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LIZARD LICK – Bob Dylan spent 300 pages in his autobiography doing his best to prove that he wasn’t the voice of a generation. Sure he wrote “Blowin’ In the Wind,” but he’s not eager to claim counter culture icon status for the uprising of the Sixties. According to his book, he’s just a guy who plays a guitar and words come out of his mouth. On the other hand, Weird Al Yankovic can’t back away from being a true voice of a generation. Granted he represents a generation of smart asses, pop culture fiends, and adult-children who swear they know the real lyrics to a hit song. But we need a voice and it isn’t Chris Hardwick.

Weird Al was coming to town, but not for his usual blow out concert. He was appearing one night only at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Bookstore to sign his latest tome: My New Teacher And Me (illustrated by Wes Hargis. Even with a massive summer storm approaching, the bookstore was crammed with fans of all ages eager to meet the man behind “Eat It,” “Fat” and “White and Nerdy.” Even after 33 years, Weird Al is not a nostalgia act. He’s still cranking out the hits without even spoofing a specific song. He was able to take a Doors sounding riff to create “Craigslist.” The late Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek’s brought the groove to the production.

This was my second chance to meet Weird Al. A few years back I’d seen him and the band live in Durham. After the show, my brother and I ended up passing his tour bus. We hung out a little bit waiting for him, but my brother said he needed to get home since he had to wake up early to get to his real job. We left. An old film school buddy met Al and posted the pic on Facebook. My brother got to wake up early, drive to work and promptly get laid off. My brother didn’t want to come with me to the book signing for fear of history repeating itself with his new job. But I was there and at the front of the line.

Originally I had planned on asking a few questions of Al on camera. But while standing there in line, I kept thinking of that jerk producer that does ambush interviews for Bill O’Reilly. Why would I want to be a prick like that to Weird Al? I heard Weird Al’s “Yoda” when it was only airing on the Dr. Demento Show. Weird Al has been a part of my life for at least 33 years. As I got closer to his signing table, it became obvious that there wasn’t much to ask Weird Al since we both know the answers. It would be nice to know which of the Barkers Beauties he dated in the ’80s. But he’s a gentleman and would never tell - unless there was video leaking. So when the time came to meet him, I gave him signed copies of my books “Quotable: The Most Inspiring, Uplifting, Comforting and Universally Beloved Words From Ann Coulter” and “Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters.” It’s a book signing, why shouldn’t someone sign something for him to take home? Then I told him the story of my brother getting laid off. It’s all heartwarming. A nice person videotaped the encounter for posterity. This is the most exciting minute of video that doesn’t feature a cat frowning.

The day after the signing, Weird Al tweeted the number of the payphone next to him at RDU airport so he could chat with folks. Weird Al is more than merely the spokesman of a generation, he’s also the listener of a generation. The Kennedy Center better honor him next year.

SUBMIT TO FULL FRAME

The fine folks at the Full Frame Documentary film festival have alerted me that it’s almost submission time. So get that non-fiction film about the history of historical stuff ready for showing. Here’s the deadlines in case you need more time to make it presentable.

2014 Call for Entries:
Regular Deadline / August 15 - October 15 / $40 Fee
Late Deadline / October 16 - December 6 / $60 Fee
For additional information or clarification of rules, please contact submissions@fullframefest.org.

JFK VS. THIS GUY

Scott Calonico’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want short film featuring LBJ’s phone calls was a hit at the last Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Now he’s back with a more involving production where he goes behind JFK’s telephone rant about a bedroom set up at an air force base. Here’s the teaser that explains it all and wants me to see the rest of the story:

And here’s me and Scott talking at Full Frame about You Can’t Always Get What You Want. He previews the JFK project.

