What I Bought During the Summer 2020 Barnes & Noble Criterion Blu-ray/DVD Sale! Part 3 – The Wrap up!

 

 

Okay so this is the wrap up to my Banes &Noble July 2020 50% off Criterion sale. The sale goes until 2 August so you have a lot of time to pick up the foillowing recommendations ( Supplies allowing).

I’ve had a chance to watch most of these, and with the exception of the Malick films, I am impressed with all of them. And even though I am not a fan of the Malick films, and will arguably sell them down the road, you are getting your money’s worth just in terms of special features.

I find Malick’s films, too filled of artifice for me, not a complaint I typically have, as I generally like filmmakers who are stylized.  Unfortunately with Malick, it often feels like style at the expense of substance. So as a viewing experience, I find the films of Malick I have seen, while always beautiful, also always plodding and indulgent. But man… that box art!! Particularly on THE NEW WORLD, is a work of art. It brings me enjoyment just looking at it on my shelf.

So without further ado… the purchases:

Lone Wolf and Cub

Matewan

Currently Watching : Eureka MASTERS OF CINEMA Blu-Ray OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) by James Whale

Guys if you buy only a few Blu-rays in 2020, Eureka’s slip-covered release of OLD DARK HOUSE should be one of them. The new art that adorns the slip cover is frame worthy, and the release itself is well mastered and over flowing with features. Sporting three interesting featurettes  as well as three film commentaries, and a booklet; the release is a worthy addition to any film fan’s collection.

Now it’s not all laudable, as I find the earliest commentary, between Kim Newman and Stephen Jones, for an earlier DVD release, to be while informative, oddly dismissive of certain things. Most notable Karloff’s performance, which I, and obviously by his billing, the studio recognized was the crux of the film. It is the menace of Karloff’s character of Morgan, that drives much of the film. Karloff is either wordlessly commanding the camera, or if off screen — is the concern the other characters are discussing.

So for the Newman and Jones commentary to dismiss Karloff’s performance, just strikes me as they have missed some crucial points regarding the film.

The second commentary is a welcome one by star Gloria Stewart (most famous these days by being in James Cameron’s TITANIC). She offers welcome insights, but just be aware that this is less an overview on the film, and much more just Gloria Stewart discussing her life as an actress, particularly as the film goes on. So if looking for a commentary that is discussing the film, this is not that. But it is great to hear her recount her insights and anecdotes. So not a great commentary per se, but it is a great and welcome interview, talk, from one of the few remaining people who was there, and knew these people. In that way it is an invaluable recording.

I have not yet listened to the third commentary, but plan to do so soon. So for all the reasons above, for the wealth of content included, I count it as a must own for any fan of classic cinema.

Get your copy here!

The Three Greatest Werewolf Films of All Time!

The Three Greatest Werewolf Films of All Time all came out the same year, 1981. Talk about the zeitgeist in action.

The films are:

 

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THE HOWLING (1981) – Don’t hold the awful sequels against this original, the original is justifiably lauded for a reason.  Like AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, this was a movie made by kids, who believed there were still worlds to conquer. A talented young Joe Dante as director, a brilliant young John Sayles as Screenwriter, a gifted 19 year old Rob Boteen, coming off of assisting Rick Baker, creating one of the greatest special effect, transformation sequences in the history of film… and in front the camera a legendary cast of character and veteran actors, led by Dee Wallace’s brilliant performance; all come together to create one of the most beloved and brilliant films of its kind, or any kind.

 

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AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) – No one remembers or continually goes back to the ‘serious’ A-films of 1981, but this little thought of and hard fought and continually enjoyable B-picture, by a young maverick director John Landis and young makeup/special effects artist Rick Baker, remains now almost 40years later, the stuff that careers and legends are made of. An academy award for its makeup effects, it is forever the standard by which all such films are judged.

 

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WOLFEN (1981) – Is the oft overlooked 3rd film , that makes up the holy trinity of great werewolf films released in 1981. it lacks the transformation and special effects that immortalize THE HOWLING and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and perhaps that accounts for its under the radar status.

Also it is not a showy, flashy horror film, it is something a lot darker and more dire. WOLFEN is a slow, brooding, unnerving, and genuinely frightening study and indictment, not so much of monsters… as of men. It is a brilliant film, the first and only dramatic feature film by director Michael Wadleigh, whose only other credits included documentaries. With a director that was nearly 40, this was (unlike HOWLING and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON) not a film done by talented, optimistic kids; instead there is a more mature, pensive, jaundiced eye at work here.

While a disappointment in the box office, largely because it was a more thoughtful film than the advertising promised, this film is a masterpiece. It ended Wadleigh’s career before it had a chance to grow, and that is a shame. This first film leaves us to only wonder, what subsequent dramatic films from him, could have been.

WOLFEN has so many strengths. Albert Finney delivers one of his great performances, buoyed by other talented actors… Gregory Hines, Edward Olmos, the script is captivating, the James Horner score haunting, and it is a truly frightening film, in ways that has nothing to do with what you see. Of the three great Werewolf films, it is the one that I think has the most to say. It is just a phenomenal, unjustly forgotten film. And if you do pick up the film via Bluray or streaming, I also STRONGLY urge you to pick up the Whitley Strieber audio-book performed by the late, great Roddy McDowall. That is equally a masterpiece.

