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Thursday, June 20, 2019

'How to Stuff A Wild Bikini' BD & DVD: Dwayne Hickman & Annette Funicello Wet Side Story

Olive Film once again simultaneously lives up to its guiding principle "cinema lives here" and proves that we're not worthy with the separate Blu-ray and DVDs releases of two cult classics on June 25, 2019. The 1965 beach-musical "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" is the topic du jour.

The equally good (and equally they don't make 'em like that anymore) occult thriller "The Believers" (1987) is a topic for early next week. Blu-ray does films justice, but the bright and sunny musical "Bikini" particularly looks and sounds spectacular in that format.

Doing "Bikini" any justice at all (pun intended) requires much more space than this forum can provide. Suffice it to so that it has every element (and more) of the beach movies of the '60s. You cannot help but feel good while watching it. This is not to mention the star-studded cast of A- and B-Listers that rivals the ensemble of the 1963 "Cannonball Run" style comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

Comparing "Bikini" to an episode of the wonderfully, zany, madcap kidcom "The Monkees" of the same era provides additional context. Both shows feature the nicest kids in town enjoying the sun and surf of California as they rock out at the drop of a hat while contending with comical villains and square adults. Yes, they are too busy singing to put anybody down. 

The closest modern equivalent is the way-cool movie-within-a-movie "Wet Side Story" that is a major element in the Disney Channel "Teen Beach Movie" franchise starring "Austin and Ally" star/real-life rocker Ross Lynch. The inexcusable delay in releasing the long-promised "Teen Beach Movie 3" is disappointing., 

Veteran beach movie and "Bewitched" director (as well as real-life husband of "Bewitched" star Elizabeth Montgomery) William Asher provides "Stuffed" additional '60scom cred. Further, "Stuffed" centering around the work of Tahitian witch doctor Bwana (Buster Keaton) is only one way that Asher pays homage to his day job. The other connection is too awesome to spoil.

We further get "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" star Dwayne Hickman keeping the TV Land spirit alive. The occasions on which Hickman, as literal man in the gray flannel suit Ricky, breaks the fourth wall evokes wonderful memories of "Gillis."

Beach-movie goddess Annette Funicello rounds out our top three as virtuous beach bunny Dee Dee. This character supports the theory that dames ain't nothin' but trouble.

Our story begins with Dee Dee beau Frankie (Frankie Avalon) serving naval reserve duty in Tahiti; his getting restless with a native girl triggers thoughts that the girl back home may conclude that what is good for the goose may be worth a gander. 

The island girl then brings Frankie to Bwana; the two men strike a not-so-gentlemanly deal whereby Bwana will provide the titular bikini, babe Casandra with which to stuff it as a decoy for the Moondoggies back in Cali, and a deep undercover spy to both keep tabs on Dee Dee and to serve as a rooster blocker. The other side of the bargain is that Frankie makes a daily payment for the rendered services. 

Some of  the rest of the story is that Ricky and madman Peachy Keane (Mickey Rooney) make the scene in the quest to find the girl and the boy next door to be the wholesome image of a motorcycle company. This honor goes to the couple that wins a motorcycle race. Their competition includes reformed biker Eric Von Zipper (beach-movie veteran Harvey Lembeck), who zeros in on Casandra as the one whom he wants. 

Hilarity ensues as Ricky pursues Dee Dee, the beach boys (including Bonehead) woo Casandra, and Von Zipper and his gang enact their evil scheme. 

All of this culminates in the titular contest with strong elements of the cartoon of the era "The Wacky Races." Dirty tricks galore keep the fun going. This leads to the related bestowing of the modeling contract and the right boy getting the girl. One should keep in mind that Frankie getting Annette is not set in stone.

Monday, June 17, 2019

'Return of the Hero' DVD: Hilarious Period Piece of Manners and Lack Thereof

The Icarus Films May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 period-piece comedy "Return of the Hero" fills the void left by Hollywood no longer producing amusing and clever (or at least adequately creative) summer movies. Subtitles aside, "Hero" is so good that you will not even want to look at your phone or other devices while watching it. 

Another awesome aspect of "Hero" is that it shows that writer/director Laurent Tirard is more than a un trick cheval regarding the even more delightful (reviewed) "Nicholas on Holiday" (nee "Petit Nicholas") about the family summer vacation of the titular French school boy. Other "Hero" cred. relates to Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin delivering another award-worthy performance as the titular soldier who is not at Waterloo when Napoleon did surrender. 

This presumably shot-on-location beautiful film begins in 1809 Burgundy. Captaine Charles-Gregoire Neuville seemingly employs his entire personal staff in preparation for froggy goin' a courtin'. The object of his affection is sweet and innocent girl next door Pauline. She lives on a lavish estate with her adoring parents and her less sweet and innocent older sister Elisabeth (Melanie Laurent).

Neuville seals a chaste deal with Pauline just ahead of being called on to defend emperor and country. Like many soldiers before and since, Neuville makes an empty promise to faithfully correspond with Pauline. 

A combination of motives prompt Elisabeth to forge letters from Neuville to Pauline; the responses to that correspondence shows Elisabeth that her little sister is all grown up.

In true farce/classic sitcom style, the scheme of Elisabeth gets out of hand. Circumstances and her creativity result in increasing elaborate and contrived fictional adventures of Neuville that enrapture both Pauline and the rest of the local elite. 