VINEGAR TIME

Punk Vacation (Blu-ray + DVD) reminds us of those trouble punk kids could be in the 80s. A small California town in the desert east of Los Angeles gets uninvited guests. Turns out a bunch of punks on motorcycles have arrived looking for kicks. They’re all made up with nowhere to go outside of the local general store. When Rob Garrison (The Karate Kid gets ripped off by a soda machine, he goes full Cobra Kai. This leads to the store owner coming out with his shotgun to nip it in the bud. The mess goes out of control. Garrison ends up caught by the man. His punk friends don’t like it. The very hot in her make up Ramrod (Roxanne Rogers of 976-Evil) won’t cut and run. There’s a full out war in the town between the locals and the punks. Strangely enough it’s the locals that come off looking really boring as they attempt to put down the punk rebellion. This movie didn’t have that much national play or attention. Truly worth rediscovering as the genre of punks shooting it out with locals is very thin. A bonus feature on the DVD is Nomad Riders which was made around the same time by producer Stephen Fusci. The transfer was lifted from a videotape so it’s not quite as detailed. But the outlaw biker film is as entertaining as Punk Vacation. It has a Miami Vice synth score to make the action feel smoother. Fusci does a video interview to give context to his two productions. There’s also plenty of still photos from the shoots. A fine double feature to enjoy with your Harley nearby.

Drive-In Collection: The Vixens of Kung Fu & Oriental Blue are two New York based adult flicks that attempted to cash in of the Kung Fu craze of the early -70s. They must have been playing in Times Square next to The Chinese Connection. Both movies feature the talent of the edgy Jamie Gillis. Judging by his haircut, Jaime made these movies on the same weekend. Both films were directed by Bill Milling. The Vixens of Kung Fu opens with a hooker (Bree Anthony) being attacked by a group of guys including Jaime. She’s found by members of a Kung Fu group living outside of New York City. They help her recover and teach her the secrets of martial arts. When she’s fully recovered, she’s ready to reclaim herself. She also learns Asian erotic secrets to help with her day job. There’s a lot of nudity in the woods as the cast fights and gets down. Oriental Blue plays up the concept of human trafficking with an Asian flavor. Peonies Jong (The Vixens of Kung Fu) has a more involving role as a Dragon Lady hired to kidnap various girls for an international prostitution syndicate. Her main man to find the talent is Jaime Gillis. Jong has the secret formula that turns them from victims into willing sex slaves. Gillis gets on her bad side when he doesn’t want to turn over one of his recruits. It doesn’t end pretty which seems the norm on the semi-roughie adult features. The guys at Vinegar Syndrome have once more done a fine job at color correcting two very incorrect feature films.

SCREAM AND SHOUT

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adel Blanc-Sec is Luc Besson to the director’s chair instead of just contributing to scripts and producing the latest Liam Neeson flick. Adele Blanc-Sec (Louise Bourgoin) is an explorer like Indiana Jones. She heads down to Egypt to locate a special mummy. She has her enemies that want to bury her in a pyramid. But she’s too smart for their lame schemes. She escapes with her mummy in tow. At the same time Paris is having an issue with a giant pterodactyl flying around the city. How did it come alive? That’s the secret of an ancient Egyptologist who has a mental bond with the dinosaur. The mysteries all come together in a film that’s much more fun that the last few Mummy movies and the creepy CGI Tintin. There’s plenty of great special effects faces that are on par with Dick Tracy. The film is rather fun and plays with quite a few themes that Besson explored in Fifth Element. It’s great that the movie is finally getting released in America after three years. The movie is quite a bit French, but don’t let that alienate you. It does feature walking mummies roaming around the Louvre. The Blu-ray looks gorgeous on a large HDTV. The bonus features include a DVD and Digital copy of the film. There’s a making of featurette and deleted scenes. You can listen to the movie in French and English. You’re better off with French.

