You guys ever just look at your shelves and wonder why you own half the stuff that you own? I’ve been having that feeling something fierce lately, I’m going to be moving at the end of the month, and as such, I’m going to be downsizing and will need to make certain cuts. Pretty sure at least 80% of my books are going to be sold off or donated, and with all the streaming services I have available to me, it doesn’t make sense to own the amount of TV on DVD that I do, but movies, as we know, are a different beast. I don’t know when I’ll ever feel the urge to re-watch THE CRAZIES remake, or LITTLE ODESSA, but I like the knowledge that I have the option to. There’s only so much time in the day to watch movies, but I’m pretty confident in my tastes that the stuff I own are worth the hours I’ve put into them.
All of which is basically my long-winded build-up to saying that this week’s new release picks are probably all worth your time of shelf space on some level, and with a mixed bag such as these there is definitely something for everyone. Whether it’s artful road movies, Roger Corman produced “classics,” mindbenders from the ‘seventies, or potential modern classics, we got what you need this week.
WIM WENDERS: THE ROAD TRILOGY (1974 – 1976)
For my money, few filmmakers have captured the uniquely American the way Wim Wenders has, which is pretty impressive when you take into account he was born in Germany. PARIS, TEXAS is the easiest to point to, with its wide expanses and quiet reflective nature –a deeper cut would be THE AMERICAN FRIEND, which personifies America in the form of a sociopathic Dennis Hopper, but it all started with The Road Trilogy. Made up of ALICE IN THE CITIES, WRONG MOVE, and KINGS OF THE ROAD, each film examines the human instinct to keep moving, and the existential questions that come along with it. Of the these three I’ve only seen WRONG MOVE, an unintended perk of a brief relationship I’d just as soon forget if not for this film, and that’s a lot more grounded than I expect from Wenders. From what I’ve been able to find out, that’s the general shape of the trilogy, in terms of form, and I’m fine with that, because seeing where an artist as prolific as Wenders began really informs how far he went.
BLOOD BATH (1966)
This is the first of two releases connected to Roger Corman this week, but Arrow’s new release of BLOOD BATH is by far the most comprehensive. Like all Corman films, the behind-the-scenes stories are better than the movies themselves but in the case of BLOOD BATH, the stories may be better than the four different movies that were made and than chopped up to make this one. Arrow has recreated all four, titled OPERATION TITIAN, PORTRAIT IN TERROR, TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE, and finally BLOOD BATH; each one offering a glimpse of what could have been, and Corman’s mad genius for covering all his basis. The set is packed with special features aside from the four main features, such as video essays, a fold-out poster, and archival interviews with director Jack Hill and genre legend Sid Haig. The price point is a bit high, but if you’re interested in Corman’s school of filmmaking, this is necessary viewing.
HORSE MONEY (2014)
I’m gonna level with you, this movie wasn’t even on my radar until I started going through the new release calendar a few weeks ago, but now I’ve become completely fascinated by it, given the limited info there is on it. Whether it’s reality or fiction, the imagery on display is masterful and shot almost like a horror movie, but I don’t think this film is interested in giving you any kind of visceral release. All I know is that this intrigues me the same way a puzzle box does, but I doubt I’ll be able to get a resolution the same way (which usually ends with me taking a hammer to it).
THE HUMAN TORNADO (1976)
You might remember a few weeks ago when we featured Vinegar Syndrome’s release of DOLEMITE — well, if you enjoyed that, they have you covered with the sequel. Unlike DOLEMITE however, I’ve never seen THE HUMAN TORNADO, but from what a few of my friends more well versed in this particular canon have told me, this is actually even crazier than DOLEMITE, if that’s even possible. If you dug Vinegar Syndrome’s previous release, this one is definitely worth a pick-up.
PSYCHIC KILLER (1975)
I can’t be sure, but this flick seems a lot like a movie I saw during a live Rifftrax a few years back. I don’t think they’re the same film (this one looks fairly competently made, for one thing), but both deal with astral projection as a weapon, which is always going to be interesting to me. This also looks like it might have a scum-streak, if the trailer is any indication, with a mental patient using psychic abilities for sex, murder, and revenge. Probably not the most moral of viewing choices, but honestly, where’s the fun in that?
This movie looks like it has it all: a great cast, a plot that seemingly can’t decide what genre it wants to be, and a black mamba loose in a house terrorizing criminals. Since this has both Oliver Reed and Klaus Kinski (probably deep into his “I only take cash” phase of his career), it’s pretty much a must-watch for me, and there’s something really novel about a survival movie against one snake. Not “snakes” — snake, which if we’re being honest, is a lot more terrifying to me than what my namesake the saint had to deal with.
Jesse Owens was one of the greatest Americans who ever lived, and his life story is definitely worthy of a biopic, even if from what I’ve read, the one he got with RACE was a little middle-of-the-road for such a giant. However, everyone seems to agree that the central performance by Stephan James is worthy of the man he’s playing, and the events and personalities he was placed amidst are presented with clarity and weight. Not sure how deep the film gets into Owen’s life post-Olympics, which at best was bittersweet, but Lord knows we’re pro- any film that makes Hitler look like a punk here at Daily Grindhouse, and Owens did that better than most. Those are probably worth a watch right there. That, and the fact that it’s directed by the same guy that gave us A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD and PREDATOR 2, which is amazing, but just boggles my mind.
TRIPLE 9 (2016)
Unlike a lot of my…. “Peers”? Am I at a level that I can have peers? Whatever — a lot of peers tend to love John Hillcoat like he’s the second coming of Peckinpah, and although I appreciate him as a filmmaker, I can’t really claim any real love for his work. THE PROPOSITION is a masterpiece no doubt, but THE ROAD is an endurance test in all the wrong ways, and LAWLESS is so tonally weird for me that it practically plays like a comedy (and oddly, it’s the one I like the most). So TRIPLE 9 was on my radar the same as everybody else, but I missed it on its theatrical run, which weirds me out more now than sixteen-year-old me would’ve been if he had known we would eventually skip BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. Mixed feelings about Hillcoat aside, I still wanna check this out, because the cast is stacked with personal favorites (Clifton Collins Jr? Cant argue with that!) and there are worse things to watch than a well-made HEAT-esque heist.
Another film I have almost no prior experience with it, but since I’m a big RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD fan, the name Jewel Shepard is always going to catch my attention (she’s the one that isn’t Linnea Quigley). From what little information I’ve been able to find, this flick sounds like a solid slice of sleaze, with an American heiress kidnapped in Italy by militant lesbians (well, I certainly wasn’t expecting to write that when I woke up this morning), and because it’s Italian, I guess we can actually expect to see something.
THE TERROR (1963)
THE TERROR is one of those movies where the trivia about it is infinitely more interesting than the movie itself (which is terrible). Made by Roger Corman when he was just hitting his stride, while looking at the sets for the just-completed THE RAVEN, he thought it was a shame they were going to be torn down, and still having Boris Karloff for a weekend, why not make a movie? What followed was a classic Corman turn-around of filming for four days with a limited cast that included Karloff and a very young Jack Nicholson before Corman inevitably saying “Good Enough!” and moving on to the next picture. The post-production process is even stranger, having included pick-ups and second unit footage being directed by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Monte Hellman, Jack Hill, and Nicholson himself. More than a few of the names just mentioned see THE TERROR as their professional nadir, but because of the talent involved, i’ts kind of risen above its schlocky roots to show that everybody’s gotta start somewhere just as much as they gotta end somewhere.