Concert Film ‘Pretenders With Friends’ Available in Blu-ray Combo Pack From MVD

The concert film Pretenders With Friends, which features the rock band The Pretenders with other rock luminaries, is available now in a Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo Pack from MVD Entertainment Group.

In the film, the Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum selling band  — featuring the legendary Chrissie Hynde — performs with special guests, including Iggy Pop, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Kings of Leon and Incubus. The film was recorded live at the Decades Rock Arena in Atlantic City, N.J.

Songs include “Brass in Pocket”; “Message of Love” by Incubus, “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” by Shirley Manson, “Precious”; “Candy” by Iggy Pop and Chrissy Hynde; “Talk of the Town”; “Back on the Chain Gang”; “Drive” by Incubus; “Mystery Achievement”; “Fools Must Die” by Iggy Pop; and a “Middle of The Road” encore performance featuring The Pretenders with Iggy Pop, Incubus, Kings of Leon and Shirley Manson.

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The DVD includes bonus interviews with band members, a slide show and trailers.

‘Ladyworld’ to Hit DVD and VOD Aug. 27 From MVD

The horror thriller Ladyworld will come out on DVD and VOD Aug. 27 from MVD Entertainment Group.

Cleopatra Entertainment will theatrically release the film nationwide Aug. 2.

Ladyworld — a modernized all-girl story inspired by Lord of the Flies — stars Ariela Barer, Annalise Basso (Captain Fantastic), Ryan Simpkins (Brigsby Bear, The House), Odessa Adlon, Maya Hawke (“Stranger Things” season three), Tatsumi Romano, Zora Casebere and Atheena Frizzell. It follows eight teenage girls who are trapped in an endless birthday party after a massive earthquake. The girls’ sanity and psyches dissolve as they run out of food and water. Eventually, they regress to their basic instincts, exploiting each other’s fears and insecurities.

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Ladyworld enjoyed recent success on the festival circuit, including BFI London Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, TIFF Next Wave, Denver Film Festival and SF Indie Fest.

The film will have an East Coast premiere Aug.2 at the Cinema Village in New York and a West Coast premiere Aug. 2 at the Arena Cinelounge in Los Angeles with a Q&A with director Amanda Kramer and cast.

‘Weird Science,’ Bigelow’s Debut ‘The Loveless’ and Classic ‘Hold Back the Dawn’ Coming to Blu-ray From Arrow and MVD in July

The 1980s teen comedy Weird Science, Kathryn Bigelow’s debut feature The Loveless and the classic Oscar nominee Hold Back the Dawn are among the films on the July Blu-ray slate from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

First up July 2 is the late 1970s rock-n-roll comedy FM. Oscar-nominated John A. Alonzo directs this story of radio station mutiny. After being forced to play more commercials, including military recruitment ads, DJs and other employees take control and fight their corporate bosses by playing as much music as possible. The new HD release, transferred from the original camera negatives, features extras including a new interview with the film’s star Michael Brandon; a new interview with writer Ezra Sacks; “The Spirit of Radio,” a newly filmed video appreciation of the era of FM radio and the FM soundtrack by film and music critic Glenn Kenny; a gallery of original stills, promotional images and soundtrack sleeves; original trailers; a reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Paul Corupe.

Due July 9 is Oscar-winner Bigelow’s debut feature (co-directed by Monty Montgomery) The Loveless. Set in the 1950s, The Loveless is the story of a motorcycle gang heading to the races in Daytona. Along the way they stop in a small southern town, leaving the locals less they pleased. Willem Dafoe, also making his debut, stars. The Loveless is presented restored and in HD for the first time, with a new transfer approved by Montgomery and director of photography Doyle Smith. Extras include a new audio commentary with Montgomery, moderated by Elijah Drenner; making-of featurettes; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Stanfield.

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On July 16 come two releases, 1941’s Hold Back the Dawn and 1990s horror flick The Chill Factor.

Nominated for six Oscars, Hold Back the Dawn stars Charles Boyer and Olivia de Havilland in the story of one man’s hope of making it to the United States by marrying a citizen. The plan is to leave his would-be bride upon making his way into the country, but the plan has a few hiccups thanks to a determined immigration officer and a true love that begins to blossom. Presented in HD for the first time, the release includes extras such as new audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin; “Love Knows No Borders,” a newly filmed video appreciation by film critic Geoff Andrew; a career-spanning onstage audio interview with de Havilland recorded at the National Film Theatre in 1971; an hour-long radio adaptation of Hold Back the Dawn from 1941 starring Boyer, Paulette Goddard and Susan Haywood; a gallery of original stills and promotional images; the original trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Farran Smith Nehme.

