Beauty And The Beast (2014) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

Christophe Gans offers up a richly realized and absolutely beautiful vision of “Beauty and the Beast” that embraces the dark side and fantasy of the original story. While yes, Belle begins to fall In love with the Beast, and is even enticed by him, it’s also thanks his aggression and insistence on influencing her Stockholm syndrome. Belle does eventually find the beauty of living with the beast, in that she’s able to roam his massive castle and is capable of finding secrets and fun corners within it. She even plays hide and seek with dog like creatures that find a fascination with Belle. Gans’ direction is superb and absolutely mesmerizing, I can not stress that enough. Many of his wide shots, and pans are magnificent and he knows how to make the beast both enigmatic and terrifying. There’s even a marvelous moment where the Beast is looking out on to an invading army from his perch, resembling Lon Chaney from “Phantom of the Opera.”

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The Bootleg Files: Zenobia

BOOTLEG FILES 581: “Zenobia” (1939 comedy starring Oliver Hardy, Harry Langdon and Hattie McDaniel).

LAST SEEN: An unauthorized posting from a TCM telecast is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: A 1997 VHS video release.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A film that slipped through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is not a priority.

In 1939, producer Hal Roach announced that he was creating a new film that teamed Oliver Hardy with Harry Langdon. This was not something that Hardy welcomed, but he had no choice. Hardy and his longtime partner Stan Laurel were signed to separate contracts with Roach – their teaming came about by accident rather than design – but after a dispute involving the production of the team’s 1938 feature “Block-Heads,” Roach terminated Laurel’s contract. With Hardy still under contract for another year, the producer looked about for a vehicle to fit his rotund comedy star.

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Deadtime Stories (1986): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/DVD]

Pee-yew! You have to appreciate Shout! Factory for restoring what is easily one of the worst anthology movies of the eighties. I admit to being a completely newcomer in regards to “Deadtime Stories,” and upon finishing it, I was not surprised it was such a rarity for so many years. “Deadtime Stories” watches like someone really loved “Creepshow” and decided to make their own version with only a quarter of the budget. Then mid-way when the studio realized how awful the movie was, they decided to turn it in to a comedy at the last minute so horror fans can convince themselves the whole disaster is intentional and a tongue in cheek jab at the anthology crazy of the decade.

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The Devil’s Candy (2015)

After buying their dream house in Texas, The Hellmans, a painter, his wife, and their daughter, must face human and supernatural threats.  As the father finds an incredible muse and must paint, his daughter and wife deal with lurking dangers.

Written and directed by Sean Byrne, The Devil’s Candy is a strong follow up to his debut feature The Loved Ones, showing that his talent was not fluke and showing that the man can craft a good horror story with truly creepy and even scary elements.  Here he creates an interesting family who is traditional in one way and not in others; they are a cool, artsy family with a love to heavy metal.  Their differences set them apart from the usual cinematic families who encounter evil in their new homes.  Also, the way the evil comes into their lives is original and works well in the film’s context.  His characters work well together, giving them more to care about, more to worry about, more to lose.  His writing and directing create a film with a family the viewer can identify with and care for.  Also, his human antagonist is one that has presence, who oozes creepiness while playing in the potential supernatural angles.

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Logan (2017)

Loganis a terrible X-Men movie, but a very good Wolverine movie. I say that because director James Mangold holds about as much contempt for X-Men and its concept as Bryan Singer does. Mangold offers a vision of the team that is none too flattering. Set in an undetermined timeline of the movie series, we’re met with Logan in the distant future where he’s one of the only surviving mutants left on Earth. The dream has died, Professor X is now suffering from a brain disease that has turned him in to a burden, and everything the X-Men strived for has been forgotten and passed off as a joke. Now faced with nothing but a dark ending, he is confronted by a Hispanic woman who pays him to help her. Logan, at the behest of Charles Xavier, is tasked with caring for a small girl named Laura who is much more like Logan than even Charles Xavier realizes.

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The Dark Below (2017)

It’s kind of a tough situation with “The Dark Below” that I found myself in. Ultimately I appreciated its creativity, its twist on the stalker thriller, and how Douglas Schulze delivered his premise, but in the end “The Dark Below” is only a slightly serviceable thriller. Despite the film being genuinely creative in unfolding its narrative of a woman fighting to survive underwater in the arctic while evading a killer, the movie itself left me lukewarm and generally unengaged. Douglas Schulze banks a lot on audiences being either claustrophobic, terrified of drowning, and terrified of being alive, as the center of the films premise relies on our protagonist being stuck under a frozen lake while being hopelessly outmatched against a killer in the snow. Schulze does switch up the monotony of this kind of genre offering by creating a film that has absolutely no dialogue.

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Iridescence (2017)

Director Max Beauchamp’s “Iridescence” is an excellent short film and one that we desperately need these days. Conveyed through motion, body language, and dance, “Iridescence” is the story of one family torn apart and destroyed by ignorance and misunderstanding. Relying on ace editing by Duy N. Bui and fantastic choreography, director Beauchamp tells the story of the tragic death of a wife at the hands of her husband one fateful night. Years later their son grows up confused about his own sexuality and is struggling to hide his affair with another man from his violent father.

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TV on DVD: Hey Vern! It’s Ernest! The Complete Series (DVD), Carol Burnett: The Best of Tim Conway (DVD)

For fans that missed out on the original release of “Hey Vern! It’s Ernest!” Mill Creek Entertainment offers up an eighties oddity that entertained me when I was but a wee four year old lad on Saturday mornings. “Hey Vern! It’s Ernest” is a show in the tradition of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” that is—well—pretty much like Pee Wee’s Playhouse, except where Pee Wee Herman is a man child with a bunch of colorful friends, Vern, as played by Jim Varney, is kind of a Southern blue collared man prone to changing characters at the drop of a hat and getting in to all kinds of wacky misadventures. Varney immortalized the character of Ernest in the eighties, and he became something of an underdog hero in the late eighties to early nineties starring in various films and ad campaigns. “Hey Vern!” had a brief run as opposed to “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” but shares the same wonky attitude and surreal comedy that can be appreciated by cult audiences alike.

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