LIZARD LICK, N.C. - TruTV lies.
When the channel announced Lizard Lick Towing as part of its reality show lineup, the Party Favors called up to see if we could interview the stars. The Party Favors headquarters is based in Raleigh, North Carolina which is a short drive from the bustling intersection that is Lizard Lick. We were eager to promote a series that would show America the joy of living in the Sweet Spot of America (trademark pending). The fine folks at the channel and the show’s production company seemed eager to hook us up with Ron Shirley for a chat. But somehow things cooled off quick when they discovered we were pretty much spitting distance of the Lizard Lick Towing yard. They let my calls go to voice mail. Why the change of attitude? Was there a reason why they didn’t want to drum up a little support in their home market? I’ve been dissed by the best (I’m thinking of Michael K. Williams). It just comes with the territory.
Then the show came on and I realized the answer: Lizard Lick Towing is a massive fraud being flung at America. You know those people who swear the whole Moon Landing was faked on a soundstage? Lizard Lick Towing might as well be repo-ing cars on Mars. My entire area is being turned into a massive redneck fantasyland. How did I spot the fake nature of the show so quickly? Ron Shirley and Bobby Brantley have to repossess a car owned by a guy working at a tattoo parlor on Hillsborough Street. Things get nasty when the owner and his thug friends attack. It gets rough enough for ambulance to get called for a pick up. I was quite shocked to see such local violence depicted on TV. I immediately checked the news reports to find out when this incident occurred. But there was nothing. I wrote a news contact who works the crime beat and they reported back that the whole thing was staged. What? The City of Raleigh has spent millions to revitalize the Hillsborough Street area. They’ve changed up the roads, added rotaries and hired people to keep safe from undesirables. It’s across the street from NC State University. Yet as far as Lizard Lick Towing fans are concerned, it’s as dangerous as the Eight Mile neighborhood that’s home to Hardcore Pawn. There is publicity a city doesn’t need to buy with TV productions.
Another episode with major false depictions had Ron and Bobby get work being Ric Flair’s bodyguards. The Wrestling legend was coming to Raleigh for a “charity” event. Parts of this episode was filmed a few blocks from my house. First off, they have them going to Ric’s hotel. Ric stays at the snazziest of hotels when he comes to party in Raleigh. It’s a known fact. He met one of his wives at the also nearby North Raleigh Hilton. But the hotel Ron and Bobby visit seems a bit off. First thing is an establishing shot of Durham right near the ballpark where the Durham Bulls play. Why would the Nature Boy be in Durham for a Raleigh charity event? Who knows if it was really Durham or just an editor grabbing some b-roll? What matters is that the hotel is an office building with a few baggage carts littered about the main lobby. As a guy who works on reality shows, I applaud this ingenious move by the producers. Hotels are a pain in the ass to shoot inside. Guests keep wanting to check out and refusing to sign the model release. There’s way too much signage that requires clearance. Faking a hotel is a great solution. Since the scene features Bobby and Ron beating up two other security guards, they don’t need guests calling the cops. It’s just a touch of Hollywood magic. But this is supposed to be a reality show.
Under normal circumstances, there’s a plug for the charity for being so nice to let the production shoot at their event. The episode just calls it a charity without even saying what Ric wants stomped out with the support of fans. Maybe it was for people who were nearly getting hit in the head with metal chairs. Was there really a charity event? Ask yourself what are the odds that Ron and Bobby spot a car marked for repo in the parking lot? Naturally this leads to a fight and Ric Flair being ticked off that his charity event is being ruined by the two guys who have a show on TruTV and brought a camera crew to record the event. Ric had to sell less reality when he was in Raleigh making Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling episodes. What are the odds of getting into two fights in the same evening at a classy hotel and a charity event in my town? Zilch is the proper answer. According to Lizard Lick Towing, Raleigh is become a penal colony full of violent people who don’t like to pay for their cars. This show is more fake than Homeland which also shot in Raleigh.
Another episode had a massive fight on Raleigh’s Hillsborough Street that required an ambulance. For those unfamiliar with my fair city, they’ve paid millions over the last few years to beautify this historic road that cuts past NC State University (where Scotty McCreedy goes to school). And in a few minutes, Lizard Lick Towing turned it into the South’s version of Detroit’s Eight Mile. You know that saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity? That was started by a bad publicist. Because this show really brings down the neighborhood worse than a Honda Civic on cinderblocks.
