HBO Max Picks Up ‘Raised by Wolves’ for Second Season

“Raised by Wolves,” which HBO Max reports is its top-performing original since the platform’s launch, has been picked up for a second season.

The serialized sci-fi series from filmmaker Ridley Scott (The MartianGladiator, Alien) debuted with three episodes on Sept. 3 and has continued to be a strong performer in its second week on the platform, growing its audience by nearly 50% week over week, according to the service.

“Raised by Wolves” centers on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task.  Scott serves as an executive producer on the series and directed the first two episodes. The series was created by Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners).

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“When I think of ‘Raised by Wolves,’ I think of artistry; artistry in crafting a compelling storyline, artistry in the out-of-this-world production design, special effects and cinematography, artistry in our actor’s portrayals of these memorable characters, and artistry attached to the legendary work of Ridley Scott, Aaron Guzikowski and our phenomenal crew,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original programming at HBO Max, in a statement. “This chart-topping series beautifully weaves together Ridley’s hallmarks of sci-fi and horror while offering fans one of the most original storylines they’ve seen in some time.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for season two.”

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“Being a dyed-in-the-wool advertising man, I was knocked out by the extraordinary campaign done by HBO Max marketing, which conveyed the ambitious storyline in such a provocative and tactile manner, and deftly positioned our first season of ‘Raised by Wolves’ as a ‘must watch’ show,” said Scott in a statement. “It must have been a notable challenge to selectively plumb the riches In Aaron’s storylines. We were even happier that audiences have responded so enthusiastically. We are already deep into the ‘layers’ of season 2, as Aaron has begun to shape what we think will be another brilliant season to inspire the imagination.”

Horror Films ‘Dead Pit’ and ‘The Last Victim’ Among Discs Available From MVD and Dark Force Aug. 25

Two horror films and a sci-fi-fantasy monster film are available Aug. 25 on Blu-ray and DVD from Dark Force Entertainment and MVD Entertainment Group.

The sci-fi-fantasy film Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century (1977) follows Professor Wassermann (John Stacy) who is asked by industry magnate Morgan Hunnicut (Eddie Faye) to lead an expedition to study the giant Yeti creature found frozen in a large ice block on Newfoundland’s coast. The professor does not know that Hunnicut intends to use the prehistoric creature as a trademark of its multinational industrial group — very big mistake. From Director Gianfranco Parolini (aka Frank Kramer), co-writer and director of the Lee Van Cleef/Yul Brenner “Sabata” spaghetti Western trilogy, the film also stars Antonella Interlenghi (Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead), Tony Kendall (Ossorio’s Return of the Evil Dead) and Mimmo Craig as the titular ice age titan. The release features a new high def master from the original existing Italian camera negative.

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Also available on DVD and for the first time on Blu-ray is the horror film Dead Pit (1989). From director Brett Leonard (Virtuosity, The Lawnmower Man), it follows a renegade doctor who is shot dead and entombed with his fiendish experiments in the basement of an abandoned wing of a mental hospital. Twenty years later, a mysterious woman is admitted with amnesia. Her arrival is marked by an earthquake — which cracks the seal to the Dead Pit, freeing the evil doctor to continue his work. Extras include new interviews with Cheryl Lawson, Jeremy Slate, director Brett Leonard and writer/producer Gimel Everett. Fangoria included Dead Pit in its “101 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen.”

From cult movie director Jim Sotos (Sweet Sixteen, Hot Moves), the horror title The Last Victim (aka Forced Entry) (1976) is a suspense drama starring Tanya Roberts (A View to a Kill, “Charlie’s Angels”) as a beautiful woman forced into a life and death struggle against the demented obsessions of a psychopathic killer. The film also stars Nancy Allen (Carrie), Michael Tucci (Grease) and Glenn Scarpelli (“One Day at a Time”).The Blu-ray includes both the ‘R’-rated and ‘PG’-rated versions under the titles The Last Victim and Forced Entry. The title features a new 2k scan with restoration from the original film negative and missing scenes from a 35mm print, as well as a reversible cover art that features the original theatrical poster.

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‘Love and Monsters’ to Bow on PVOD Oct. 16

Paramount Pictures will release Love and Monsters via premium VOD Oct. 16.

It will be available on VOD platforms for a 48-hour rental period at $19.99.  The film will also be available for early digital purchase at $24.99.

