There’s a lot of stuff coming out each week that people want you to buy. Too much stuff. I’ll try and wade through it on your behalf. Enjoy.
Lionsgate is essentially re-releasing the contents of the respective collections put out by Anchor Bay (and now discontinued) for both Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness, with one exception. First, the Guinness collection is the same five films as before: The Captain’s Paradise, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Ladykillers, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Man in the White Suit with the same lack of features. The Sellers collection was originally a six-film under Anchor Bay, and now it’s Carlton-Browne of the F.O., Heavens Above!, I’m All Right Jack, The Smallest Show on Earth and Two-Way Stretch. What’s missing is Hoffman. Either set is worth owning, while the Sellers completist will definitely want that box, anyone who doesn’t know Alec Guinness’ work definitely needs the Guinness set. You can get the six-film version of the Sellers set on Amazon used for a reasonable price. The Guinness set you can snag here.
[ad#longpost]Yes, children, there was a time in the 80s when the Friday the 13th series was such a powerhouse that it was decided to bring the franchise to the small screen. Initial scripts featuring a Love Boat-type scenario where celebrity guest stars would arrive at Crystal Lake–since turned into a resort and spa–and then be dispatched in grisly fashion by Jason week after week was shot down after some consideration. And instead they took it in a completely different direction, with two cousins trying to seek out and return cursed items sold from an antique shop that they acquired from an uncle who made a deal with the devil. Does this mean someday we might see Saw: The Series? No idea. But Paramount wants this out in time for the remake of the first film, which hits February 13th. This set has twenty-six episodes across six discs and nothing else. However, if you want to watch it–this is probably your only way to do so–can’t seem to find any place that it’s being rerun at the moment. I thought it was 80s fun–rent it if you’re just curious. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
Listen up, boys and girls. If you’re going to do something horrible to a janitor everybody likes to screw around with–like injure them in a prank to the point where they wind up in a coma–here’s a tip. Don’t, whatever you do, inject them with some kind of weird experimental concoction that gives them the ability to go walkabout in a psychic sense and possess the minds of others. I’m serious. It’s just not going to have a happy ending. That’s the case with Red Mist from Anchor Bay, in which medical student hijinks lead nowhere friendly. Seriously, why would anyone who’s a medical student screw around with experimental stuff–have they never seen Flatliners? Anyway, this comes with a making-of, interview with the lead actress, and other interviews. If you have a bunch of people over and want to make a point of watching a horror movie that doesn’t push a lot of envelopes, then this is your huckleberry. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
Street Fighter, one of the initial wave of godawful video game adaptations, returns to DVD with a new “Extreme Edition” from Universal. And your initial question is probably pretty obvious: Why? Well, there’s a new video game and a new movie based around Chun-Li that, God helps me, looks like it could be decent. But before decent we get Jean-Claude facing off with Raul Julia (in, sadly, his final film role). And the DVD is reasonably stacked: info on Street Fighter IV, a making-of, outtakes, deleted scenes, storyboards, a commentary with the director and more. Even with that, though, and even with the price tag currently at $8.99 on Amazon, I’m not sure who this is for–this is a film where I don’t know anybody who likes it even from a cult/bad movie/ironic standpoint. It’s no doubt good for an MST3K party, so rent it if you’re so inclined, I suppose. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe play a CIA agent on the scene and the guy’s contact back at home base respectively in Body of Lies. They’re working together on screen for the first time since The Quick and the Dead and you’ve got DiCaprio (I guess on loan from Scorsese) to work with Crowe and director Ridley Scott from a script adapted by William Monahan. Best case scenario you’ve got a decent thriller with a pair of great actors along for the ride. It won’t exactly change the subgenre, but there’s nothing saying every film has to, frankly. The film comes out on a bare bones edition here from Warner Brothers, which isn’t surprising given its underperformance at the box office, even though it wound up making a bit of money back worldwide. Worth a rental for fans of the genre or any of the players involved. (Click here to buy it on DVD from Amazon.)