 

Well hope you found that little look at the three greatest Werewolf films, enjoyable and informative. If you did, please subscribe, and patronize the links below. Your purchases help earn a few needed pennies for this blog, to keep the proverbial doors open. Much appreciated!

 

Till next time… be well!

WOLFEN Blu-Ray

I hope one of the Blu-Ray labels finally releases a worthy, feature filled director’s commentary. This movie deserves it.

WOLFEN Audio Book performed by Roddy McDowell

AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON

THE HOWLING

and

Stuck at home Item of the Day!

The Best of Boutique Blu-ray Labels in the age of Streaming! Oct 2019 to February 2020 ARROW Collection Update! Part 2 of 2!

Despite claims of the death of physical media, Blu-ray Boutique labels, HERE IN 2020, are putting out some of the best physical content… EVER!

Here then are MUST OWN Blu-rays in the age of streaming and digital, acquired between October 2019 and February 2020!

 

PT 2 of 2 of my Arrow Video Pickups for that period:

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THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN – Just in terms of art, this is not one of the better Arrow releases. The art, both versions of the reversible cover, are pretty awful.  Unworthy of such a great film. However because it is a great film, and the Arrow release is the only legitimate Bluray option out there, I can definitely overlook the art, in order to own this essential sci-fi tinged horror film. But I do hope we in the futuure get a superior version.

J.D’S REVENGE – I saw this film recently courtesy of Amazon Prime, my first time seeing this 40+ year old film… and I loved it. What a gem! Surprisingly gripping and exciting and Volatile. And this is one that ARROW VIDEO does a Fantastic job with the art, And i look forward to checking out the special features.

 

Get your copies at the following links:

INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN

JD’S REVENGE

 

ONE FINAL WORD, AS i wrap up this quick update on arrow video titles acquired recently.

One OF THE STANDOUT FEATURES OF ARROW IN ADDITION TO THE SPECIAL FEATURES THEY INCLUDE ON THEIR RELEASES AND THE METICULOUS WORK THEY TYPICALLY DO COMMISSIONING NEW ARTWORK, is their booklets that come with their releases. however, that is also one of the main frustrations of collecting arrow releases.

arrow does this policy, where they only release the book or booklet with the ‘first pressing’ of their movies. basically when their initial batch of blu-rays of a title sell out, when they release subsequent pressings, those subsequent batches will not come with the book or booklet.

NOW I DO UNDERSTAND THE BENEFITS OF DOING THIS FROM ARROW’S PERSPECTIVE, COST BEING A VERY MINOR ONE. BUT I THINK THE REAL REASON THEY DO IT, IS IT CREATES THIS AURA OF collectibility AND DEMAND AND URGENCY. it feeds into the ‘limited edition’ collectibles market, which is a valid part of their customer base.

here is the issue with that, that is only part of your customer base.

as a buyer and fan of arrow video releases, you do not know when you place your order, via a retailer, whether the new product you are getting will come with or without the booklet. and for most fans of arrow (or any boutique label, such as criterion), the booklet is part of why you collect physical media, as opposed to just streaming the movie, or getting the film from a different label. even today, four years after its initial release, i can order black narcissus (one of the most stunning films ever made) from criterion, and be assured of getting the beautiful booklet with it. that assurance of quality whenever you pick up a criterion product, well that says everything about why they remain synonymous with quality and confidence.

so while the limited nature of arrow’s books and booklet, ensures you create a quick sell out of your initial run, it hampers sales of subsequent runs. And gives the buyer pause before buying that release, and has them turn from you and your retailers to the secondary market for a used item, but one that guarantees they get the book or booklet.

this policy is actually training potential customers to be wary of getting the item new from arrow or its retailers, and to rather patronize the secondary market.

now i am a supporter of the secondary market typically, but in this case i think arrow may actually be losing sales on older titles this way. training your customer base to seek out used product as opposed to your in-stock product, courting the exclusivity fervor, is a tricky tight rope to walk, especially when it may be actually sacrificing some sales from a potentially larger customer base, to support this model.

at the very least if arrow, wants to not provide the book/booklet in all releases, and continue to court to some extent the limited edition part of their customer base, what they can still do is offer the books and booklets as an add on to customers. give customers the option to buy the book or booklet at a nominal fee, to include s&h. worldwide shipping of a booklet, even today is only few pounds. And to differentiate it from the first pressing, just simply mark it aS ‘2nd printing’.

this way your limited edition audience, still keep their ‘limited edition status- they have first prints’. and at the same time you generate revenue from people who missed out on the books or booklets. it strengthens peoples trust in arrow, since what you get is not totally left up to chance or the secondary market.

anyhow that is my two cents on the one issue, as someone only several months into arrow video patronage, that i see as room for improvement, with the otherwise excellent arrow label.