Swamp Thing still rates as one of the best comic book super hero movie. Wes Craven went to the murky terrain of South Carolina to give us the DC Comic character in his natural terrain. This isn’t just some Hollywood backlot with handfuls of Spanish moss glued to trees. You can feel the humidity of the remote laboratory run by Dr. Alec Holland (Twin Peaks‘ Ray Wise). He working on new compounds from vegetation found in the swamp. Alice Cable (Maude’s Adrienne Barbeau) gets assigned to help Dr. Holland’s research. Before she can get settled on the compound, an evil force of mercenaries shows up eager to claim the scientific break throws. They’ve been paid for by Arcane (Octopussy’s Louis Jourdan). When Dr. Holland is less than turning over his research, he gets exposed to an element that turns him into the Swamp Thing. He’s a big green superhero that must protect Alice from the evil. Can he stop his research from being sold to the highest bigger? The Blu-ray comes with a DVD. Director Wes Craven contributes a commentary track where he talks about all the challenges of not just making this on a Hollywood backlot. Make up artist William Munns also gets to talk about his work at keeping things looking good in the humidity. There’s interviews with Barbeau, Len Wein (creator of the comic book) and Reggie Batts. This is the PG version of the film with less Barbeau nudity. The R-rated version was accidentally released on DVD. Why not an unrated cut on the Blu-ray? According to some internet sources, Barbeau’s contract only allows the PG version to be released in North America. Swamp Thing is much better than Thor.

The Fog: Collector’s Edition is another Adrienne Barbeau film. This ghost story was John Carpenter’s follow up to Halloween with even more people coming home on a special night. A seaside community is excited about their 100th anniversary. Little do they know that their going to have guests wanting payback. The ghosts arrive in a thick fog with revenge. John Houseman sets the scene giving a spooky tale to the kiddies. Is it a night to beware? Of course it is. These aren’t just any ghosts attacking the town. They’re pirate ghosts looking to claim the lives of the living. Why are they doing that? You want me to ruin a good ghost story? A hint is that Hal Holbrook is the key. Being chased by the ghosts is not just Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), but her real life mom Janet Leigh (Psycho). It’s amazing to see two generations of scream queens test out their pipes when the bumps arrive in the night. The bonus features are a mix of new and old. There’s an audio track with John Carpenter and the late Debra Hill discussing how The Fog was a budget step up from their previous efforts. There’s a new commentary with cast and crew led by Barbeau. “Fear on Film” is a vintage featurette about the show. “Horror’s Haunted Grounds” pays a visit to the film’s locations. You might plan your vacation around that tour. There’s plenty of trailers, tv spots and promo photos. The 1080p transfer was supervised by cinematographer Dean Cundey so it looks really good and sharp except when it’s foggy. There’s nothing too vague about this ultimate edition of The Fog.

The Incredible Melting Man is the movie that turned Rick Baker into a superstar of makeup effects with the public. How could this be? Baker was coming off Dino’s King Kong when he took the Melting Man as a gig since they paid him a huge fee. He didn’t think they’d do it. Being the highest priced person in the movie, made him the star. One version of the trailer is all about his creation of the creature. Baker was getting the treatment reserved for Ray Harryhausen. The film itself is about an astronaut that returns from a mission to Saturn. Something is causing his flesh to liquefy. He races around dripping all over the place. There seems little hope for a cure although he thinks eating other people might help him. The film is amazingly low budget. There seems to be no budget for extras. Everybody in the shot seems to be talking or being attacked by the Melting Man. There’s an audio track from director William Sachs. He’d go on to direct Galaxina and the Crown International sensation Van Nuys Blvd. Baker and Greg Cannom speak on camera about their involvement and their effects. Baker remembers the large tubs of goo he had to make for the Melting Man to ooze all over the locations. The advertising campaign scared me when I was a kid. Mom said to not worry since this was a movie and I wasn’t going to Saturn. Nowadays the media always covers flesh eating bacteria so the fear is creeping back. You don’t have to be an astronaut to melt. And now for your pleasure, the German trailer for the movie.

