SOUTH BEACH - My guilty cinema pleasure this year was the bombastic trailer for Step Up Revolution. The latest installment of the dancing theatrical heats up the screen with 3-D dance showcases in Miami.
Sean (Ryan Guzman) is part of a dance crew that puts on huge productions around the city to get their name out via Youtube. His day job is waiting at a resort hotel owned by Mr. Anderson (American Beauty’s Peter Gallagher). Sean hooks up with the boss’ dancing daughter (Kathryn McCormick). She becomes his new dance partner. Little does he know his dance must make a stand when her dad wants to destroy Sean’s neighborhood with his mega-resort plans. What really are plenty of massive dance scenes that jump off the screen thanks to 3-D. The fourth installment in the series proved to be as colorful and kinetic as promised by the trailer. Now Step Up Revolution is out on 3-D Blu-ray to step into your living room.
The Party Favors had a chance to interview star Ryan Guzman and we leapt forward. This was his first major acting role. While many of the other performers were part of So You Think You Can Dance including co-star Kathryn McCormick, Guzman’s movement background has been in Mixed Martial Arts.
When Wallace Shawn had spoken about working with Andre the Giant on The Princess Bride, he marveled at how the wrestling legend never missed his camera marks. Did Ryan’s MMA experience help when it came to hitting marks as well as dancing positions?
“You are very in tune with your body and very aware without having to be aware and focus on it,” Ryan said. “You know where to go and how to get there. I definitely credit my martial arts background to successfully coexisting with the theatrical world and the dance world. They brought me to the water and I had to drink from it. It was definitely a learning experience though.
“The first week I get into the dance studio and there’s 20 plus professional dancers that have been doing it since they were three years old. And here’s me, new actor, new dancer. Never danced in my life,” Ryan confessed. “They’re expecting me to pick up all the choreography they’ve let down and match their skill on top of that. I was intimidated like no other the first week.”
If you believe Showgirls, Ryan was an easy target for dancers eager to jump to the top of the call sheet. Did anyone aim a handful of loose beads aimed at his feet?
“The best thing about being a part of the Step Up franchise is the dancers in it are so open and inviting. They became my family,” Ryan said. “They taught me without knowing they’re teaching me. We had a lot of freestyle sessions with tWitch (Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss) and (Marc) Marvelous. These are huge names in the dance industry. I soaked up as much as I could. A big credit goes to the choreographers who worked with me so diligently and helped me out. They’d know they give the choreography to me and that day I wouldn’t get it. It’d soak in my mind. The next day I’d come back and it’d be in my body. I’d get it. Things went smoothly.”
However not everything went smoothly. He admitted to one routine getting the better of him.
“There’s a scene in the art museum there’s a room where there’s a bunch of people dancing. It was supposed to be lit up really well so you could see all of us with lights bouncing off our bodies. The choreography in that section was some of the hardest choreography I’ve ever been a part of. For some reason I could not get it down,” Ryan confessed. “I would get pieces of it down, but never the full thing. It kept on getting really frustrating. I’m really competitive. If you ask any of the castmates, Kathryn or the director, they know that I hate losing at anything. That was one I could not get down. It was so frustrating. I actually cracked a little bit. Luckily I had Kathryn, (director Scott Speer) and all the producers, dancers and choreographers to lean on. They said don’t worry about it. It’ll all work out in the end. And it did.”
The good part about dancing in a movie is that they construct the routine in editing using different takes. Ryan’s thankful on that day, he wasn’t hoofing on the big stage.
“Broadway, I don’t think you can cut things out. You’re right there in front of them,” Ryan said. “Luckily in film and features, if it’s detrimental to the film, it’s not going to be shown. I definitely found out that I can trust my director and the producers so much. They had the best interests out there for me.”
While Ryan was used to spending long days working out, how was the aching different from his dance routines versus his mixed marital arts gym time?
