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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. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

'Jail Break' DVD: Guys and Dolls In The Big House

The Warner Archive April 23, 2019 DVD release of the 1936 drama "Jailbreak" reminds us of the good old days when men talked tough and dolls stood by their guys. This is not to mention a smart mouth likely earning you a sock on the jaw or a kick in the pants. 

The plot thickens from the opening scenes in which made man Ed Slayden bursts his way into the successful night club of former associate/current truly legitimate businessman Mike Eagen. Slayden is on the lam from a heist gone bad and demands help from a sheepish Eagen. Although he is no longer a baad man, Eagen slugs a copper with the idea that that the anticipated resulting 30 days in stir will keep him out of circulation long enough protect him from Slayden until the heat dies down.

The rub comes in the form of the adage related to the best-laid plans of mice and mobsters. Eagen runs afoul of a two-strikes mandatory-minimum law that results in a two-year sentence, On top of that, prison guard Dan Stone has it out for the new fish based on their prior dealings. 

Things go from bad to worse when Slayden and his gang get collared, resulting in becoming fellow guests of the state with Eagen. 

The better news is that loyal Girl Friday Jane Rogers and crusading reporter Ken Williams are on Team Eagen. Rogers is diligently keeping the club doors open and doing everything else that she can to help her boss; Williams is using the power-of-the-press to sway public opinion.

A combination of a prison killing and a treasure hunt further rock the institution and transform "Break" into a traditional whodunit. The latter includes adding to the body count and assaulting Williams in the course of his investigation.. This is not to mention Williams proving during a close approximation of a drawing room confrontation that he is much more than a pretty face.

The titular event barely even is a "B" story as a group of cons decide that they want a variation of an early release. They soon learn that successfully going over the wall is not always a good thing.

"Break" being a Hollywood movie from the era in which the Hays Code is enforced ensures that crime does not pay and that at least some good guys get a happy ending. Everyone else simply gets another day older and deeper in debt. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

'Nazi Junkies' DVD: High Times in WWII-Era Germany

Mel Brooks provides the most important perspective regarding the Omnibus Entertainment April 2, 2019 DVD release of the well-dubbed serious-toned 2019 English-language documentary "Nazi Junkies." This genius behind "The Producers" reminds us that mocking Team Hitler robs those maniacs of their power. Further, the idea of Herr Adolph "Uber-mensch" Hitler doing more drugs than a crackhouse whore is bizarrely amusing. 

The first of two other important related concepts to consider while watching "Junkies" is that even propaganda that supports your view still is propaganda. You must also remember that there is your perspective, the perspective of the other guy, and the truth. "Junkies" seems authoritative and is not unduly sensationalized but still likely only tells a portion of the story.

This two-part docuseries is based on the book Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler. The first episode focuses on the heavy use of illicit substances by Der Fuhrer. The broader scope of the second episode is on that activity by both the general German population and the members of the military.

The documentation of the drug use of Htler includes the records of personal physician/entourage member Dr. Theodore Morell, whose methodology strongly reflect a better living through chemistry philosophy. A particularly impactful scene discusses Morrell refusing to allow his patient to shoot up anymore because heavy drug use is the cause of the veins of the latter being completely scabbed over. This data and the other evidence of Hitler using every substance known to Hunter Thompson indicates that the birthday of Hitler being 420 is very apt.

The bigger picture is the discussion of Hitler being a man who does not understand the concept of just saying no relating to the turmoil in his life. He recognizes the need to present a strong image, is dealing with increasing dissension in the ranks, and knows that his 1,000-year Reich is going to fall far short of that goal. An especially interesting story is about Hitler going to extreme measures on suffering catastrophic injury hours before frienemy Mussolini is visiting.

Part II suggests that an Army travels on its Previtin, rather than its stomach. The general (no pun intended) idea is that the soldiers, the sailors, and the pilots are pushed to extreme physical limits that require them taking so many drugs that it makes "Jessie's Song" look like a Saturday-morning kids' show. A recently interviewed soldier discusses how the brass doses the chocolate of the unsuspecting grunts to achieve this. The rest of the story is records that show the extent to which the expression "The Rhine Valley of the Dolls' applies to 40s-era Germany.

Part II also includes one of the most horrific stories in this series that is rife with tales of Nazi atrocities. We learn about teen Hitler Youth members being boys sent to do a small man's job that NO ONE should do. These efforts involve being confined in an incredibly cramped space for an extended period to perform what "Junkies" describes as a Kamikaze mission.