All goes well until the inevitable titular appearance of a filthy and disgraced Neuville in 1812; Elisabeth being the only one to initially know that that boy is back in town helps move the story forward; this plot thickens on Neuville returning after a brief absence and presenting himself as the man in the aforementioned letters. His objectives include wooing a now-married with children Pauline.

Dujardin and Laurent wonderfully play off each other as she must watch him make fools out of those nearest and dearest to her. Neuville further shows that he is no gentleman in using the vulnerability of Elisabeth for his own fun and profit, 

One of many notable moments involves Elisabeth seeming to get the upper-hand on her frienemy. The manner in which Neuville turns that tactic around to his advantage proves that you cannot con a con man. 

The aptly surprising climax that begins with a desperate act leads to a final scene that is very true to the spirit of the film and that is one of the best endings in any film ever. This lesson this time is that we all remain true to our nature. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

'Opportunity Knocks' Blu-ray: Missing Out on This Dana Carvey Comedy Wouldn't Be Prudent

The crystal-clear video and audio of the Mill Creek Entertainment June 4, 2019 B;u-ray release of thje 1990 Dana Carvey comedy "Opportunity Knocks" is a perfect addition to the MCE "I Heart 90s" series" that is a companion to the MCE "Retro VHS" DVD and Blu-ray releases. Other June 4 "90s" releases include the recently reviewed Paul Shore comedy "Jury Duty" and the soon-to-be-reviewed Alicia Silverstone action-adventure comedy "Excess Baggage." 

Just as "Duty" showcases the weasel persona of Shore, "Opportunity" highlights the impish charm of Carvey. The film providing a chance for Carvey to perform his well-known George HW Bush impression is highly predictable. 

The good news regarding both "Duty" and "Opportunity" is that they put entertaining spins on decent tried-and-trued comic concepts. The better news regarding "Opportunity" is that Carvey is extremely likable. 

The figurative 25-words-or-less premise of "Opportunity" is that Carvey plays small-time con-man Eddie Farrell, whose quasi-youthful exuberance earns him both the wrath of a mobster and a belief that Eddie owes that dangerous criminal a great deal of money. In true teencom tradition, this requires that Eddie lay low until the heat is off. His literal insider information that the owner of a luxurious house is on an extended trip. 

Eddie soon makes himself at home until the mother of the homeowner pays a surprise visit. This leads to a wacky misunderstanding in the form of Mom (a.k.a. Mona of Milt and Mona) assuming that Eddie is housesitter Jonathan Albertson. The rest of the story is that Albertson is a business whiz kid who is the former college roommate of the homeowner.

The first film homage is to the 1983 Eddie Murphy comedy "Trading Places." The opening scenes in "Opportunity" are of Eddie pulling off the same low level con as the Murphy character. The similarities continue with both characters soon living at least some semblance of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

The other homage is more central to "Opportunity." Ala the Tom Hanks character in the 1988 classic "Big," Carvey is a man-child learning to play with the grown-ups. The similarities continue with Robert Loggia playing the big-hearted mentor to the quirky guy with the unique perspective, In this case, Loggia is bathroom hand-dryer king Milt, 

Milt brings potential son-in-law (no relation (pun intended) to the Shore film of the same name) in the company and his heart. Of course, a pivotal scene involves Eddie bringing the dryer company executives out of their comfort zone and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

It is equally predictable that nooses start to tighten in on Eddie on both sides. The mob boss tracks him down just as he starts to think that he can permanently enjoy his new life. This pressures Eddie to massively betray the trust of his new family just ahead of the exposure of his scam.

The fact that everyone is wiser and happier and order is restored to the universe in the end is especially appealing in our wildly unpredictably dystopian times. This is so awesome that it alone warrants buying the Blu-ray.

Friday, June 14, 2019

'Orange is the New Black to the Max' S6 DVD & BD: Prisoners of Cell Block C & D

The Lionsgate June 11, 2019 separate DVD & BD release of S6 (a.k.a. "To the Max") of the Netflix women behind bars dramedy "Orange is the New Black" provides a good chance to watch this reformatting of this multi-Emmy winning series from the beginning, It additionally is a good chance to see all the action ahead of the July 27, 2019 release of the S7 episodes. 

Also. aside from not having to worry about Netflix dropping episodes from its service, the enhanced BD images look and sound far better than the streaming versions. This is not to mention the awesome home-video special features that include "Litchfield to the Max" and a gag reel.

The following YouTube clip of the official S6 trailer introduces many of the copious primary themes of the never-a-dull-minute 13 episodes. It also shows why this series warrants comparison to the former Showtime boys behind bars dramedy "Oz."



Our (mostly) season-long story arcs begin one week after the quelling of the S5 riot. Our girls in orange aptly find that they are not in Oz anymore. This involves them facing the challenge of adapting or perishing in their new environments, 

Said different worlds from the ones from which they come are the C, D, and "Florida" cell blocks at their new home. The Jets versus the Sharks mentality as to C  & D begins with the C Block girls initially getting all the relatively good perks and privileges while the D girls are the low women on the totem pole.