“Everything from the butt down was really, really sore,” Ryan said. “I’ve never been that sore outside of fighting in my life. You’re just using muscles that you’re not used to using. Dancing is a lot more control with each muscle. In fighting, you’re very explosive. You’re out there for seconds, but you come right back. Dancing is full out all the time. I definitely noticed my butt was getting bigger and my legs were getting bigger. My back and arms were getting a lot more tone because of lifting Katherine all over the place.”
Things didn’t get any easier for Ryan when the dancers stepped outside the dance studio and hit the location. They didn’t schedule Step Up Revolution for the Miami Mild time.
“That was summer,” Ryan said. “That was dead heat. When we were filming it was sometimes 112 degrees with high humidity. When I say we lost weight really, really quick…we lost weight really, really quick. I lost 10 pounds within the first week of going out there and dancing. My body wasn’t used to heat and how much it was sweating and burning energy.”
Even with this Bikram effect, the production wasn’t out to make their cast be shown as 21st century Sweathogs.
“Everybody on set was very aware of how much we were dancing and what we were wearing,” Ryan confided. “They kept us hydrated. Lot of umbrellas and lots of fans trying to cool us off the best they can. But you can only do so much in Miami heat. They had a stack of shirts for us to change in and out of during certain parts of the scenes. You’d turn your back and there’s a huge sweat stain. We were sweating non-stop. I don’t think there was a point or time in that movie where we weren’t sweating. Whether you see it or not, we were sweating.”
Because the film was based around the large dance numbers, I was curious if the producers had nailed down the music for those scenes in advance or were the dancers moving to temp tracks.
“It was a temp track,” Ryan said. “We had a couple beats that were pre-approved, but in the end you really don’t know if it was going to be the end track that’s going to be on the soundtrack. I’m really happy with the end result. Most of it stayed true to what we danced to.”
Was he excited when he saw the film since he could discover the final soundtrack choices and how the dancers were composed by the editor?
“I really don’t know if I was to be honest,” Ryan admitted. “The first time we saw a screening, it was just the top three of the cast on the call sheet, the producers and the director. I was really, really nervous. I don’t like seeing myself on the big screen. I think it’s uncomfortable for anybody and everybody to see themselves and hear themselves on the big screen. It’s a weird feeling. There was a lot of cringing for me when I first saw it. After I saw it a couple more times, I ended up learning an appreciation for what I had done and partaken in. I feel blessed.”
Adding to the fear of seeing yourself on the big screen, it must be uncomfortable to see the giant you leaping from the screen. When Ryan was cast, did he know that his debut would have that extra dimension?
“It was always conceived to be in 3-D,” Ryan said. “We had the 3-D camera always out. It was interesting to shoot with a 3-D camera because they’re a lot bigger. When you’re doing intimate scenes such as the boat scene, we have a 15 inch screen in front of your face is a little intimidating to go there. It’s something you have to do.”
Did the 3-D camera make them alter their dance moves to make limbs sweep over the audience?
“There was never certain points where they were like, ‘Well make this the 3-D moment.’ They just took moments out of what we did and made them 3-D. We played to the camera a lot. Whether it be in the finale where we’re all coming out and I’m sticking the little pole in my hand toward the camera, we knew that one was probably going to be 3-D. You get a feel of what’s in their concept of 3-D, but you never know what’s going to happen in the end.”
Have Ryan’s parents bought a 3-D HDTV so they can enjoy their son’s big moment on the 3-D Blu-ray of Step Up: Revolution? Quick spoiler alert to Ryan’s parents: You might want to skip to the interview after the video clip in order to keep a surprise in your holidays.
“If they haven’t, I know what they’ll be getting for Christmas,” Ryan said.
Adding to the pressure of learning how to dance, Ryan also had to hone his acting skills to be able to be convincing as the lead actor. Where did he find the time to tackle such a large learning curve?