The Chill Factor, also known as Demon Possessed, is the only film directed by producer Christopher Webster. In the film, a group of friends out on a snowmobile trip seek refuge when one of them gets knocked unconscious following an accident. They locate an abandoned cabin to take cover. The cabin happens to hold a number of bizarre religious artifacts, and they mistakenly awaken a terrible evil. Extras include a new audio commentary with special effects artist Hank Carlson and horror writer Josh Hadley; a new on-camera interview with makeup artist Jeffery Lyle Segal; a new on-camera interview with production manager Alexandra Reed; a new on-camera interview with stunt coordinator Gary Paul; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach; and for the first pressing, only a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Mike White.

Steelbook packaging

Due July 23 is the 1980s John Hughes classic Weird Science available in regular and steelbook packaging. Starring Anthony Michael Hall, the comedy follows a pair of nerds that attempt to create the perfect woman via their computer. The release features a new 4K restoration from the original negatives and includes the original theatrical version as well as the extended version. As an added bonus, a standard definition transfer of the edited-for-TV release is included. Additional special features include an archive making-of documentary; new interviews with special makeup creator Craig Reardon, composer Ira Newborn, supporting actor John Kapelos and casting director Jackie Burch; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes.

Music Documentary ‘Teddy Pendergrass — If You Don’t Know Me’ Due on Disc and VOD From MVD

Teddy Pendergrass — If You Don’t Know Me, the story of the R&B star, will come out on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and VOD Aug. 23 from MVD Entertainment Group.

On the brink of global super-stardom when tragedy struck, the story of Pendergrass is a tale with surprising twists and turns and an intimate portrait of one of the greatest singers of his generation. It also tells how Teddy fought for the rights of African-American artists in a 1970s music industry prejudiced against black performers and reveals how, aged just 31, Pendergrass overcame terrible tragedy to get back on stage against all the odds.

The film’s world premiere at the Philadelphia Film Festival (his home city), resulted in an Audience Award and a nomination for the Pinkenson Award. It also aired on Showtime in the United States.

Director and BAFTA award-winner Olivia Lichtenstein conceived, researched and directed the film, which reveals Teddy’s meteoric rise from his tough childhood in Philadelphia to become the lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

Doc ‘Clarence Clemons: Who Do I think I Am?’ Coming to Disc and Digital Aug. 13 From MVD and Virgil

The Virgil Films documentary Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am?, about one of the most famous saxophone players in the world, is coming Aug. 13 in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from MVD Entertainment Group. The film will also be released on Digital HD Aug. 13 from Virgil.

After Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s marathon “Rising Tour” came to an end in 2003, Clemons felt like he needed a break. Though the world knew him as The Big Man and a lifetime member of the E Street Band, there was also a deeply spiritual side to Clemons, so he packed up his saxophone and journeyed to China, where he could be more or less a nameless traveler in a foreign land. Following him was director, friend and photographer Nick Mead, who documented the musician’s transcendent awakening overseas. Once Clemons returned to the States, Mead decided to keep the cameras rolling, which is when tragedy struck. While in Florida, Clemons suffered a stroke and passed away.

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With the help of producer Joe Amodei, the film became more than just a document of the musician’s spiritual journey, it became a biography of his life and a love letter and farewell from those who knew him best.

“It was an honor and a privilege to work with Nick Mead on this project. Clarence was a true Big Man! His spirituality rose to the top of every interview we conducted.” said producer Amodei in a statement.

Featuring interviews with President Bill Clinton, Joe Walsh, Nils Lofgren, Jake Clemons, and former band mates, friends and close family members, Who Do I Think I Am? documents Clemons’s life as a musician and member of the E Street band while also presenting another side of the man not many knew offstage.

Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am? (OFFICIAL THEATRICAL TRAILER) from Virgil Films on Vimeo.


The Big Clock: Special Edition


$39.95 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Sullivan, George Macready.

With a larkish approach to drinking straight out of The Thin Man plus several wacky asides in keeping with Elsa Lanchester’s chortle-bait presence in the supporting cast as a bohemian artist, the toned-down 1948 movie of Kenneth Fearing’s novel The Big Clock isn’t exactly “noir” yet would still be a tough one to leave off a comprehensive list of films that are. For one thing, Gilda’s George Macready is in it, looking as ever as if his bed likely has a built-in shelf under the mattress for a stash of whips. For another, one homoerotic scene with publisher Charles Laughton and his “fixer” (a relatively buff Harry Morgan) in a massage table milieu doesn’t exactly portend a Great Outdoors Technicolor musical set against a wagon train.

