severin took the time to track down an alternate Spanish language bootleg version of the film and included the DVD as a special bonus. Really great stuff here and if you are into this sort of Eurotrash horror, this being the Holy Grail of the genre is a must have.
SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY – The second of Severin’s power duo of the week also stars the amazing Soledad Miranda and is the second film in the trilogy of Franco movies starring the actress (including VAMPYROS LESBOS and THE DEVIL CAME FROM AKASAVA). Of course, it also stars just about everyone else from VAMPYROS LESBOS as well. This time, however, Miranda stars as a vengeful widow that begins to systematically hunt the people she believes cause her husband to commit suicide. He killed himself after a group of scholars and other individuals told him his research was monstrous and had to be stopped immediately. His life’s work gone, he decided to end it all. Miranda’s character then takes to taking off all her clothes and seducing everyone involved while at the same time trying multiple times to continue to have sex with the corpse of her husband. It’s a wacky movie but undeniably a Franco film with strange imagery, out-of-place up tempo music and plenty of flesh. While the kills aren’t anything special, Miranda running around naked is always a plus and we get plenty of it here as well as numerous close-ups of her “why so serious” face. What’s incredibly cool as well is that Severin threw in an additional bonus disc filled with the soundtracks to the so-called Eurotrash “unholy trinity” of Jess Franco in VAMPYROS LESBOS, SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY and THE DEVIL CAME FROM AKASAVA. So if you enjoy crazy 70s music that accompanies these crazy movies, this is a great bonus. There are also interviews with Franco and the cast here as well as a featurette on the film itself and its place in the Eurotrash hall of fame.
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MS. OSBOURNE – This vintage Euro exploitation flick is the latest from Arrow Video remastered using the latest 2K restoration from the original film negatives. The plot is simple. During the engagement to his soon-to-be-bride Fanny Osbourne (played by the über hot Marina Pierro), Dr. Jekyll invites various guests to his mansion. But when his friends and family begin to show up dead – some raped and killed, others just brutally murdered – the guests begin to flee for their lives as they figure out a deranged killer has trapped them in the house. Of course, knowing the age old tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde we know where this is going all along but it is the journey that is the fun part. Director Walerian Borowczyk is known for his arthouse flicks and he brings a very cool method to this crazy horror flick filled with strange lighting, long takes of various photography scattered about and other stunning visuals that really sets it apart from other such films at the time based on the classic horror icon. Included on the Blu-ray disc are two short films both inspired by this film, archival interviews with the cast and crew, interview with Pierro, two featurettes on the making of the movie and much more extras. A feast for the Euro sleaze horror lover.
MORTDECAI – This is the latest in what has become a general trend with Johnny Depp in picking just terrible acting choices. Depp plays Charley Mortdecai, a stuffy English art dealer that is broke and ends up working for the government in order to find a stolen painting that will help the British government’s war on terror funding. As convoluted and asinine as it sounds, it’s worse when it comes to the presentation on screen. Depp is annoyingly sheepish, weak and cowardly. So much so that the viewer cares little for his well-being that is constantly being threatened by either people he owes money to or other characters looking to gain the painting for themselves. It’s as if they had an idea for a high brow Austin Powers but without going all the way slapstick. The laughs are few and far between and with an equally annoying Gwyneth Paltrow as Mortdecai’s stuck-up, pretentious wife and a boring plot it just spells disaster on all fronts. The one saving grace is the performance of Paul Bettany who is very good as Mortdecai’s hired muscle/driver who endlessly must serve his bumbling master. With only a handful of extras included in the video, this can be passed up for something far better this week.
EXTRATERRESTRIAL – There are a host of films about alien abductions or aliens landing on Earth to being an invasion or just to terrorize people for the hell of it. Always, this is met with skepticism from those in the movies about the legitimacy of what’s happening. EXTRATERRESTRIAL puts a different idea into action: That the government and the ETs have a working relationship where they get to roam free in desolate locations of the country and they’ll turn their back to any wrongdoings that happen to go on to the local population. But when a group of friends travel to a cabin in this location, they witness a UFO go down and end up killing one of the aliens, breaking the truce. All hell breaks loose and the aliens begin hunting the friends, taking some up to their ship to be experimented on, others just killing outright. It is a decent enough twist on the genre to make it interesting. One cool thing is the shout out to THE X-FILES at the end of the movie and if you have ever seen any of the episodes of the show or the movies you’ll be able to figure it out pretty quickly. This nod to the show is a fitting end for a movie filled with enough “I want to believe” moments than
THE DROWNSMAN – Call it the Freddy Krueger of water sports. THE DROWNSMAN is an interesting horror flick in that it focuses on a supernatural killer that haunts people with water, yes, water. After a near drowning in a lake, Madison (Michelle Mylett) develops severe hydrophobia, fear of water. She begins to see visions of a mud covered man that haunts her waking and sleeping dreams trying to drown her in a crazy basement filled with water everywhere. When her friends get fed up with Madison’s phobia, they have an intervention but unknowingly attract The Drownsman to them. One-by-one the supernatural killer concocts evil ways to spill water around the friends and he drags them to his kill zone through the water only to drown them at a later date. The idea here is interesting and film does a good job with coming up with ways to get water around them (sort of like a FINAL DESINTATION death finds a way approach) but it’s odd that the killer must first drag them into his underworld in order to just then drown them all the same. After her friends meet their end, the remaining friends learn of the Drownsman’s whereabouts and seek to confront him rather than meet their end through his methods. It is an interesting horror flick that definitely has a new approach to a supernatural killer even if that approach is flawed.