That’s not saying that Lizard Lick Towing isn’t a real company. Ron, Bobby and Amy Shirley work there. It’s a real company. It’s in the Yellow Pages. But the part of it you see on TV is about as real as an episode of Charles In Charge or Eastbound and Down. Ron wears those Bible inspired baseball jerseys, but he’s not witnessing to the truth to the TV world. It saddens me to see him play fast and loose with the town I call home.
Of course our state legislature hasn’t exactly been ridding America that we’re not a bunch of backwoods hicks. Their recent decrees to override science, institute a state religion and square dancing after passing voter suppression laws have been a ridicule bonanza for MSNBC, CNN and the Daily Show. I double anyone watching these reports would imagine North Carolina is the 10th largest state in the union and might end up in the #8 slot if these antics don’t derail growth. The only good thought is that between Lizard Lick towing and elected officials, we’ll still not top the crazy of Florida. But we’re coming after them with a truckload of Ernest T. Basses. Why would anyone want to locate their company in North Carolina knowing we’re a pack of toothless, meth loving, non-car paying hillbillies on the prowl for Ned Beatty?
Of course there’s no way to sue TruTV for massively lying to America about their fake programs. Their slogan is “Not Reality. Actuality.” Entertainment head Steve Koonin told the L.A. Times, “Notice we don’t say it’s reality. We call it actuality. This is our version of reality.” TruTV’s slogan is really a legal disclaimer. So those of us who have to be embarrassed by how Koonin and his ilk present our reality, we just have to suffer.
Seems nobody stole my jokes for the James Franco Roast on Comedy Central. This is a good thing since it was the lamest roast yet. It was like an extension of his Oscar hosting except he got to sit down for most of it. Has anyone noticed that Andy Samberg didn’t really have any SNL characters outside of his not live musical moments? How is he going to survive with 22 minutes of playing a man-child cop? I’m predicting Brooklyn Nine-Nine is going to be the other half of Assy McGee.
PARTY FAVOR PARTY TIPS
Flair Bartending allows you to go beyond the basics taught during mixology classes. Scott Young is ready to transform you from someone who just pours liquor to the artist who entertains with their every move behind the bar. If you are the least bit curious as to what it takes to turn you into a 21st century Tom Cruise from Cocktail, buy and study this DVD set. Young puts you through over 7 hours of training and techniques. The key to his method is that this isn’t all about showboating. You’re not going to slow the drinks down if you follow his advice. You’re gonna impress customers with you moves and how fast it goes from your fingers into their throat. Are you ready to step up your game? Even if you just want to be a party bartender at your next big grilling, Young’s four part Flair training will help. There is a lot of practice involved. Flipping bottles of booze does require a bit of dexterity. You’re going to have to sweat to achieve perfection.
How to Be the Life of the Party is perfect for people who want to impress their Flair Bartender. Young is back with a big bag of tricks. Do you know how to balance an egg on its end? Can you stick a bottle to the wall? How can you light a match with one hand? Want to learn how to read minds? Scott Young is back to make you the do more than just drink and whine about Kardashians. He even breaks down various games you play with straws. Over the course of three hours, you’ll learn the secret of all those games people pulled on you. This is perfect for people eager to show off their mad skills while watching the football game at their favorite watering hole. You might want to skip a textbook purchase to get lessons that will matter to you for the rest of your life.
