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Aisle Seat 2-20: Monsters, Darkman, 4K & Catalog Wrap
Posted By: Andy Dursin 2/19/2024 - 10:00 PM
No series in horror cinema has endured as long as the Universal Monster classics of the 1930s and ’40s – a time marked by the Great Depression, the rise of Hitler’s Germany and America’s eventual involvement in WWII. At the outset, the Universal films were hugely successful with audiences seeking an escape, but by the time the U.S. became embroiled in the conflict, the popularity of the studio’s trademark monsters became less inviting to viewers, who turned their attention to war-time enemies as the cinematic nemesis of choice. Before that happened, however, Universal established a litany of Monster Classics that would inspire long-running franchises and become favorites of viewers for generations to come.
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Aisle Seat 2-13: Kino Lorber Mid-Winter Rundown
Posted By: Andy Dursin 2/12/2024 - 10:00 PM
Back when THE OUTSIDE MAN (112 mins., 1972, PG; Kino Lorber) was released, its straightforward study of a French assassin (Jean-Louis Trntignant) who comes to Los Angeles to execute a hit for a mob boss’ son and his wife (Angie Dickinson) was as much interested in serving as a depiction of time and place as it was a crime thriller. An American-shot, French-made picture, director Jacques Deray’s film – long forgotten but thankfully restored here in a Gaumont 4K scan – is packed with scenes of a Los Angeles marked by roller derbies, public “TV viewing chairs” where quarters could be used either there or for a quick shave (via an “auto sterilized” public razor) in a nearby rest room, and murders could be carried out while turning up the sound on an episode of “Zoom!” airing on afterschool TV. Not only will this world seem as foreign to any contemporary viewer but add in a fascinating cast and you have a must-view that marks Kino Lorber’s most exciting release of the new year to date.
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Aisle Seat 2-6: Cinematographe, JENNIFER 8, Early Feb Rundown
Posted By: Andy Dursin 2/5/2024 - 10:00 PM
Vinegar Syndrome has launched a new imprint, Cinematographe, whose first two releases impressively restore a pair of cult favorites – one of which has long been absent from home video. In fact, the last time LITTLE DARLINGS (94 mins., 1980, R) appeared on a legitimate format came via a Paramount VHS release with “some music” having been altered on the soundtrack. Those pricey song licenses, alas, were the reason this box-office hit from 1980 never made it to DVD or Blu-Ray, making this inaugural Cinematographe release a sensational restoration that preserves on both 4K UHD and Blu-Ray a highly entertaining coming-of-age picture with a sensational premise that’s sensitively handled.
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Aisle Seat 1-30: A Smashing CONAN 4K Double Bill
Posted By: Andy Dursin 1/29/2024 - 10:00 PM
There’s nothing like receiving some eagerly-anticipated new releases during the depth of winter, titles to warm one’s movie-going soul, which Arrow has fulfilled this week with their big 4K UHD restorations of CONAN THE BARBARIAN and its 1984 sequel CONAN THE DESTROYER. Both films have been meticulously restored from their respective original negatives, in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR, contain all the soundtrack options (and isolated scores) you’d hope and are stacked to the gills with supplements, offering fans a spectacular new way to enjoy both John Milius’ 1982 classic and Richard Fleischer’s 1984 Saturday Matinee-styled, PG-rated follow-up.
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Aisle Seat 1-23: Mid-January Catalog Wrap
Posted By: Andy Dursin 1/21/2024 - 10:00 PM
A bona-fide ‘70s relic has been resurrected by Factory 25 for its premiere Blu-Ray release this month: the 1978 “youth picture” SKATEBOARD (98 mins., PG), an independently produced film from director George Gage that Universal picked up in the wake of “The Bad News Bears.”
