Shatner Pic ‘Devil’s Revenge’ Will Come Out on Blu-ray Oct. 15 From MVD

The horror adventure Devil’s Revenge, co-produced, co-written and starring William Shatner (“Star Trek”), will come out on Blu-ray Oct. 15 from MVD Entertainment Group and Cleopatra Entertainment.

The story follows John Brock, a down-on-his-luck archaeologist who returns from an expedition to the caves of rural Kentucky after unsuccessfully trying to locate a mysterious relic that his family has sought for generations. Upon his return, John starts to see dream-like visions of a ferocious bird-like creature from ancient folklore. He soon learns that the cave he came into contact with on his last expedition was indeed the cave that contains the relic and also a portal to Hell and a place of worship for the Occult. He discovers that the only way to stop the increasingly realistic visions is to go back to the cave with his family, find the relic once and for all, and destroy it.

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Cleopatra Films is planning limited theatrical screenings and a national advertising campaign to promote and support the title.

From writer-director Jared Cohn (Devil’s Domain, 12/12/12, Pernicious, The Domicile), the film also stars “Star Trek” series alumni Jeri Ryan (“Star Trek: Voyager”, “Boston Public”, Down with Love) and Jason Brooks (“Star Trek” (2009), Super 8, “Boston Legal”) along with Jackie Dallas (Netflix’s “Stranger Things”) and Michael Yahn (Netflix’s “Daredevil).

The Blu-ray includes a CD of the soundtrack.

Mike’s Picks: ‘The Major and the Minor’ and ‘The Set Up’

The Major and the Minor

MVD/Arrow, Comedy, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Rita Johnson, Diana Lynn, Robert Benchley.
1942.
In the first Hollywood directorial outing from Billy Wilder, a grown woman posing as a 12-year-old meets and gradually falls for a kindly and thoroughly aboveboard Army major — who probably isn’t even aware that he’s on the road to reciprocating her feelings.
Extras: Includes a taut and nicely crafted voiceover commentary from film scholar Adrian Martin; a half-hour interview with British critic and academic Neil Sinyard; and a 30-minute Ray Milland interview.
Read the Full Review

The Set-Up

Available via Warner Archive
Warner, Drama, $21.99 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias, Alan Baxter.
1949.
To some extent overlooked when it came out the same year as Kirk Douglas’s star-making rival boxing drama Champion, Director Robert Wise’s The Set-Up finally attained the rep it deserves after many years.
Extras: The Blu-ray includes separate commentaries from Wise and Martin Scorsese.
Read the Full Review

 

The Major and the Minor

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

MVD/Arrow;
Comedy;
$39.95 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Rita Johnson, Diana Lynn, Robert Benchley.

Standard histories have it that Billy Wilder decided to become a director to “protect his screenplays” (which, at that time, were co-written with Charles Brackett) after he didn’t like what Mitchell Leisen did to 1941’s Hold Back the Dawn. The latter, which Arrow released on Blu-ray this past summer, is actually a fine picture, but Wilder was agitated enough to take the directorial plunge and thereby searched for the most surefire property gathering dust on the Paramount lot at a time when the studio expected him to fall on his face by attempting something arty.

Something, however, to think about is the fact that The Major and the Minor couldn’t have been all that surefire in 1942 due to its premise about a grown woman posing as a 12-year-old meets and gradually falls for a kindly and thoroughly aboveboard Army major — who probably isn’t even aware that he’s on the road to reciprocating her feelings. British critic and academic Neil Sinyard (a film history teacher I would have loved to have had) hits this point on a half-hour M&M interview included on Arrow’s new Blu-ray, noting that this was a decade or more before the publication of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Even momentarily leaving industry censors out of it here for the purposes of discussion, Wilder (who continued writing with Brackett through 1950’s Sunset Boulevard) would have to walk a fine line — something, turns out, that he did for almost the entirety of his directorial career.

It’s a feat he pulled off here without (to the eye, at least) a hitch, and M&M doesn’t look like any director’s first outing. Though, to clarify, Wilder had previously co-directed a 1934 French comedy with Danielle Darrieux about a hot car ring (Mauvaise graine) that I liked better than expected the only time I saw it. For Wilder’s Hollywood debut here, he and Brackett even managed to open with a long establishing scene that’s topically relevant today — one where we see the degree to which Ginger Rogers’ character has been pawed, pinched and otherwise sexually harassed during a year in New York after escaping the hinterlands. The latest transgressor is a married wolf (Robert Benchley) who hires her to massage his scalp, sparking one of the more famed lines of dialogue from a vintage Hollywood comedy: “Why don’t you get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?”

