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Deadtime is an Independent British slasher pic, helmed by a first-time director with a first-time cast on a first-time budget which, against all the odds, manages to deliver a more than acceptable post-pub viewing experience, and hints at bigger things to come from all involved.
Alex Hanly brings just the right mix of vixen-like sexuality and credible vulnerability to the key roll of Katie, Carl Colman does himself proud as the essential everyman viewer-conduit; Laurence Saunders is enjoyable as Zack, the staple Jack Nicholson hot-head type; and John R. Walker is a bona fide scene-stealer in the underwritten but memorably played supporting role of Rupert - the campy PR guy.
Boasting a polished production style that transcends its financial shortcomings, and a director with his finger poised firmly on the pulse of the horror genre, Deadtime delivers a big bang for your small buck - a DEAD good TIME indeed!
The Incredible Melting Man
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Following Universal's triumphant release of Jaws in the summer of `75, it became virtually impossible to break free from the clutches of the rival studio's relentless output of blood-lusting, man-eating monsters. Fox deservedly struck gold with Alien, Roger Corman affectionately sank his teeth into a side of ham with the never less than entertaining Piranha, and TV stations around the world shivered their younger viewers' timbers with Snowbeast.
In the midst of all of this flesh-tearing silver screen carnage, bottom feeder schlock jockey William Sachs brought us his rather unique take on this ever expanding genre, featuring a creature guaranteed to bring his victims to a sticky end.
Astronaut Steve West is the sole survivor of a disaster in space. Rushed to hospital with severe radiation burns, he finds his flesh beginning to melt because of a strange extra-terrestrial contamination. When he escapes from his doctor's care, he sets in motion a bizarre series of cannibalistic killings in order to stem his own deterioration.
To pigeon hole this film as shallow would be an understatement. However, to dismiss it as a waste of time would be unfair. THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN does offer an evening of mindless fun for those willing to surrender themselves to its paranoiac 1950's sci-fi storytelling style. The entire cast delivers its lines with the same sense of stilted cadence and overbearing sincerity that made that generation's movies such a camp delight, and it works here, as long as you arm yourself with a hefty sense of play-along humour. In addition, Rick Baker's pre-Thriller prosthetics lend the production a technical value far in excess of its overall calibre...this movie must have proved quite a calling card for that gifted young fellow in the years before his American Werewolf triumph at the 1983 Oscars. Credit should also be given to the movie's cinematographer, Willy Curtis, who manages to bridge the less interesting scenes with a number of rather eye catching sunsets that almost contradict the artlessness of the movie's main body.
With Hollywood currently remaking its entire 70's back catalogue, it would be interesting to observe how they would put a new spin on this old timer. With a decent screenplay, and a whole lot more emotional content, they could conceivably lead our sticky fiend into the 21st century with his gloopy sights set on the horror A-list. Saying that, with all of the discarded eyes and ears on show here, one could argue that it has already paved the way for David Cronenberg's rather similar stage by stage dismantling of Jeff Goldblum in his perfectly crafted remake of The Fly. Perhaps they should simply relegate this one to the B-movie archive and consider that triumph enough.
Highlander: Special Edition
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Russell Mulcahy's hugely popular fantasy epic is back in a digitally remastered offering that proves, beyond question, that you can't keep a cult legend down!
Often imitated, and regularly disgraced by an ever growing line of lesser sequels, "Highlander", for the few of you out there who are not in the know, follows a mysterious band of swordsmen, immortal save for a decapitation, who must battle down the ages from Sixteenth Century Scotland to New York in the (then) present day (1985) until only one remains, the victor receiving a power that transcends man's wildest dreams.
Based on an original screenplay by fireman cum film student Gregory Widen, the movie was quite limply released to cinemas in the latter half of 1986, going largely unnoticed until it's spectacular resurrection in the home video market some months later, where it garnered a heady (no pun intended!) combination of enthusiastic public reaction and soaring sell-thru figures!
Years pass, beauty fades, but pure genius endures, and this visceral treat is no exception! From the opening power chord of the unforgettable Queen soundtrack through to the very last frame, the movie hits you with a power that is as confident and exciting today as it ever was. Granted, this isn't ideal entertainment for the Merchant-Ivory demographic, but if it's a straight-to-the-heart shot of pure MTV-inspired adrenaline you're after, then you could do one heck of a lot worse! There's even an ultimately doomed love story in the mix for the lovely ladies and their handkerchiefs!
A bone of contention that will always damage the credibility of any art created in the 1980's is that of it's being a product of the decade that taste forgot, and "Highlander" does, I'm afraid, fall victim to an excessive inclusion of peroxide hairstyles and polished leather, but, in it's defence, the plot's more contemporary scenes are referred to as taking place in that very time, so overlook the flaw, and keep telling yourself: "It's historical!"
Loud, colourful, flashy and fun..."Highlander" is, to quote the late, great Freddie Mercury: "A Kind Of Magic!"
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Highlander: Immortal Edition (2 Discs) (Limited Edition Steel Tin Packaging)
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Street Hawk: The Complete Series Box Set (4 Discs)
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Finally, that awesome show that clashed with BBC's Top of the Pops every Thursday night has arrived on DVD, and - even after twenty-five years - it's still far more entertaining than Peter Powell or Dave Lee Travis!