“That was definitely a crazy thing to find a balance between how much do I put into the acting and how much into the dancing,” Ryan said. “Both have got to be held up to a certain standard. I did my best and I hope everyone likes it.”
What major lesson did Ryan learn from his time with Peter Gallagher?
“Stop bringing up his eyebrows. He cares about his eyebrows way too much,” Ryan joked. His tone got serious as he continued, “What I took from him the most is how he treats people on the set. He’s kind of a leader. As soon as he gets on set, everybody greets him and he greets them whether they be a grip or an assistant. I think that’s very cool for somebody so accomplished to be so humble. It brings a great working environment to the set. ”
Was Gallagher aching to a have a dance off with Ryan in the movie?
“We tried to convince him to stay a little while and dance with all of us,” Ryan said. “But he was in the process of doing his show in Canada. He had to fly in and out. But don’t let that guy fool you. He’s got dancing in him. The art is in him. I would have loved it if he’d joined with us.”
Ryan’s been a busy actor since wrapped up Step Up: Revolution. He’s had a full dance card when it came to movie roles.
“I filmed a movie a couple months ago and I’m heading up to New Orleans to film another movie,” said Ryan. “Right now I’m in talks to do another studio film in the summer. It’s been good. I can’t complain.”
Has he met Luis Guzman star of Boogie Nights since they have the same last name?
“I have not,” he admitted. “But I’ve gotten the comparison about a billion times. ‘Are you relatives? Is he your uncle or is he your dad? What’s going on there?’ I don’t know how we get that since we look nothing alike. I’m so glad that he’s keeping that last name alive.”
We joke that someday he and Luis can team up for a buddy cop film. Right now he has a bigger worry. When he goes out to a nightclub, he knows all eyes are on him when the music starts pumping. Does he fear that every viewer of So You Think You Can Dance wants to serve him on the dancefloor?
“I was in the beginning,” he said. “I heard all these horror stories about Channing Tatum (star of the original Step Up) coming back and everybody trying to battle him. He’d get called out all the time when he’d go out to a club. When I came back, people found out who I was and what I’d been a part of, they’d definitely try to get me on the dance floor as much as they possibly could. I fought it for a while even though I love it. I fought it for a while cause I felt like I was performing for people and rather than dancing. But I’ve learned to accept it now. I know they’re going to ask so I might as well just do it and have fun with it.”
Is this situation better than when clubgoers found out he fought Mixed Martial Arts and wanted to take a few shots at him?
“You know what, I wouldn’t mind that,” Ryan said. “But they’d have to sign a disclaimer so if I did knock them out, they wouldn’t sue me.”
This is what separates Ryan Guzman from Lindsay Lohan. Is he interested in a match if they revive Celebrity Boxing?
“I don’t know about boxing,” he said. “Boxing was never really my thing. I am for sure going to end up in the Octagon again. Whether it be the next couple years or later down the road. I just miss fighting so much. I’ve got to do it a couple more times before my time is over.”
NOW A SELF-SERVING PLUG
PARTY FAVORS OSCAR SCORE!
Readers of the column will remember earlier this spring we challenged Michael Moore to seek a lifetime achievement Oscar for D.A. Pennebaker during our coverage of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham. Guess what happened? D.A. Pennebaker is now an Oscar honored documentary filmmaker. Our Oscar lucks has happened once more. We helped get the ball rolling for cinematographer Gordon Willis (The Godfather and Manhattan). We’re pretty much 2 for 2 although we slightly advocated for Christopher Lee get his own night. Trouble with Lee is way too many bad movies. Harvey Weinstein wishes he could pull off an Oscar campaign with zero dollars. Who should be the next passenger on the Party Favors mojo train? Hard to tell which worthy filmmaker needs a good meal and a statue on the mantle. Perhaps I should offer my services? Just a damn shame this mojo doesn’t work with Rock N Roll Hall of Fame else Damone would be inducting Cheap Trick.