A Boy and His Dog: Collector’s Edition brings us the magic when the star of The Brady Bunch teamed up with the future icon of Miami Vice. There was a magic when Tiger the dog (the replacement for the original dog) was buds with Don Johnson in a post-apocalyptic nightmare world. The two have learned to survive in the wasteland that gets nastier each passing day. Things get nasty for the duo when Don gets led into an underworld complex by a girl who promises him a lot of stuff. He finds himself trapped in a nightmare that would fully be embraced by Glenn Beck. Jason Robards is the mayor. Although the strangest bit of casting is Alvy Moore as the town’s doctor. He’s best known as Hank Kimball, the county agent on Green Acres. This is a film directed by L.Q. Jones, best known for being one of the scummy bounty hunters in The Wild Bunch. This is his only feature film which is a shame since it’s a cult success. Tiger died shortly after this film was completed. L.Q. Jones is joined on the audio commentary by cinematographer John Arthur Morrill and critic Charles Champlin. The big bonus is Jones sitting down with author Harlan Ellison. Supposedly Ellison didn’t like the tone of the film, but the two have come to terms. “It’s an awfully good picture,” Harlan admits. Their 51 minute conversation covers so many aspects of the production. A Boy and His Dog is amazing to behold after all these years.

BLU-RAY HEAVEN

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4 is the mid-season of the show’s run. The ratings were high at the start of the year with so many people wanting to know the outcome of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) being assimilated into the Borg in “The Best of Both Worlds Part II.” There’s family themes dominating the early episodes. “Family” returns the crew to earth where Picard hangs out in France with his brother. Dr. Cusher (Gates McFadden) lets Wesley (Wil Wheaton) see a message his late father had left him. “Brothers” unites Data (Brent Spiner) with his creator and his brother Lore. “Suddenly Human” lets Picard play Maury Povich as he informs an alien child that he’s really human. What’s the kid going to do? “Legacy” brings Tasha Yar’s sister onto the deck. She wants to bring sanity to her out of control colony. “Reunion” hooks up Worf (Michael Dorn) with his ex-girlfriend. He finds even more Klingon relatives. “Final Mission” marks the end of Wesley Crusher’s time screwing up the Enterprise. Wil would return for a few guest shots, but is now known for tormenting Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. There’s a lot of memory loss episodes including “Clues” with the crew forgetting what happened for 30 seconds. But it might really be longer. Time is relative in outer space. “Qpid” has everyone’s favorite near god teases Picard with love. Can he finally break the human? The season ends with “Redemption I.” Worf quits Starfleet to fight in the Klingon Civil War. This two parter is also presented as its own movie with Star Trek: The Next Generation - Redemption on Blu-ray. The action is put together seamless for the complete Klingon Civil War saga. You won’t have to wait until season 5.

Eve of Destruction (The Doomsday Series) is a three hour mega-movie that deals with the horrible consequences about tapping into dark energy. Steven Weber (Wings) is a scientist who think he has the solution for electricity. What he doesn’t know is that this experiment was tried in Russia was a disastrous result. A power company worker from Russia remembers the night the electricity went out of control. He can’t stand seeing it happen again. Treat Williams is the boss who is semi-skeptical of the future event. The mini-series that ran on Reelz is much smarter than the original fare on Syfy. This comes off as more science fiction than Sharknado.

The Borgias: The Final Season wraps up the tale of Pope Alexander VI and his cutthroat family. This wasn’t supposed to be the wrap up season, but that’s just the way it worked out since the ratings on Showtime weren’t quite Game of Thrones or Tudors level. The season starts off with the Pope recovering from a poisoning. Catherina Sforza is ready to finish off the family, but daughter Lucrezia must rise to the challenge since her brothers are busy. The Pope puts on a grand inquisition against the College of Cardinals. He’s not trusting anyone anymore. Why should he? One of the Cardinals steals a large amount of cash from the Vatican bank and covers his tracks by torching the vaults. The final episode does seem a bit like an ending with a family unification on the horizon. It was a good series and it’s a shame that it didn’t get the proper ending. Unlike Deadwood, fans won’t have to guess how it was going to end. The script for the unproduced two hour finale movie has been adapted to prose and can be downloaded as an e-book. The Blu-ray brings out the rich production values in massive sets and equally massive wardrobe. The bonus features include Borgia Bloopers and the first episode of Ray Donovan.

