Cult Kung Fu Classic ‘The Crippled Masters’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD July 23

The Crippled Masters, a cult classic Kung Fu film newly restored from original 35mm archival elements, will be available July 23, during Disability Pride Month, in a special collector’s edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Film Masters.

An unusual Kung Fu film from the grindhouse era, it was originally released internationally in Mandarin in 1979 as Tiān cán dì quē, and later released in the United States in 1982. Known for its inventive fight scenes, the film led to two sequels.

Directed by Chi Lo aka Joe Law (Magic Swords, Hong men xiong di, Hei lung), the film tells the story of two martial arts artists, one who has lost both arms and the other who has lost both legs, as they seek revenge against the villainous master who disabled them. Portrayed by Sung-Chuan Shen aka Jackie Conn and Chao-Ming Kang aka Frankie Shum — who in real-life are martial arts artists with disabilities — they endure rigorous training, forming a deep bond as they rely on resourcefulness and determination to master their unique fighting styles — and to avoid challenges from other martial artists and the master’s henchman. The film also stars Li Chung Keng, Chen Mu Chuan and Ho Chiu.

An early version of the restoration debuted on Turner Classic Movies for their “Disability in the Movies” schedule during Disability Pride Month in July 2023, programmed by disability advocate Lawrence Carter-Long, who also provides liner notes for this release. The print was provided from the collection of author and film curator Jack Stevenson in Copenhagen, Denmark, where it was scanned in 2K. The scan was from a rare theatrical 35mm release print before extensive restoration that included color grading by Marc Wielege.

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Special features include a new documentary from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, Kings of Kung Fu: Releasing the Legends, narrated by author/researcher Chris Poggiali; an original raw scan of the film (SD); before/after examples of the restoration; liner notes provided by disability advocate Lawrence Carter-Long; commentary by Will Sloan and Justin Decloux of The Important Cinema Club; a compilation of Kung Fu trailers (SD) from Something Weird Video; a recut of the original theatrical trailer from restored elements; an original raw theatrical trailer; and a Mandarin-language track.

The Crippled Masters is presented with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Discs are region free and include English SDH, as well as a Mandarin track option. Audio is DTS-HD/Dolby AC3s.

Mary Pickford Classic ‘Stella Maris’ Among VCI Titles Due on Disc Dec. 12 From MVD

Three classic films — the 1918 Mary Pickford drama Stella Maris, the 1941 Ernst Lubitsch comedy That Uncertain Feeling and the 1959 horror flick Horrors of the Black Museum — are due on disc Dec. 12 from VCI Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.

Stella Maris, newly mastered in HD for the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack release with an original score by the Graves Brothers, was a major advancement in filmmaking. Mary Pickford plays dual roles in a film that was very different from anything she had ever done before. It tells the story of two, very different young women; a beautiful, rich, but crippled Stella Maris and Unity Blake, a deformed and abused orphan. Director Marshall Neilan and cinematographer Walter Stradling created some trick photography for Mary to play both roles, using double exposure photography and complex editing which made it possible to present both characters on screen simultaneously. The Mary Pickford Foundation and the Paramount Film Archive partnered to access all elements available in the Pickford collections both at the UCLA Film & Television Archive and at the Library of Congress. Even though the archives were shut down during the pandemic, all parties cooperated to send the film elements to Paramount so they could be scanned in 4K resolution and commence work on the restoration. The two primary elements used in this restoration were a 1967 35mm black and white dupe negative and an incomplete 1925 35mm tinted print. Scans from the dupe negative were used for the majority of the feature, and all surviving material from the print was inserted where possible. New inter-titles were digitally recreated for the dupe negative to match the feel and length of the print, as the cards in the negative were static and much longer than originally intended. The tinting scheme of the print was used for all evening sequences: amber for night interiors and blue for night exteriors, with the rest of the feature black and white for all daytime sequences. Lastly, all the most egregious damage was digitally repaired, the film’s printed-in jitter was stabilized, and the film’s frame-rate was digitally varisped to 19fps, mirroring a more natural, hand-cranked projection speed suitable for 1918, the year of the film’s release. Bonus features on Stella Maris include a commentary track by author and film historian Marc Wanamaker; a liner notes pictorial booklet by the Mary Pickford Foundation; a photo gallery; and “The Mountaineer’s Honor,” an American Biograph short film released on Nov. 25, 1909. 