Joel Dawson in ‘Love and Monsters’

“Given the demand for new, high-quality entertainment right now, Paramount has decided to release Love and Monsters widely on digital platforms,” said Andrew Gumpert, chief operating officer, Paramount Pictures. “While we eagerly look forward to the reopening of movie theaters, we wanted to make this original and imaginative film available for everyone to enjoy at home.”

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The film takes place seven years after a “monsterpocalypse” — giant monsters taking over the Earth’s surface — forces all of humanity to move into underground colonies. As Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien, Maze Runner, “Teen Wolf”) watches his fellow survivors pair off, he decides to brave the surface and face the monsters standing between himself and his high school sweetheart Aimee (Jessica Henwick, “Iron Fist,” “Game of Thrones”).  Along his dangerous journey, Joel makes unlikely friends, including a heroic dog and a pair of survivalists (Michael Rooker, Guardians of the Galaxy; Ariana Greenblatt, The One And Only Ivan, Avengers: Infinity War) who help him survive the monster-infested road to true love.

Paramount Pictures is releasing the film in association with eOne.

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Sci-Fi Fantasy ‘Max Reload and the Nether Blasters’ Available on Disc and Digital From MVD

The sci-fi fantasy film Max Reload and the Nether Blasters is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from MVD Entertainment Group.

In the film, the gaming fantasies of a small-town video game store clerk, Max Jenkins, collide with reality when a legendary “lost” installment of the 1980s “Nether Game” series appears on the store counter of his workplace. Unbeknownst to Max, the old game cartridge bears a curse and in playing it, he unlocks “The Nether,” an ancient malevolent force of evil upon his small hometown. Along with a mysterious masked man and his two best friends, Liz and Reggie, Max must figure out how to beat the Nether at its own game before it’s game over for humanity.

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The cast includes Tom Plumley (“Upright Citizens Brigade”), Hassie Harrison (“TacomaFD”), Joey Morgan (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), Greg Grunberg (Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker), Lin Shaye (Insidious) and Martin Kove (“Cobra Kai”). It also stars Kevin Smith (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot), Joseph D. Reitman (Money Monster), Lukas Gage (HBO’s “Euphoria”), Charlie Talbert (The Big Short) and Wil Wheaton (“The Big Bang Theory”).

Extras include an art and animation featurette; the “NetherCragon” VFX featurette; the “Egypt” VFX featurette; “Reggie Gets Nethered,” an anatomy of a scene featurette; a “Speed Run” bonus featurette; and the original theatrical trailer.

MVD Releasing ‘Flash Gordon’ and ‘Pitch Black’ as Arrow’s First 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays

Arrow Video is set to release its first-ever 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles — the sci-fi cult movies Pitch Black, starring Vin Diesel, and Flash Gordon, featuring an iconic soundtrack by the rock band Queen.

Restored in 4K with Dolby Vision, the releases include numerous extras. The titles, distributed by MVD Entertainment Group, will also be available on as standalone Blu-rays.

“At Arrow we have always sought to have the best standards in home video presentation so it seemed a logical step that we would embrace this new format, to present you with the best versions of the finest cult and classic films,” said Francesco Simeoni, Arrow Video’s director of acquisitions and business development, in a statement.

Arrow is producing a slate of 4K releases, many completed in-house, but also in partnership with world leading labels.

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“Whilst we are focused on new releases, we do have select releases we are planning to release from our catalog in 4K with Dolby Vision,” said Simeoni in a statement. “For this year this will be releasing all upcoming UHD titles in separate UHD and new Blu-ray editions. This development will not change our processes at Arrow, and you can continue to expect the same variety of special and limited editions for our UHD releases as you have our Blu-rays. Whilst we would love to release certain titles on UHD, rights restrictions and materials will not make all releases possible. Any releases currently planned for Blu-ray will not have plans for subsequent UHD releases.”

Arriving Aug. 18 is Flash Gordon, produced by Dino De Laurentiis (Dune, Barbarella), which brings Alex Raymond’s classic cartoon strip and the long running movie serial to the big screen with director Mike Hodges at the helm. With camp style and the sonic stylings of rock band Queen, the film stars include Max von Sydow, Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton and Brian Blessed.

The director-approved limited edition 4K Ultra HD release includes:

  • A new 4K restoration by Studiocanal from the original camera negative approved by director Hodges;
  • a booklet featuring new writing on the film by critics and film historians including Neil Snowdon, Dennis Cozzalio, John-Paul Checkett, A.K. Benedict, and Kat Ellinger illustrated with original stills;
  • a fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork;
  • six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions, alternative posters and promotional images; and
  • limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais.