DVD SHELF

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXVII brings a well-rounded collection of episodes from the series that perfected the art of mocking bad movie. All four major cast eras are spread over the selections. “The Slime People” is from the first season with Dr. Erhardt (Josh Weinstein) teaming up with Dr. Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) to torture Joel and the Bots. They find a tale of creatures coming up from the sewers to takeover Los Angeles. Today we call them reality stars. “Rocket Attack U.S.A.” is pure cold war love. Spies go to the Soviet Union to infiltrate those commie bastards. The mission backfires and an atomic bomb wipes out Manhattan. Thus no more Woody Allen films would ever be made. TV’s Frank is with Dr. Forrester on this one. There’s also a creepy reminder that Mike Nelson would soon be blasted into space during one of the breaks. “Village of the Giants” is another massive production from Bert I. Gordon (Food of the Gods). This time a bunch of teenagers out for kicks eat a special food made by a young Ron Howard (Eat My Dust). They are turned into huge problems as they dominate the sleepy town like Marlon Brando’s gang in The Wild Bunch. Mike Nelson and the Bots have a good time at the expense of some low budget special effects. There’s also a sad time as TV’s Frank gets laid off and replaced by Torgo. This isn’t a speedy changeover. “The Deadly Mantis” brings more Pearl Forrester to the scene. This time the Earth blows up thanks to a recreation of Beneath the Planet of the Apes. You do get a Beezer fix before the blast. But don’t fret, Mike, the Bots, Pearl and Bobo survive along with a print of The Deadly Mantis. This came from the time when Universal was in love with stock footage. Sure they have a great Mantis puppet, but so much of the film is defense department film of planes flying. They also abuse some Eskimo documentaries to make things feel authentic. The bonus features include interviews with two cast members from The Slime People and Village of the Giants. There’s a fine documentary about William Alland, the producer of Deadly Mantis and those classic Jack Arnold films at Universal. Trace Beaulieu reminds us that he’s worked since leaving Deep 13. This is a fine sampler of MST3K episodes since you get a taste of all the actors.

Here’s the regular trailer for Deadly Mantis.

Nicky Deuce marks the end of an era since this is the last time you’ll see James Gandolfini playing off his Tony Soprano character. He’s joined by plenty of his co-stars from the legendary mobster series including Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, Steve Schirripa and Vincent Curatola. How did Frank Vincent not sneak onto the screen? None of them are Nicky Deuce. Turns out he’s a kid (Noah Munck) from the suburbs who gets sent to Brooklyn for the summer to spend time with his grandparents (Schirripa and Oz’s Rita Moreno). He does his best to fit in with the local kids by taking up a bit of a wise guy persona. He begins to suspect that his relatives are mobsters. How did so many actors from Sopranos end up in a Nickelodeon movie? Turns out that Schirripa wrote the novel and asked a few favors from his pals. Little did they know that this would be the last time to mob it up with the man once known as Tony. Nicky Deuce deserves to sit next to your complete Sopranos collection.