The ways in which Parts I and II are tied include a discussion of the drug use in the military when Hitler is a young soldier. Seeing him look very youthful and sporting even odder facial hair then his best-known look is fascinating. 

The even bigger picture is that "Junkies" is akin to other documentaries that focus on the human aspects (and related frailties) of Hitler. The general idea is that seeing this super-villain as a man whose reality does not live up to his self-produced hype shows that even the worst monster ultimately is a "Scooby" bad guy in a rubber mask. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

'Three Men on a Horse' DVD: A Day at the Races

The Warner Archive April 16, 2019 DVD release of the well-remastered 1936 screwball comedy "Three Men on a Horse" is a good reminder that funny never stops being funny and that comedy does not require shock value. 

The cred. of "Horse" begins with drector Mevyn LeRoy, whose other credits include "The Wizard of Oz" and "Mister Roberts." In front of the camera, Oscar nominated wise-cracking vaudeville veteran Joan Blondell plays stock floozy with a heart-of-gold Mabel. Fellow vaudeville vet Frank McHugh plays henpecked greeting-card writer Erwin Trowbridge. 

The following YouTube clip of the fun-filled "Horse" trailer shows that they don't make those promos like they used to.

Our story begins with a wonderful look at 30s-era suburbia. Erwin and his wife Audrey live in a poorly constructed tract house in the development of her brother Clarence. Erwin is getting ready for his job, and Audrey is yelling for him to throw down his suit so that she can send it to the cleaner. 

The Lucy and Ricky vibe continues with Audrey finding a little black book in a suit pocket. Being convinced that the entries are names and telephone numbers of loose women prompts Audrey to call Clarence to come over. The stereotypes continue with Clarence quickly going into a tirade about Erwin being a louse and Clarence having warned Audrey not to marry him.

The plot initially thickens on Audrey and Clarence learning that the notes are horse-race winners that Clarence successfully picks on his daily commute. The suspicious minds are additionally schooled regarding Erwin not actually placing any bets. 

The added insult to the injury additionally is the straw that breaks the back of the camel. A COD package containing $48 worth of dresses requires that Erwin defend his male pride in front of Clarence by using money saved for other small luxuries to pay for the couture. 

This bad morning drives normally sober Erwin to drink; his bar crawl brings him to the watering hole from which professional gambler Patsy (Sam Levene of "The Thin Man" series) and his two stooges operate. Mabel is the wannabe starlet who is the dame of Patsy and helps keep the boys in gambling money.

Learning that easily duped Erwin is the boy with something extra prompts Patsy and the boys essentially to kidnap their new acquaintance. Much of the ensuing comedy relates to providing a conducive setting for picking the ponies. 

For her part, Mabel finds both a kindred spirit and a receptive audience in Erwin. This start of a beautiful friendship does not sit well with Patsy.

Meanwhile a distraught Audrey is lamenting over the disappearance of her husband, and his stereotypical fuming boss is irate over the absence of his employee. An oblivious Erwin merely is trying to please everyone. 

Of course, all worlds ultimately hilariously collide. The happy endings this time show that justice prevails in Golden Age comedies. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

'Hard Ticket to Hawaii' Blu-ray: Magnum XX

The Mill Creek Entertainment April 16, 2019 Blu-ray of the 1987 USA Up All Night caliber film "Hard Ticket to Hawaii" shows that sexploitation god Andy Sidaris follows the tradition of making a sequel bigger and bolder than an original. "Ticket" is the follow-up to the (reviewed) 1985 Sidaris "classic" "Malibu Express."

The even better news for Sidaris fans is that he states during a "behind-the-scenes" feature for the "Ticket" Blu-ray that that film is the first in series of 12. It is likely that MCE will release the other 11 films in the not-to-distant future.

Speaking of MCE, releasing the shot-on-locations "Malibu" and "Ticket" respectively highlights the SoCal and 50th State beauty of the cinematography.

The following YouTube clip of a "Ticket" trailer provides a perfect sense of the mid-budget '80stastic cheesy fun of this film that warrants a T and A rating. 

The titular yacht from "Malibu" makes a cameo in the opening scenes of "Ticket." "Malibu" lead character Cody Abilene apparently has lent cousin Rowdy Abilene (Ronn Moss of "The Bold and the Beautiful" and "The Bay") his love boat. Aptly named race-car driver June Khnockers apparently is not along for the ride either.