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Having reached her rope’s end after the episode that follows, Rogers elects on a dime to return home for good with the exact train fare she’s saved in an envelope, only to discover that the cost has gone up during the year. Disguising herself as youngster (complete with a balloon) so that she can score a cheaper fare, Rogers ends up in the drawing room of the title major (Ray Milland), who has just been in Washington trying to wangle World War II combat service despite a tricky eye that helps make it at least a bit more credible that he could fail to see that she’s no burgeoning adolescent. As Sinyard notes, there’s also the fact that Milland somewhat specialized in playing mildly dim characters early in his career — before Wilder later won both of them Oscars for the alcoholism drama The Lost Weekend.

At this time, Milland is stuck at a military school supervising a lot of horny male pubescents — a gig his snooty fiancée (Rita Johnson) is secretly scheming with higher-ups for him to maintain. For reasons that make perfect sense yet are no less funny for that, Rogers ends up at the school herself for a long weekend where she’s sexually harassed all over again — this time by boys who are 40 or 50 years younger than Benchley.

These latter scenes are still laugh-out-loud funny, thanks in huge measure to the world-weary expressions on the face of Rogers when she’s out on dates with these cadets (one to an hour) and enduring supposedly foolproof seduction patter from guys who barely shave. There’s also a fun subplot involving her temporary roomie/wannabe future scientist played by Diana Lynn in her first significant role (Lynn was a real-life piano prodigy who turned out to have a distinctive speaking voice and screen personality). As Johnson’s sister, she’s such a non-admirer that she’s not above steaming open the older sibling’s letters if it’ll help Milland get his transfer.

Already, we see the familiar Wilder virtues and even some themes. For starters, the performances are all first-rate, with Milland an appealing foil and even Rogers’ real-life mother Lela in a cute cameo playing the same role on the screen, momentarily dispelling Lela’s much written about notoriety as one of Hollywood’s most motor-mouthed political reactionaries. What’s more, the story construction is flawless, and there’s a fair share of Wilder’s trademark topical humor, including a hysterical gag involving girls’ hairdos at the big school dance. We also have the disguise theme, to which would Wilder would return in Some Like It Hot (though I also appreciate Harvey Lembeck’s attempts to temporarily palm himself off as Betty Grable in Stalag 17). What’s different, though, is an overall sweetness that we wouldn’t see from Wilder many more times. In the taut and nicely crafted voiceover commentary here from film scholar Adrian Martin, we’re told that Brackett used the word “enchanting” — which the movie certainly is. And never more than in the final scene.

The other main bonus feature to go along with a decent transfer is a 30-minute Milland interview conducted by two youngsters or relative youngsters who don’t seem to know his career as well as they might. The actor is personable, though, and covers a lot of decades for such a compressed running time — from the actor’s unplanned entry into pictures (quite a story) and the pressures of both TV acting when you might be shooting three episodes of a series a week and the perils of directing modestly budgeted features when the money may run out. Milland made it clear more than once that directing was his true love as far as movies went, and at least two of the films he did (The Thief and A Man Alone) are skillfully put together. I’m leaving Panic in Year Zero off this list because it’s been so many decades since I’ve seen to that I’m not even positive that I have, despite the fact that a lot of revisionist types have good things to say about it. In 1962, I wasn’t all that in the habit of catching post-apocalyptic Frankie Avalon movies.

It’s probably worth noting that M&M was remade in 1955 as You’re Never Too Young, which is one of the few Martin & Lewis comedies to capture the team tension of their live appearances. Though containing a surprising number of the same situations, it obviously made some major alterations, starting with Jerry Lewis playing the Rogers role. It was after totally different game than M&M, and taken on that level (which most dim-bulb-ish 1955 film criticism didn’t), it was pretty funny despite the always marginal Norman Taurog direction. Rainer Werner Fassbinder even paid homage to its wildest musical number in In a Year of 13 Moons.

Definitely worth re-emphasizing is the greatness of Rogers’ performance when she has to play two major roles (her character’s real and fake self) and two or three more minor ones, including a climactic scene where she pretends to be her own mother. I always use Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth as my yardstick by which to gauge the perfection of Golden Age comic performances by attractive actresses, but this recent viewing made a persuasive case to me that Rogers just might come in second here. Brackett and Wilder give her a dream role (which doesn’t mean an easy one), and the movie has so much showmanship that it even finds a legitimate way for the character to break into a tap dance.