The Virginian: The Complete Seventh Season is the semi-penultimate go around for the TV series that had each episode be a feature length movie. Somehow this crew was able to crank out 26 episodes of the adventures around the Shiloh Ranch. The big new thing for this season is the arrival of David Hartman (Good Morning America). He’s a saloon worker who gets fired. He think he can cut it with The Virginian (James Drury) and Trampas (The Land that Time Forgot’s Doug McClure). “The Saddle Warmer” has Sutton start off on a bad food when he breaks Trampas’ leg in an accident. Or is it? Later a woman shows up claiming to be his wife. Tom Skerritt (Alien) has a bit part. “The Orchard” brings Burgess Meredith to the ranch as a pal who always has a bad streak of luck. Ben Murphy (Gemini Man) might make things get tragic. John Saxon arrives with a black heart and a bullet for Trampas in “Vision of Blindness.” Saxon seeks revenge for the death of his brother. Ben Johnson (The Wild Bunch) wants a bit of calm. “The Wind of Outrage” reeks of the pure macho musk from Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II). Ricardo gets to flex his acting muscles in the role of an ex-Canadian. Take off! “The Heritage” features Jay Silverheels in a non-Tonto role. “Ride to Misadventure” drives action past Harry Dean Stanton (Repo Man). “Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs” gets felonious with Yvonne De Carlo (The Munsters) and Carrie Snodgress (Diary of a Mad Housewife). “Incident at Diablo Crossing” makes Gary Collins a killer or is he?

The Virginian: The Final Season isn’t really the show’s final season. Turns out after season eight, NBC changed the show’s title to The Men From Shiloh. The tone of the show was changed to a Spaghetti Western approach with minimal ranch based action. They even hired Ennio Morricone to create a new theme son. So in a sense, this is the last Virginian before a major overhaul. The big change of the season is David Hartman hits the range and Tim Matheson (National Lampoon’s Animal House) arrives as Jim Horn. Season 8 takes us back to the time when Leslie Nielsen (Police Squad) was a hard ass in “The Long Ride Home.” He’s offered a full time gig at Shiloh. Can he stick around as a regular? “The Substitute” busts Champas for a murder. What chance will he get for justice since the sheriff is Ken Lynch (McCloud). “The Burgler” isn’t Alan Hale Jr. (Gilligan’s Island). “Home to Methuselah” puts a lawman on the trails of outlaws. He doesn’t believe in prisoners. Timothy Carey (Paths of Glory) needs to fear this guy. “Black Jade” puts a cowboy hat on William Shatner (Star Trek). “You Can Lead a Horse to Water” gives us the FCC required guest visit from Strother Martin (The Wild Bunch). Joan Crawford stars in “Nightmare.” Which cowboy will give her wire hangers? Dennis Weaver of Gunsmoke and McCloud fame arrives for “Train of Darkness.” The Virginian was the third longest running TV series behind Bonanza and Gunsmoke although it might be the longest if you factor episodes lengths. “A King’s Ransom” pays off with Patrick Macnee (John Steed on The Avengers). He’s the leader of a kidnapping gang. The 24 episodes play more like a Western Film Festival rather than tv season. This is the perfect gift to keep dad occupied for several weekends.

Hecho En Mexico (Made In Mexico) explores modern Mexico which the American media has reduced down to the border and the massive body counts thanks to drug wars. But there is so much more to this country. Director Duncan Bridgeman and his crew explore the vibrant arts and culture of the country South of the Border. There is so much color and rich music that gets expressed in 100 minutes of a travelogue. There’s a festive flavor to so much of the footage. You’ll be eager to get in the middle of a massive party down there. This is an intriguing view for those wondering what’s beyond the desert and the pharmacias. The DVD also includes access to the UltraViolet stream and download so you can watch the film as you fly to your vacation in Mexico. The film is rated R for dirty talk.

