Spring fever is in full swing and April is a fantastic month for genre releases! The theaters will he hopping with all sorts of horror films, thrillers, and future cult faves, and well…. the DVD selection leaves something to be desired… but "Phantasm III" and "Godzilla Raids Again" both make their DVD debut, so that’s something, right?! Well, I guess that’s all I have to say in my monthly intro, so here’s my monthly disclaimer: "All release dates are tentative and subject to change. No animals were harmed during the making of this Genre Watch article. Viewer Discretion is Advised."
Now available on DVD:
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – Sacha Baron Cohen created a pop culture phenomenon with "Borat," in which the title character comes from Kazakhstan to learn more about American culture in order to improve things in his home country. However, he ends up deviating from his planned documentary in order to go cross country to find and marry Pamela Anderson. While I know that quite a few people didn’t care for this film (infidels!), I and millions of others enjoyed watching the world’s biggest practical joke unfold. The "Borat" DVD is "very nice" and has been released in Widescreen and Full Screen transfers, each boasting good, clean, Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. The disc is rounded out nicely with a ton of deleted scenes and extra footage, a world promotions tour featurette, and more! "Great success!"
Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film – This new documentary covers the history of the slasher film! Favorites like Halloween and Friday the 13th are explored as are lesser known (and loved) slasher flicks like Prom Night and Black Christmas. The film includes interviews with lots of big name directors including Wes Craven, John Carpenter and Rob Zombie and does a good job of at least touching on many of the films that made up the evolution of this horror sub-genre. The disc includes audio commentary by the director, bonus interviews, trailers, and a trivia game!
The Manitou – A women gets a huge growth on her back that turns out to be a reincarnated, evil midget Indian medicine man. This was the last film ever made by William Girdler and features one of the loopiest endings of all time! The disc features a great 2.35:1 widescreen transfer with a serviceable Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack. The only extra on this disc is a trailer, but I can live with that! Can’t you?!
Night of the Comet – After a mysterious comet passes by Earth and turns 99.9% of the population to dust, a handful of survivors encounter zombies and an evil group of former government officials that need blood to survive. Though not as cool as I could’ve hoped for, it is nice to see this cult fave on DVD. The disc is bare bones, but the 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is gorgeous and the 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround sound is more than adequate.
Here’s a few more cult DVDs that you may want to keep an eye out for: Dust Devil: Final Cut, Hundra, Revenge of the Nerds (Panty Raid Edition and Atomic Wedgie Collection), Solarbabies, and Ultimate Versus.
Now Playing in Theaters:
300 – Three hundred Spartan warriors, led by King Leonidus (Gerard Butler) put a big hurtin’ on the Persian army in this big screen adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Though not entirely historically accurate, this movie still kicks major ass! (Side note: Look for it on DVD in August!)
Dead Silence – James "Saw" Wan’s latest didn’t really make a big dent in the box office and will probably make a quiet departure before hitting DVD in a few months. I guess the next generation of horror fans just weren’t ready for an evil ventriloquist dummy film.
The Hills Have Eyes 2 – More carnage, gore, and disgustingness for your senses! A new family of mutants terrorizes some unlucky "weekend warriors" in training. Haven’t seen it myself (and don’t really plan to, as I have to be very picky since I don’t have much in the way of cash these days. i.e. I have to save my money for the movies I need to see!) but I’ve heard some good things from a few casual viewers.
Meet the Robinsons – This family film isn’t really my cup of tea, though the T-Rex complaining about his big head and tiny arms is most definitely entertaining. An Evil Bowler Hat Guy steals a kid’s scientific invention and then wacky hijinks ensue… or something like that.
Premonition – Sandra Bullock tries to find out how to stop her husband from dying after having a (gasp!) premonition! Here’s a solution for you Sandy: Let him die, then marry me, and live happily ever after!
TMNT – The all CGI Turtles flick has been getting some pretty decent word of mouth and I’m dying to see it. In this one, the Turtles battle monsters, the foot clan, and each others’ egos. The best part? It totally ignores the retched, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, where they go back in time to feudal Japan.