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Aisle Seat 1-16: Explaining THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Posted By: Andy Dursin 1/15/2024 - 10:00 PM
I have vague memories of watching the “Star Wars Holiday Special” back in 1978 – I was 4 but could always recall the scene when Lumpy, the little Wookie member of the Chewbacca clan, saw his stuffed animal torn apart by vile Empire scum. That moment stuck in my head for years, along with dusty memories of things looking less like the lived-in world of George Lucas’ movie and more like a CBS variety show. While the show was never broadcast again – living in infamy as an unforgettable moment in TV history – the new documentary A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE (91 mins., 2023; Giant) offers a highly entertaining look back at a moment in pop culture that would never be repeated, boasting both insight for fans as well as a wider appeal to casual viewers.
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Aisle Seat 1-2: New Years Edition!
Posted By: Andy Dursin 1/1/2024 - 10:00 PM
It’s been a great year for movie buffs with one big 4K UHD title coming after another as we close out 2023. This final Aisle Seat of the year is capped with one of the finest packages of them all: Arrow’s highly-anticipated, outstanding edition of Walter Hill’s THE WARRIORS (94 mins., 1979, R), a 4K UHD restoration that offers not just his controversial 2005 Director’s Cut – now notably called an “Alternate Cut” – but also its vastly superior 1979 theatrical version, each with Dolby Vision HDR and immersive Dolby Atmos audio.
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12-26: Kino Lorber, Warner Archive Holiday Edition!
Posted By: Andy Dursin 12/25/2023 - 10:00 PM
It’s been over a quarter-century since the sci-fi tinged ‘90s thriller FACE/OFF (140 mins., 1997, R; Kino Lorber) was released, and over that time, action movies have been reduced to cinematic rubble for the most part. This slick box-office hit, then, resembles something of a swan song for the 80s/90s era genre exercise, one which progressed (more like regressed) from Arnie and Sly to the hyper-stylized works of Michael Bay. “Face/Off,” to its credit, remains a superior picture of its vintage, offering a number of delicious ingredients: take an intriguing premise, two big stars in Nicolas Cage and John Travolta giving go-for-broke performances and director John Woo at the peak of his American period – then combine them with a fairly ingenious screenplay that’s as clever with its character-interplay as it is with well-staged set-pieces.
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Aisle Seat 12-19: Holiday Gift Guide Part 2
Posted By: Andy Dursin 12/18/2023 - 10:00 PM
Following up Part 1 of our annual Holiday Video Gift Guide, we turn our attention to a number of box-sets and TV on Disc releases newly available to viewers. These include the 4th volume in Shout Factory’s exemplary martial arts retrospectives, the SHAW BROTHERS CLASSICS. Leaping, kicking and fencing their way into the 1980s, this latest 12-disc Blu-Ray box preserves a dozen genre favorites in vivid high-def transfers, many with the option of English dubs alongside their original Mandarin soundtracks.
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Aisle Seat 12-14: Indie Wrap, OCN Release Blast
Posted By: Andy Dursin 12/13/2023 - 10:00 PM
Film Masters’ latest Blu-Ray is a double-disc package sporting two Roger Corman-produced efforts from the early ‘60s – features that comprised countless public domain releases on other formats over the years. The headliner is THE TERROR (80 mins., 1963), which found Corman at his “thriftiest,” utilizing sets from his AIP hit “The Raven” for a quickie shot in a couple of days. Jack Nicholson plays a French soldier who comes across a strange aristocrat (Boris Karloff) as well as a ghostly young woman (Sandra Knight) in a movie that’s sometimes confused as being part of Corman’s classic cycle of Edgar Allan Poe movies, but still offers low-budget thrills with more style than you might anticipate.
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Today in Film Score History:
February 21
Basil Poledouris begins recording his score for Flesh + Blood (1985)
John Williams begins recording his score for Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Laurence Rosenthal begins recording his score for Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978)
Miklos Rozsa begins recording his score for The Story of Three Loves (1952)
Morton Gould died (1996)
Ron Grainer died (1981)
Rupert Gregson-Williams born (1967)
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