Gunsmoke: The Ninth Season, Volume 1 & Volume 2 marks the true arrival of Festus (Ken Curtis) and the departure of Chester (McCloud’s Dennis Weaver). It’s a sad transition and oddly enough one that doesn’t get much thought about by people who started watching the show in the ’80s. Why? Because the average viewer under 40 thinks Festus has always been the sidekick of Marshall Dillon (James Arness). Chester had the unfortunate luck of being in290 episodes that were shot in black and white. Cable stations would rather just run all the color episodes starring Festus. These people also don’t realize that Burt Reynolds was a regular on the show as Quint since he too lacked color during his stay. The season starts off with a bit of a personality crisis as Ken Curtis arrives in Dodge City for “Lover Boy.” He’s a slick cowboy who gets involved with a woman who wants him to do wrong. Can he resist her charms to be lethal? “Prairie Wolfer” brings Curtis back as Festus. He’s hired to track down the wolves that are attacking cattle. But are they the real predators on the range? He needs Matt’s help to keep from being bait. He returns of “Once a Haggen” which turns into his trade off with Chester. Slim Pickens (Dr. Strangelove) gets arrested for killing a Poker player. Festus swears his buddy is innocent. He teams up with Matt to reveal the truth. This episode turns him into a regular. Chester sticks around for one more episode. “Bently” lets Chester doubt a dying man confessing to a crime that he beat in court. Chester thinks the guy is trying to cover. Dennis Weaver left the show to star in Kentucky Jones. While he bounced around in short lived shows for a while, he ended up on the long running McCloud while Gunsmoke still had 5 more seasons to go. And now here’s Ken Curtis showing off his pipes with a Western classic.

Filly Brown marks the movie debut and unfortunately the only performance of Jenni Rivera. The singer passed away in a plane wreck in Mexico last December. She plays an incarcerated mother of hip-hop singer (Gina Rodriguez) that’s on the cusp of breaking through. She has support from her dad (La Bamba’s Lou Diamond Phillips. Trouble is that her major label deal seems to hinge on her turning her back on so many that have helped her along. They also want her to change her style to be more sexual than cerebral. She just wants to land a contract so she can help her family. It’s a film that would have played better in the ’90s when record companies mattered. Rodriguez brings the right amount attitude and uncertainty for her character. Rivera’s mom behind bars shows she could have had a long career in films. The big bonus is deleted scenes involving Rivera. Filly Brown played Sundance in 2012.

Power Rangers Samurai: The Ultimate Duel wraps up the series with the final four episodes. “The Tengen Gate” gives them the unfinished weapon of the original Red Power Ranger. They get told a story of a Nighlok King who cursed all around him. “Boxed In” has them doing their best to open up the Black Box so they can fight back properly. The Moogers are coming. “Broken Dreams” takes them into the Dream World. Things are getting more intense. Master Xandred destroys something major as revenge. “The Ultimate Duel” pits Deker against Jayden in a battle to the death. But can they really battle alone? Or does Jayden need the power of his Power Ranger companions? After this series, comes Power Rangers Super Samurai. While there are two more episodes to the season, they’ve already been released as part of Monster Bash Halloween Special and Christmas Together, Friends Forever.

War On Whistleblowers is a timely documentary from Robert Greenwald and his crew. You can’t watch the news without getting at least one story about the major whistleblowers who have exposed government and private sector secrets. Right now it’s all about Edward Snowden who exposed the extremes of NFS programs. The film dips into the tricky world of those who want to whistleblower. The movie starts with a defense department official who realized that Humvees were no defense against IEDs in Iraq. Many people wanted to swap to a vehicle that could handle a road blast better. But nobody in power wanted this changeover to happen. He leaked the non-classified information to the USA Today and it forced change. Military lives were saved. But the whistleblower was treated as a traitor. There’s another tale of military incompetence when the Coast Guard paid a fortune for new boats, but didn’t want to buy water proof radios. The film does a good job of making viewer not see those that leak government information as merely aiding the enemies of America. With Snowden and Bradley Manning in the news, this is a fine time to explore the subject. Greenwald provides a commentary track. There’s also extended interviews with plenty of the subjects.

RoboTech 2-Movie Collection: The Shadow Chronicles & Love Live Alive (premiere) is a double feature of Scott Bernard action. RoboTech comes from that mid-80s era of Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The show used to dominate a corner at my local Suncoast whether with videotapes, books and toys. The show got an extra push with the release of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles was released in 2008 to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. The action picks up where the TV episodes ended. Invid has taken over most of the Earth, but the humans aren’t backing down. Luckily, it turns out the Invid have a greater enemy hunting them down. Can the humans survive the enemy of their enemy? Scott Bernard is in the middle of the madness. Mark Hamill (Star Wars lends his voice. Love Live Alive is sort of a new movie. It takes a look at the third season highlights through a Scott Bernard’s adventures. This set up works well for fans that haven’t seen the show in a few decades and just want a refreshing review of the action. There’s a lot of bonus features including Birth of a Sequel, Score Music Video, Select, !PoN Anime Podcast, Robotech 3000, Robotech 3000 Motion Capture Sequences, Scenes (w/optional commentary), Outtakes, Animatics (w/optional commentary), Trailers and Photo Galleries.