Fearing’s novel has enough of a rep to have rated inclusion in a Library of America volume, but there was no way 1948 Hollywood was capable of indulging its casual approach to adultery or one major character being a lesbian. There’s so much hustle-bustle going on here, though, that the absence of these narrative possibilities is barely missed. Either via the actor involved or fictional character from the written page, I’ve already alluded to four individuals in the narrative without even completing a second paragraph. And I haven’t even yet mentioned the main protagonist (Ray Milland), who edits Crimeways magazine for the Manhattan-based Laughton empire whose building lobby boasts an imposing giant clock that’s always correct down to the last sliver of a second.

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The picture is quite astute in having anticipated today’s media conglomerates, and though Roger Ailes was a No. 2 who still had to answer to Rupert Murdoch at Fox, Laughton does a great job that he obviously wasn’t aware of in portraying Ailes’s corpulence while cast here as the key corporate honcho. Armed with a revolting personality and power-wielding amorality, he at one point threatens to blackball Milland in the profession merely because the latter would like a vacation. He also plays around, which gets him into trouble when his current mistress ends up dead in brutal fashion; putting a memorable spin on the role is Rita Johnson, an actress whose career was largely curtailed when brain surgery largely failed to correct the aftereffects of a hair dryer freakishly falling on her just a few months after the movie premiered.

Complicating screen matters is the fact that Milland rather publicly had drinks with this once mercurial victim in nightspots (both trendy and un-) shortly before her ugly payoff. (Milland doesn’t serially cheat on his wife the way he does in the novel but will still always have a drink or 12 with a strange woman if asked). The story’s subsequent gimmick — and it’s a good one — is one of the few things that remained in the acknowledged yet all but unrecognizable 1987 remake, No Way Out, much of which is set in the Pentagon. And this is that the person in charge of the sleuthing (Laughton wants Crimeways and Milland to solve the case) finds all the evidence pointing in his direction. This takes a most tolerant wife, and the one here is played by Maureen O’Sullivan, who is adamant that she and Milland take a years-delayed love trip with their son to Wheeling. (Apparently, the conglomerate doesn’t own a travel-tips publication.)

But O’Sullivan turns out to be a valuable assistant to her husband, who otherwise has only an assortment of colorful barflies to watch his back when the increasingly malevolent Laughton becomes adversarial. Laughton’s own helpers are more threatening, the kind that power-mad sociopaths who work in buildings named after them can afford. Macready, his No. 2, is the polished, dominant one (though the way things are going, he’d better watch his back), and Morgan is around for rough stuff — never once speaking a word in the movie, preferring to let his actions do all his shouting. Without giving much away — note that the movie begins in flashback with our protagonist on the lam inside the corporate headquarters — the deeply-in-trouble Milland has to ankle it all over the skyscraper looking for hiding places, the clock among them.

The director is John Farrow, who was married to O’Sullivan in real life and fathered a sizable brood that included Mia. On an impressively thought-out Blu-ray commentary, scholar Adrian Martin tries making the case (and he’s not alone) that Farrow was badly underrated. Maybe, but he made a lot of clunkers, with this picture and John Wayne’s Hondo probably topping the list of his career achievements. (Other high-enders include Milland’s Alias Nick Beal, the intentional camp-fest His Kind of Woman, and a few solid entertainments like Two Years Before the Mast and A Bullet Is Waiting.) Along with a really good script by Jonathan Latimer, one has to concede that Farrow’s flair for movement here (note the all the scenes where multiple characters zip out of the frame and back) really carry the day over one of two things I could do without (the final bit is a little cutesy).

Another Adrian (Wootton) appears on camera to discuss Farrow and the movie’s origin as well, while the actor Simon Callow brings to his discussion of Laughton the historical and analytical ammo he attained writing an outstanding ‘90s bio of the actor, which I read not long after its publication. Callow makes a tough-to-refute case that 1939’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame so burned out Laughton that the actor lost his edge until almost the end of his career — though this movie, Witness for the Prosecution and, of course, his direction of The Night of the Hunter were standout exceptions. Otherwise, what’s an Oscar-winning actor to do when, for whatever reason, he’s electing to do Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd.