The light comedy That Uncertain Feeling, due on Blu-ray, stars Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas and Burgess Meredith. Director Ernst Lubitsch capitalizes on the husband-versus-wife theme. The film follows Jill and Larry Baker, who have been living in marital bliss for six years — until Jill develops a nasty bout with the hiccups. Exhausting all remedies to no avail and believing her problem to be psychosomatic, Jill takes the advice of friends and seeks the help of a psychiatrist. This leads to disenchantment with her husband Larry, causing marital mayhem when she becomes romantically involved with an eccentric pianist named Alexander Sebastian. Sebastian fancies himself “the greatest pianist in the world,” but he is terrified of performing in front of large audiences. Hilarity abounds as Larry strives to win back his estranged wife and Jill comes to the realization she still loves Larry. Bonus features include a commentary track by film historian Mick LaSalle.

Horrors of the Black Museum is available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. In the film, London is fear-struck and Scotland Yard is baffled by a series of strange murders that have plagued the city. Stories of the atrocities by crime journalist Edmond Bancroft (Michael Gough, the same loveable Alfred Pennyworth from the new “Batman” movies) come to their own conclusions missed by the Yard. This is because of the fact that Edmond is committing these horrible crimes himself in order to create material for his writing. He does so with the help of his assistant Rick (Graham Curnow), who assists him in running a private “Black Museum” filled with murder and torture devices. The release also includes the original American International introduction called Hypno-Vista, featuring Emile Franchel, “Registered Psychologist,” that greeted all American theatergoers on its initial release. The film features the classic eyeball-gouging binoculars scene. Bonus features include the original U.S. theatrical trailer; the original European theatrical trailer; a photo gallery; archival commentary by writer/producer Herman Cohen; a 2023 commentary by film historian and artist Robert Kelly; a two-sided cover wrap that features original theatrical art and a flip side with a new graphic design by Robert Kelly; a video tribute to producer Herman Cohen; and an archival phone interview/video featurette with Herman Cohen.

1934’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’ Headed to Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 21

Film Masters will release the first sound version of The Scarlet Letter (1934) on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 21.

Colleen Moore (Social RegisterWhy Be GoodLilac TimeTwinkletoes) stars as Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic tale of sin and redemption. In 17th century Massachusetts, Hester, a widowed mother with an illegitimate child Pearl, is forced to wear the scarlet letter A. Protecting Pearl from close-minded townsfolk, Hester is determined to rise above her situation.

Cora Sue Collins, now 96, who plays young Pearl in the film, recently shared her recollections of being on set during a Q&A that followed the film’s 4K world premiere at CineCon 2023 in Los Angeles. Collins (Blood and Sand, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Black Moon) was a child actress in great demand during the ‘30s, appearing in 47 films before retiring from the industry at age 18.

“As a young girl, I was studying classics and had just finished reading The Scarlet Letter when I heard I was going to play the role of Pearl. I was upset because I knew what ‘illegitimate’ meant … but I got over it,” Collins said. “But it was a wonderful experience and I’m so pleased to have been part of what I consider to be one of the most important movies in film history. It was such a joy to be able to see it following the restoration, because the sound quality was so poor in the original. I said the lines and could barely understand them. An amazing preservation of an influential film.”

Directed by Robert G. Vignola (Broken DreamsMore Deadly Than the MaleThe Knife), the film also stars Hardie Albright (The Mad Doctor of Market Street, Ladies Love DangerThe Song of SongsSo Big!), Alan Hale (Adventures of Don JuanThe Sea HawkThe Adventures of Robin Hood, It Happened One Night) and William Farnum (The Count of Monte CristoA Connecticut YankeeThe Man HunterSamson). The recreation of old Puritan Salem was by art director Frank Dexter (Baby Face Morgan, Northwest Trail).

The film was recently scanned in 4k from the 35mm preservation print made from the original camera negative, restored by Janice Allen at Cinema Arts in conjunction with the UCLA Library Film & Television Archives.

Producer Sam Sherman acquired the rights to the film 60 years ago and collaborated with Film Masters on the restoration and special features.