Here’s the Party Favors interview with D.A. Pennebaker and his partner in life and cinema Chris Hegedus from Full Frame. I do hope D.A. Pennebaker remembers back to April when I told him I was working on getting him a lifetime Oscar. Sometimes Tinseltown dreams start in the Bull City.
Is it already time to think of last minute and slightly inexpensive gifts to give for Christmas? Well the regular gifts we recommend are still putting out new installments. First there’s The Complete Peanuts 1983-1986 Gift Box Set. This book series slated to release every strip that ran in your newspaper when Charles Schulz ruled the funny pages in the newspaper. It’s interesting to watch Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and Woodstock grow up even if they never got any older in the panels. Looney Tunes Plantinum Collection, Volume Two - Blu-ray is another batch of Bugs, Daffy, Porky and more in 1080p. There’s even standard definition Tex Avery cartoons from his MGM time. Where’s the Hi-Def love for Tex’s wolves?
Documentaries are a great gift to give for people who need a little truth around the holidays. Planeat questions the modern diet. Are we really supposed to be eating much processed by-products? The movie makes a case for cutting back on meat and increasing whole grains. What makes the docu good is two major authorities with real credentials. Dr. T Colin Campbell took part in a major study of diet and cancers in China. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has seen the benefits of vegetarian diets on patients with major heart issues. The two men helped convince President Bill Clinton to put down the Big Macs and eat Kale. What helps make the concept more palatable is visits to vegetarian restaurants to show the creativity of chefs who think outside the butcher shop. The mixing of cooked Kale and humus in a sandwich does taste good. This is a good follow up viewing to Food Inc.
Tapped is very frightening look into world of bottled water. It starts off with how Nestles drains the water supply in Maine towns under its Poland Springs banners. The Swiss giant is not a swell neighbor as they mine the springs without really giving that much back to the communities. But why should they be nice since they, Coke and Pepsi are making billions with their bottled water business? Things just get more frightening. The film hit close to my home with coverage of how Pepsi kept taking hundreds of thousands of gallon out of my area’s water supply while the rest of us were under orders to conserve during a draught. Where did that water go? Inside little plastic Aquafina bottles to be shipped out of the state. Basically they’re charging you a buck for water that would cost you barely a penny from your sink. The doc touches upon studies that the plastic bottles break down after time. Even if you don’t think you’re drinking plastic based chemicals in your filtered tap water, think about how the plastic bottles are a major litter source. The film states at least 30 million bottles are trashed and not recycled each day. You might consider just getting a filter for your home drinking water instead of stocking up on little plastic bottles. The film is part of the Clinton Global initiative.
2012 Science Or Superstition should be given out before Christmas just in case Mayan Doomsday hits on Dec. 21. The documentary explores why people think the world is going to change on that day. Will it be major cataclysm or just a minor renewal event to “flip” the Mayan calender? Should you just blow out your credit card for “Christmas Presents” knowing the bill won’t be coming to your lava encrusted mailbox. There are plenty of experts discussing their theories of what the end of the Mayan calendar really means. There’s an entertaining mix of science and mythology to explain the impending date. This is the perfect thing to play early on during your Mayan Doomsday end of the world party.
Saturday morning weirdness from the ’70s was in full force this year with a trilogy of my favorite odd live action shows getting complete releases. Big John Little John: The Complete Series was about a high school science teacher (Herb Edelman) who drinks from the fountain of youth down during a Florida vacation. This causes him to turn into Cousin Oliver (Robbie Rist) from The Brady Bunch. The show was made by Sherwood Schwartz, the man behind The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island. The show is still goofy. Korg: 70,000 B.C. follows a family of cavemen trying to survive in prehistoric times. The show doesn’t get weird with any aliens or time travel to the future. Just cave people doing their best to survive in the wilderness. Burgess Meredith (Batman’s the Penguin) narrates the minimal dialogue show. Shazam! The Complete Live Action Series has all three seasons about Mentor and his pal Captain Marvel. This show is hilarious if just for how normal they want it to seem when an old guy and a young kid are cruising around in an RV talking to troubled teens. Jackie Earle Haley appears in an episode. Both Korg and Shazam! are from Warner Archive.
