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Willard and Ben — Region B

Guest Reviewer Lee Broughton is back, with a rodent roundup of horror, or more accurately, psychological suspense interrupted by a few salacious slayings. What would Mickey say?

The brief synopses of Daniel Mann’s Willard and Phil Karlson’s Ben that appeared in the horror movie books and magazines that kids in the UK loved to pore over during the late 1970s always gave the impression that this pair of killer rat films were hardcore horror shows.

In truth, the actual horror content of both films is relatively mild and infrequent. In spite of this, Willard and Ben still tend to be discussed in terms of their relation to the often more extreme movies that appeared in the “animals attack” cycle of horror films that flourished during the 1970s.

That particular subgenre represents something of a niche interest area that is governed by a pretty tight set of boundaries. The
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He Walked by Night

Do you think older crime thrillers weren’t violent enough? This shocker from 1948 shook up America with its true story of a vicious killer who has a murderous solution to every problem, and uses special talents to evade police detection. Richard Basehart made his acting breakthrough as Roy Martin, a barely disguised version of the real life ‘Machine Gun Walker.

He Walked by Night

Blu-ray

ClassicFlix

1948 / B&W /1:37 flat full frame / 79 min. / Street Date November 7, 2017 / 39.99

Starring: Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell, James Cardwell, Jack Webb, Dorothy Adams, Ann Doran, Byron Foulger, Reed Hadley (narrator), Thomas Browne Henry, Tommy Kelly, John McGuire, Kenneth Tobey.

Cinematography: John Alton

Art Direction: Edward Ilou

Film Editor: Alfred De Gaetano

Original Music: Leonid Raab

Written by John C. Higgins and Crane Wilbur

Produced by Bryan Foy, Robert T. Kane

Directed by Alfred L. Werker

Talk about a movie with a dynamite
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The Wonderful Worlds Of Ray Harryhausen, Volume One: 1955-1960

Since the early days of home video Ray Harryhausen’s films have been a lightning rod for companies eager to one-up the competition with bigger and brighter releases of the beloved animator’s work. Located in the UK, Powerhouse/Indicator is the latest to jump on the bandwagon with lavishly appointed blu ray sets each featuring three of his films. Though all these movies have been previously released through other companies, Powerhouse has upped the ante with fresh transfers and a broad slate of new extras.

The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Vol. One: 1955-1960

Blu-ray – All Region

Powerhouse/Indicator

2001 / 1:85 / Street Date September 25, 2017

Starring Kenneth Tobey, William Hopper, Kerwin Matthews

Cinematography: Henry Freulich, Irving Lippman, Carlo Ventimiglia, Wilkie Cooper

Film Editor: Jerome Thoms, Edwin H. Bryant, Raymond Poulton

Produced by Sam Katzman, Charles H. Schneer

Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff, Bernard Herrmann

Directed by Robert Gordon, Nathan Juran, Jack Sher

It Came from Beneath the Sea
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July 18th Blu-ray & DVD Releases Include Kong: Skull Island, Resident Evil: Vendetta, The Bat People

  • DailyDead
For the brand new Blu-ray and DVD offerings coming out on Tuesday, July 18th, we have an eclectic assortment of titles, both new and old. As far as cult classics go, The Bat People, Freeway, Stalker, and Stormy Monday are all making their HD debuts on Blu this week, and if you missed Kong: Skull Island, Free Fire or Buster’s Mal Heart during their theatrical runs, now you’ll have a chance to catch up with these films on their home entertainment releases.

Other notable release for July 18th include Resident Evil: Vendetta, Another Evil, Lake Alice, and The Expanse: Season Two.

The Bat People (Scream Factory, Blu-ray)

Half Man, Half Bat, All Terror!

From director Jerry Jameson (Airport 77, Raise The Titanic) comes a high-flying horror from the darkest corner of the drive-in: The Bat People!

When Dr. John Beck and his wife Cathy fall into an underground cave,
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Gremlins Midnights at The Tivoli this Weekend

“You say you hate Washington’s Birthday or Thanksgiving and nobody cares, but you say you hate Christmas and people treat you like you’re a leper.”

Gremlins plays midnights this weekend (May 5th and 6th) at The Tivoli Theater as part of the Reel late at The Tivoli Midnight series.

