^^^ You'll be happy to know that "Child's Play 2/3" sustain the quality of understatement of the original flick (seek them out ASAP). They're not as good as the first but it's not until the fourth and fifth movies ("Bride of Chucky" and "Seed of Chucky") that the movie goes over the top with gore and insane plots. But even taking these two into account (they're not bad, just traded the subtlety of the first three movies with a "Scream"-type degree of self awareness) I still consider the entire "Chucky" saga an above-average horror franchise. I credit Don Mancini, who has written every installment in the series (and directed/produced many of them), with the consistency with which Chucky has remained a sick SOB. If you like the first three "Child's Play" movies don't hesitate to give "Bride/Seed" a look, since they're all in the (Mancini) family.Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1938) on Blu-ray
for the first time. Prior to seeing it in high-def I had only seen "Snow White" through scenes shown in other movies (particularly "Gremlins"). Didn't like the movie much but mainly because I can't stand musicals (particularly in animated flicks) and most of the singing in "Snow White" is as annoying and shrill as the lead character's high-pitched voice. The plot moves slow as hell (understandable given it was the first feature-length cartoon) plus Snow White and her Prince couldn't have been bigger cyphers. But man, I can't deny the thrill I felt watching Snow White running through that 'scary' forest, some of those sidekick animal hijinks and the classic 'Hi Hoooo' Dwarves marching scenes in their entirety for the first time in high-def... pure movie magic.
I dug Grumpy (coolest character in the flick by far), Doc was an idiot leader (straight out of the "Transformers" school that led to Optimus Prime being the Autobot's leader) and the Queen was a wicked cool gal (I'd do her
). Along with the Witch in "Sleeping Beauty" Disney sure had the market cornered in attractive older women in black with giant chips on their shoulders. Audio/video were OK for Blu-ray but there's clearly not much that can be done to improve a movie as old as this one. If anything the clarity with which the brush strokes and other imperfections stand out now even more than before make this HD presentation a strike against introducing new generations to the old-school charms of "Snow White." Oh well, for ten bucks from amazon I can't complain. Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966) on TCM-HD
for the first time. I'm going to have to see this one again because, on first viewing, "Blow-Up" has left me more puzzled than entertained even though I really didn't hate it. Having already seen "The Passenger" (but not "L'avventura") I know that the key to 'getting' an Antonioni movie is to enjoy the mood the visuals create, disregard A-to-B storyline concerns and try to appreciate whatever the characters are experiencing internally (and not expressing verbally). By setting this particular story/mystery in the artificial world of fashion photography (did Thomas really photograph what he thought he did?) Antonioni heightens the surrealism of the situations Hemmings find himself in. His character is clearly somebody that operates on impulse and the moment (loved Thomas' quest for, then disregard for, a guitar destroyed by The Yardbirds' Jeff Beck) which contributes to the somewhat elliptical nature of the narrative. Impulse, vouyerism and the reality/unreality of what the camera sees or not. That plus a truckload of Fellini-inspired mimes gives "Blow-Up" plenty to chew on even if 95% of those that see it for the first time (like me) have every right to ask 'WTF did I just watch?' Lucio Fulci's The New York Ripper (1982) on Blu-ray
for the first time. Other than a stunningly-clear high-def transfer and the usual degree of mysogyny we've come to expect from gruesome deaths in Fulci flicks (i.e. something sharp meets someone's peepers; unpleasentness ensues) "The New York Ripper" threads water as either a thriller, whodunit, police procedural and even the now-cliche serial killer genre. There's not a single sympathetic character worth investing one's emotions in (although Almanta Suska's hotness carries her through the unbelievably contrived finale) and Jack Hedley's Lt. Williams is such a cypher as the cop chasing after the killer he gives Albert Finney's cop in "Wolfen" a run for his blandness. Every actor (including Fulci himself during a cameo) is either trying too hard or not hard enough to come across as New Yorker, which almost (but not completely) buries the timeless depiction of Times Square and the Big Apple as one steamy pile of Biblical hedonism. I'm glad I've seen another Fulci mini-masterpiece of grindhouse cliches, but "The Beyond" this ain't.TerrorVision (1986) on TCM-HD Underground
for the first time. "Night of the Creeps" meets "Videodrome," but it's a Charles Band Production (think Troma without the charming cheese) in which a monster from outer space is trapped inside the satellite dish of the freaky (and very 80's) Putterman family. Hilarity and gross-out moments supposedly ensue but the movie is too low-budget and the acting too OTT (and just plain bad) to make its ripe-for-yucks premise deliver more than a handful of chuckles and shrugged shoulders from this viewer. Mildly amusing: Giovanni Natalucci's set/art designs (which effectively date the Putterman household as an 80's swingers paradise), Frank Welker (half the voices on the original "Transformers" cartoon) as the voice of the monster and Alejandro Rey (a 60's/70's TV bit player) humiliating himself as a Greek swinger that only goes for guys.
And, last but not least, Black Dynamite (2009) in theaters
for the first time. This is what "Undercover Brother" and "Grindhouse" (minus the 'phony' trailers) wished they could have been but weren't: a tribute to a dismissed period of cinema that feels like it belongs (and comes from) its era. But this isn't a collection of random jokes or stabs at blaxploitation genre cliches without rhyme or reason. There is an actual story (convoluted and non-sensical but it's there, and even allows long scenes that advance the plot to unfold without a single obvious joke), there are real characters (over-the-top but and cliche' but not two-dimensional walking cardboards) and there are action/fighting scenes (enhanced via the same green screen/CG technology used in "Kung-Pow" a few years back) that make this an actual blaxpoitation movie that just happens to be funny because it's being so true and respectful to the genre it represents. Michael Jai White looks and inhabits his lead role like he stepped out of the 1970's; it's the best casting for a movie since Christopher Lee got the Superman/Clark Kent role, and I'm not kidding. Supporting actors really get into their blaxpoitation roles (Arsenio Hall and Tommy Davidson are hilarious in too-brief cameos) but they don't overplay their OTT personalities or overstay their welcome. The way "Black Dynamite" gets around its 'R' rating to sneak in a graphic sex scene is not only genius but ties directly with the movie's best scene in which the 'heroes' crack the code in a cafeteria. And the orphanage scene has to be seen to be believed.
Only the overblown finale that pushes things way past the breaking point (yes, it's that big a misfire) betrays the cinematic illusion that this is a 70's flick that has been rotting in a vault somewhere without release. Forget "Zombieland," this is the real deal.