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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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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Jayne Mansfield: Va Va Voom!

One of the most fascinating figures in Hollywood history had one of the most fascinating figures in Hollywood history. On this episode, host Phil Hall celebrates the legacy of the ultimate blonde bombshell with Richard Koper, author of the biography “Affectionately, Jayne Mansfield.”

You can hear the episode at this link.

Mighty Joe Young (1949)

1949’s “Mighty Joe Young” is almost a parallel universe retelling of “King Kong” except with half the menace and a lot more innocence. Rather than an overgrown ape being exposed to the cruelty of humanity dying for a woman, we’re given an equally touching tale of an overgrown ape and his loyal female caretaker. With beautiful and often fluid stop motion by Ray Harryhausen, “Mighty Joe Young” tells the story of a girl named Jill Young who decides to buy a baby ape from a pair of traders. Anxious to prove to her father she can manage a pet, years later her pet Joe transforms in to a fiercely protective overgrown ape who isn’t very kind of poachers and hunters. When hunters Max and Gregg go to Africa to catch animals to use for their show, Joe Young appears attempting to break the animals free and begins fighting off the intruders.

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Say What! A Geriatric Proposal (2016)

Being an artist is tough work. Not only do you have to work very hard to hone your craft, and perfect it, but you also have to fight to be taken seriously. Jeremy Weinstein’s chronicle of his brother’s life as a Jazz Musician is a funny and charming slice of life and how a talented Jazz Musician finds himself on the end of man condescending remarks.

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Revolting Rhymes (2016) (New York International Children’s Film Festival 2017)

In the tradition of “Fractured Fairytales,” directors Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer create what is pretty much one of the most inventive and creative twists on the fairytale I’ve ever seen. “Revolting Rhymes” takes all of the classic fairytales and manages to create one shared universe that is not only very funny but makes complete sense. The computer animated film, relies on a lot of subtle comedy and great computer animation that almost looks like stop motion upon first glance. The directors realize Roald Dahl’s book series with great success allowing for a fun twist on fairytales that thankfully is never cloying or obnoxious as films like “Shrek” or “Hoodwinked.”

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Ma Vie de Courgette (My Life as a Zucchini) (2017) (New York International Children’s Film Festival 2017)

Courgette (Zucchini) is a young boy who has had a tough life.  His father is gone and his bother drinks a lot of beer.  One day, something happens to his mother and he ends up placed in a group home.  Through learning to trust others with the other kids in the home, he also learns to love himself and others.

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Brain Damage (1988)

Say what you want about Frank Henenlotter, but even when he makes a bad movie, it’s a guarantee you won’t see another movie like it ever again. I am by no means a fan of “Basketcase” but I still have yet to see another movie like it. “Brain Damage” is another movie so far ahead of its time and so surreal that it didn’t stand a chance at being recognized in 1988. It’s too bad too, since the eighties embraced a lot of interesting premises, so “Brain Damage” should have caught on. Thankfully it later garnered a following in the VHS rental market, and it’s a horror comedy that deserves to be embraced by the horror community. It’s short, and simple but absolutely gruesome, and a unique spin on the theme of drug addiction and substance abuse.

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