 

Disc one (4K Ultra Blu-ray) has Flash Gordon (1980) and special features, including:

  • archival audio commentary with Hodges;
  • archival audio commentary with Blessed;
  • interviews with actors Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Blessed, Queen icon Brian May, composer Howard Blake, and poster designer Renato Casaro;
  • “Behind the Scenes of Flash Gordon,” an archival documentary on the making of the film;
  • archival interviews with Hodges, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. and comic book artist Alex Ross;
  • “Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon,” a new documentary program exploring the version Roeg (The Man Who Fell to Earth) had originally planned to make with producer Dino De Laurentiis;
  • “Gremlin’s Finest Hour,” an episode from the animated “Flash Gordon” TV show written by J. Michael Reaves from November 1982;
  • deleted scenes and original endings with prop collector Bob Lindenmayer discussing dropped sequences and sequel ideas;
  • a 35th anniversary greenroom featurette, in which Hodges meets the cast for the first time since filming at the 35th anniversary reunion;
  • a 35th anniversary reunion featurette, in which the cast and crew discuss Flash Gordon;
  • Entertainment Earth on Flash Gordon merchandise;
  • a storyboards gallery;
  • a stills gallery;
  • the original trailer; and
  • Easter eggs.

 

Disc 2 (Blu-ray) has Life After Flash and special features, including:

  • 2017 feature length documentary by filmmaker Lisa Downs on the rollercoaster life of Sam J. Jones since his role in Flash Gordon, featuring the main cast and crew as well as a host of fans. including Stan Lee, Robert Rodriguez, Mark Millar and more;
  • “Sam J. Jones,” a variety of interviews and featurettes including coverage of a script read from the Chattanooga Film Festival, Sam discussing his career in Mexico, his “prayer walk,” and more;
  • “Melody Paintings Extended,” in which actress Melody Anderson talks about her love of painting and talks about various pieces displayed in her home;
  • “Topol,” a variety of interviews with the actor on his collections, awards and charity work;
  • “Brian Blessed,” in which the actor recounts amusing stories about Flash Gordon;
  • “Late, Great Wyngarde,” in which actor Peter Wyngarde discusses his experiences filming Flash Gordon and his relationship with Hodges;
  • “Deep Roy,” in which the actor raps about ambition and recounts an amusing story about “Eastbound & Down”;
  • “Alex Ross Talks Early Art,” in which the artist talks about Flash Gordon and the many pieces of art he created for it from childhood to modern day;
  • “Tell Me More About the This Man Houdini,” in which actor Rich Fuller and Jason Lenzi, founder of toy brand Bif Bang Pow, discuss a scene from Flash Gordon;
  • a Comic-Con early draft, a featurette looking at the phenomenon that is Comic-Con, featuring interviews with attendees and a host of regular talent including Sam J. Jones, Rich Fulton, Jason Mewes, Michael Rooker, Claudia Wells and more;
  • an interview with Lisa Downs, the director of Life After Flash, exploring her motivation to make the film and experiences during the production;
  • “Life After Flash on the Road,” a variety of featurettes on the film travelling to various festivals and production including Q&A excerpts with the Flash Gordon cast, behind-the-scenes footage and the Kickstarter funding video;
  • a trailer.

 

The director-approved special edition 4K Ultra HD release includes:

  • new 4K restoration by Studiocanal from the original camera negative approved by director Hodges;
  • archival audio commentary with Hodges;
  • archival audio commentary with Blessed;
  • interviews with actors Jones, Anderson, Blessed, Queen icon Brian May, composer Howard Blake, and poster designer Renato Casaro;
  • “Behind the Scenes of Flash Gordon,” an archival documentary on the making of the film;
  • archival interviews with Hodges, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. and comic book artist Alex Ross;
  • “Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon,” a new documentary program exploring the version Roeg (The Man Who Fell to Earth) had originally planned to make with producer Dino De Laurentiis;
  • “Gremlin’s Finest Hour,” an episode from the animated “Flash Gordon” TV show written by J. Michael Reaves from November 1982;
  • deleted scenes and original endings, in which prop collector Bob Lindenmayer discusses dropped sequences and sequel ideas;
  • a 35th anniversary greenroom featurette, in which Hodges meets the cast for the first time since filming at the 35th anniversary reunion;
  • a 35th anniversary reunion featurette, in which the cast and crew discuss Flash Gordon;
  • Entertainment Earth on Flash Gordon merchandise;
  • a storyboards gallery;
  • a stills gallery;
  • the original trailer;
  • Easter eggs; and
  • a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais.