Although Cody is the main "Malibu" focus, Rowdy takes a backseat to busty blonde bimbo DEA agents Donna and Taryn. Donna especially looks as if she has spent time in Silicone Valley. She also is notable for being half of an homage to '80s busty blonde bimbo Donna Dixon.

Trained agent Donna and witness protection program participant Taryn work a cover job as pilots for a small cargo and charter service airline. (Insert your own cockpit and joystick jokes here.)

The primary action begins when the girls fly a honeymoon couple to a secluded spot that apparently is as accessible by Jeep as it is by airplane. They have just left the lovebirds to sunbathe and take sleazy Polarioids when they see a high-end radio-control plane land. The rest of the story is that that plane has smuggled diamonds that belong to a Bond villain stereotype who does not like doing things the easy way. 

This discovery results in the first of several shootouts that sets the game fully afoot. Highlights include a stereotypical evil drag queen, a slice-and-dice Frisbee, and a lounge-lizard Maire D. The latter provides some of the best humor when the response of a woman to an invitation to sit on the face of the host speculates whether his nose is larger than another organ of his.

Another highlight involves a psychotic skater armed with an explosive sex doll. 

A variation of a snakes on the plane plot is the B story in this delightfully C-movie with decent production values but porn-star caliber acting and a lace-thin plot. A stateside mishap leads to the girls transporting a rat-cancer infected snake. Of course, this reptile gets free and goes on a feeding frenzy. 

The noose tightens on Rowdy, Donna, and their sidekicks teaming up for a raid; their premature declaration of mission accomplished leads to a final showdown in which the good guys get unexpected help, This involves the best entrance in the entire film.

All of this amounts to "Ticket" being an even bigger dream come true than "Malibu" for horny teen boys whose parents are clueless regarding the nature of these new additions to the home-video library. The appeal to the rest of us is no reason to feel guilty pleasure regarding this nostalgia reminder of how the advent of direct-to-video facilitated making movies such as this.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

'Bigger Like Me' DVD: Smaller Than the Average Bear

Breaking Glass Pictures continues its limited dickumentary series with the April 9, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 non-fiction film "Bigger Like Me." This self-described extended director's cut of the 2014 film "Big Like Me" further chronicles the efforts of comedian Greg Bergman to remedy endowment-based angst. 

"Bigger" is most akin to the (reviewed) 2013 Breaking DVD release "Unhung Hero." That one involves actor Patrick Moote dealing with the same anxiety as Bergman and taking comparable remedies to improve the Marco Rubio-sized hand that he is dealt. Comparing the two films is akin to the decades-long "Bewitched" v. "Jeannie" and "Munsters" v. "Addams Family" debate, One thing that can be stated with certainty is that Moote is much safer than Bergman in the f**k, marry, or kill game. 

Although Moote is less crude and explicit in discussing his endowment and in showing what he is packing than Bergman, it seems clear that the latter has a couple of inches in both length and width than his "little buddy" at the start of their journey.

Another difference is that a size-related humiliating rejection of a marriage proposal motivates the desire of Moote to transform his earth worm into a water moccasin. Bergman being in an overall happy marriage at the beginning of "Bigger" shows that he is packing enough heat to  adequately satisfy his wife. That relationship becoming rocky later in the film reflects the wisdom of gay columnist Dan Savage in "Unhung." He states that angst about not measuring up can harm a relationship more than falling on the lower end of the bell-end curve. 

We also see that 32 year-old Bergman is his own worst enemy; he explicitly states that his natural endowment respectably falls in the "average bear" category regarding both length and width. This guy who spends much of the film naked or only wearing tiny briefs never addresses that losing 50 pounds both would make his junk look proportionately bigger and make him overall more attractive. This is not to mention how manscaping would benefit him. His aforementioned unduly assertive personality is another matter. 

Noting the SPOILER that Bergman succeeds in becoming a bigger man is done to show that this prompts him to fully embrace the "if you got it, flaunt it" philosophy. He repeatedly drops trou to his ankles in very public settings without receiving any encouragement to do so. A silly aspect of this is that having to artificially enhance size is not a point of pride. This sincerely is not to say that the chosen people should go around showing passers-by and new acquaintances how either God or heredity has blessed them.

Another way of thinking about this is that most men whose endowment is a valid point of pride generally follow the "speak softly and carry a big stick" philosophy. There is something to be said for providing Mr. or Ms. Right (or Mr. or Ms. Right Now) a (hopefully pleasant) surprise during an initial unveiling in the boudoir. 