The "Florida" residents mostly are the older inmates and include others whose mental states are adequately impaired to get them a spot in this coveted area. The rubs as to this include that some outsiders are willing to kill to create a vacancy in the Sunshine State. "Orange" fans should not be surprised to learn that popular character Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren ends up in Florida and constantly irks the Golden Girls.

A long-standing violent sibling rivalry between C and D block residents Carol and Barbara (Mackenzie Phillips) brings the aforementioned simmering bad blood to a boil. Flashback scenes of the joint crime that gets the sisters labelled "The Little Debbie Killers" and that lands them in the joint are season highlights.  They also shine in all their ruthlessly violent interaction and hilarious dispute regarding an incident at a restaurant where they both worked during high school.

Other drama relates to investigations and related proceedings as to holding prisoners culpable for their actions during the riot and for holding folks on the other side of the bars accountable for what they did and did not do during those events. This is not to mention a hilarious run for the border by one inmate who gets away with a little help from her friend,

One spoiler is that the search for closure regarding the riot is just as likely to involve being satisfied with a convenient truth as it is to strive to meet the ideal of truth, justice, and the American way.

This is not to mention central "Orange" character Piper Chapman contending with the absence of her fellow inmate/fiancee  Alex "Boss" Vause, addict convict Nikki facing renewed Daddy issues, and the guards creating a fantasy league that involves proportionately profiting from convict misbehavior of various degrees of seriousness. 

All of this occurs in the context of season-finale kickball tournament that sets the stage for an epic rumble between the C and the D block inmates. In true "Orange" style, this does not occur as expected.

All of this amounts to "Orange" further fulfilling the theatrical ideal by leaving the audience wanting more; fortunately, S7 provides the payoff regarding that. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

'All You Ever Wished For' DVD: Italian Fable by Oscar-Winning Author

Omnibus Entertainment does parent company Film Movement very proud regarding the June 4, 2019 DVD release of the literally simple and sweet fable "All You Ever Wished For." The cred of this tale of the Roman holiday of young Manhattanite Tyler Hutton includes Darren Criss portraying Tyler in this production by Barry Morrow, who is the Oscar winning writer of "Rain Man." One spoiler is that Tyler, who probably does not know who Wapner is but likely thinks that Wal-Mart sucks, does not fly Qantas to Italy.

Another spoiler is that the combination of a modern fairy tale and a pure-at-heart romantic reluctantly working in the New York-based fashion company of his domineering father makes "Wished" more like "Princess Ugly Betty Bride" than "Rain Man."

Although "Wished" is entertaining and charming, Criss no longer having his youthful exuberance and related appeal evokes thoughts that his "Glee" co-star Grant Gustin or another guy who still knows how to play the boy-next-door may have been a better casting choice. 

The very Grimm opening scenes set the stage for the main events of the film centuries later. Newly heart-broken Tyler is ordered to travel to Rome to represent the family business. His antics on arriving illustrate why the probability of such enterprises failing increases with each new generation that takes over. A variation of the "ugly American" stereotype also does not bode well for the future. 

The stereotypes continue with not-so-bright wiseguys snatching Tyler up off the street with an eye toward holding him for ransom on behalf of their mob boss. This surprisingly well-executed plan goes off the rails when the group gets lost after going into the woods. 

This not-so-biblical adventure fully kicks off when the crooks and their captive audience awaken in a barn the next morning. The underlying events that set things in motion result in Tyler cutting his not-so-great escape short when her literally experiences unrequited love at first sight with local woman Rosalia. His not-so-longtime companions also meet their soulmates; much of the comedy relates to one pairing being a case of each person both being the same but also different; not that there is anything wrong with that. Another infatuation is creepy and does involve giving away the milk for free but fortunately is (presumably) never consummated. 

The strong motive to stay prompt our boys to do their best to be productive members of the small community with very amusing results. We further see that Tyler has virtually no game. 

In true farce style, everything comes to a head during a festival. There is a game-changer just as the sins of the son are more fully bringing the father into the picture. This leads to good potential for our boys to get their happy endings. The rest of the story is that there is one heartbreak and a fable that shows that one ultimately is true to thine self. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

'Avoiding Getting Inn Trouble' II: B n B Owners Cannot Fire Their Spouse

The good news is that the root of the conflict that provides this follow-up to the August 2018 "Avoiding Getting Inn Trouble" post in the Inn Credible New England section of this site supports the philosophy of these articles on boutique lodging in this region of the United States. This tenet is that it often is better to enjoy the convenience of driving to a place within a few hours of home and to spend a little more for a spectacular experience at a B n B or small hotel than to endure the direct and indirect costs of flying to stay at a cookie-cutter hotel. 

A tale at least as old as the time that most middle- and upper-middle-class households first had at least one car is that happily married (but professionally unfulfilled) couples went into the woods (or to the shore) for a weekend at a B n B and fell in love with the idea of owning such a place, The beginning of the almost inevitable end is that one spouse is much more excited about this potential life change than the other. 

Another ingredient in this recipe for disaster is that, as much as a couple may be in love, there almost always is a point at which familiarity breeds massive contempt. Additionally, feelings of inequity as the division of household duties and expenses are almost inevitable even if you share a tiny house. 

Dealing with the public always is stressful; having them in your home and having your spouse play host by being charming while you are struggling to clean the rooms and cook the food literally can invoke homicidal thoughts. 