For folks wanting to flashback to the ’70s and ’80s, the prices have dropped on my favorite shows. All three seasons of The Bionic Woman are now knocked down in price so you can grab them for under $15 each. The Six Million Dollar Man has been dragging his bionic feet with only Season one and two of the five available in stores. You might be able to snag them for under $20. Season three is due out in February. That’s the one that has Andre the Giant as Bigfoot.
Charlie’s Angels: The Complete Series boxes up all five seasons for under $50. This is supposedly the big bonus of Universal’s COZI-TV to have these three shows in the prime hours. The other big thing is that all five seasons of Miami Vice can be found for under $10 each. If you look carefully, you can find 6 single sided disc versions of Seasons 1 & 2 instead of the original flipper discs. The box is now thicker.
Mission: Impossible: The Complete Series compiles all seven seasons of the original episodes along with the two seasons of the rival in Australia. Among the 55 DVDs in the dynamite shaped packaging is the bonus disc that includes documentaries on the show that feature interviews with Peter Graves, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau, Peter Lupus and Greg Morris. They even have various vintage promos and previews. ME-TV has been running digitally sped up episodes in the wee hours which makes Greg Morris looks like a keystone cop when he sets up the trap.
JAG: The Complete Series is 56 DVDs about the navy legal system. Along with all 10 seasons, there’s a new bonus disc with cast and crew interviews. They even throw in a coin. This is a fine big gift for your dad or uncle or anyone who wonders where NCIS came from.
The Fugitive: The Most Wanted Edition brings together all four seasons of Dr. Richard Kimble plight to clear his name. He had to find the one-armed-man that killed his wife.
Francis Ford Coppola: 5-Film Collection pretty much gathers up the Coppola flicks you’d want on Blu-ray after The Godfather set. They have both versions of Apocalypse Now and The Conversation. You also get his dream project One From the Heart. This is one of those, you broke your bank on this? The mixing of Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle on the soundtrack lets you know that this isn’t quite gonna be a movie you’ll love if you didn’t make it. Tetro left me cold. But it’s worth nabbing simply because the boxset is cheaper than buying the Blu-rays of Apocalypse Now and The Conversation.
Shout! Factory topped themselves this year with a trio of comedy releases that are must haves.
Steve Martin: The Television Stuff brings together his early TV specials from the time when he enjoyed being funny for a full hour. There’s even the HBO special that captured his early routines. The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy is everything you ever wanted to know about Mel Brooks. This follows his first TV appearance to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Fans of Blazing Saddles, The Producers and Young Frankenstein will be pleased. Get A Life: The Complete Series brings all insanity of Chris Elliot’s sitcom. He’s a 30 year old paperboy who has his own view of the world. Brian Doyle Murray nearly steals the show in the second season and with the Handsome Boy Modeling School. But Chris is up for the challenge. All three of these are comedy gems.
The holiday season inspires people to make that New Year’s resolution to get healthy once they survive all the food of Christmas and the booze of New Year’s Eve. You can buy a new stairmaster that will be turned into a coat rack by Valentine’s Day. You can join a gym which you’ll forget to visit when your job announces you might want to consider working unpaid overtime if you don’t want to be fired by St. Patrick’s Day. So what are you going to do? Why not put the new 90″ TV set to work by picking up a few workout DVDs for your private training? Lionsgate is currently offering 9 different DVDs that you can find for under $7 each inside a display at BJs. You can also order them from various websites.
Step Up Revolution: Dance Workout lets you learn how to sweat off the pounds like Ryan Guzman. Four of the dances from the movie are broken down so that you can gyrate off the calories. You can perfect your Latin Hip-Hop Fusion. Bryan Tanaka and Micki Duran are your training hosts. Once you master these routines, you need to pack your bags and audition for So You Think You Can Dance?