SCREAM FACTORY BLU-RAY REPORT
The Amityville Horror Trilogy brings back the reason why you should always question a too good to be believed real estate price. Why was the huge house with the “cool” attic windows going for a cheap rate in Amityville, New York? Was it a problem with termites? Was there a slight flooding issue? Did it have aluminum electrical wiring? Nope, it was because the previous occupants were slaughtered, an earlier owner was a devil worshipper and it might be right over an Indian burial ground. All three of these red flags never seem to appear on Zillow. Which is why James Brolin (Mr. Barbra Streisand) and Margot Kidder (Superman) buy the place thinking they got a bargain. What they got was a deal with the devil. This is normal for buying a house. They get a sense that something is wrong when a priestly Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night) attempts to bless the joint only to get violently ill. Flies begin to become a problem. There’s plumbing problems and holes in the walls that might be bleeding. Things not covered under a homeowner’s policy. Can the family save their house? How can they expect to unload on a bigger pair of rubes? Amityville Horror was a massive hit in 1979. If you adjust it for inflation, the movie made as much as Ironman 2. It was the crowning box office glory for American International Pictures. Naturally there had to be a sequel thus we get Amityville II: The Possession which goes back a homeowner. This is the story of the people who didn’t get to move out. Burt Young (Rocky) is the doomed slob who can’t grasp what’s going wrong in the house. Rutanya Alda is his wife. Once again a priest has issues blessing the house, but nobody sees that as a major warning sign like a foundation crack. It’s a harder film to watch since we know the sad fate of Burt Young and his family. While it wasn’t as big of a hit as the original, it didn’t stop them from making Amityville 3-D! The folks at Scream Factory bring both the 2-D and 3-D version to the Blu-ray. Be thrilled as Tony Roberts (Annie Hall) comes out of the screen as he’s scared out of his pants. Tony is a writer who thinks the whole Amityville Horror house is a crock. So he buys the place and investigates the supernatural and horrific stories. Guess what he discovers? That there are things more disturbing that a Home Owners Association. The 3-D effects are extra cheesy thanks to director Richard Fleischer (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) play it up. At least he has a fine cast with Candy Clark (The Man Who Fell To Earth), Tess Harper (No Country For Old Men) and Meg Ryan. There are plenty of bonus features including commentary tracks with a parapsychologist and the author of Growing Up Haunted - A Ghostly Memoir). There’s a documentary about the first film with Brolin and Kidder giving their view of the massive hit. Candy Clark recounts her time in 3-D. The 1080p transfers of all the films make the house ready to move into. This is the perfect collection for people who were wondering why critics were comparing this series to The Conjuring.
Cockneys Vs. Zombies is a brand new film from England that brings to us two groups of people that are rather difficult to understand. The Cockney language seems devised to just confuse anyone who isn’t the speaker with constant slang. At least with zombies, you can occasionally make out a plea for brains. What do Cockney people even call brains? While a construction crew is demolishing property on the End of London, they knock in the door of a graveyard. The forgotten tomb is full of the living dead ready to bite and convert the locals. This turns into an all out zombie attack in the area. Seems hope exists only in the gangster-esque Alan Ford (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch). The big concern for the survivors is to get to a retirement home to save Richard Brier (Good Neighbors or The Good Life) and Honor Blackman (Goldfinger). This leads to the dream pursuit of a zombie going after an elderly guy using a walker. I’ve been waiting for such a moment and they do it so right here. This is a funny take on the zombie flick without losing its walking dead attitude. This is also Brier’s final film. He ought deserves a lot of respect as the TV father of the self-sufficiency movement. Hopefully he will move enough to escape the onslaught one last time. Bonus features include two audio commentaries, a behind the scenes special and a digital copy that can be downloaded until Sept 31, 2014.
John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness: Collector’s Edition is a religious spookfest from 1987. Donald Pleasence (Halloween) is a priest who receives a key and a dark secret from a dying priest. He and Victor Wong (Big Trouble In Little China) discover a mysterious substance inside an abandoned church. They immediately set out to investigate with a group of graduate students including Jameson Parker (Simon & Simon) and Lisa Blount (Needful Things). They must figure out what’s inside the sealed jar. Why does it have an effect on the homeless people wandering around the church. Can it truly rock a priest’s core religious beliefs? It’s got plenty of scares as the goo gets out and into the investigators. Plus you get to fear the sight of Alice Cooper holding a bike. There’s an audio commentary from John Carpenter. Fresh video interviews are provided with Carpenter and Cooper. The best is another installment from “Horror’s Haunted Grounds” with host Sean Clark taking us to the various locations. Turns out that the old church is now a theater. You can take in a show if you’re in Los Angeles. There’s even an Easter Egg.