THE COBBLER – I know what you are thinking … not another lame comedy starring Adam Sandler that either is a rich or poor guy that must learn to become a better person through finding love or passion for something he isn’t initially very good at. However, THE COBBLER is none of these things. Instead Sandler puts on a more subdued performance as the son of a shoe repair man (called a Cobbler) that discovers in his father’s work basement an old shoe machine that allows him to magically be transformed into any of his shoe customers by putting on their shoes. So Max (Sandler) decides to give it a try and at first it is a fun break from his otherwise boring existence in dining and dashing (magically transforming into someone else), trying to get laid by becoming a hot British dude and becoming a drug dealer in order to get payback on him for being a downright dick. But soon, he discovers the perils of taking on another identity and become dangerously involved in a plot to buy out all of a downtown city block of New York. Using his new-found powers, he then seeks to combat the vile corporate land developer as well as the same drug dealer with ties to the developer working with her to get rid of the people on the block. THE COBBLER is a strange flick and not something you are used to seeing Sandler do. He is decent in the role but the whole movie is more of a humor-ish drama than straight comedy. So Sandler fans are likely to be disappointed that it isn’t a mindless romp.
THESE FINAL HOURS – A highly emotional end-of-the-world action/drama about how you would spend your final hours on the planet if you knew it was all coming to an end. Would you go out and party with your friends? Would you commit sadistic acts of violence against your fellow man? Would you sit and corner and cry it out? Would you pretend like nothing was different from any other day? Or would you help a young girl try and find her father against all odds? Such is the fate of James (Nathan Phillips) who finds Rose getting kidnapped for presumably a lot of bad stuff to happen to her but James intervenes and begins (begrudgingly at first) to help her reconnect with her daughter. James initially was going to a big party to celebrate the end of the world but finds that finally in his life that we can tell has not been the greatest, he has something worthy to do. Along the way he finally understands what he has been doing with his life was wasted and it only took the last few hours of the Earth being around to figure it all out. Well Go USA has done a great job of bringing action titles for overseas but this is a bit of a different title hailing out of Australia. But this is definitely worth the price of admission for a different type of action apocalyptic flick.
TRACERS – If you were on Team Jacob during the TWILIGHT run, you’ll probably enjoy Taylor Lautner’s latest effort where he stars as a struggling bike messenger that has run up a lot of debt to the Asian mafia so he works his way into a parkour group of thieves that spend most of their time jumping off stuff at an abandoned cargo shipping liner. Oh, and they occasionally go out and do stealing jobs for their head boss man who seems to be holding something over all of them. Not surprisingly, there is a romantic interest that just happens to already have a boyfriend (wait, didn’t we already see this?). Beyond just appealing to tweens here (or maybe twentysomethings at this point), TRACERS (which really is just a fancy title as there is no tracing involved really) is actually not a bad action flick. There are some really good acrobatics going on and while the plotline is highly predictable, the really good production values and cool moves are enough to make it worth at least checking out on Netflix when it ends up there.
AN IRISH EXORCISM – Unfortunately for those watching, AN IRISH EXORCISM doesn’t involve having a few pints down at the local pub then getting into a family squabble before having to perform a ritual from the bible to drive away a demon. Instead, we are treated to a milquetoast pseudo-documentary about a student investigating an exorcism within the Catholic Church. Now, I’m not as burned out on found-footage films as some people as I still believe there are storylines that can follow along with the format and be effect (V/H/S for example). But then there are films such as this where there is no reason for it be recovered after sh** went down other than budgetary reasons. As far as horror flicks go this one is pretty mundane as well without any scares and some really poor editing during about half the film where it almost appears as if some footage was lost on the set. But if supernatural horror films are your bag and you have nothing else in your queue for the week, maybe this might do the trick.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Blu-ray and DVD Reviews for the Week of May 12, 2015