The message here is to read between the lines as to mentions of the almost-always needed additional staff; you also should look for online reviews that mention one or more innkeeper constantly being stressed. "Been there, done that" ala working at a place where the constantly shouting couple apparently did not know that the inn kitchen was not soundproof warrants asserting that I know of which I speak. 

Although the wholesome CBS sitcom "Newhart" about a married couple running a Vermont B n B is amusing. a "Real Inn Keepers of [Insert Your Favorite Small Town]" would be funnier and more true to life. 

Like the first "Trouble" article, "Inn Credible" travel for this site inspired this diversion into Blogland. Learning the lesson related to potential for severe wintry weather from November through March prompted scheduling "get while the getting is good" trips. These included a desire to visit Brattleboro, Vermont in mid-September ahead of the New Yorkers invading during foliage season and the perfect storms potentially starting a few weeks later. (Blizzards as early as mid-October are not unheard of.)

I reached out to the owners of what seemed to be a charming place that strongly presented itself as a relaxing retreat for stressed out urbanites and suburbanites. The intense stress in the voice of the husband at the outset triggered my Spidey sense to the point that I almost hung up. My mistake was letting my strong desire to stay at that place override heeding my "Inn Trouble" advice to follow the "Jeopardy" principle of going with my first instinct. 

I repeatedly stated the dates of my desired stay only to have the husband ALWAYS respond with one date off; he ultimately stated that he could subsequently amend the reservation. I ultimately decided to hope for the best and make the reservation. Again, I really wanted to stay at that place. 

This progressed to the husband asking for my address; I told him my city and asked if he wanted me to spell it. He barked that he just needed the zip code, but repeatedly kept transposing numbers. I again offered to spell my city, but he kept insisting on taking the zip code. We (presumably) got over that hurdle. 

We fatally stumbled in the home stretch; he asked when I wanted to arrive and stated the 3:00 p.m. check-in time before I could respond. Both because of the length of the drive to Brattleboro and because I wanted to enjoy the highly touted serenity at the inn as much as possible, I asked if I could arrive at 10:00 a.m., leave my luggage in my car until my room was ready, and simply enjoy the guest common areas.

This really set off the husband; he yelled "we still will be serving breakfast and can not even think about assimilating a new guest that early." I could not imagine that this six-room place would be so busy with guests from a Friday night in mid-September on the following morning that the mere presence of an adult happy to "play in traffic" for a few hours was such a big deal.

I simply hung up. I then looked up Trip Advisor reviews and noted both that some of them noted that the couple was stressed and that the truly "better half" wrote polite and responses to negative reviews. I no longer did not, and do not, want to stay there. I did want to end things on a more friendly note and called back. I left a voicemail asking to speak to the "nice one" without phrasing it as such. I never got a call back.

The happier note on which this article will end is that, like the first "inn Trouble" article, the Rabbit Hill Inn (also in Vermont) provides a model. The real-life Loudens there consciously have their separate responsibilities. They also have a full staff, including an exceptionally gregarious inn manager, that allows them to keep the place running and to chat with guests without literally or figuratively having their hands around the throat of the person with whom he or she theoretically will not part until death. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

'Guy' DVD: Mockumentary on French Connection with Literal Pop Star

The Icarus Films June 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 musical dramedy "Guy" provides so much wonderful fodder for a post that it truly is difficult to know where to begin. One spoiler is that this film is just as good as the copious Gallic films in the Icarus catalog but strays from the pattern of revolving around the emotional fallout from a hit-and-run. However, the audience is treated to the disco scene that another reviewer states is ubiquitous in French movies. 

The central theme of the film is the comeback tour on which the titular French idol who enjoyed commercial success from the '60s through the '80s is engaged to promote a new greatest hits album. The handful of videos and concert footage provide great nostalgia for folks who "were there" and give Millennials a music-history lesson. An '80s video that evokes strong feelings of the "Sandcastles in the Sand" video (complete with appearances by Alan Thicke and James Van Der Beek) by faux '80s pop princess Robin Sparkles of the 2000s sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" is true fun for all ages. 

Writer/director/star Alex Lutz EARNS a well-deserved 2019 Cesar Award for his portrayal of Guy Jamet. He receives the same recognition at the 2019 Lumiere Awards. Watching this 40 year-old play Guy at various stages of his life is incredible 

The rest of the story is that Guy knowingly allows young filmmaker Gauthier to document his tour and other aspects of his current life. The pop star does not know that his constant companion has reason to believe that his subject also is his biological father. This element adds an extra-credit aspect to this A+ film.

Lutz stays very true to the mockumentary style both by having follow the camera follow Guy everywhere. We see him interviewed at a cafe, performing for an audience of adoring aging fans, at home with actress Sophie Ravel (who is promoting her hilarious spot-on procedural), jamming with his band and back-up singers on the tour bus, and (of course) pulling the plug on the film project only to come around. This, also of course, is not to mention the incident that threatens to derail the tour.

All of this culminates in the mother-of-all film finales. Documentarian and subject are still feeling the effects of a night of hard drinking when they emulate Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Their conversation and a documentary-staple reveal a few minutes earlier indicate that Guy finally is starting to get the picture. 