George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead is the third installment of his zombie films A group of scientists and soldiers live in an underground facility as they attempt to figure out what is going on and is there a solution. One scientist is doing his best to retrain a zombie to become human again. But is there really any chance for these people deep in the Earth of escaping the undead? . After the sensations of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead didn’t quite have that huge of an impact. But seemingly it is the film that has the largest impact on The Walking Dead. Tom Savini comes up with astounding effects once more. The bonus features let Romero set up the film better. “World’s End: The Legacy of Day of the Dead” is a nearly as long as the movie. The director talks about issues that cropped up with the budget be cut back. There’s also a commentary track featuring Romero, Savini, production designer Cletus Anderson and actress Lori Cardille. Savini breaks out his vintage footage of how the effects worked on the set. Scream Factory does their best to elevate Day of the Dead to its rightful place in zombie cinema.
Scanners II: The New Order & Scanners III: The Takeover are completely David Cronenberg free. Producer Pierre David made these without the director. They have little to do with the original film other than the concept of people that are Scanners and can blow up your head if they focus hard enough. Scanners II: The New Order has a young man (David Hewlett) move to the city to work as a vet intern. He can no longer control his scanner ability. During a robbery, he blows up the gunman’s head. This leads to him to helping out the cops. What cop doesn’t want a guy who can blow up heads during a stand-off? Can’t do ballistics on a brain wave. But it turns out his contact in the police force wants him to do more than fight crime. He sees the scanner as a fast track to take control of the town. Is the boy from the countryside able to realize he’s being used by a city slicker? Scanners III: The Takeover is a whole new set of scanner characters. A female scanner uses her abilities to takeover a company. She has serious ambition. The only person who can stop her is her brother. One of these siblings is going to blow up real good. Pierre Davis would later introduce us to the Scanner Cop series. These two titles were always poking out of the shelf at Videorama.
Psycho II: Collector’s Edition brings back Anthony Perkins in the role that made him a cinematic icon: Norman Bates. Decades after he went on a killing spree disguised as his mother, he’s released from the mental institution as sane. Can this be true? It is. Norman is returning home so he can run the Bates Motel once more. There are a lot of people who think he’s still nuts including Vera Miles. At first Norman has to work as a short order cook since Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue) is running the motel as a no tell motel. But things get confusing for him since he starts to get notes and phone calls from his mother. Is the old Norman back? Meg Tilly (Jennifer’s sister) tugs at Norman’s heartstrings. But can he really find a love greater than the one he had for his mom? There’s an audio commentary from screenwriter Tom Holland (who’d go on to make Fright Night) where he talks of reviving Norman Bates without Alfred Hitchcock being around. There’s the original electronic press kit with Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Mills and director Richard Franklin sounding exciting about spending another night in the Bates Motel. The Blu-ray brings out the detail of the old house.
Psycho III: Collector’s Edition brings us Anthony Perkins’ time in the director’s chair. Not to spoil Psycho II, but Norman Bates isn’t locked up. He’s back to his old hobby of stuffing animals while working the Bates Motel. Things seems slow until freelance journalist (Roberta Maxwell) blows into town wanting to do an article on the insanity defense. Norman isn’t too keen on spilling his secrets. Norman gets mixed up with an ex-nun (Diana Scarwid) who is dealing with the death of her mother superior. She relates with Norman which might not be a great thing. There are people who want to put Norman over the edge. Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue gives a commentary about his time working with Perkins as an actor-director. There’s a video interview with Katt Shea (director of Poison Ivy) about minor role that just kept growing. Brinke Stevens discusses her body double performance. There’s also talk with Michael Westmore, the special effects wizards. While this film has its issues, it’s a lot more interesting than Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho. When is the last time you remembered Vince Vaughn thought he was Norman Bates?