Street Hawk followed the exploits of Jesse Mach, an ex-motorcycle cop injured not in the line of duty (as the dramatic voice over would announce in the opening reel of each episode), but in a chance encounter with a drug dealer, with a penchant for hit-and-run assassination, whilst on a two-week suspension from the force. Subsequently relegated to a desk job, poor Jesse emerges from the attack a broken man, his passion for fighting crime on two wheels now nothing more than a distant memory.
Enter Norman Tuttle, a geeky Federal agent with a knack for designing high-tech motorcycles and having damaged policemen patched up with a revolutionary "new prosthesis", making Jesse an offer he can't refuse.
Cancelled after only thirteen episodes due to lacklustre Nielson ratings in the US (a direct result of it's graveyard spot in the Stateside TV schedule), the show went on to win itself a healthy audience in the UK, and throughout much of Europe, resulting in both a Street Hawk annual and four tie-in novels - how's THAT for heady success!
The announcement of this long overdue release will, I'm sure, make many nostalgists as happy as I was when I first got wind of this box set - It's always fun to satisfy one's nostalgic cravings with a dive into the comfort viewing of yesteryear, and - when all is said and done - the show holds up very well indeed! Granted, the cheese factor occasionally spikes off the scale, the hardware doesn't look as hard as it used to, and George Clooney (appearing in the second episode) delivers one of the most excruciating performances of the decade, but it's all delivered with a naive sense of fun, and accompanied by a dazzling score from the legendary Tangerine Dream, which, even today, makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention.
My only criticism regarding this release is its NTSC mastering. In an attempt to lower production costs, it would seem that the distributor has exactly duplicated its American release for all territories around the world, resulting in a slightly disappointing product for us Brits, who are more accustomed to the far smoother and more accurately coloured 25fps PAL standard. Fabulous Films, hang your cheap-skate heads in shame. Oh, actually I do have one more gripe - the pointless 8 page collector's booklet, which presents no insight into the conception, design or history of the show. What it does offer is a criminally underwritten episode guide and a pointless centre spread, featuring a badly cropped section of Universal's blueprint for the bike. It would seem that the booklet's only purpose is to fool the DVD buying public into thinking they're getting more bang for their buck when they read of its existence in the special features list on the case. All is not lost, however, since the uncropped blueprint appears in the stills gallery on the fourth disc, along with some rather amusing publicity shots and a number of great US newspaper ads.
The documentary is fun too, with three of the show's key players - Rex Smith, Joe Regalbuto and Jeannie Wilson - waxing lyrical about their time on the project, and hinting that there may yet be more to come! Looking at how little they've aged over the past quarter of a century (Has it really been that long?), the idea doesn't seem as ridiculous as one might imagine, and it would be great to see the Hawk in action one last time!
So, overall, not a perfect package, but an acceptable release for the price. Maybe they'll get it right on Blu ray!
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High Risk is one of those films that was discovered, and cherished, by the brotherhood of the early Eighties video boom. One of those insanely entertaining no-brainer cult movies that has survived the past twenty years through the medium of film buff recollection, along with the occasional television screening...until now. The wait is over, the DVD is here, and the wait wasn't worth it. What this disaster offers is a chapter-free DVD rip of a poor quality VHS tape, complete with full-on picture noise, pirate-worthy audio and a plethora of dropouts, shoddily wrapped in a case designed by an unimaginative novice with a low quality scanner! If I had purchased this from a less reputable store, I would've called the Federation Against Copyright Theft before the end of the opening title sequence, suspecting a crime of the Jack Sparrow variety. IT'S THAT BAD! Avoid this edition like the plague, and hold out for a release that does this little sparkler the justice it deserves. It might happen...someday.
Phantasm Digipack 5 Disc Limited Edition Box Set (Anchor Bay) (5.1/DTS)
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The most arthouse mainstream sci-fi/horror hybrid ever committed to celluloid finally arrives on a shiny disc, and the wait has been worth it!
For die-hard "Phans", this release is everything that they could've hoped for, and much, much more; for the uninitiated, it's the perfect point of entry into the bizarre world of The Tall Man and his minute minions.
To even try to submit a synopsis of the movie, and it's more than acceptable sequels, here would be an exercise in futility...the features contained within this frankly stunning package are more about implication and nuance than they are a linear, coherent storyline.
Fans of David Lynch will revel in the surreal atmosphere conjured up by the underrated Don Coscarelli, whilst admirers of Seventies cinema will no doubt enjoy the movie's Grindhouse aesthetic.
Weird, wonderful, exciting and essential...It'll change the way you look at grave yards forever! :)
X-Men - The Movie 3 (X3): The Last Stand (2 Discs)
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A truly pathetic sequel which proves, beyond any reasonable doubt, that a mountain of Hollywood money is no substitute for a decent idea and a gifted director!
X-Men made the world sit up and take notice, X2 attained cinematic perfection, X-Men III provided the DVD buying public with a novelty coaster.
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Okay, so it was never going to be better than Westworld, but it could've been one heck of a lot worse than it actually turned out. A sadly overlooked gem this one. It's shorter on action - and bankroll - than it's predecessor, but more than makes up for it's shortcomings by serving up an intelligent premise, which pitches it's tent somewhere between Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and The Six Million Dollar Man.
Fonda and Danner both give star turns, and the limited budget serves only to add to the movie's fleapit 70's charm.
Conspiracy, cloning, romance and a brief (albeit mute!) reunion with the unstoppable gunslinger who may well have inspired The Terminator himself...what's not to like?!!