The best news is that "Guy" shows that they still can make 'em like that. The story stands on its own without either being an ego project for the star or relying on pyrotechnics. Further, the characters are among the most real and relatable reel-life folks to come along in quite awhile. Any resemblance to persons living or dead clearly is not coincidental. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

'Unexpected Uncle' DVD: Another Screwball Palm Beach Story

The Warner Archive May 2019 DVD release of the 1941 screwball romcom "Unexpected Uncle" shows that social commentary can be entertaining and not preachy when presented in the proper form. In this case screenwriter Delmer Daves of many classics such as "An Affair to Remember" and "A Summer Place" once again demonstrates his scribe skills.

This depth is the tasty not-so-subtly hidden pill in the peanut butter in the form of the main screwball romcom that is reminiscent of the 1942 Claudette Colbert screwball romcom "The Palm Beach Story," which share its titular setting with "Uncle." In this case Anne Shirley of "Anne of Green Gables" plays shop girl Kathleen Brown, who gets involved with part-time playboy/full-time hard-working business executive Johnny Kerrigan.  Charles Colburn plays titular Dutch uncle Seton Mansley.

Seton is walking along minding his own business when he literally runs into Kathleen fresh off of getting fired for not responding as desired to an aggressive come-on by Johnny. Seton not only quickly makes things right but gets his new friend the afternoon off. 

Johnny returning to the scene of the crime and still not taking no for an answer leads to our central trio enjoying the good life. Like all good uncles of every variety, Seton soon knows that his "niece" loves her new suitor despite the many outward contrary indications. 

The pre-honeymoon is cut short when Johnny must rush back to literal Kerrigan City to keep his shoe empire from falling apart. Seton and Kathleen come along for the ride and end up respectably living at Chez Kerrigan. 

The social commentary begins with Johnny representing the stereotype of the poor little rich boy for whom money cannot buy happiness. This extends to Johnny quickly ignoring his fiancee in favor of his business and getting upset when she does not live up to the image of the perfect corporate spouse. 

This opens the door to learning the not-so-surprising back story of Seton. Suffice it to say that this adds a "Christmas Carol" element as to Seton wanting Johnny to avoid the same fate as the older man. 

This leads to the seemingly mandatory dramatic fleeing of Kathleen; the resulting climax is highly entertaining and includes a couple of good twists. This is not to mention throwing in a little more social commentary.​

Monday, June 3, 2019

'Sunburn' DVD: Portuguese-Style Woody Allen

The TLA Releasing April 23, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 drama "Sunburn" allows cinephiles to get a sense of the type of movie that Woody Allen would have made if he was born in the '70s and was Portuguese. The twist in this tale of yuppies with a long mutual history enjoying a weekend retreat at a vacation home  is that an unwelcome guest has made the rounds of the group. 

Filmmaker Vasco is hosting current significant other Joana and gay couple Francisco and Simaio for a few days of dancing, drinking, and lounging by the pool at his gorgeous home in the country. An opening scene in which the group comfortably and frequently trades off dance partners shows that all currently is well.

The trouble in paradise begins with a dramatically ignored call by "the one who got away" David. The persistence of this interloper leads to his wrangling an invitation to join the festivities. The rest of the film revolves around trauma and drama associated with the expected arrival of this man who has neither been seen nor heard from in a decade.

The raw nerves spoil the party as the folks who were in the arms of each other now are at the throats of each other. Much of this relates to the current relationships being rebounds from the post-David era of the one from whom he got away. 

David represents one of an apparently few occasions on which Vasco plays for the other team; the subsequent events this time lead to Vasco and Francisco actually exchanging blows. This relates to Francisco playing the role of the younger and the cuter trophy member of the gang, who never fully achieves inner-circle status.

The history between David and Joana also indicates that he is a switch-hitter. The drama there extends beyond David leaving an unwanted parting gift on hitting and quitting it. This experience apparently is behind a failure of Joana and Vasco to take their relationship to the next level.

For his part, Francisco receives confirmation that he is not the soulmate of Simaio; it seems as well that Simaio has the role of younger and cuter in his relationship with David.

The angst of Francisco coming out in the one soft-core scene in "Sunburn" provides a film highlight. One hint is that this encounter both gives him a chance to be the older and less cute member of the couple and shows that giving some guys what they want essentially requires making them shut up and take it like a man despite assertions that they are not into that kind of stuff.

This "day in the life" film bring us to 24-hours after the opening scene. All are a little older, much wiser, but not necessarily more happy. The same is true of the audience, which learns the lessons of the characters and discovers the full meaning of the title of the film. 

Friday, May 31, 2019

'Frankenstein 1970' BD: Shows Timeless Universal Appeal of Every Classic Movie Monster

The Warner Archive April 9, 2019 pristine Blu-ray release of the black-and-white 1958 CinemaScope cult classic "Frankenstein 1970" evokes strong thoughts of the similarly off-beat 1994 film "Ed Wood." This quirky tale also will bring the 1974 Mel Brooks film "Young Frankenstein" to mind.

This meta film opens with the titular monster pursuing the lady in the lake; we soon learn that this merely is a scene in a Golden Age of Television production of the classic tale. This commentary on the small-screen taking over the silver screen is contrary to "1970" using the relatively new CinemaScope film format for the production.