Bates Motel: Season One takes us back to Norman Bates’ childhood when mother was a bit more mobile. When this series was first announced, it drew the normal reaction of “Is Hollywood all out of ideas?” Did someone jokingly say, “What about instead of Muppet Babies, we make Norman Bates Babies?” Thankfully the series isn’t a massive joke or a lame exercise in expanding a product line. The surprising power of the series is all thanks to mother (The Departed’s Vera Farmiga). She’s a devoted single mother who only wants the best for her sons. Norman (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s Freddie Highsmith)and his half-brother Dylan (Chloe’s Max Thieriot) are a bit of handful. Max is the more troubled of the two. Neither of them are too happy when mom moves them from Arizona to White Pine Bay, Oregon. She has dreams of running a little motel and nothing is stopping her. Although the deal goes bad quick when the former owner drops by to sexually attack her. Norman fights the guy off and mom delivers the finishing blow. It’s rather touching how they turn homicide into a family project. Norman finds a notebook of a psycho’s plans for his victims. Can he stop the guy? Or does this turn into a teachable moment? Later in the series Norman learns taxidermy from his girlfriend’s dad. That’s going to be a hobby that will stay with him for the rest of his life. They keep up the tension of Bates family adventures in the new town. Vera is the star of the show as she keeps her boy in line. The series did well on A&E so there will be another 10 episodes in 2014. The Blu-ray brings out the charm of the early days at the Bates Motel and the 1960s décor. The bonus features include deleted scenes and their panel at the Paley Center. An extra bonus is postcards featuring a few of the sketches featured in Jiao’s notebook.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie: Collector’s Edition allows the world to see Crow T. Robot in 1080p. That’s right, this is your only real chance to see the Satellite of Love and Deep 13 in high definition since the original TV series was made in standard def. This was the cinema event of 1996 when you could go to a movie theater to see a movie about people sitting in a movie theater watching a different movie. It was a Meta-movie experience. The movie allowed Mike, Crow, Tom Servo Gypsy and Dr. Forrester to be bigger than life instead of their bigger than your TV set normal. Dr. Forrester is extra brutal in his cinematic torture this time around. He forces Mike and the Bots to watch This Island Earth. While some hail this as a science fiction classic, it’s rather dull in major parts. There’s a lot of action involving putting together various electronic devices in order to talk to aliens. This is about as exciting as hanging out at a Radio Shack on Wednesday night. This also gives them plenty of time to make quips. The best involve barely in the film Russell Johnson. They jab at his future gig on Gilligan’s Island as the Professor. There’s a lot more ship action since they can afford to go beyond the single shot Cambot moments. There’s a bit of excitement as the Satellite of Love nails the Hubble Space Telescope. And there’s a sneaking fear that this might be the film that finally destroys Mike and the Bots. Unlike the earlier barebones editions, the collector’s edition Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack gives the full details and context of the movie. There’s the original supped up electronic media kit that went into cool video effects overdrive. There’s documentaries about Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie and This Island Earth so you can become educated on both the movie and the movie within the movie. It’s a story of frustration for MST3K The Movie, but what it ultimately did was allow the show to stay together while making the change from Comedy Central to SciFi Channel. What really matters is that you can bask in the glow of a 1080p Crow T. Robot. Just a shame TV’s Frank didn’t stick around so we could see his hair with such resolution.
Suddenly is a major thriller from Uwe Boll. The man who gave us Postal and Bloodrayne doesn’t have the greatest of reputations. He knows how to crank out films which often isn’t a good thing. This time he has Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) around to make this rather far-fetched story entertaining. Ray’s a former war hero who couldn’t handle the attention or recover from his time in battle. He’s become a drunk in a small town which isn’t good for his career as a cop. However he can’t get fired because the president is about to visit. Also visiting the town are a few strangers claiming to be secret service men. But are they? The only person who can save the president’s life is the barely sober Ray since nobody wants to believe that a sweet town can be a deathtrap. Michael Pare (Streets of Fire and Eddie and the Cruisers) is tangled in the plot. No matter how outlandish elements get, Ray keeps it interesting. This is the kinda of film that doesn’t make me want to fight Uwe Boll.