It’s Christmas in American picture-postcard town Kingston Falls. Billy Peltzer is given an unusual present; a cute little furry creature called a Mogwai. He is delighted with the gift until he accidentally gets it wet and it quickly multiplies. Worse still is to come when the new creatures are fed after midnight and transform into horribly mischievous Gremlins

Gremlins (1984) is a fabulous flick, because it somehow manages to be both a sentimental good-natured modern-day fairytale, and an uproariously riotous comic horror film that stomps all over the nice wholesome image of Christmas and small-town America. The script by
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Drive-In Dust Offs: Strange Invaders (1983)

  • DailyDead
Long live Michael Laughlin. Two years after he released one of my favorite early ‘80s oddities, Strange Behavior (I wrote about it here), he was back to unleash the next chapter in a proposed ‘Strange’ trilogy, Strange Invaders (1983). And while the former is a tribute to Mad Scientist films of the ‘50s via an updated Slasher take, the latter tips its fedora to the great Alien Invasion films of the same era. It may not reach the same dizzyingly weird heights, but Strange Invaders is an affectionate romp that captures the feel of those bygone drive-in classics and solidifies Laughlin’s unique voice.

A co-production between Emi Films and Lone Wolf McQuade Associates, Strange Invaders was released by Orion Pictures in mid September stateside to positive reviews and lackluster box office. Returning only a quarter of its $5 million plus budget, this was the Way of the Laughlin – everyone liked his movies,
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Let Us Now Praise The Mad Genius Of Richard Harland Smith

A few years ago, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the death of influential film critic Pauline Kael, I wrote the following:

“I think (Kael) did a lot to expose the truth… that directors, writers and actors who often work awfully close to the surface may still have subterranean levels of achievement or purpose or commentary that they themselves may be least qualified to articulate. It’s what’s behind her disdain for Antonioni’s pontificating at the Cannes film festival; it’s what behind the high percentage of uselessness of proliferating DVD commentaries in which we get to hear every dull anecdote, redundant explication of plot development and any other inanity that strikes the director of the latest Jennifer Aniston rom-com to blurt out breathlessly; and it is what’s behind a director like Eli Roth, who tailors the subtext of something like Hostel Part II almost as
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Happy Birthday Ray Harryhausen – Here are His Ten Best Films

Article by Jim Batts, Dana Jung, Sam Moffitt, and Tom Stockman

Special effects legend Ray Harryhausen, whose dazzling and innovative visual effects work on fantasy adventure films such as Jason And The Argonauts and The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad passed away in 2013 at age 92. In 1933, the then-13-year-old Ray Harryhausen saw King Kong at a Hollywood theater and was inspired – not only by Kong, who was clearly not just a man in a gorilla suit, but also by the dinosaurs. He came out of the theatre “stunned and haunted. They looked absolutely lifelike … I wanted to know how it was done.” It was done by using stop-motion animation: jointed models filmed one frame at a time to simulate movement. Harryhausen was to become the prime exponent of the technique and its combination with live action. The influence of Harryhausen on film luminaries like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, and
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Drive-In Dust Offs: The Vampire (1957)

  • DailyDead
Horror in the ‘50s tended to lean towards the sci-fi end of the spectrum. And why wouldn’t it? This was the atomic age, and hiding under your school desk during a bomb drill (the safest place to be!) was scarier than any monster Hollywood could muster. So as a form of social moralizing (or an excuse to display giant, mutated lizards on screen), filmmakers merged the fear of nuclear annihilation with the need for entertainment. Most filmmakers, that is. Paul LandresThe Vampire (1957) is a deliberate ride through the (mostly) human condition, small in scope but surprisingly big on emotion. Just don’t expect any vampires, radioactive, sparkly, or otherwise.

What you do get is a story much closer to Stevenson than Stoker, a simple riff on Jekyll and Hyde shot through a cautionary tale about America’s then growing concern with pill poppin’. The Vampire is more concerned
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Examining Hollywood Remakes: The Thing

  • Cinelinx
Continuing our series on Hollywood remakes, this week’s film is one of those lauded remakes that many say is better than the original. While a horror movie may not be in the Christmas spirit, this film does have a lot of snow in it. This week, Cinelinx looks at John Carpenter’s The Thing.