The great John Seitz, who backed up Billy Wilder during the latter’s Paramount period, photographed The Big Clock, and I was a little surprised that the Blu-ray was somewhat on the rough grainy side the way the DVD was as well. (We could be talking the same old master.) The appearance is striking enough but hardly as luminous as Shout Select’s recent Blu-ray of This Gun for Hire, which Seitz also shot at that same studio. Better, though, that luminosity be saved for Hire’s Veronica Lake if a viewer has to choose; there’s so much mayhem going in Clock that the eye has less time to focus, anyway. This is a movie I saw for the first time at age 12 on a TV late show in 1960, and has continued to grab me through years that would include my programming days at the AFI Theater when we’d run the UCLA Film and Television Archive print ion the movie in 35mm.

Mike’s Picks: ‘The Big Clock’ and ‘Baby the Rain Must Fall’

Jean-Claude Van Damme’s ‘Double Impact’ Available on Blu-ray From MVD Rewind Collection

MVD Entertainment Group has released another Jean-Claude Van Damme action classic on Blu-ray in its MVD Rewind Collection, Double Impact: Special Collector’s Edition.

Already under the MVD Rewind Collection are collector’s editions of Van Damme’s Black Eagle and Lionheart.

Double Impact (1991), co-produced by Michael Douglas and co-starring Geoffrey Lewis (The Devil’s Rejects), Bolo Yeung (Bloodsport), Alonna Shaw (King of New York) and Cory Everson (Natural Born Killers), features Van Damme in the dual roles of Chad and Alex Wagner, twin brothers who were separated after their parents’ brutal murder. Years later, the two couldn’t be more different: Chad is a slick Beverly Hills fitness instructor, while Alex is a rough and tumble smuggler on the gritty streets of Hong Kong. When fate throws them together again, Chad and Alex discover that there’s one thing they have in common: they’re both fighting machines determined to enact revenge on their parents’ killers.

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Bonus features include a feature-length retrospective documentary about the making of the film from writer-producer Richard Schenkman (The Man From Earth) that includes brand new interviews with star and co-writer Van Damme, director and co-writer Sheldon Lettich, producer Ashok Amritraj, co-star Cory Everson-Donia, co-star and fight coordinator Peter Malota, and “Chad” and “Alex” photo doubles Jeff Rector and Jerry Rector; an hour of deleted and extended scenes including a newly unearthed alternate ending; “Double Impact: Anatomy of a Scene,” with Lettich highlighting how one of the film’s biggest action set pieces was constructed; behind-the-scenes featurettes; trailers; cast and crew interviews; and a mini-poster.

MVD’s June 2019 Arrow Blu-ray Slate Includes ‘Andromeda Strain’

The 1971 thriller The Andromeda Strain will come to Blu-ray Disc June 4 from Arrow Video via MVD Entertainment Group. Based on the book by Michael Crichton and directed by Robert Wise, the film depicts the efforts of a team of scientists to cure a deadly alien pathogen. The Blu-ray includes a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative and a variety of new and archival bonus material.

Also due June 4 is Trapped Alive, a 1988 horror movie about a group of people trapped in a mine shaft and hunted by a cannibalistic mutant. The Arrow Video Blu-ray comes with a new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, three new commentary tracks, a new making-of documentary and more.

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Carol Reed’s 1963 thriller The Running Man comes to Blu-ray June 18 from Arrow Academy with a new 2K restoration courtesy of Sony Pictures. A man frustrated by his insurance company fakes his own death in order to cash in on the claim. Things seem to be going smoothly until an investigator begins snooping around.

Due June 25 from Arrow Video is Double Face, a 1969 Italian thriller from director Riccardo Freda starring Klaus Kinski as a millionaire unwittingly led into murder by his lesbian wife.

Finally, Arrow Video June 25 releases American Horror Project Vol. 2, featuring three films with new 2K restorations. The collection includes Dream No Evil, a surrealistic horror film about a woman who becomes mad in attempt to find her father and gets lost in a dark fantasy world; Dark August, a tale of a cursed man who seeks out the assistance of a spiritualist; and The Child, the story of an 11-year-old girl who is able to use supernatural abilities to raise the dead. The set comes with a 60-page booklet featuring new writing on the films by Stephen R. Bissette, Travis Crawford and Amanda Reyes.

MVD Releasing ‘Maze’ on Blu-ray and DVD June 25

Maze, based on the true story of the 1983 mass break-out of 38 prisoners from the HMP Maze high security prison in Northern Ireland, will be released on Blu-ray and DVD June 25 from MVD Entertainment Group.

