Jan 172013
 
I'll be placing my pre-order for the Twilight Time Blu-ray release of In Like Flint as soon as it becomes available tomorrow afternoon. 

The company did a great job with the first Derek Flint film, Our Man Flint, which I received last week. While I had some minor issues with the picture quality of the video transfer (shame that 20th Century Fox didn't provide Twilight Time with a better master), the new supplements were worth the price of the disc all by themselves. John Cork and his Cloverland crew did a terrific job on the new retrospective featurettes, and it was cool to see my online blog "buddy," Matthew Bradford (alias "Tanner" of the great Dounle-O Section blog) onscreen as one of the talking heads.

As much as I enjoy the first Flint film, I have a slight preference toward its sequel. It's not really as good as its predecessor - and somewhat more overtly comic - but it was the first Derek Flint adventure I saw as a teenager (on the WCSH 6 Sunday morning "Great Show" movie). At the time, I was just becoming the James Bond/superspy fan that I am today, and In Like Flint was really the first of the Bond imitators/spoofs I ever saw.



Get FLINT!

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Dec 212012
 
Well, I don't much like the fact that it's a Limited Edition disc, nor that it's so pricey, but I went ahead and pre-ordered the Twilight Time Blu-ray release of Our Man Flint, the first of two Derek Flint superspy capers starring James Coburn. It's supposed to come out in mid-January, with the sequel, In Like Flint, to follow in February. I'll probably pre-order that one, too. Because these discs are only issued in limited numbers, I can't really follow my usual method of buying used discs cheap on the secondary market; when these suckers go out of print, the price only goes up.


So, why did I bite the bullet on this one? Well, first of all, I'm a huge fan of the movie, and even though I have the very nice Ultimate Flint Collection DVDs that Fox put out a few years ago, this Blu-ray has a buttload of new bonus features, including a couple of new documentaries by John Cork - the guy who put together all the great documentaries on the James Bond and Charlie Chan discs. Ultimately, I just couldn't pass it up.

What can I say? I'm weak.
Dec 062012
 
Back when Superman Returns hit theaters, Warner Home Video released the first season of the Illya Salkind-produced Superboy syndicated television series from 1988 on DVD. Reportedly, it didn't sell very well, and that's probably because so few people even remembered the show existed.

Well, also because the first season (the show ended up running for a total of four) was pretty weak.

That first season starred John Haymes-Newton as the college student of steel, Clark Kent, attending Shuster University in Florida (where the show was shot as one of the first series filmed at the Orlando Disney/MGM Studios). Newton looked good in the classic red & blue union suit, but was, frankly, a wooden performer. It didn't help either that the scripts for that first season were generally pretty pedestrian and the shoestring budget was extremely obvious. Pretty Stacy Haiduk (later of Seaquest DSV) was a sexy and likable Lana Lang, though. I also liked the casting of Stuart Whitman as Pa Kent.

Somehow the show garnered good enough ratings (it aired on weekend afternoons in most markets) to get a second season, and things improved considerably. The writing - by a number of actual DC Comics veterans like Andy Helfer, Cary Bates, Denny O’Neil and Mike Carlin - got a lot better and more imaginative, and Newton was replaced by the more charismatic Gerard Christopher.


There were some cool guest stars in that second season, too, including George Lazenby (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Britt Ekland (The Man With the Golden Gun) as Clark's Kryptonian parents Jor-El and Lara; Philip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice) as Brimstone; Michael J. Pollard as Mr. Mxyzptik; as well as Keye Luke, Richard Kiel (The Spy Who Loved Me), and even Gilbert Gottfried.

The budget was still low, but the producers were a lot more creative with their money, and the show looked much better in the second season, too. The special effects were about what you'd expect in 1989-90; you may not have believed a boy could fly... but it could have been a lot worse.

I guess in anticipation of the new Man Of Steel movie due next Summer, Warners' manufacture-on-demand label, Warner Archive, will be releasing the second season of Superboy on DVD next Tuesday. Those multi-disc MOD sets can be pricey, but I'm hoping to pick it up soon. I really enjoyed the show back in the day, and would very much like to add it to my vast DVD library.