When people talk about remakes of old films, the one that is most often mentioned as being better than the original is John Carpenter’s 1982 horror flick, The Thing, which is a remake of the 1951 Howard Hawks classic The Thing From Another World. There’s a good argument to be made for the newer one. Not that the first one isn’t an excellent movie, but this is a rare occasion where the reputation of the remake seems to overshadow the original.

Both films were based on the short story “Who Goes There?” by John W.
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Warners’ Special Effects Blu-ray Collection

I'll trade you two RKOs for two Warners', an even swap! This quartet of movie-magic wonderments offer a full course on old-school film effects wizardry at its best. Willis O'Brien passes the baton to disciple Ray Harryhausen, who dazzles us with his own effects magic for the first '50s giant monster epic. And the best monster thriller of the decade is offered at its original widescreen aspect ratio. It's all special enough to merit a mid-week review. Special Effects Collection Blu-ray The Son of Kong, Mighty Joe Young, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Them! Warner Home Video 1933-1954 / B&W / 1:37 Academy - 1:85 widescreen / 335 min. / Street Date October 27, 2015 / 54.96 or 19.98 separately Starring Robert Armstrong, Helen Mack,, Frank Reicher, Victor Wong; Robert Armstrong, Terry Moore, Ben Johnson, Frank McHugh; Paul Christian, Paula Raymond, Cecil Kellaway, Kenneth Tobey, Donald Woods, Lee Van Cleef; James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, James Arness, Onslow Stevens,
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Innerspace

In the 1980s, bored film critics sometimes claimed to see homoerotic themes in any 'buddy picture'  about guys being friends with guys. Only one bold comedy dared to confront this notion directly -- in this show, Dennis Quaid spends a full two hours inside Martin Short, yet the finished picture is still perfectly suitable for all audiences and age groups! Savant Blu-ray Review Warner Home Video 1987 / Color /1.78:1 / 116 min. / Street Date August 4, 2015/ available through Warner Bros. / 13.09 Starring Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, Meg Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Fiona Lewis, Vernon Wells, Robert Picardo Cinematography Andrew Laszlo Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren Art Direction James H. Spencer Film Editor Kent Beyda Original Music Jerry Goldsmith Written by Jeffrey Boam, Chip Proser, story by Chip Proser Produced by Michael Finnell, Peter Guber, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Jon Peters, Chip Proser, Steven Spielberg Directed by Joe Dante

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Warner Home Video shows
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Exclusive: Joe Dante Discusses "Innerspace", To Mark The Film's Blu-ray Release Through Warner Home Entertainment

  • CinemaRetro
By Lee Pfeiffer

Warner Home Entertainment has recently released their special edition DVD of director Joe Dante’s “Innerspace” on Blu-ray. The 1987 film is a sci-fi comedy that afforded Martin Short and Meg Ryan early career leading roles in a tale of inspired lunacy. The premise of the script centers on a narcissistic former military test pilot Tuck Pendelton (Dennis Quaid) who volunteers for an unprecedented scientific experiment. Doctors have the technology to shrink him and inject him into the body of a rabbit. They also obviously have the ability to bring him back into the outside world where he can resume his normal activities at his normal size. The purpose of the experiment is to allow medical technicians to eventually inject operatives into human beings so that they can perform miracle surgeries. However, there are some bad guys who are looking to benefit from the amazing technology by selling it to the highest bidder.
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Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry

A kind of Bonnie and Clyde for the Nascar crowd, director John Hough (The Legend of Hell House) puts together an eccentric and original premise with an equally quirky cast including Vic Morrow, Kenneth Tobey and Roddy McDowall in support of stars Peter Fonda and Susan George, two misfits on the lam from the law after a supermarket robbery. Released mainly to drive-ins, Hough’s carefree crime chase brought in a more than respectable 14 million at the box office.
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Wright Was Earliest Surviving Best Supporting Actress Oscar Winner

Teresa Wright: Later years (See preceding post: "Teresa Wright: From Marlon Brando to Matt Damon.") Teresa Wright and Robert Anderson were divorced in 1978. They would remain friends in the ensuing years.[1] Wright spent most of the last decade of her life in Connecticut, making only sporadic public appearances. In 1998, she could be seen with her grandson, film producer Jonah Smith, at New York's Yankee Stadium, where she threw the ceremonial first pitch.[2] Wright also became involved in the Greater New York chapter of the Als Association. (The Pride of the Yankees subject, Lou Gehrig, died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in 1941.) The week she turned 82 in October 2000, Wright attended the 20th anniversary celebration of Somewhere in Time, where she posed for pictures with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. In March 2003, she was a guest at the 75th Academy Awards, in the segment showcasing Oscar-winning actors of the past. Two years later,
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Youthful Redford Immersed in Dirty World of Politics on TCM Tonight

