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Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (Blu-ray)
Take a look at the end credits for any fantasy movie over the past decade. Chances are that you'll be bombarded by the names of hundreds of technicians behind those dazzling visual effects. Contrast this with, say, Mysterious Island or Jason and the Argonauts -- films whose wildly imaginative special effects continue to inspire such awe these many decades later. You'll just see the name of just one man: Ray Harryhausen.

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Despite following in the footsteps of such greats as King Kong's Willis H. O'Brien, Harryhausen is for many the first name that springs to mind when thoughts turn towards stop-motion animation. The fantastic creatures and inventive imagery he contributed to so many films ultimately defined them. It's telling that despite never being credited as a director of a feature-length motion picture, every movie to which he contributed his mighty talents is rightly thought of as a Harryhausen film. If Harryhausen had purely been a technician, he'd still be revered as a legend: his unparalleled gift for bringing the inanimate to life and for the stop-motion techniques he innovated. His artistry extends so far beyond that, however. The very premises of these films emerged from within Harryhausen's imagination, and he remained as central a presence throughout every stage of production as any auteur director would. The screenplays were written around the effect sequences that Harryhausen envisioned. The creatures were entirely of his design. He was intimately involved in every aspect of these sequences: sketching, sculpting, animating, editing, and even directing the actors on-set. Up until his final film, Harryhausen didn't even have an assistant aiding him with the animation; every subtle adjustment for the months demanded by each...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan]


Bad Moon (Blu-ray)
Mother. Son. Dog. Werewolf.

Much as the same as its feral creature of the night, Bad Moon is lean, swift, and brutal. This isn't a movie distracted by scores of subplots and supporting characters. The screenplay doesn't indulge itself with reams of dialogue when an intense, silent expression would be far more effective. Bad Moon clocks in at just 79 minutes, and screenwriter/director Eric Red (The Hitcher) ensures that every last moment is used to maximum effect. It also boasts one of the most outstanding looking werewolves ever captured on film.

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Janet (Mariel Hemingway) is thrilled when she gets the call out of the blue. She hadn't heard from her globetrotting photographer of a brother Ted (Michael Paré) in ages, and it turns out that the guy's been just a few hours away for months. She grabs her young son Brett (Dennis the Menace's Mason Gamble) and the family dog, and the three of 'em carve a path through the Pacific Northwest for a lunch by the lake. Ted's overjoyed at seeing his family once again, although...hmmm, he's not wild about the way that German Shepherd is sniffing around his campsite. See, Ted's a werewolf. A lycanthrope ripped his lover to shreds on the other end of the world, and he too probably would've wound up as werewolf kibble if a shotgun hadn't been within arm's reach. Medical science can't make heads or tails of Ted's bloodwork. His desperate searches for a cure have turned up nothing. Even in this hopelessly remote corner of the world, there's no way for Ted to truly isolate himself and keep the body count from rising. Chains and handcuffs are only effective to a point. There's the distinct sense that Ted reached out to his sister and nephew to say goodbye.

Then again, maybe all hope is not lost. Ted is caught in the middle in a war...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Bad Moon]


Return of the Killer Tomatoes (Blu-ray)
Did you know...? Nineteen years ago, I founded the first ever Killer Tomatoes website. I've traded emails with Costa Dillon! On a floppy disk somewhere, I still have a really nice voicemail that Attack of the Killer Tomatoes star David Miller left me! I totally understand that those names mean nothing to you!

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As much as I dig the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes -- an Airplane!-before-there-was-Airplane! spoof of overblown disaster movies and '50s creature features -- my longstanding love for the franchise is really rooted around this second film in the series. So...yeah: dateline, 1988! The Great Tomato War is a hazy memory. Tomatoes are still verboten, although you can still get your hands on the red stuff if you know where to look. An entire generation has grown up never having known the taste of ketchup on french fries or tomato sauce on pizza. The sinister mastermind behind it all -- the press secretary to the President of these United States, Jim Richardson (here played by eligible bachelor Rick Rockwell) -- is behind bars. Having triumphed over the Red Menace, Wilbur Finletter (Rock Peace) has hung up his parachute and opened up a pizza joint. Yeah, in a world without tomatoes, pizzas are still a thing. Think strawberry jam, peanut butter, gruyere, and gummy bears. ...but wait! You didn't think a stuffed suit like Jim Richardson could create those gargantuan tomatoes himself, did you? Turns out it was Professor Gangreen (John Astin) down in the lab with all those beakers and test tubes and stuff. No one could ever pin much of anything on Doc Gangreen, and he's had years to perfect his nefarious schemes. Last time around, the right choice of music could make tomatoes gigantic; now the guy's devised a way to harness it and...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Return of the Killer Tomatoes]


More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 7/21: Green Room (Blu-ray)
  • 7/20: Blood and Black Lace (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/16: The Neverending Story (Hdtv)
  • 7/10: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Blu-ray)
  • 7/10: Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (Special Edition) (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/9: Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/8: Zootopia (Blu-ray)
  • 7/8: Bad Moon (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/7: Steel Magnolias (DVD)
  • 7/7: Bad Moon (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/7: Bad Moon (Blu-ray)
  • 7/2: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Blu-ray)
  • 7/2: Return of the Killer Tomatoes (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/1: Return of the Killer Tomatoes (Blu-ray)
  • 6/28: Only Yesterday (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
 
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 7/21: The Return Of The Living Dead (Blu-ray)
  • 7/16: The Good Dinosaur (BD + DVD + Digital) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: Blood and Black Lace (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: Green Room (Blu-ray)
  • 7/2: Zootopia (Blu-ray)
  • 6/27: Bad Moon (Blu-ray)
  • 6/24: Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/24: Return of the Killer Tomatoes (Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/24: Only Yesterday (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/20: The 'Burbs (Blu-ray)
  • 6/12: Hail, Caesar! (Blu-ray)
  • 6/8: 10 Cloverfield Lane (Blu-ray)
  • 6/2: Manborg (Blu-ray)
  • 6/1: Invisible Invaders (1959) (Blu-ray)
  • 5/27: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...


 
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