Mike’s Picks: ‘The Major and the Minor’ and ‘The Set Up’

‘GG Allin — All in the Family’ Due on DVD Oct. 15 From MVD

GG Allin — All in the Family, a documentary about the late American extreme punk rock musician GG Allin, will come out on DVD Oct. 15 from MVD Entertainment Group.

Allin is best remembered for his notorious live performances, which often featured transgressive acts, including self-mutilation, eating his own feces and attacking the audience. In 1993 he died of a heroin overdose.

Aired on Showtime as All in the Family, the film follows the two remaining family members, mother Arleta and brother Merle, who is still active in GG Allins backing band the Murder Junkies. The story is about an extraordinary loving family, whose departed son and brother has left a trail of unanswered questions.

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‘Ringu’ Collection, ‘The Prey,’ ‘Killer Nun’ Among Titles Due on Disc from Arrow and MVD in October

The “Ringu” collection, The Prey and Killer Nun are among nine releases coming to disc from Arrow and MVD in October.

Oct. 1 on Blu-ray comes The Prey, an early 1980s film about a group of teens attacked by a disfigured killer while camping in the Rocky Mountains. The cult classic is presented with a new 2K restoration and three different cuts.

Toys Are Not for Children, due Oct. 8 on Blu-ray, is a psychological drama about a woman with daddy issues suffering through a devastating downward spiral. It also features a new 2K restoration and a host of bonus content.

Next up Oct. 15 on Blu-ray is director Giulio Berruti’s Killer Nun. Anita Ekberg stars as Sister Gertrude, a nun lured into the world of drugs and perversion. The cult classic comes to Blu-ray with a new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative.

Two releases head home on Oct. 22. First is Guillermo del Toro’s gothic romance Crimson Peak on Blu-ray. The story follows an aspiring author that travels to a remote English mansion, where she is haunted by ghostly visions. The second release, on Blu-ray and DVD, is Billy Senese’s The Dead Center, in which Shane Carruth stars as a hospital psychiatrist that is pushed to the edge of insanity when a deranged patient claims to have died and brought something awful back from the other side.

Four releases are due Oct. 29. The John Landis classic An American Werewolf in London stars David Naughton stars as an American tourist attacked by a vicious creature while hiking in the Yorkshire Moors. The Oscar-winning special effects from the legendary Rick Baker are restored in 4K using the original camera negative and approved by Landis.

Hideo Nakata’s 1990s Japanese horror hit Ringu is slinking to Blu-ray, also on Oct. 29. The story about a cursed VHS tape features a new 4K restoration approved by DP Junichiro Hayashi. Also due that date on Blu-ray is the “Ringu Collection,” a boxed set with the original film, the sequel Ringu 2, the origin story Ringu 0, and the “lost sequel” The Spiral.

Finally Oct. 29 on Blu-ray comes Man of a Thousand Faces, a biopic about one of horror’s first icons, Lon Chaney. It stars James Cagney as the multifaceted silent screen legend. Director Joseph Pevney not only chronicles Chaney’s rise to stardom but captures the drama is his day-to-day personal life. The screenplay, written by R. Wright Campbell, Ivan Goff, and Ben Roberts, was nominated for an Oscar. This release comes with a number of special features including a new audio commentary from film scholar Tim Lucas.

Classic Serial ‘Lost City of the Jungle’ Travels to Blu-ray Oct. 1 From MVD

The 1946 Universal serial Lost City of the Jungle is coming to Blu-ray Disc Oct. 1 from MVD Entertainment Group.

The story follows a warmonger, Sir Eric Hazarias (Lionel Atwill), who is searching for an element that is the only known antidote to the atomic bomb in order to sell it to the highest bidder. A group of peace activists are on his trail. They include Rod Stanton (Russell Hayden), United Peace Foundation investigator; Tal Shan (Keye Luke), Pendrang native; and Marjorie Elmore (Jane Adams), daughter of scientist Dr. Elmore (John Eldredge), unwilling assistant to Sir Eric.

The title is available now on DVD.

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Rock Comedy ‘Mock & Roll’ Due on DVD Sept. 17 From MVD

The comedy Mock & Roll will come out on DVD Sept. 17 from MVD Entertainment Group and Soundview.