 

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Arriving Sept. 1, pushed back from its original Aug. 18 street date, is the 2000 film Pitch Black. The standalone Blu-ray version is still slated for Aug. 18.

Starring Vin Diesel, the film is about the crew of a crashed spaceship fighting for survival, is a creature-feature in which the monsters outside finally meet their match against a monster within. The release includes director’s cuts of the film and a host of behind-the-scenes featurettes. They include:

  • A new 4K restoration by Arrow Films of the theatrical and director’s cuts of the film, approved by director David Twohy;
  • archive commentary with Twohy and stars Diesel and Cole Hauser;
  • archive commentary with Twohy, producer Tom Engelman and visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang;
  • “Nightfall: The Making of Pitch Black,” a newly filmed interview with director/co-writer Twohy;
  • “Black Box: Jackie’s Journey,” a newly filmed interview with actor Rhiana Griffith
  • “Black Box: Shazza’s Last Stand,” a newly filmed interview with actor Claudia Black;
  • “Black Box: Bleach Bypassed,” a newly filmed interview with cinematographer David Eggby;
  • “Black Box: Cryo-Locked,” a newly filmed interview with visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang;
  • “Black Box: Primal Sounds,” a newly filmed interview with composer Graeme Revell;
  • “The Making of Pitch Black,” a short behind-the-scenes featurette;
  • “Pitch Black Raw,” a comparison between early CG tests and the final footage
  • additional behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the film;
  • 2004 archive bonus features, including an introduction by Twohy, “A View Into The Dark,” and “Chronicles of Riddick Visual Encyclopedia”;
  • “Johns’ Chase Log,” a short prequel narrated by Cole Hauser detailing the character’s hunt for Riddick;
  • “The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury,” an animated short film directed by Peter Chung that acts as a bridgepoint between Pitch Blackand The Chronicles of Riddick, featuring vocal performances by Diesel, Keith David and Griffith reprising their roles;
  • “Dark Fury” bonus features, including “Bridging the Gap,” “Peter Chung: The Mind of an Animator,” “A View Into The Light” and a “pre-animation” version of the film;
  • “Slam City,” a motion comic from the film’s official website;
  • “Into Pitch Black,”a TV special offering an alternative non-canon glimpse into what happened before and after the events of the film;
  • “Raveworld: Pitch Black Event,” footage of a dance music event held to promote the film;
  • theatrical trailers, plus trailers for the two sequels and video game
  • image galleries; and
  • a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned ‘night’ and ‘day’ artwork by Luke Preece.

 

For the first pressing only, editions include a collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Simon Ward on the film’s creature designs (including a new interview with creature designer Patrick Tatopolous), original production notes and information from the film’s official website, and an archive interview with Vin Diesel from Starlog magazine.

Arrow announced that due to a printing error, its UHD versions of Pitch Black in all territories will no longer include a slipcase.

James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction

DVD REVIEW: 

Street Date 7/28/20;
RLJ;
Documentary;
$34.97 DVD or Blu-ray;
Not Rated.
Featuring James Cameron, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott.

This six-episode documentary series hosted by filmmaker James Cameron should prove a fascinating viewing experience for any fan of the title genre, primarily due to the high-caliber talent on display sharing their insights on the topic.

The series is structured with each episode taking on a different topic within the genre: “Alien Life,” “Space Exploration,” “Monsters,” “Dark Futures,” “Intelligent Machines” and “Time Travel.” They run a shade over 40 minutes each on disc, long enough to fill an hour-long time slot when commercials are added in (the series originally aired on AMC in 2018).

Much of the series follows a typical documentary format tracing the history of the episode’s topic, with analysis from various talking heads in the form of critics, authors, actors and filmmakers. Particular emphasis is placed on the various social, political and philosophical underpinnings of various sci-fi stories throughout history. One primary thesis that arises is the notion that science-fiction isn’t about predicting the future, it’s about choosing our future — an observation that demonstrates why there’s still considerable value to older sci-fi tales that might otherwise seem outdated.