“When I was in college, we were assigned to read The Scarlet Letter for an American literature course,” Sherman said in a statement. “I decided to watch an old, 16mm film print instead that a friend had, but was so impressed that I rushed to read the novel and appreciated how closely the movie followed the book. Five years later I met Irwin Pizor, whose uncle, Herman Gluckman, had produced the film and purchased the rights and original 35mm negative. I re-released it in theaters, which changed my life as I became a professional film distributor. I’m very impressed by Film Masters’ restoration and am thrilled to make this incredible film available to the public.”

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The Scarlet Letter is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1:33:1 on region-free disks and includes English SDH with ​DTS-HD and Dolby AC3s audio options.

Among the special features are an in-depth look at the historic film with professor and author Jason A. Ney takes, joined by Collins; a written essay by Ney; Ballyhoo Motion Pictures presents “A Sin of Passion: Hawthorne in Film,” featuring a new interview with author Justin Humphreys; the original production, “Salem and the Scarlet Letter,” with archival footage provided by producer Sam Sherman of Salem, Mass., narrated by John Carradine; and a new interview with Sherman, “Revealing the Scarlet Letter.”

The film can be preordered here.

Texas Film Festival to Screen, Honor Actor From Classic ‘Dazed and Confused’

The Deep in the Heart Film Festival has announced a 30th anniversary screening of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused on July 22.

The 1993 high school classic is available for digital rental and is on sale ($9.99) for digital purchase on Vudu. It’s also available in a Criterion 4K Ultra HD edition.
 
The screening will include the presentation of the Deep in the Heart Film Festival Trailblazer Award to the film’s star, Jason London. 
 
“We could not be more thrilled to add this weekend-long celebration of such an influential film shot here in Texas to what was already a jam-packed festival of great films and events,” festival co-founders and directors Samuel Thomas and Louis Hunter said in a statement. “Having Jason London here to accept our Chisholm Trailblazer Award, headline our Opening Night Red Carpet and participate in what is sure to be a very entertaining conversation about the making of the film and his career is just so much icing on the cake. Each year, we have tried to add something new and special for our film fans to enjoy, and what could be better than this?” 

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Screening at the Waco, Texas, Hippodrome at 1 p.m., Dazed and Confused is regarded as a cult classic, ranking third on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the “50 Best High School Movies,” as well as 10th on the same magazine’s “Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years” list. Quentin Tarantino included the film in his list of the 10 greatest films of all time in a poll he participated in for Sight and Sound. The film follows the exploits of a group of teenagers during the last day of school in 1976 Austin.
 
The film has also become noteworthy due to the large number of actors from its extensive ensemble who went on to become stars, including London, Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Cole Hauser, Milla Jovovich, Nicky Katt, Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey and Renée Zellweger.

Vintage Film Restoration and Distribution Company Film Masters Launches

Industry veteran and film historian Phil Hopkins has launched a new vintage film restoration and distribution company, Film Masters.

With one Blu-ray/DVD title planned each month, the premiere release under the new label on Sept. 26 will be a two-disc collection featuring the schlock, cult favorite The Giant Gila Monster with bonus film The Killer Shrews, which were released as a double-feature bill in 1959. The initial release will be followed by the horror flick Beast From Haunted Cove (1959) on Oct. 24 and the drama The Scarlett Letter (1934) on Nov. 21.

The majority of the film releases will be restored from new 4K scans of 35mm original film elements; will be offered in original aspect ratios; and will be presented on region-free discs with DTS-HD sound and Dolby AC3s sound.

“Preserving these films in an increasingly homogenized media world is more important than ever,” Hopkins said in a statement. “As a consortium of historians and avid enthusiasts, Film Masters was launched to celebrate the preservation and restoration of vintage movies, many of them cult films, that otherwise might not be seen or experienced by a new generation of film lovers. Each release will feature original bonus materials that contextualize and enhance the enjoyment and understanding of the film.”

Working with Hopkins as part of the Film Masters team to provide an array of insights and viewpoints on film to develop original content for bonus features are author Larry Blamire; producer/director Daniel Griffith; author and film historian C. Courtney Joyner; professor and film scholar Jason A. Ney; film historian Sam Sherman; and film historian Tom Weaver, among other guest commentators.