Spaghetti Westerns and More Spaghetti Westerns are part of Timeless’ “Movies 4 You” series that put 4 films on 1 DVD. There’s more than a handful of Clint Eastwood films that were made by Italian crews in the Spanish deserts. These two sets bring 8 entries that were shot during the height of the subgenre from the mid-60s to the mid-70s. Spaghetti Westerns contains the first two movies featuring Montgomery Wood (Giuliano Gemma) as Ringo. He was as big as Django and the Man With No Name in the ’60s. A Pistol For Ringo has Ringo saved from the hangman’s noose when he must rescue a family from outlaws. To pull off his mission, he has to join up with the outlaws. The Return of Ringo has him disguise himself as a Mexican outlaw to get revenge on a gang that really wronged him. Ringo: Face of Revenge gives us Anthony Steffan as Ringo. He’s on a treasure run with half of the map tattooed on a convict. They need the second half that’s on a sheriff’s body. Can they reunite the duo and keep all the loot? Shoot, Gringo…Shoot! could almost look like Ringo on the drive-in marquee. An outlaw has to find a man’s missing son to escape execution. This has actual American actors Brian Kelly and Keenan Wynn playing Americans. More Spaghetti Westerns has four films that focus on money and bullets. Blood For A Silver Dollar brings back Gemma. He’s returning from the Civil War. The locals want him to hunt down and kill an outlaw. But can he follow through with the hit when he sees his target? 10,000 Dollars for a Massacre brings us another Django entry with Gianni Garko. This time he’s on the trail of an outlaw gang. But he ponders taking over the gang and leading them on major heist. 7 Dollars On Red puts Steffan on the road after his son whose been kidnapped by bandits. Can he get his kid back before he becomes an outlaw? A Bullet for a Stranger lets Garko save two brothers who are suckers for outlaws. These two sets are fun to watch on a small screen since they’re rather low resolution versus Timeless’ recent Django double features. The good news is this helps you not notice the lips are out of synch when they talk in the dub track.

Touched By An Angel: The Eighth Season is the heavenly penultimate season. Valerie Bertinelli (One Day At A Time) goes full time with angels Roma Downey, Della Reese and John Dye. They’re out to fix the lives of those losing touch with their faith. Valerie arrives for “Holy of Holie.” They have to help a college professor find the Ark of the Covenant. Sadly there’s no bullwhip fighting. “The Perfect Game” deals with a father being overbearing on his baseball playing son. Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) gets to be a part of the game. Major holy roller Kirk Cameron becomes “The Birthday Present.” Gloria Stuart (Titanic) gets involved in an abused kids case. “Heaven’s Portal” takes Angels to a rave where they get messed up. Peter Scolari (Girls) gets tangled into the E-venture. “When Sunny Gets Blue” brightens up a younger Zachary Quinto without his Spock ears. “A Winter Carol” has a fictional 9/11 storyline barely two months after the World Trade Towers came down. Blair Brown (Fringe) is trapped in emotional rubble. “The Blue Angel” has the painful friendship between Ernest Borgnine (McHale’s Navy) and Tom Bosley (Happy Days). Neil Patrick Harris bolts on his fiancĂ© in “The Princeless Bride.” I wonder why NPH wouldn’t marry her? “For All the Tea In China” is a mega-special episode with Angela Lansbury playing a woman with a big secret. Only one more season for the stars to be Touched By An Angel.

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