Young Robert Redford and politics: 'The Candidate' and 'All the President's Men' (photo: Robert Redford as Bob Woodward in 'All the President's Men') A young Robert Redford can be seen The Candidate, All the President's Men, Three Days of the Condor, and Downhill Racer as Turner Classic Movies' Redford series comes to a close this evening. The world of politics is the focus of the first three films, each one of them well-regarded box-office hits. The last title, which shows that politics is part of life no matter what, is set in the world of competitive sports. 'The Candidate' In the Michael Ritichie-directed The Candidate (1972), Robert Redford plays idealistic liberal Democrat Bob McKay, who, with no chance of winning, is convinced to run against the Republican incumbent in a fight for a California seat in Congress. See, McKay is too handsome. Too young. Too liberal.
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Good and Bad War-Themed Movies on Veterans Day on TCM

Veterans Day movies on TCM: From 'The Sullivans' to 'Patton' (photo: George C. Scott in 'Patton') This evening, Turner Classic Movies is presenting five war or war-related films in celebration of Veterans Day. For those outside the United States, Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, which takes place in late May. (Scroll down to check out TCM's Veterans Day movie schedule.) It's good to be aware that in the last century alone, the U.S. has been involved in more than a dozen armed conflicts, from World War I to the invasion of Iraq, not including direct or indirect military interventions in countries as disparate as Iran, Guatemala, and Chile. As to be expected in a society that reveres people in uniform, American war movies have almost invariably glorified American soldiers even in those rare instances when they have dared to criticize the military establishment.
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Turner Classic Movies Garner Tribute Next Monday

James Garner movies on TCM: ‘Grand Prix,’ ‘Victor Victoria’ among highlights (photo: James Garner ca. 1960) James Garner, whose film and television career spanned more than five decades, died of "natural causes" at age 86 on July 19, 2014, in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood. On Monday, July 28, Turner Classic Movies will present an all-day marathon of James Garner movies (see below) as a tribute to the Oscar-nominated star of Murphy’s Romance and Emmy-winning star of the television series The Rockford Files. Among the highlights in TCM’s James Garner film lineup is John Frankenheimer’s Monaco-set Grand Prix (1966), an all-star, race-car drama featuring Garner as a Formula One driver who has an affair with the wife (Jessica Walter) of his former teammate (Brian Bedford). Among the other Grand Prix drivers facing their own personal issues are Yves Montand and Antonio Sabato, while Akira Kurosawa’s (male) muse Toshiro Mifune plays a
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'Whirlybirds' Star Craig Hill Dies at 88

'Whirlybirds' Star Craig Hill Dies at 88
Craig Hill, who played P.T. Moore, the co-owner of a helicopter chartering company, in the 1950s syndicated TV adventure series Whirlybirds, died Monday, the Spanish newspaper Ara reported. He was 88. Hill, who also appeared as the prison-bound first-time offender at the beginning of the Kirk Douglas cop classic Detective Story (1951), died in Barcelona, family members told the newspaper. He had lived in Spain for decades. Whirlybirds, from Desilu Productions, aired for three seasons and 111 half-hour episodes, from February 1957 to January 1960. Moore and his partner, Chuck Martin (Kenneth Tobey), flew Bell

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Jim Wynorski's Classic B-Movie The Lost Empire Heading to DVD in April

Back in 1983 Jim Wynorski shot his first film, The Lost Empire, which has itself been "lost" for several years. Finally, on April 22nd it's getting its long-awaited home video release on DVD.

From the Press Release:

In 1983 a young director stepped behind the camera for the first time and began to shoot a film which he thought might be both his first and his last. An ardent fan of "B" cinema, Jim Wynorski decided to cram this film with everything he loved.

"I got my first break doing The Lost Empire for Plitt Theatres," says Jim Wynorski. "The late owner, Henry Plitt (a decorated war hero), wanted to make a low budget sci-fi action picture as a tax loss. I never knew that when I made the show, so I put my heart and soul into the project. When it finally got completed, Plitt actually liked it enough to give
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