The Doll Squad w/ Mission: Killfast is a high definition double feature of Ted V. Mikels movies on Blu-ray. Ted is a guy known for making movies with his harem of lovers. He also has an amazing mustache. He tried his hardest to make action films on a shoestring budget. He ultimately paved the way for Andy Sidaris to find an audience eager for more films featuring hot heroines and nearly macho guys. The Doll Squad is rumored (by Ted) to have inspired Charlie’s Angels. It’s not exactly about three women who have to quit being cops to get the respect as private investigators. But when a senator and a CIA agent are being blackmailed by an evil organizations, they call The Doll Squad led by Sabrina Kincaid (Francine York). Sabrina was Kate Jackson’s name. She attempts to put her team together, but someone is following her and killing her contacts. There must be a mole in the organization leaking out the information. There’s a lot of serious action and superimposed explosions to save on the cost of blowing stuff up. The best effect is Tura Satana from Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. She knows how to look fierce on the big screen. Mission: Killfast was released in 1991, but the production screams an early ’80s shoot. Nuclear detonators are stolen and there’s only one man who can save the world: Tiger Yang! He’s Ted’s answer to Chuck Norris except with a haircut as deadly as his fists. Tiger has retired from international intrigue to focus on his black belt classes. But he can’t resist his country’s call. The key to getting back the detonators is a blue magazine. This is the perfect excuse to combine kung fu with a little topless action. There’s quite a few bonus features including Ted commenting on Doll Squad and a video interview with Ted about Mission: Killfast. Francine York talks about her time leading the Squad. A vintage trailer for Doll pumps up the action. The jacket for the Blu-ray is reversible so you can make the box for the film that impresses you the most.
Good Luck Miss Wyckoff is an extremely classy exploitation epic revived on Blu-ray. The book was written by award winning playwright William Inge (Picnic). Polly Platt adapted the screenplay. Marvin Chomsky (Roots) directed Anne Haywood (The Fox) as the virgin teacher with an issue. Anne teaches at a Kansas college and lives with several other teachers at a bordering house. She doesn’t feel right and her doctor (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s Robert Vaughn) tells her it’s early onset menopause. Basically if she’s not using it, her uterus doesn’t want to stick around. He sends her off to a shrink (Prince of Darkness’s Donald Pleasance) to get help. He wants her to open up so that she can have a sexual desire. She seems on track to hook up with Earl Holliman (Police Woman). Unfortunately that doesn’t work out. Instead things go really weird with a black student (John Lafayette) who is on the football team, but must also work as a janitor to get his scholarship. He knows she wants it, but is too repressed to act. You know that tender romance found in Bridges of Madison County? That’s not here. This is a non-romantic film. You’ll drop your jaw when he loses his jumpsuit. The scene where their relationship is exposed is an extreme moment that you won’t be seeing in 50 Shades of Grey since it’s that messed up. Even more disturbing is seeing Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family) dropping the N Bomb with utter disgust. This is not a sweet tale of those innocent bygone days. It’s Unhappy Days for Miss Wyckoff. It’s a film that brings back that time when filmmakers were unflinching. The bonus features include a cut of the film from when it was reissued as The Sin. There’s also trailers, TV spots and a photo gallery. While actress Shirley Knight isn’t in the movie, she does talk about William Inge. Vinegar Syndrome has given a deluxe treatment to the movie with a Blu-ray, DVD and the soundtrack on a CD. The image looks great on the Blu-ray. You’ll be able to really absorb the detail of Miss Wyckoff’s plight.
Drive-In Collection: The Sexualist & Wendy’s Palace is a Kemal Horulu double feature straight from a sleazy Time Square cinema in the early ’70s. The Sexualist is a rather arty kind of movie for an X-rated flick. A hippie filmmaker and his chubby backer are making a film about astrological positions. They’re looking to be a touch of adult education in their hot action. Although beyond the plot is the arrival of a gay gorilla. It’s a rather gruesome ape suit on the guy that many viewers will find rather distracting. The comedy focuses on how unsuccessful the director has been in the past. But this one is going to be the hit that will make his pal’s $3,000 investment pay big returns. Or will it? The ladies in the film include Tina Russell, Barbara Benner and Jennifer Welles. Besides the trailer, they found five minutes of outtakes. This proves that some film was left on the editing room floor. Wendy’s Palace is about a hooker eager to move up the whore ladder. After getting busted while hustling in front of a sign for Hello Dolly, Wendy (Mary Poey) sets up a bordello. In a bit of a twist, the vice cop wants to hook up with her both professionally and emotionally. Can she make it in business and love in the Big Apple? There’s some sharp footage of Times Square from 1970 in the film. Check out the marquee for Patton. There’s a trailer for the movie. If you’ve ever been slightly curious about these kind of movies, this is a fine collection since Vinegar Syndrome has the transfer looking great. The fleshtones look fleshy instead of like a bunch of sunburned bodies.