DVDs to look for in April:
April 3rd: "Black X-Mas" (2007 Remake), "Godzilla Raids Again," "The Mario Bava Collection: Volume 1" (5-DVD Set), "Masked Rider: The First," "Mothra vs. Godzilla," and "Zombies Gone Wild."
April 10th: "The Breastford Wives," "Phantasm" (Anchor Bay Collection), "Phantasm III" (Anchor Bay Collection), and "Video Violence / Video Violence 2" (Double Feature).
April 17th: "Alien Invastion Arizona" and "Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep."
April 24th: ".45," "Final Justice" (1997), "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie," "Macabre" (1980), "Naked You Die," and "Satan’s Cannibal Holocaust."
Theatrical Films to Look for in April:
Grindhouse – Oh my God, this looks so damned cool! This gimicky throwback to 70’s grindhouse cinema features a double feature by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. From "missing film reels" to an intermission with fake movies trailers, this is a guaranteed good time for cult movie fans! This is a must see!
The Reaping – Hillary Swank tries to disprove a sudden outbreak in a sleepy Southern town that may actually be a recurring case of the ten plagues God set upon Egypt way back in the day. This is a definite candidate for the "I’ll rent it when it’s on DVD" list.
Disturbia – This somewhat remake of "Rear Window" stars Shia LeBeouf as a kid under house arrest that thinks his neighbor may be a serial killer. This could end up being a decent movie methinks.
Pathfinder – Karl Urban stars as a grown up Viking child that has lived amongst the American Indians since being left by his Norse parents so many years ago. When the Vikings return for some raping and pillaging, ole Karl aids his adoptive tribe in fighting off the Nordic menace. It sounds cool on paper, so we’ll have to wait and see how it all translates to the big screen.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters – Ummm… ha… ha? This show can barely drag along a storyline during its fifteen-minute episodes on TV. How the hell can that stretch out a plot for an hour and a half? I may have to see this movie just to see if they did. My guess is that it’ll be a series of never before seen episodes edited together. This one is definitely for fans only.
Hot Fuzz – The Shaun of the Dead creators (and stars) bring us this hilarious-looking parody of cop films. After being transferred to a small, quiet English town, a new cop realizes that perhaps the town’s amazingly high number of accidental deaths may be the work of a murderer; gunfights and jokes ensue. (I’m filing this one under "Must See" right alongside Grindhouse.)
Severence – A weekend retreat in the mountains of Eastern Europe goes bad for a group of salesmen that work for a multi-national weapons company. This one sounds like fun but is only getting a limited release. Dang it!
The Tripper – David Arquette’s horror comedy about a Ronald Reagan-obsessed serial killer targets a bunch of hippies who are heading to a weekend-long concert. Oh, my God. This sounds like pure gold! Sadly, it too is only getting a limited release.
Vacancy – Psycho meet Saw in this odd tale of a young couple trapped in a secluded hotel full of hidden cameras. No this isn’t some kinky porno shoot folks, this is a homemade snuff film in the making! It’s sort of a fresh idea, and Kate Beckinsale is in it, so this could very well be a good film.
The Condemned – The Running Man meets Battle Royale meets No Escape in this no-brainer action film in which dangerous convicts are dropped on an island where they unwillingly take part in a survival game show. My better judgement tells me to avoid this flick, but… I’ll be seeing it opening weekend I’m sure.
The Invisible – A teenager finds himself in a sort of limbo where he shall remain unless he can get someone to save him before he dies. It looks like an interesting film, but I’m sure it’ll end up being boring and predictable, just like most of Hollywood’s fare these days.
Wind Chill – Some college kids break down on a deserted highway on their way home for Christmas break, only to be terrorized by the ghosts of other folks that died on that particular stretch of road. Yaaawwwn…..
Well that’s the best that April has to offer us cult movie freaks! Theatrical releases are strong this month, but the DVD releases truly are lacking. This probably will be the trend for the next few months as we enter Summer Movie Season which basically kicks off next month with the releases of Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and several other eagerly anticipated films. So enjoy April’s treasure trove of genre films, and keep in mind that even better movies are on the horizon! See you next month cult movie fans!