Billy Blanks Jr. Dance Party Boot Camp promises to make you sweat while learning the hottest new dance moves. There’s a warm-up and cooldown included with the routine.
Prayfit 33-Day Body Toning System is Jimmy Pena’s faith based way to get flat abs, tight lower body and a strong upper body. Jimmy includes weekly devotionals to get you to stick to the program. In over a month, you should feel a change outside and inside your body.
Denise Austin: Fit in a Flash and Denise Austin: Shrink Your 5 Fat Zones give the fitness guru a chance to feel the burn. Fit In a Flash gives 7 minute routines that focus on cardio, toning and strength training. 5 Fat Zones lets her work your back, arms, belly, thighs and butt.
The Biggest Loser: Power Ab Blast and The Biggest Loser: 30-Day Power X-Train are two work outs from the hit NBC reality show. Power Ab Blast focus Bob Harpe and Dolvett Quince on your gut. They have plans for standing abs, cardio abs, all-out abs and yoga abs. They’re going to burn and chisel you. 30-Day Power X-Train is Bob and Dolvett’s cross train the cookie dough off your legs, arms and abs. They use plyometrics in their method. Jane Fonda: Prime Time AM/PM Yoga For Beginners brings the queen of video workouts for routines meant to pump you up in the morning and relax you after work. Jane still knows how to bend after all these decades. She wants to help you improve flexibility, tone up and lose a few pounds. Ballet Beautiful: Body Blast features Mary Helen Bowers, the trainer to Natalie Portman on Black Swan. You can learn how to apply ballet routines to your body without freaking out and growing feathers. The DVD has four routines that will keep you on your toes. You can achieve swan arms. There’s two butt blast sets and body blast to shape you up on point.
Girls: The Complete First Season allowed creator Lena Dunham to bring her Tiny Furniture atmosphere to HBO with the help of Judd Apatow. She plays Hannah, a gal hoping to make it in the Big Apple in a world where all the best jobs don’t like to pay and the worst apartments cost a fortune. She pals around with her equally floundering girlfriends. The show plays like a reality show with more sincerity. Hannah’s big dream is that she can somehow sell a book of personal essays. She has so much faith that she wants her parents to pay for her to stay in NYC while she works on it. They think it’s a foolish idea. Peter Scolari (Bosum Buddies) is her dad. Shame she couldn’t get Tom Hanks in drag to play her mom. In an off camera twist, Dunham sold her book of personal essays to a publisher for over $3 million. Was this series a form of wish fulfillment? Dunham is a brave creator, writer and director of a show since he doesn’t mind having sex with her not-quite boyfriend on camera. Certain media figures were upset that Dunham dared to appear nude on camera without looking like a Victoria Secret’s model. But it’s almost refreshing to see someone who isn’t whining about spending months in the gym so they can bend over in a thong. Over the course of 10 episodes, Hannah and her Sister-Friends bond and butt heads over messed up circumstances. Her book of essays doesn’t appeal to a few friends who don’t want their lives exposed. She meltsdown on Richard Masur. She even smokes crack by accident. The show isn’t an outrageous comedy since sometimes it’s hard to laugh at the circumstances since they are so frustrating. This is almost Dramedy on the level of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd , but without so many musical numbers. The bonus features include Dunham and Apatow conversing, plenty of deleted scenes, gag reels and Dunham chatting on NPR. They even include a DVD and digital copies of the season. You can take your Girls with you. The nice thing about the Blu-ray is getting to see Kim Asa’s name in 1080p.