Additionally, there will be original editorial content for classic film fans featured on the Film Masters website and in four-color, collectible booklets inserted into Blu-ray/DVD releases, provided by Susan King, a film/TV/theater writer for the Los Angeles Times for 26 years specializing in classic Hollywood; journalist and author Don Stradley; Karen Burroughs Hannsberry, author of two books on film noir and editor of The Dark Pages newsletter; author and filmmaker Anders Runestad; Kami and Chris Spagenberg, editors of the “Classic Couple” website, which celebrates vintage movies and film history; and other select guests with knowledge of classic film and a respected presence in the community.

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On the company’s website, the  Film Masters blog will post multiple articles each month covering a variety of topics, often to contextualize a film showing on the Film Masters YouTube Channel, which is now streaming a variety of classic films.

Also showing on the YouTube channel is an ongoing, original series “Legendary Faces,” which pays homage to Hollywood’s most iconic stars and launched this week with a Peter Lorre tribute.

‘Moonlighting Wives/The Naked Fog’ Double Feature on Blu-ray April 25 From Film Movement

The sexploitation double feature Moonlighting Wives/The Naked Fog will be released on Blu-ray April 25 from Film Movement Classics.

A pioneer of sexploitation cinema, American film director and screenwriter Joseph W. Sarno’s (1921-2010) prolific career spans the evolution of the genre. Moonlighting Wives (1966, color) introduced Sarno’s psycho-sexual erotic dramas to popular audiences when it screened in mainstream cinemas and drive-ins. For his next productions, he returned to his trademark economical black-and-white dramas including The Naked Fog (1966) presented here for the first time to home media. Performances by star Tammy Latour link these prime examples of Sarno’s 1960s films.

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In Moonlighting Wives, 1960s suburbia becomes a hotbed of rampant adultery and illicit sexual encounters in this torn-from-the-headlines drama. Disgruntled housewife Joan turns her stenography service into a thriving prostitution ring that has local law enforcement baffled. Needing more housewives to grow her business with wealthy clientele, Joan gives adulterous and well-connected golf pro Frank a piece of the action, sparking a chain of events that lead her on an odyssey of blackmail and ever closer to the police. Latour, Gretchen Rudolph and John Aristedes star.

The Naked Fog has long been considered a “lost” film in Sarno’s filmography. In the film, jaded jet-setter Marge (LaTour) starts a new identity as a writer in upper East Coast suburbia. But when writer’s block hits, the town brothel — a hotbed of infidelity and blackmail — offers the perfect inspiration.

Special features include audio commentary by film historian Tim Lucas (Moonlighting Wives); an interview with director Joe Sarno (2006); and an interview with cinematographer Jerry Kalogeratos (2007).

William Castle, Samuel Fuller and Hammer Collections Headed to DVD Sept. 27 From Mill Creek

Three collections of classic films — the William Castle Adventures Collection, the Samuel Fuller Collection and the Hammer Films 12-Movie Collection — are being released on DVD Sept. 27 from Mill Creek Entertainment and Distribution Solutions.

The William Castle Adventures Collection includes four 1950s titles from director William Castle: Serpent of the Nile (1953), about the romance of Antony and Cleopatra; Charge of the Lancers (1954), set during the Crimean war and starring Paulette Goddard; The Iron Glove (1954), a story about the English throne starring Robert Stack; and The Saracen Blade (1954), set in 15th century Italy and starring Ricardo Montalban.

The Samuel Fuller Collection includes Power of the Press (1943), about the murder of a newspaper publisher during World War II (written by Fuller); Scandal Sheet (1952), about a murderous newspaper editor (based on a novel by Fuller); The Crimson Kimono (1959), about two detectives seeking a stripper’s killer in the Japanese quarter of Los Angeles (written and directed by Fuller); and Underworld U.S.A. (1961), about a teenager who vows revenge against the mobsters that murdered his father (written and directed by Fuller).

The Hammer Films 12-Movie Collection includes a dozen classic horror films: The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), The Gorgon (1964), The Snorkel (1958), Never Take Candy From a Stranger (1960), The Old Dark House (1963), Scream of Fear (1961), Stop Me Before I Kill! (1961), Die! Die! My Darling (1965), The Stranglers of Bombay (1960), The Terror of the Tongs (1961) and The Pirates of Blood River (1962).