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But the heart of the program involves Cameron sitting for a series of one-on-one interviews with other high-profile directors as they discuss each others work (with no shortage of praise for one another, as could be expected). The stories the directors tell range from the oft-repeated tales that every fan knows, to interesting insights into what guided certain filmmaking decisions, such as how Steven Spielberg adapted much of his childhood into Close Encounters and E.T.

The discussion with George Lucas raises some eyebrows during the A.I. episode, when Cameron says so many movies depict the machines as bad guys, leading to Lucas stating that’s why he decided to depict robots as the good guys in “Star Wars” — the pair apparently sidestepping the fact that Lucas made three “Star Wars” films in which the good guys fought entire armies of evil robots.

Still, the conversations are fun to watch and the various TV and movie clips offer enough nostalgia that any viewer should find something to like.

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The bonus section includes extended interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith and Sigourney Weaver. These run about three to four minutes each.

‘District 9’ Flies to 4K Ultra HD Oct. 13 From Sony

The sci-fi film District 9 will come out on 4K Ultra HD Oct. 13 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

From producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and director Neill Blomkamp, the film was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture.

District 9 plunges viewers into a world where aliens have landed — only to be exiled to a slum on the fringes of Johannesburg. One lone human discovers the mysterious secret of the extraterrestrial weapon technology. Hunted and hounded through the bizarre back alleys of an alien shantytown, he discovers what it means to be the ultimate outsider on your own planet.

Bonus materials on 4K include the original theatrical trailers and a “Comic-Con Extravaganza” featurette.

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Archival special features on Blu-ray include deleted scenes; director’s commentary; “The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker’s Log,” a three-part documentary; “Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus”; “Innovation: Acting and Improvisation”; “Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9”; Alien Generation: Visual Effects”; and “Joburg from Above,” an interactive map of satellite and schematics of the world of District 9.

‘James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction’ Coming to Disc July 28 From RLJE

The sci-fi documentary series “James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction” will come out on DVD and Blu-ray July 28 from AMC Networks’ RLJE Films.

The series originally aired on AMC Networks in 2018 as part of the AMC Visionaries series.

The show, an intimate look at science fiction’s roots, its futuristic vision and our fascination with its ideas, is hosted by Academy Award winner James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic). It features interviews with ‘A’-list storytellers, stars and others whose careers have defined the field of science fiction movies and television. Interviewees include Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), George Lucas (“Star Wars” franchise), Ridley Scott (The Martian, Blade Runner), Christopher Nolan (Tenet, Interstellar), Will Smith (Men in Black, I Am Legend), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, Terminator) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard, The Sixth Sense).

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Bonus features include extended interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Scott, Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro and Schwarzenegger.

Sci-fi Horror Film ‘Ingenium’ Due on Demand July 7 From Level 33

The sci-fi horror film Ingenium will come out on demand July 7 from Level 33.

In the film, Felicitas’ world is turned upside down after being attacked on vacation in Bangkok. She doesn’t know if her nightmares are taking over or if something bigger is trying to control her life. The only way to find out the truth is to free her best friend Natascha from an insane asylum, as she is key to a mysterious superpower that both women were never supposed to discover.

The film won Best Horror/Sci-Fi Film at the Crystal Palace International Film Festival; Jury Prize, Best Sci-fi Film, Best Actor Esther Maaß and Best Supporting Actress Judith Hoersch at the Anatomy Crime and Horror Film Festival; Dreamer Award Outstanding Science Fiction Feature at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival; Directors Choice at the Cape Fear Independent Film Festival; and Best Feature and Best Actress Esther Maaß at the Paris Art and Movie Awards.

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Lionsgate Releasing Sci-Fi Adventure ‘G-LOC’ Aug. 11

Lionsgate will release the sci-fi adventure G-LOC on DVD, digitally and VOD Aug. 11.

The movie stars Stephen Moyer (“True Blood”) and Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) in a poignant, allegorical story set in a fantastic other-world where humans are pitted against one another for survival.

With Earth virtually destroyed, Bran Marshall (Moyer) flees to the Rhea, a planet hostile to Earthlings. Escaping onto a Rhean supply ship, he finds the crew slaughtered, with the only survivor a female warrior named Ohsha. As the two try to kill one another, the ship is damaged by meteorites. Bran and Ohsha must join forces to salvage the craft before it impacts the planet below — and the humans that live there.

The cast also includes John Rhys-Davies, Tala Gouveia, Toby Osmond and Shayne Ward.

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