The second and last season of The Invaders is out on DVD from Paramount and CBS DVD. Twenty-six episodes of the paranoid late 60s sci-fi thriller on seven discs. Now our hero, played by Roy Thinnes, is able to actually convince some people he’s not total froot loops and get them on his side. But they’re still, you know, pretty well outnumbered and outgunned. This should be of interest to fans–not just because I can’t find any info on it airing anyway, so this might be their best bet–but also because it actual has bonus bits. Thinnes is on hand for a new interviews and intros for the episodes plus a commentary on one episode with producer Alan Armer. Anytime you can get one of these shows with bonus features, it’s a good thing. Worth renting to check it out or again, worth owning by fans. It’s at $24.99 as I write this, so that’s less than a dollar an episode. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
Tom and Jerry Tales–the sixth volume of which we have here–is taken from the television series of the same name, not the theatrical shorts and not the original show. What you’ve got is a valiant effort to get back to the zany genius of some of the original shorts, but you can’t Do That Again, as the man said. You can only do something similar. Watching these up against a classic short–for example, the Chuck Jones short they had on The Magic Ring DVD, “Haunted Mouse”–there’s just no contest. But if you’ve got all the classic bits you can lay hands upon and your kids want more, then I guess it couldn’t hurt. Fifteen shorts are included on this Warner Brothers release. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
As someone who owns this Alec Guinness set here is my take on the films.
The early years of Alec Guinness are genius. He has a flair for comedic timing. I have seen all these films and recommend anyone who is interested in Films from Great Britain from after the war. All of the Alec Guinnes films in this pack are from his years at Ealing Studios and before he started making the big pictures.
Kind Hearts and Coronets Produced from the Ealing Studio, This is a black, comedy thriller set in the Edwardian period. A distant relative of the prominent D’Ascoynes plans to murder the family members who stand in front of him as successor to the title.
Alec Guinness magnificently plays all eight of the family members. It was said that the study wanted him to play four and he had asked, “why not eight?”
The Lady Killers was nominated for best script and won a BAFTA for best Screen play. Alec Guinnes and a young Peter Sellers star in this dark comedic crime story. Alec Guinnes plays Prof. Marcus a creepy, sinister criminal who pulls together a hodgepodge gang to pull a heist. The story also involves a doddering old land lady. She believes this motley assortment are musicians playing Boccherini’s Minuet. The land lady learns of the heist and the group plans to ‘do her in” This is where you see Seller’s early comedic timing. This is a thoroughly enjoyable film.
The Lavenderhill Mob, is yet another caper with an assortment of odd ball would be thieves. This involves ingots of gold turned into Eiffel tower souvenirs. Though entertaining. I think it is a little weaker than Lady Killers and Kind Hearts. It is still an enjoyable film.
The Man in the White Suit Alec plays yet another outsider type individual. This is a film that detracts form the others as Alec plays a scientist who creates a material that does not get soiled. This throws the delicate clothing manufactures into turmoil. If people could buy just one suit that does not get ruined why buy another? After years of rations the manufacturers want Britains to start buying items again. So the idea is to stop Alec’s character from mass producing this product.
The Captain’s Paradise Alec plays a prosperous sea captain named Henry St. James who resides in Gibralter. He is also a bigamist. One wife Maud is a home body and the other Nita, played by a young Yvonne de Carlo (of the Munsters fame)is is wild exotic wife who enjoys night clubs and fun times. House work in not in her vocabulary. This suits Henry just fine until the woman start to change their behavior.
I enjoyed this film when I first saw this. It is a good accompaniment to the box series. But I think it would be one of the films you may not revisit.
In this box set you can see the comedic scope that Alec Guinnnes had in his early work. A later comedic film to look for is The Horse’s Mouth. It is a shame that he did not produce more in his later life.
I actually caught a few episodes of Friday the 13th the Series on a channel called Chiller fairly recently, but I don’t know that they’re showing it regularly.