The film stars Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as the architect of the largest prison escape in Europe since World War II. While he plans the escape, he doesn’t participate in it, up against the most state-of-the-art and secure prison on the continent.

Extras include commentary by director Stephen Burke, and Burke’s short film 81.

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‘The Illusionist,’ ‘Winter Passing’ and ‘Resurrecting the Champ’ Among Star-Studded Films Joining MVD Marquee Collection

The MVD Marquee Collection is adding five films from Yari Film Group to its lineup on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Due June 25 are Resurrecting the Champ, Winter Passing and The Illusionist.

Resurrecting the Champ, directed by Rod Lurie (The Contender), stars Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett with Alan Alda, Kathryn Morris, Teri Hatcher, David Paymer and Peter Coyote. In the film, sportswriter Erik Kernan (Hartnett) wants nothing more than to discover a story great enough to make headlines. When he meets Champ (Jackson), a former boxing champion living on the streets, he knows he has a shot to save them both. Recording his newfound friend’s tale of triumph and defeat, Kernan gets his story and his fame. But as Champ’s tale falls under more scrutinizing eyes, Kernan learns what truly makes a story great is the quality of the man behind it. Bonus material includes a feature audio commentary from Lurie, a behind-the-scenes featurette, interviews with the cast and crew, and the original theatrical trailer.

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Winter Passing is an offbeat film about homecoming and reconciliation that features Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Dallas Roberts, Michael Chernus, Anthony Rapp, Sam Bottoms and Rachel Dratch. When a book editor (Madigan) offers to buy the love letters of Reese Holden’s (Deschanel) parents, she returns home to recover them, only to find her widowed dad (Harris) golfing upstairs, sleeping outside and living with roommates — a pretty grad student (Amelia Warner) and a quirky wannabe musician (Ferrell). Bonus material includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

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The Illusionist stars Paul Giamatti and Edward Norton along with Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. In the film, acclaimed illusionist Eisenheim (Norton) has not only captured the imaginations of all of Vienna, but also the interest of the ambitious Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell). But when Leopold’s new fiancée (Biel) rekindles a childhood fascination with Eisenheim, the Prince’s interest evolves into obsession and the city’s chief inspector (Giamatti) finds himself investigating a shocking crime. As the Inspector engages him in a dramatic challenge of wills, Eisenheim prepares for his most impressive illusion yet. Bonus material includes a feature audio commentary from writer/director Neil Burger, “The Making of the Illusionist” featurette, the “Jessica Biel on the Illusionist” featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

Taking 18 years from the start of production to theatrical release, Shortcut to Happiness finally makes its debut on Blu-ray and DVD July 16. Originally titled The Devil and Daniel Webster, the film was to be the directorial debut of Alec Baldwin. With the film plagued by investor problems and rumored creative differences, Baldwin had his director credit removed from the film and replaced with the pseudonym Harry Kirkpatrick. Producer Bob Yari rescued the film from bankruptcy court and finished it without Baldwin’s participation. It received limited theatrical screenings in 2007. Years later, it aired on Showtime and Starz channels. Set in New York’s literary world, Shortcut to Happiness is a contemporary re-telling of the classic short story ”The Devil and Daniel Webster,” starring Baldwin, Dan Aykroyd, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kim Cattrall, Bobby Cannavale, Amy Poehler and Darrell Hammond. It follows Jabez Stone (Baldwin), a down on his luck writer who sells his soul to the devil (Love-Hewitt) in exchange for fame and fortune. When things don’t turn out as planned, Stone ultimately decides that he wants his old life again and enlists the help of Daniel Webster (Hopkins) in order to win his soul.

Finally, Sept. 17 comes Find Me Guilty from director Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Network, Dog Day Afternoon). Vin Diesel stars with Peter Dinklage, Annabella Sciorra, Alex Rocco, Ron Silver and Linus Roache in this true story. When police arrest 20 members of the Lucchese crime family, the authorities offer Jackie Dee DiNorscio (Diesel) a bargain: a shortened prison term if he’ll testify against his own. But the wisecracking DiNorscio has other ideas. Refusing to cooperate, he decides to defend himself at his own trial and proceeds to turn the courtroom upside-down, culminating in one of the most shocking verdicts in judicial history. Bonus material includes the “A Conversation with Director Sidney Lumet” featurette, the original theatrical trailer and three TV spots.