Drive-In Collection: Blood Thirst & The Thirsty Dead is a combo that doesn’t come with a large drink. Blood Thirst has a series of bizarre murders taking place around Manila. Women are being strung up and bled out. The cop on the case is Vic Diaz (The Big Bird Cage). He’s not afraid to call up Adam Rourke (Robert Winston), an authority on sex crimes. He wants to solve a case and not merely make his career. Who is behind the vampire killings? It might be tied to Yvonne Nielson, a belly dancer who wants to shake the blood into Rourke’s midsection. Winston’s not a bad actor, but his career ended on this film that took nearly six years to get released on the low level theater circuit. The real star of the movie is the tailor who made the impressive business suits. The black and white photography adds to the attitude. The Thirsty Dead has another blood sucking cult on the loose of the streets of Manila. Guess who plays a cop in this film? How about Vic Diaz? He’s not given as big of role even with his experience tracking down blood suckers in the land of Marcos. Why are women being abducted off the streets of Manila? Because somewhere outside the city is a cult that stays young thanks to drinking blood. Things go bad when a cult member falls in love with his food. Can love overcome everything? It’s a fine Vic Diaz double feature.
Drive-In Collection: Death Force & Vampire Hookers come from Cirio H. Santiago, the Filipino Roger Corman. While he made a quite a few films that were distributed by Roger’s New World, Cirio had other that went to other independent distributors. Death Force is an epic for Cirio as it is nearly two hours long. Leon Isaac Kennedy and his two army buddies scheme to steal a fortune in gold from the Philippines. The robbery goes off without a hitch until the duo turn on Kennedy. He ends up stuck on a remote island with two Japanese soldiers. They help him recover and train him in the art of the samurai. Kennedy has to return to Los Angeles to hook up with his woman (Battlestar Galactica’s Jayne Kennedy) and gets piece of revenge on his two army buddies. Keep your eyes open wide to spot Vic Diaz. He ought to get a lifetime Oscar for all his work in these movies. Vic’s even in Vampire Hookers. The big star is John Carradine (House of Dracula). He’s an undead pimp whose ladies go out at night to seduce U.S. sailors for a coffin party. He loves to quote literature before baring his fangs. Vic is a pansexual blood sucker. Carradine appears to be enjoying himself around his young female vampires. The sets appear to have been stolen from a junior high school’s production of Dracula. It’s a bit of a hoot with more Manila based vampire action. You can’t resist a film with a theme song that declares, “They’re vampire hookers/Blood isn’t all they suck.” This time Vic Diaz is on the other side of the neck. There’s a red band trailer for Vampire Hookers.
THE DVD SHELF
Elementary: The First Season reimagines Sherlock Holmes as a recovering drug addict living in America. Jonny Lee Miller is perfectly cast as Holmes since he’s a guy who looks pretty smart, but at the same time has the stare that lets you know he liked to party hard. The guy was Angelina Jolie’s first wife when she wasn’t playing the noble cause cards. The producers wisely landed Lucy Liu as the sensible Dr. Watson role. She’s one of the few actresses who have the power to say, “I’m not putting up with your crap” with the smallest of gestures. The 24 episodes of the first season have her arriving at Holmes’ apartment as a hired sober living companion. She’s not prepared for him or his messy life. But amongst the clutter, is a mind that can put together clues and solve crimes. His occupation is consultant with the police on seriously twisted cases. Besides the obvious bad guys, Holmes must battle with his own desires and demons. It’s easy to see him wanting to get messed up so that his brain can shutdown for a little break. He has an ex-lover driving him nuts. Towards the end of the season he finally gets a major rival with the arrival of Moriarty. This was one of the new shows from last season that was avid viewing because of the give and go between Miller and Liu. The bonus features include a feature about updating the character and a tour of the sets from Liu. They even toss in the webisodes.
The Haunting of Helena will make your children fear losing a single tooth. A single mother and her young daughter move into a new house. Things seem great until the daughter loses her first baby tooth. Instead being happy at getting a quarter under her pillow, she talks about a mysterious visitor who doesn’t completely sound like the tooth fairy. It’s not a cute little character with wings, glitter and a wand. There’s a gruesome element to the visits. Helena is an effective Italian spooker. It’s tempting to show this movie to the kid when she whines that somehow the tooth fairy didn’t leave enough for her old molars.