I mean, what the Hell - I bought the first season.....
Nov 292012
 
Next week, Echo Bridge entertainment will be releasing one of the two remaining Godzilla films not yet available in the U.S. on DVD and Blu-ray: 1989's Godzilla Vs Biollante.

I've already preordered my Blu-ray copy, and I'm hopeful that Echo Bridge put in a little extra effort on this title, seeing as they generally specialize in cheap, no-frills "budget" releases aimed at the K-Mart and Wal-Mart consumer. Little things like audio-visual quality and presenting movies in their correct aspect ratios tend to be unimportant to them - at least, based on some of the EB titles I've seen.

Still, they've done okay jobs on some of the other films they've licensed from Miramax, and the advance word on this disc is fairly encouraging. It's supposed to be in the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and includes the original Japanese audio (my preference) as well as the English dub. There's supposed to be multiple subtitle options and even a couple bonus features. I'm hopeful, and eager to add this one to my kaiju eiga library.

Now if only someone would manage to clear the U.S. video rights to Godzilla 1984/1985 - preferably both the original Japanese cut and the American edit released by New World in '85 with Raymond Burr reprising his role from the American version of the first Godzilla film in 1954.
Sep 112012
 
Two 70's exploitation films starring the great Robert Conrad, Live A Little, Steal A Lot (a/k/a Murph The Surf) and Sudden Death, will be hitting DVD in October as a double-feature disc from Inception Media. I've never seen either movie, but I have seen the trailers for both films, and they look like great B-movie fun!

Here's the full press release from Inception Media Group:
Prepare to go retro for a double dose of action, mayhem and intrigue with the Robert Conrad Double Feature, breaking onto DVD Oct. 16 from Inception Media Group.

Classic TV icon of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, Robert Conrad (Black Sheep Squadron, The Wild Wild West, Hawaiian Eye) – and frequent sidekick Don Stroud (License to Kill, The Amityville Horror, The Buddy Holly Story, Joe Kidd) – are at their macho best in these action-packed feature films from the mod ’70s.

Live a Little, Steal A Lot aka Murph the Surf (1975): Based on the true story of the daring 1964 theft of the J.P. Morgan jewel collection from New York’s American Museum of Natural History.  Called the “Greatest Jewel Heist of the 20th Century,” the robbers nabbed 22 precious gems, including the 563.35-carat Star of India sapphire, the 100.32-carat de Long ruby and the 16.25-carat Eagle diamond (never recovered) … stones so famous they would be impossible to sell. Directed by Marvin Chomsky (Evel Knievel and TV’s The Wild Wild West, Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Roots), with one of the original thieves serving as a film advisor. Also stars Burt Young (the Rocky movies) and Donna Mills (TV’s Knots Landing).

Sudden Death (1977):  When Ed Neilson’s entire family is viciously murdered, he pleads with retired CIA operative Duke Smith (Conrad) to investigate. He refuses, but relents after Neilson too meets an explosive death. Deception, international intrigue and a ruthless “syndicate of businessmen” intent on raping a South Pacific Islands nation of its resources keep the pace fast. But when the executives hire a treacherous assassin (Stroud), the two are thrown head-to-head in a predestined match of cunning, wit and brute force. Only one will survive. For the other … it’s Sudden Death. Directed by Eddie Romero (The Twilight People) on location in the Philippines.

Robert Conrad Double Feature is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16x9 (1.85:1) and digital stereo 2.0. 
Jul 132012
 
The David Janssen private eye series from 1974-76, Harry O, is now available (at least, the first season is) on Manufactured-On-Demand DVD from Warner Archive. Highly regarded as one of the best - and best-written - private eye shows of its era, Harry O was an unusually melancholy and realistic crime show, with Janssen's Harry Orwell pretty much defining the term, "weather-beaten detective."

I was too young to care much about it when it originally aired, but in the 80s, when I was really getting into P.I. fiction - especially authors like Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini, Robert J. Randisi, and Rob Kantner - I managed to catch the pilot film, Smile Jenny, You're Dead one afternoon on TBS and loved it. Somewhere around the same time one of the cable channels (maybe A&E) ran the series, and I watched it whenever I could. I like The Rockford Files better, but Harry O is probably the more sophisticated show.