On a similar note, Bergman shows very poor taste regarding repeated displays of dildos. Having one frequently sticking out of his backpack is bad enough. Numerous woman on the street interviews in which he uses three of these devices in a "Goldilocks" style survey is MUCH more creepy than funny. 

A DVD bonus deleted scene in which Bergman engages in the above poll in an interview with a surprisingly willing and candid 16 year-old Mennonite girl clearly shows why this exchange does not make the cut even in the extended version. 

Scenes in which Bergman and his college-aged little brother openly discuss their endowments and repeatedly wave around the aforementioned marital aids is only slight less creepy than the aforementioned exchanges. 

A bigger pet peeve relates to statistics. Early in the film, Bergman joins an organized group of men who formally identify themselves as being among the 55 percent of the male population that is unhappy with their penis size. Bergman goes on to state the goal of every man becoming a one-percenter. The obvious flaw regarding that statement is that virtually every man packing a Magnum would make that size the norm, rather than the except to the rule. 

The bottom line regarding all this is that Bergman is sure to entertain fans of Howard Stern and other abrasive raunchy humor. He is a cautionary tale to the rest of us in the form of showing the perils of obsessing about a perceived physical flaw. Our "average Joe" would have been much better off accepting his lot in life and understanding the concept of "TMI."

Briefly returning to "Hero," Moote succeeds where Bergman fails because this presumed member of the "Fantastic Four" has a more legitimate issue than his fellow comedian. Further, Moote displays better humor and perspective. As the aforementioned reference to the game of three indicates, size is not the only thing that matters. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

'Sam Benedict' CS DVD: Tales of Compassionate Real-Life Trial Attorney

The Warner Archive complete-series DVD release of the 1962-63 NBC legal drama "Sam Benedict" shows the value of good source material. Although the cases are fictional, the titular celebrity San Francisco attorney is based on real-life legal eagle/series consultant Jacob W. Ehrlich. The recommended companion release this time is the (reviewed) Archive complete-series DVD set of the 1963-65 drama "Mr. Novak." That fellow quasi-anthology series revolves around the titular rookie teacher typically trying to have a positive impact on a different student in each episode. 

A particularly special aspect of this series is an early episode being in color. The best speculation is that this is part of an NBC promotion to encourage viewers to purchase color sets. 

That guy who was in that thing Edmond O'Brien stars as essentially sole practitioner Benedict. Secretary extraordinaire Trudy Wagner is his Della Street. Rookie attorney Hank Tambor is more of a tenant than an associate. 

The "Benedict" pilot perfectly reflects the spirit of the series. The first challenge facing Benedict is defending a client in a murder trial in which 12 angry men are a hung jury. This provides context for the presiding judge to lecture the "peers" and the audience about the nature of jury deliberations.

On a personal note, the sudden death of a friend presents our hero with a moral predicament. The spendthrift brother of the deceased wants his payoff before the dearly departed is put to rest. On top of that, this sibling is fighting the legal right of the adopted daughter of the dead man to get a piece of the estate. The well-know lesson regarding this is that death brings out the worst in people; the rest of the story is that procrastinating about keeping a will up-to-date can haunt your heirs. 

Another early episode is especially Hitchcockian. Benedict is defending the daughter of a long-time family friend in a trial for the murder of her husband. The debate between client and attorney regarding whether to present an insanity defense provides context for discussing when a mental incapacity is a mitigating factor in a legal proceeding. The dramatic climax shows the consequences of repression.

Mental capacity also is an issue when a young widowed Japanese immigrant battles the parents of her late husband for custody of her unborn child. A primary issue here is the extent to which an apparent mental incapacity is attributable to limited English skills. Getting to the root of the problem is one of many instances of social commentary in this cerebral series that equally entertains and provokes thought. 

We additionally get a case of a cop killing the college-age son of a one-percenter. The issue extends beyond the validity of lethal force to a more basic dilemma. This career cop must decide whether invoking his Fifth Amendment right to keep his doughnut hole shut is worth the price of definitely losing his job. We also get a taste of the perfect storm that can result when a hair-trigger cop on the verge of burnout conflicts with an arrogant young punk. 

This opening statement on the merits of "Benedict" shows that the presented issues remain just as relevant and compelling more than 55 years later. The bigger lesson is that morons who do not learn from history are doomed to shell out big bucks to relive it in court.