The Scooby gang that is making the movie-of-the-week consists of all the stock characters. Brave and bold director "Fred" is doing his best to maintain order; young blonde starlet "Daphne" is dreaming of stardom; more down-to-earth and brainier secretary "Velma" is trying to do her job while fighting off not entirely unwelcome advances. Goofy cameraman "Shaggy" rounds out the group. The overlapping personal and professional histories of the group members add a particularly Hollywood touch to the story.

The original "Frankenstein" story more fully enters the picture regarding the same-old story of house-rich and cash-poor Baron Victor von Frankenstein (Karloff) temporarily sharing the infamous castle where it all went down with "those meddling kids." An awesome 50s B-movie element enters in the form of Frankenstein using his Air B-n-B money to buy a nuclear reactor for use in his quest to restart the family business. The rest of this aspect of the story is that forced research for the Nazis has negatively impacted the mind of our mad scientist. 

Another amusing aspect of this is that the baron has aspirations of obtaining a trophy bride of Frankenstein. This tie-in with "Dracula" extends to the baron being a skilled hypnotist whose lack of an uncle may be why he has never learned that with great power comes great responsibility.

A combination of classic farce and traditional horror film combine to amp up the body count as the Baron seeks to put his new chums to use. A scene in which an oblivious "Daphne" repeatedly narrowly avoids being grabbed by the major-domo turned robotic stooge. This fully bandaged shuffling creature still managing to capture prey evokes good thoughts of "The Mummy."

Of course, the law eventually begins closing in on the baron. This equally predictably leads to a grand confrontation that shows both that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it and that every family business suffers from each generation lacking the same level of mad skills as the one that precedes it.

Archive keeps the fun going with a DVD extra in the form of a '50s-era TV spot.​

Monday, May 27, 2019

'Epidemic' DVD: Proves It Is Fun Until Someone Loses a Life

The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 micro-budget horror film "Epidemic" contributes to the proof both that Breaking has good instincts for edgy art-house fare and that there are seemingly endless variations of the deadly plague sub-genre of fright flicks. The additional fun of dysfunctional relationships in this on-location movie filmed in Allentown, Pa. provide the best entertainment.

The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Epidemic" highlights the aforementioned aspects of the film.


The upcoming 30th birthday party of everymillennial Dana provides the main arena for the carnage in which far few who enter leave. Concluding that inviting remarried alcoholic father Rufus regarding whom Dana has a long-term estrangement makes sense is the most puzzling and unbelievable aspects of the film.

An amusingly unlikely coincidence that sets the primary action in motion involves the preparation of gal pal Mandi for celebrating Dana reaching an age that she no longer can be trusted leading to discovering a not-so-concealed secret room. The exploration of Mandi leads to a mishap that equally can be considered letting the genie out of the bottle and opening Pandora's box. 

The secret room also requires a brief detour into Blogland. Videos of people discovering a door in a floor, a secret passage, etc. in their homes are catching up with footage of frolicking felines on YouTube. A personal experience somewhat validates the authenticity of such assertions and includes the bonus of potential creepiness regarding buying a house. 

The seller of my current house being tremendously supportive regarding a move to unfamiliar territory had the side effect of learning that he was obsessed with this dwelling to the extent of going out of his way to drive past it after the sale; he likely continues doing so more than three years later. This validates the decision independent of this to change the locks and the alarm code within a few days of moving. 

The seller repeatedly referred to leaving a time capsule and bragging that I never would find it. Concluding that it merely was buried in the yard, I was inadequately intrigued to undergo a treasure hunt. 

A leaky pipe a year after moving led to opening up a drop-down basement ceiling; that led to discovering a creepy cache of report cards, old newspaper articles, photos, and other family treasures but nothing of monetary value. The spoiler this time is that one man's treasured mementos are another man;s trash. A related amusing part of this is that the layout of the cellar and finding several niches down there had already earned it the title of "serial killer basement."

Returning to our main topic, Mandi having an immediate and severe reaction to exposure to a substance in the previously sealed room does not deter her from attending the party. This leads to  predictably infecting the people who are most near and dear to her by spewing all over them. This, in turn, leads to spreading the love. 

Rufus indulging in liquid courage before arriving at Ground Zero makes him literally late to the party. This, in turn, proves that stupid is as stupid does. Rather than try to help the party goers or report the incident, this concerned father grabs the ailing birthday girl and brings her to the sterile environment of a no-tell motel. The feverish Dana makes it a literal hot-sheets lodging establishment. 

Although everything largely plays out predictably, ambiguity regarding whether horrific visions and a semblance of a happy ending are real or Memorex keeps things interesting. The bigger picture is that justified paranoia regarding the spread of a literal or figurative plague adds an iota of credibility that keeps things interesting. 

Breaking excels just as well regarding the extras that most of its releases include. These include a lively and amusingly self-deprecating interviewer with Rufus portrayor/Breaking insider Andrew Hunsicker. We also get outtakes from this film about an outbreak. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

'Perfect Strangers' S7 & S8 DVD: Two Weddings and a Funeral

The question for anyone who disagrees with this review of the single Warner Archive May 28, 2018 DVD release of the final two seasons of the 1986-93 ABC sitcom is how many of these releases have you reviewed? How many? Your not-so-humble reviewer has reviewed the prior four single-season Archive DVD releases of the series. Any who gets this opening joke likely will enjoy (and agree with) this post. 

