Here are the Top 10 titles we dug the most for the month of October from The New Release Wall. From classic Fulci to PULP FICTION and JACKIE BROWN, there was some killer shit that dropped this month. As always, click the cover art to jump over to Amazon and snag the title. Thanks for supporting The Wall!
10. MORE BRAINS
We all know the story of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD; a drum full of nasty Trioxin 245 is unleashed and it makes for one helluva 4th of July party. Linnea Quigley also gets nekkid… but I digress.
If you read this site with any frequency, you know I am huge fan of Dan O’Bannon and his masterpiece ROTLD. Not only did it contain the humor he was known for in his personal life, it also contained heaping doses of crazy and gore. MORE BRAINS! A RETURN TO THE LIVING DEAD is a fun as hell look at the making of the film and features, for the first time, all the main cast as well as clips, storyboards, art, and more. It traces the films roots from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD to ending up in the hands of O’Bannon (who would only direct one other film though remain very active working on scripts). If you are a fan of films, buy this flick. If you’re a fan of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, buy this shit asap and get ready to not only bust out a killer documentary but work your way through some really well produced special features.
9. LETHAL LADIES COLLECTION
I have been a fan TNT JACKSON for a long time, I actually have it on a double feature disc with THE BLACK GODFATHER. It’s silly as fuck and not the best representation of Cirio H. Santiago’s work (Producer of THE BIG BIRD CAGE, THE HOT BOX)… actually maybe it is.
While it may be my favorite on this triple feature of tough, the best special features are found on TOO HOT TO HANDLE which features a commentary with star Cheri Caffaro and director of AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE Elijah Drenner. This is jam packed with some good grindhouse facts and stories and this alone is worth the price of admission.
8. THE CROW
Brandon Lee would have been a certifiable action star after this flick had he survived the tragic on-set accident. This film is one of the first American productions to adopt the Hong Kong action formula of heavy gunfights and double-fisted .45?s. Lee puts in a performance that is much more than battles and boomslang though. He has a sensitivity that shines through every quiet moment of the film. Michael Wincott and Ernie Hudson also put in solid performances. Alex Proyas created a stunning film, something he would unfortunately do only once more in his career (DARK CITY), nothing else he has done works for me. We have THE CROW though, and its tough as nails.
7. DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW
J.D. Feigelson, author of HORROR HIGH, originally planned this as a feature film but the rights were snatched up by CBS. Though the film had to be slightly altered for t.v. the edits were only minor. This film went on to play horror festivals to solid reviews and has built up a strong cult following. This is a very atmospheric film that is freaky as hell.
Peter Jackson with horror and blood by the gallons. Yes sir, may I have another? This is early Peter Jackson at his most bat-shit crazy. What makes this work so well is the comedy and the way Lionel reacts to the situations he is in, which gets more and more ridiculous as the film goes on. This is hyper-violent and it’s done to near perfection.
5. PULP FICTION & JACKIE BROWN
How do you write about a film that everyone has written about? What is there left to say? This film changed the course of film for a good decade. It created its own sub-genre of QT knockoffs. It changed the way many of us thought about film. It’s fucking STAR WARS for the boomslang crowd. It’s the dime store novel where the characters are gray, there is no moral center, and the environment oozes a kind of cool you want to roll up and smoke like a pack of a Kools.
This wasn’t the moment that Tarantino hit me though, he had already done that with RESERVOIR DOGS. This was the moment though that I thought the fucker was about to put a hurt on Hollywood. This film is a masterpiece, plain as Jane, and now we have the bitch on Blu-ray along with my favorite flick from the QT archives: JACKIE BROWN.
This is hands down my favorite QT film. It is full of quiet moments and I think he sometimes forgets that its these kind of pauses that make him such a brilliant director. Check out the scene where Sam Jackson goes to Chris Tucker’s motel room to put him down for the dirt nap; that long shot of the car rolling around the block. The quiet moments between a brilliant Robert Forster and the STILL FUCKING HOT Pam Grier. Hell, even the long tracking shot in the beginning as Jackie gets off her plane. Moments like that work so well in a QT film because too often his characters become cartoonish. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the fuck out of those cartoons but this film is the first one that felt like it was in the real world.
I can’t let a write-up of JACKIE BROWN go by without the mention of one of my favorite actors who we don’t see enough of these days. The icing on the badass cake of this flick; Michael Keaton as Ray Nicolette, a role he would again reprise, though briefly, in OUT OF SIGHT (another Elmore Leonard novel, Jackie Brown is actually Leonard’s Rum Punch though loosely based). Fucker just nails a cop looking to nail a case. If there was any kind of justice in the world Ray Nicolette would have his own film, and it would be 120 minutes of old school cop action.
JACKIE BROWN, the very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.
4. ATTACK THE BLOCK
Damn. This is one of those films that is so good it gives you chills. This is one to build a triple feature around and then geek out with your crew about what you just saw. In the year of 80?s tributes, this one took the cake, ate it, then slapped the fuck out of you.
3. ISLAND OF LOST SOULS
A creepy as hell adaptation of H.G. Well’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau” is still just as effective today as it was when it was released in the 30?s. A lot of directors have tried to take on this story but they have never achieved the brilliance of Eric C. Kenton’s masterpiece. Not for nothin’, but this is one of Joe Dante’s favorite horror films of all-time. Not a lot of special features here, but word on the street is Criterion did an impressive job with this transfer.
2. maniac cop
SYNAPSE has to be tied with BLUE UNDERGROUND for label of the year for me. They are pounding out some incredible titles (with FRANKENHOOKER right around the corner). I am happy as fuck to finally have MANIAC COP on Blu-ray. William Lustig made four films in the 80?s and three of those are classics: MANIAC, VIGILANTE, and MANIAC COP. When it comes to the COP trilogy, the first one has always been the Don. I just think the story is better, the pacing is better, its just a more fluid film. Having said that, I realize I am the nerdy kid playing by himself while everybody else is on the monkey bars playing with the cool kid known as MANIAC COP 2.
Most of the features that are on this release were on Synapse’s DVD version with one huge exception: The commentary track that features Bruce Campbell, Writer/Producer Larry Cohen, Composer Jay Chattaway, and Director Bill Lustig. This is an amazing commentary and I wish this would have made it over, but that is a minor quible with what is otherwise a near flawless release for the grindhouse crowd.
When DAWN OF THE DEAD hit Italy it was released as ZOMBIE, forcing notable hack director Lucio Fulci to re-title his film ZOMBIE 2. This title change resulted in Fulci’s flick being considered an unofficial sequel when it was anything but. Them’s the facts. Having said that, while Fulci was ripping off Romero he created something that was vivid and intense. What it lacks for in plot and originality, it makes up for with some pretty stunning camera work and some groundbreaking zombie work which created some of the most classic images from the genre. This is Fulci at his best and its still one of the top grossing Italian horror films of all time (even besting DAWN OF THE DEAD).
Bill Lustig and the Blue Underground crew once again went all out for a fan favorite. Not only is the quality of this print one of the best I have seen, but its jam packed with some killer features. This is one of the best releases of the year.
DISC 1 EXTRAS:
Audio Commentary with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater
Poster & Still Gallery
Guillermo del Toro Intro
DISC 2 EXTRAS:
“Zombie Wasteland” – Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua
“Flesh Eaters on Film” – Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis
“Deadtime Stories” – Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti
“World of the Dead” – Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca
“Zombi Italiano” – Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi
“Notes on a Headstone” – Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi
“All in the Family” – Interview with Antonella Fulci
“Zombie Lover” – Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films
See you on forty deuce,
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