The new DVDs from Warner Archive are admittedly pricey - as burned-to-order discs almost always are - but I'm going to try and find some way to add the set to my library eventually. According to the website, this first season set includes the first pilot film, Such Dust as Dreams Are Made On, which had some significant differences from the subsequent series. What's less clear is whether or not the set includes the second TV movie pilot, Smile Jenny, You're Dead - as Warner Archive has already released that title separately. I hope it's included; otherwise it'll cost another twenty-five bucks to complete the set....
Jul 092012
 
I'm currently laid up with the gout, but I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll feel well enough to trek into Waterville and visit Bull Moose Music. One of my favorite Space Westerns, Peter Hyams' Outland, is available on Blu-ray this week, and they're supposed to have a copy of Roger Vadim's comic strip-inspired Barbarella waiting there for me, as well. I've been looking forward to visually-improved versions of both movies for a long time...
Jun 122012
 
My Red Scorpion Blu-ray from Synapse Films arrived in the mail today. I've watched some of it - and a couple of the bonus features - and I have to say: it looks terrific. Synapse did a fantastic job and put together a pretty definitive edition of this late-80s Cold War actioner. I'll be finishing it up later tonight, and should have a full review posted at DVD Late Show soon.
May 032012
 
Among the many upcoming Blu-ray releases that I am looking forward to, Synapse Films' forthcoming HD edition of the 1971 Hammer horror film Twins Of Evil is easily in the top five. Part of the studio's erotic "Karnstein Trilogy" (which included The Vampire Lovers and Lust for A Vampire), Twins features Mary and Madeline Collinson, identical twins who had posed together for Playboy the year before. Of course, the film also stars Hammer veteran Peter Cushing as a puritanical witchfinder.

I've seen the film once before on VHS back in the mid-90s, and am eager to see the stunning Collinson sisters in hi-def. The disc is due the day after my birthday (July 10th), and will include not only a newly-remastered HD transfer but a variety of exclusive supplemental features. Among them is a new retrospective documentary, the original theatrical trailers, and deleted scenes. For more detailed information, visit the Synapse website.

Apr 012012
 
In 1988, Dolph Lundgren starred in Red Scorpion, a Rambo-esque military actioner directed by Joseph Zito, veteran of several slasher films and a couple of popular Chuck Norris vehicles for Cannon Films (Missing In Action, Invasion U.S.A.). It was Lundgren's second lead role, coming between Masters Of The Universe and The Punisher, still early in an action movie career that has lasted about a quarter-century and almost 50 films.

I remember renting Red Scorpion on VHS and watching it with my pal Mark Gerardi, but I couldn't tell you much about it now. All I remember (without prompting from the IMDb) is that Dolph (sporting an amazing buzzcut and his Rocky IV accent) played a Soviet Special Forces soldier (or Spetsnaz) sent on a mission to execute an anti-Communist rebel in Africa, and for reasons of conscience, switches sides, going up against the Russian Army. I'm sure it's silly as shit - but I'm also sure I enjoyed the hell out of it back in the late 80s. As I've said before, these old school action flicks are like crack to me.

Well, I'll soon be able to refresh my memory. I received a press release today from boutique video label Synapse Films, announcing that they'll be releasing Red Scorpion on DVD and Blu-ray in June, with a brand-new HD transfer (not the same transfer that's being used on foreign Blu-ray releases) of the uncut, International version of the film, along with a whole bunch of extras:
• All-New 2K High-Definition Digital Restoration of the Uncensored Version
• Audio Commentary with Director Joseph Zito and Mondo Digital’s Nathaniel Thompson
• All-New DTS-HD MA 5.1 Soundtrack Mixed Specifically for This Release
• HATH NO FURY– "Dolph Lundgren and the Road to RED SCORPION Featurette"
• ASSIGNMENT: AFRICA – Video Interview with Producer Jack Abramoff
• SCORPION TALES – Video Interview with Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini
• Rare Original On-Set Behind-the-Scenes Video Footage
• Animated Still Gallery
• Liner Notes on the Making of RED SCORPION by Jérémie Damoiseau
• Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots
• Reversible Cover Design
Anyway, you know I'll be getting my hands on this one. It'll make a great warm-up to The Expendables sequel.

ADDED: I just found the Red Scorpion trailer on YouTube.  Crom help me, I love this stuff!

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