Remember as well that I have a plan and that everything will work out just fine. 

The "Starngers" release is notable both for allowing owning the complete series and for coming on the heels of the (reviewed) Archive DVD release of the ninth and final season of the 1976-85 CBS sitcom "Alice." That TV Land series set in a Phoenix diner has many parallels with the equally amusing "Strangers." These common elements extend well beyond parallel episodes about live Thanksgiving turkeys. 

The "Strangers" premises is that uptight Chicago resident Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) opens his apartment door in the pilot to find his goofy naive fresh-off-the-boat cousin Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) standing there. This sets the series-long premise of this bonded odd couple having their conflicting personalities and world views exasperate the "sit" of the week that provides the "com" for the episode.

The first few S7 episodes revolve around the period leading up to the wedding of Larry and series-long (and long-suffering) girl of his dreams flight attendant/neighbor Jennifer. A very special two-part episode has love conquering all when the couple is comically waylaid on their way to the chapel to get married. 

A dual homage comes in the form of Larry and Balki transforming into Laurel an Hardy in a black-and-white episode that has them building a gazebo; a black-and-white S6 episode has our leads become Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton of "The Honeymooners." 

"Mork and Mindy" veteran producer/writer Dale McRaven takes a page straight out of fellow Garry Marshall series "Happy Days" by having Balki and series-long (and long-suffering) girl of his dreams flight attendant Mary Ann have the EXACT same form of reconciliation as Joanie and Chachi before that couple ties the knot in the "Days" series finale. Of course, hilarity ensues in the period leading up to the wedding ceremony of Balki and Mary Ann.

Compared to the long and twisted path to the altar for the Arcolas and the Bartokomouses, the variation of the Disney "Shaggy Dog" movie as to Mork marrying Mindy relatively is a wedding-cake walk.

McRaven also "Marshalls" his skills regarding several S7 aand S8 episodes. Just as "Mork" increasingly focuses on Mork home-planet Ork (including a visit to that world), many of the final "Strangers" episodes revolve around the Mediterranean island of Mypos from which Balki hails. The king of the country dying while visiting Chicago creates great turmoil that requires posthumous shenanigans in an episode with shades of both "King Ralph" and "Weekend at Bernies."

We also get a special two-parter in which the oft-mentioned mama of Balki is finally seen; the family resemblance is due to Pinchot playing both roles. The "sit" this time is that Mama guilts Balki into returning to Mypos, and Larry follows to persuade his cousin/best friend/rooommate to return to Chicago.

The trip to Mypos highlights an odd aspect of the final seasons of "Strangers." Even accounting for the girls being flight attendants, Larry and Balki spend very little time with their new wife and (through much of these episodes) special girl respectively. 

Balki again follows the lead of "Coosin Larry" by putting a bun in the oven of Mary Ann soon after Larry knocks up Jennifer; this relates to an earlier "Perfect Strangers Babies" episode in which Linn-Baker and Pinchot portray toddler versions of their characters

All of this builds to a series finale that covers many bases regarding both "Strangers" and sitcom cliches. An overdue Jennifer convinces the boys to take her up in a hot-air balloon. Ala an "Alice" episode, a comical mistake that is true to the series results in the balloon going out of control.

Jennifer goes into labor in the balloon as Larry and Balki experience having an outing turn into a life-threatening adventure one last time. 

The cliches continue with flashbacks in the final minutes of the episode and the cast taking their final bows as the end credits roll.

All of this (along with the catchy "Strangers" and "Alice" themes) show that Archive is the go-to source of the ones that they no longer make 'em like. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

'The Gorilla Man' DVD: Planet of the Nazis

Getting over disappointment regarding the sadistically misleading title of the 1943 WWII propaganda film "The Gorilla Man" allows thoroughly enjoying the recent Warner Archive DVD release of this B movie. The titular primate is wounded warrior Capt. Craig Killian, who earns that nickname for climbing skills that he demonstrates in our story.

The textbook fun begins with Nazi agent Dr. Dorn, who uses his private sanitarium on the English coast as a cover, learning through his literal spy network that the ship carrying Killian's Heroes back to Mother England from a commando raid was sunk. The rest of the story is that that band of brothers is expected to come ashore near the aforementioned medical facility.

A series of seemingly fortunate events leads to an oblivious Killian becoming a guest of Dorn and the even madder Dr. Ferris. A subsequent reveal that Dorn has a stranglehold on his associate turns out to be very apt. The coercion of Nurse Kruger is more despicable. 

The plot thickens on Dorn learning that Killian is desperate to give British General Devon important information about a Nazi incursion. This leads to a collateral damage scheme to discredit Killian so that his superiors literally will not take him at his word.

The insidious Nazi manipulation leads to Killian having his credibility increasingly impaired, trying to stay one step ahead of the London police, and racing to try to keep the body count low. His inadvertently repeatedly acting as his puppetmaster desires does not help things. 

Director of 101 projects D. Ross Lederman and writer of 154 scripts Anthony Coldeway earn their filler feature an A with a perfect climax. The usual suspects all convene at the scene of the crime where Ferris does his thing for his fun and for the profit of Dorn. Meanwhile, Killian is on site thanks to his aforementioned talent. The general and his senior staff meeting to discuss the now-imminent threat from the Jerrys provide the final piece of the puzzle. 