1930s Joan Crawford Classic ‘Rain’ Due on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 27 From VCI and MVD

The 1932 Joan Crawford drama Rain, celebrating its 90th anniversary, will be released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Sept. 27 from VCI Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.

The release features a new 4K restoration produced from the original, uncut 94-minute version.

Rain — a classic that caused controversy when first released — portrays W. Somerset Maugham’s powerful story of Sadie Thompson and is perhaps the most celebrated version. It vividly captures the lives of several very different human beings, thrown together on Pago Pago during a fierce monsoon. Crawford is the cynical prostitute, and Walter Huston is the minister who tries to reform her.

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Special features include a commentary track by Mick LaSalle, writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and noted film historian; a commentary track by Richard Barrios, writer, historian and commentator; a liner note booklet written by Marc Wannamaker, writer and film historian; the  original theatrical trailer; a poster and photo gallery; a period appropriate Betty Boop cartoon and newsreel; and the alternate 76-minute “cut version” of the 1938 Atlantic Reissue for comparison.

1960s Sci-Fi Classic ‘Battle of the Worlds’ Headed to Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 9

Cinedigm’s The Film Detective, the classic film restoration and streaming company, will release the 1960s sci-fi classic Battle of the Worlds on special-edition Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 9.

In the 1961 film, a runaway asteroid dubbed “The Outsider” mysteriously begins orbiting the Earth and threatens it with lethal flying saucers. Filmed in Italy at the height of the country’s sci-fi craze, this independent classic stars Claude Rains (Casablanca, The Invisible Man, Notorious), Bill Carter, Umberto Orsini, Maya Brent, Jaqueline Derval and Renzo Palmer with cinematography by Marcello Masciocchi.

Director Antonio Margheriti’s thriller comes ripe from the period of such Italian filmmakers as Sergio Leone, Mario Bava and Dario Argento.

The release is presented from a 4K scan of an original 35mm archival print.

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Bonus features include an original essay by author Don Stradley, “Margheriti’s World”; a full-length commentary track by film historian Justin Humphreys; a new original production, A Cinematic Outsider: The Fantastical Worlds of Antonio Margheriti, by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures; and an insert with a special surprise for TFD fans.

Classic ‘Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm’ to Be Released on Blu-ray March 29 From Warner Archive

The classic 1962 film The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm will debut as a two-disc special edition Blu-ray on March 29 from the Warner Archive Collection.

The film is restored in 4K (3840 x 2160) master files from 6K files of original Cinerama Camera Negatives, with the most advanced technology available used by Cinerama Restorationists David Strohmaier and Tom H. March, to eliminate the “join lines” that plagued traditional release prints, and early video format releases. The Cinerama 7-channel sound has also been restored for a new 5.1 mix.
 
The release will include an eight-page booklet that is a partial replica of the original souvenir program sold in theaters during the film’s original theatrical roadshow engagements and will be available at $24.98 at the Warner Archive store on Amazon.com or at online retailers where Blu-ray discs are sold. 

The film tells the story behind the brothers who created the beloved fairy tales that bear their name, with reenactments of three of their fairy tale stories. It follows the brothers’ long struggle for recognition and the sacrifices they and their families made to achieve their goals. Between dreamer Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey) and practical Jacob (Karl Boehm), some marvelous fairy tales develop. In “The Dancing Princess,” a princess (Yvette Mimieux) falls in love with a charming woodsman (Russ Tamblyn). In “The Cobbler and the Elves,” a Christmas miracle of dedicated labor helps the cobbler out when he most needs it. And in the last story, a fire-breathing dragon threatens the kingdom until a lowly servant (Buddy Hackett) saves the day.

Shot on location in West Germany, the production features Puppetoons, a technique developed by Oscar-winning special effects expert George Pal.

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Viewers can watch the film either in a traditional letterbox format, or in the Smilebox format, which attempts to re-create the immersive Cinerama experience with a simulated curve to the screen. Both versions bring together the three original Cinerama panels with virtually no trace of the lines that joined them together when originally projected in theaters back in 1962.

Cinerama restorationists David Strohmaier and Tom March and Decurion Corp. (parent company of Cinerama Inc.) partnered with Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.to bring the project to fruition.

Special features include “Rescuing a Fantasy Classic-Documentary,” “The Epic Art of The Brothers Grimm,” “The Wonderful Career of George Pal” and trailers.