Featuring the music of Foghat and the Black Owls, the film follows Ohio parody band Liberty Mean, a group that is tapped out, clueless and struggling to raise the needed money to get to the South by Southwest Music Festival where their dreams can become reality. Unfortunately, bad decisions and absurd circumstances lead the band down a dark and stormy road. Featuring special appearances by Roger Earl of Foghat, Michael Stanley (Michael Stanley Band), and comedian Alex Ortiz (Comedy Central, HBO), Mock & Roll is a tale of “never-beens,” rather than “has-beens.”

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Winner of the Comedy Award at Cleveland’s Indie Gathering, the film was an Official Selection at the Orlando Film Festival, Hollywood Florida Film Festival and Adrian International Film Festival and had a world premiere at the Austin Revolution Film Festival with six nominations, including Best Comedy, Director, Actress and Actor. It won Best Feature at the Inside The Loop Film Festival.

‘Noir Archive Vol. 3’ Coming to Blu-ray Sept. 17 From MVD and Kit Parker

The film noir collection “Noir Archive Vol. 3: 1957-1960” is coming to Blu-ray Disc Sept. 17 from MVD Entertainment Group and Kit Parker Films.

Making its debut in HD for the first time, this collection of nine film noir pictures is curated from the Columbia Pictures library. The three-disc set also features the film’s original aspect ratios.

Titles include The Crimson Kimono (1959), directed by Samuel Fuller and starring Victoria Shaw, Glenn Corbett and James Shigeta; The Lineup (1958), directed by Don Siegel and starring Eli Wallach, Robert Keith and Warner Anderson; Man on a String (1960), directed by Andre DeToth and starring Ernest Borgnine, Kerwins Mathews, Colleen Dewhurst and Alexander Scourby; The Shadow in the Window (1956), directed by William Asher and starring Phil Carey, Betty Garrett, and John Barrymore, Jr.; The Long Haul (1957), directed by Ken Hughes and starring Victor Mature, Diana Dors and Patrick Allen; Pickup Alley (1957), directed by John Gilling and starring Victor Mature, Anita Ekberg and Trevor Howard; The Case Against Brooklyn (1958), directed by Paul Wendkos and starring Darren McGavin, Maggie Hayes and Bobby Helms; The Tijuana Story, directed by Leslie Kardos and starring Roldolfo Acosta, James Darren and Robert McQueeney; and She Played With Fire (1957), directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring Jack Hawkins, Arlene Dahl, Dennis Price, Bernard Miles and Ian Hunter.

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Faith Film ‘The Heart of Man’ Due on Blu-ray Sept. 17 From MVD

The faith-based film The Heart of Man is coming to Blu-ray Disc Sept. 17 from MVD Entertainment Group and Ocean Avenue Entertainment.

The film is a narrative telling of a father’s “Prodigal Son” search for his son shot in Hawaii interwoven with interviews with real people going through their problems and subsequent healing.

The film also includes interviews with William Paul Young, author of the New York Times best-selling novel The Shack; Dan Allender, Ph.D, author of The Wounded Heart; and spoken word artist Jackie Hill Perry.

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Directed by Eric Asau, the film stars Robert Fleet, Serena Karnagy and Justin Torrence.

Drama ‘Chicago Cab,’ Horror Anthology ‘Chiller’ Due on DVD Sept. 17 From MVD and S’More

The drama Chicago Cab and the British horror anthology Chiller are coming to DVD Sept. 17 from MVD Entertainment Group and S’More Entertainment.

In Chicago Cab, based on the play “Hellcab” by Will Kern, it’s 6 a.m. and 20 degrees below zero on a December morning in Chicago and a cab driver picks up his day’s first passengers. The story follows 14 hours in the life of a cab driver as he picks up fares from the good and bad parts of the city while emotionally connecting to many of his passengers including a depressed rape victim, stoners, randy lawyers, a drug runner and a race to get a pregnant woman to the hospital. The film’s stars include Laurie Metcalf, John C. Reilly, John Cusack and Julianne Moore.

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Chiller is a five-episode horror/fantasy anthology series originally shown in the United Kingdom. Episodes include “Prophecy,” about a group of friends hold a seance in the basement of a London cafe and each receive a prophecy; “Toby,” about a couple who tragically loses their unborn baby in a car accident; “Here Comes the Mirror Man,” which follows a social worker whose predecessor was murdered in mysterious circumstances; “The Man Who Didn’t Believe in Ghosts,” about a professional de-bunker of the paranormal who faces a series of unexplained events and accidents; and “Number Six,” which follows a homicide detective investigating the murders of five children. The series features well know British stars from ”Downton Abbey,” ”Doctor Who,” ”Coronation Street” and the ”Pirates of the Caribbean” series.