The real fun come when Dorn overplays his hand and the general's daughter shows that she is capable of far more than lying back and thinking of England; the final shot does strongly indicates that she will be doing that later that evening.; one can only hope that she gets a chocolate bar and a pair of stockings for her trouble., 

Monday, May 20, 2019

'Kim Possible' DVD: So the Live-Action Drama

The Disney March 26, 2019 DVD release of the February 2019 Disney Channel live-action "Kim Possible" movie does the 2002-2007 Disney Channel series of the same name proud. This includes excellent jobs recreating the unique exteriors of primary locations Chez Possible, Middleton High that the titular teen titan and goofy sidekick Ron Stoppable attend, and home of the naco Bueno Nacho. The homage continues with an awesome live-action remake (complete with Ron getting pantsed) of the series opening credits.

Although this tribute centers around scientist-turned-evil-genius Dr. "Drew" Drakken (Todd Stashwick) with a long history with the Possible family, other "Batman" '66 style villains also receive shout outs. Denying Lord Monkey Fist and Senor Senor Junior this honor is a travesty that the anticipated sequel hopefully will remedy. 

The following YouTube clip of the "Possible" trailer includes a look at the Bond-style old open that also provides the origin story. This promo. additionally highlights the girl power vibe of the film.


Saying much more than that "Possible" is similar to the 2005 Disney Channel animated feature "Kim Possible: So the Drama" runs the risk of major spoilers. Suffice it to say that Draken (coiced by John DiMaggio in the series) again subjects Kim (Sadie Stanley of "Coop and Cami Ask the World") to specialized insidious psychological warfare. 

The larger plot of Draken and henchwoman Shego (Taylor Ortega) is to swipe experimental government tech. with literally mind-altering potential, 

The "B" story that truly is so the drama is straight out of "The Brady Bunch." Middle-school star/national hero Kim and Ron (Sean Giambrone of "The Goldbergs") are now lowly high-school freshman. Kim frienemy sophmore Bonnie does all that she can to add insult to that injury.

The "Brady" vibe continues with Kim and Ron befriending damaged new kid in town Athena; efforts to help this outcast fit in when she soon surpasses Kim on the soccer field, the classroom, and even on missions. This leads to the film moral that there is more to life than being the best.

Worlds collide when a mission to rescue Athena leads to a girls' night out on which Ron and a CGI Rufus the naked mole rat tag along. The ensuing highly Disneyfied Bond-style climax brings the main portion of the film to a satisfying end; the epilogue (including stingers) sets the stage for the aforementioned "Kim Possible II." We sadly have been waiting years for the PROMISED "Teen Beach Movie IV." 

The copious short-and-sweet DVD extras begin with cute audition footage of our stars and goes on to a Q & A in which Stanley and Giambrone answer allegedly random questions from fans. We also get a music video of Stanley singing the infectious "Possible" theme. Be prepared to repeeately sing "call me, beep me, if you really want to reach me." 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

'Borg vs McEnroe' DVD & Blu-ray: Resistance Futile Regarding Film for Sports Fans & Non-Fans Alike

The Virgil Films separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2018 drama "Borg v. McEnroe" is one of many examples of those of us who are not sports fans missing out on a great movie because of bias against the overall subject of a movie. A personal example from this guy who has never watched "Raging Bull," "Bull Durham," or any "Rocky" film is that getting a review of the complete series of the Aaron Sorkin dramedy "Sports Night" corrected missing out on that terrific program.

As the title indicates, "Borg" centers around the genuinely historic 1980 Wimbledon showdown between the titular tennis stars. What the title does not indicate is that the movie provides strong insight into the psyches of the competitors and presents the main event in a very compelling manner. 

An amusing aspect of "Borg" is having volatile Disney Channel veteran Shia LeBeouf play McEnroe, who is best known for having a short temper that results in throwing his tennis racket and verbally abusing match officials. One such incident evokes thoughts of the "Get That Pigeon" theme from the vintage Hanna-Barbera cartoon "Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines,"  A scene during the heated titular showdown in which McEnroe first is entirely prone on the court and then gets on his hands and knees may prompt sadistic viewers to have "assume the position" thoughts. 

The aforementioned insight comes courtesy of alternating scenes that show the competitors in the years and the days leading up to the main event. Seeing the famously cool and collected Borg lose it on the court in his early years of competitive training is surprising; seeing how he becomes the man that he is in 1980 is an interesting coming-of-age story, 

For his part, we see the many quirks of McEnroe that demonstrate the pressure that he feels. We further feel sympathy regarding his valid sense that the entire world is against him. This does not stop us from laughing when he curses out the Wimbledon press corps.

The lack of interest in sports is behind fast-forwarding through roughly one-half of the climatic match. Seeing how that transpires prompts watching the rest of that compelling event with amazing shifting results. The stamina alone of the players warrants each of them getting a trophy.

The excellence continues through the "where are they now" epilogue just before the closing credits. The post-match paths of our subjects is worthy of another film.

The bonus features in the forms of separate interviews with LeBeouf, Borg portrayor Sverrir Gudnason, and director Janus Metz provide further noteworthy insights. Metz expresses the aforementioned sentiments in stating his initial lack of interest in the project because of the surface subject but then reading the entire script in one sitting.