Mannix: The Final Season brings to an end the greatest private eye in a plaid sportscoat. Mike Connors had no idea that the eighth season would be its last. The ratings had gone up and CBS was eager to renew, but Paramount pulled the plug to bring in the syndication cash. Thus we have the final 24 episodes that don’t hint the end is near for Joe. Mannix continues to be a good private badass with his only real help being assistant Peggy Fair (Gail Fisher). “Portrait in Blues” nearly kills half of an acoustic rock duo. Seems there’s a lot of music business people out to break them up including Larry Storch (F Troop) as a groovy DJ. “The Green Man” doesn’t involve Martians. Mannix must locate a missing person who is also being tracked by the FBI and Secret Service for counterfeiting. There’s real star power with guests Scatman Crothers (The Shining) and Russell Johnson (Gilligan’s Island). “Enter Tami Okada” starts an international incident when Okada (Mako) is a Japanese P.I. that needs Mannix’s help to track down a courier. “A Word Called Courage” tortures Mannix. Who is his persecutor? Why Anthony Zerbe pissed off that Mannix testified against him in a court martial. “Man in a Trap” captures Erik Estrada (CHiPs). “A Ransom for Yesterday” is a snail mail mystery when six years after a boy vanishes, a ransom note arrives. Dabney Coleman (Boardwalk Empire) and Howard Hesseman (WKRP) get a grilling from Mannix. “The Empty Tower” turns the tables when Mannix and Bill Bixby (The Incredible Hulk) get trapped in a vault while looking for safe crackers. “Bird of Prey” is a two part journey to South America with Robert Loggia (The Sopranos). “Design For Dying” lets Mannix meet the ’80s version of himself in Tom Selleck (Magnum P.I.). “Search for a Dead Man” gives us another dose of Magnum with John Hillerman. “Hard Ball” wraps up the series with a major hostage case at the courthouse. Mannix has to out the rat. John Ritter (Three’s Company) is the big future guest star. Such a shame there wouldn’t be a ninth season because season eight doesn’t exhibit a decline in the action. Fans of detective shows need to have all 8 bullets of Mannix on the shelf.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXV is a reason to celebrate on two levels. First it means over half of the 197 episodes have been released on DVD. The second is that two of the films are from Universal which quite a few people once thought were impossible like the Gamera titles. Revenge of the Creature (Season is historic since it marked the series swapping from Comedy Central to SciFi Channel (now SyFy). Dr. Forrester is gone with his mother Pearl (Mary Jo Pehl) now in charge of torturing Mike Nelson and the Bots. But her first bad movie is actually a good one. Revenge of the Creature is the follow up to Creature From the Black Lagoon. The Creature is captured and brought to Florida to live at a marine park. He doesn’t like showbiz life and revolts. The Satellite of Love has been detached from Deep 13, but they can’t escape the clutches of Pearl. Robot Holocaust (Season 1) is my favorite catch phrase to abuse in mixed company. What isn’t more exciting than a robot holocaust? The film was relatively new having been released in 1986 and mocked on MST3K in 1990. This marked the end of the Radar Men From the Moon Serial as the 9th chapter snaps in the projector. If you order XXV from Shoutfactory.com - they’ll throw in a DVD with all the serials and the lost chapter. It’s worth it. Operation Kid Brother (Season 5) was originally released as Operation Double 007 starring Neil Connery - Sean’s extremely less talented brother. The producers went all out in getting Bond co-stars into the credits. Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell aren’t really playing M and Miss Moneypenny. Lois does more than type in this film. She’s packing heat. Daniela Bianchi (From Russia With Love gets to spice up the screen once more without a distracting typewriter. Adolfo Celi villains it up, but he’s really not Largo from Thunderball. The gang has fun poking holes in this barely there spy flick that so badly wants you to think Neil and Sean are interchangeable. Kitten With A Whip (Season 6) should be a classic with the title, a young Ann-Margret and an uptight John Forsythe. She’s run away from a juvenile detention and needs John to hide her from the law. His wife is away so there’s plenty of space in his house. This Universal film doesn’t feature either leads whipping each other. That would have really made this film Oscar worthy. Instead we’re left with a teasing film with a tragic ending. At least MST3K delivers the promised Kitten with a whip during a break segment. Meoooooow. The bonus features include intros from Joel and Mike. We catch up with 1st season vanishing act J. Elvis Weinstein and Bill Corbett. There’s a fine documentary about Jack Arnold, director of Revenge of the Creature and other Universal Sci-Fi event films. XXV shows that even past the halfway mark, the series is still racing full out.