Hallmark Channel Movie Double Feature: Meddling Mom & The Sweeter Side of Life contains two tales of the troubles of relationships when others get involved. Meddling Mom lets Sonia Braga (Kiss of the Spider Woman) help her daughter get married. Except the daughter doesn’t need that much help. The career minded daughter finally finds a guy who might be the one. But mom is in no mood to wait for true love to take its course. She wants a wedding soon. The Sweeter Side of Life reminds us of the painful taste of a nasty prenup. Kathryn Morris (Cold Case) finds her husband not merely dumping her, but destroying her financially thanks to that marriage contract. Things get so bad that she has to move to New Jersey. But she refuses to be defeated. Can her baking skills keep her from becoming a background extra on The Real Housewives of New Jersey? The real joy of the film comes in seeing James Best (Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard) in a big role. How come he doesn’t get a lifetime achievement award from SAG?
Grey’s Anatomy: Complete Ninth Season picks up with the cliffhanger that had a majority of the staff stuck inside a plane that was plummeting towards the ground. Instead of making this a minor event, the entire season is focused to the recovery of the doctors and the non-recovery of one of them. No need for me to spoil which character doesn’t make it through the first few episodes. One of the doctors does lose a limb. Another finds their marriage in jeopardy since it turns out their spouse signed off on going with the cheaper private plane charter company that had safety issues. One doctor needs an experimental surgery to restore his operating hands. Will anyone donate a major nerve? The whole hospital is in jeopardy of a massive lawsuit from the injured doctors. Grey’s gains a bit of narrative momentum with the focus on the wreck instead of merely who is having whose baby. There is still baby talk for longtime fans. The bonus features include bloopers and deleted scenes. The best is a feature on Jim Pickens, Jr. living the cowboy life. He’s got his own ranch and horses.
Ultra Q: The Complete Series is another moment of feeling like my childhood wasn’t as complete as it could have been. This series was the precursor to the legendary Ultraman. This almost the precursor to X-Files and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. A reporter, a pilot, his girlfriend, a scientist and a kid go zipping around Japan checking out monster incidents. They encounter massive giant monsters courtesy of Toho’s Godzilla collection. Why wasn’t this on TV in rotation with Ultraman and Space Giants? According to the sources, it was packaged for sale with Ultraman, but the US distributor just wanted to go Ultraman because Ultra Q was in black and white. This was in the late ’60s and it makes no sense. We were still enjoying Addam’s Family and The Munsters in black and white. Why wouldn’t we enjoy a repurposed Godzilla outfit that wasn’t in color? We were still monster mad kids in the summer of 1975. The show is rather good for being a TV version of a Toho production. If you like Godzilla and Gamera, you must embrace the glory of Ultra Q.
Lala-Oopsies: A Sew Magical Tale: The Movie is a story within the Lalaoopsy universe. This is a fantastical place beyond the already magical place. The film has a toy chest whimsy to the story about fairies and mermaids in a world that’s been stitched together. But this is not a simplicity life for the happy characters. There’s a massive crisis when the strawberry milk stops flowing. Like the spice in Dune, strawberry milk is the magic key to this world. The milk must flow! So the characters have to unclog the stream in a massive adventure. While this is called a movie, the running time is only 44 minutes long. This short running time should be a relief to parents wondering when they can get back to the football game. The bonus feature are two Lalaloopsy min adventures: “Too Close for Comfort” and “A Ruff Rescue.”
Delete is a movie and not an order to clear your hard drive. The Reelz channel mini-series envisions a future where an artificial intelligence creature takes control of the internet. It craves to shutdown humanity as it takes over defense systems. Has mankind become so reliant on computers that the world will be flung into anarchy and apocalypse? What is the solution? The big brains get together and come up with an attack plan that’s like fighting fire with fire. Although there’s a chance the entire thing will backfire and we’ll be slaves to our cyber overlords. There are a few stars in the production including Seth Green (Robot Chicken), Gill Bellows (Ally McBeal) and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom). This is a bit more cerebral than Ghost Shark on the SyFy channel. Delete on the DVD is the extended version so there’s a bit more crisis moments. The bonus features include interviews with the cast and crew.
Leave a Reply