The Game: The Fifth Season brings back the CW show that was revived on BET. The series deals with the players and wives on a fictional football team. The acting is much more believable here than on VH1’s Basketball Wives. After only 13 episodes on its first BET run, The Fifth Season has 22 episodes to keep the drama and comedy coming. There’s tension since Melanie wants another baby, but Derwin is having issues. The team’s quarterback learns quickly that he’s not 10 feet high and bulletproof. One player wants to have an affair with his wife after their divorce clears. In a reality twist, a player must dump his overpriced mansion in a short sell. It’s like a torn from Terrell Owens life element. The saddest moment is when a player has an orgy with three ladies that falls apart when his MVP turns into a punter. There’s a lot of drama that doesn’t get covered on the NFL Network.
My Little Pony - Friendship Is Magic: Adventures in the Crystal Empire unbridles more fun to the Brony culture dominating college kids. The five episodes on the DVD are “The Crystal Empire, Part 1,” “The Crystal Empire, Part 2,” “Sonic Rainboom,” “Luna Eclipsed and “It’s About Time.” The two-parter was a big hit when it aired on Hub. A mysterious event happens in the northern corner of Equestria. Twilight Sparke is sent off to make sure the strangers don’t destroy her kingdom. She has to find a special crystal to prevent such ugliness from happening. Adventures in the Crystal Empire proved very addictive to my preschool daughter. The level of quality can be measured by how long she’ll scream if I don’t press the replay button so she can watch all five episodes again. This DVD was a four star fit. She insists I call her Twilight Sparkle in public. The bonus feature includes pdf coloring pages and a sing-along. This is perfect for your Brony Christmas party.
Titanic: Blood & Steel takes us back to a time before James Cameron’s Titanic. The 12 part mini-series covers the creation of the doomed luxury liner. There’s a lot of tension involved in the project. There’s a culture clash between the Catholics and Protestants at the Belfast shipyard. The American metallurgist doesn’t like how he’s being told to come up with cheaper metals for the project. The workers want to form a union. There’s also plenty of romantic drama between the rivets. The cast includes Neve Campbell (Scream), Chris Noth (Sex and the City) and Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius). You might not remember the mini-series since it ran on Encore. The strange part about the film is that you know how this cruise ends. But you do have the tension of wondering which characters are going to demand tickets on the maiden voyage to enjoy the fruits of their labors.
Fred 3: Camp Fred is the 21st version of Ernest Goes to Camp with a squeaky voice. Fred Figglehorn is just annoying enough to have a massive following. Some may complain, but Fred is an amazing success story. Lucas started playing this character on youtube videos and has accumulated nearly a billion views. He started as a kid in Nebraska and ends up a star on Nickelodeon. This is what the digital revolution is all about. Fred 3: Camp Fred harkens back to “Camp Granada.” Fred thinks his mom has sent him to a great camp that has monkey butlers, water slides and real food. Instead he’s taken away to Camp Iwannapeepee. This place is as disturbing as you could imagine a summer camp run by Tom Arnold. The food is gruel for all meals. The lake is a toxic waste dump. The nurse is hot with no sense of first aid. The horse has only three legs. Plus the woods are haunted by a Crocobearimoose. He wants to escape, but is overcome with the desire to beat the rival camp in a competition because his rival Kevin is there. John Cena reprises his role as Fred’s father. What truly makes this a great camp movie is Tracey Walter (Repo Man) as the creepy old guy who pops up at the wrong moments. The DVD includes “Playing His Figgle Horn” and “Making Camp.” Ernest would be proud of Fred’s work.
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