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1st wk of Sept 2014's PICKS & PEEKS with Universal Monsters, FIRESTARTER, Eco-Terrorism, swords & fantasy!

Hey folks, Harry here with the 1st Picks & Peeks of September 2014! Next week is a flood of releases, I'm already knee deep into watching them all and I'm smiling a lot. The big value is the 30 Film Universal Studios Monster release - I just wish there was a Blu option on that one. But it is the cheapest most complete release set ever for those titles - and that by itself is mighty impressive. As usual, the images and links will take you to AMAZON, where you can learn more on the given titles and if you choose, you can purchase the title through the link which helps to keep this column going, well into its 10th year. You can check out every title reviewed in the 10+ year history at PicksAndPeeks.Com which is filled with extra features that make it a must for all fans of this column! It gets updated as soon as this story hits online!

September 2nd, 2014


I’m quite fond of Stephen King’s X-MEN movie… at least that’s how I always looked at this one. Little Drew Barrymore is adorable in the film… I fucking love David Keith in this. I always saw this as also being a prequel to SCANNERS… cuz it kind of feels that way too. When Drew’s hair blowing all over the place, you know it gonna get good! Now for the bummer… There’s no extras – and the transfer is too clean… as in digital scrubbing… it’s watchable, but doesn’t look as it should. I wish I had better word on this release, but it seems to be a dumped title. Without any real love or attention. Shame. I know FIRESTARTER has a very strong base of fans! Oh and before I go… don’t you love George C Scott in this?


I kinda like CASPER, except that I hate “Real” Casper. The Real Boy version. Fuck that! Now, my wife fell in love with real boy Casper, so again, I have reasons to hate that unholy abomination. For me… the movie is at its best with Casper and his crazy ghostly uncles, Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso! Bill Pullman as Christina Ricci’s Dad is fun – and I love Ricci and Casper’s chemistry – but I kinda hate the scheming Cathy Moriarty… The film looks sharp on Blu, and comes with behind the scenes making of, a classic cartoon, some deleted scenes and a director’s commentary by Brian Silberling. Overall, a nice Blu Ray for a fun kid’s flick! I still think the movie doesn’t quite live up to the potential that Casper has.


I’m curious who this film is for. This is a completely mythical film called DRAFT DAY – it isn’t about any specific Draft day in history, it’s just a made up day – with made up players, that you have no attachment to. I mean, real DRAFT DAY – you’ve got the emotion of having followed the various College Athletes as they get sold off to the Pro-teams of their dreams… but here… you don’t get any of the player’s backstory… it’s more about the owner and team manager played by Kevin Costner, who’s father and former head coach of the Cleveland Browns has just died… and now is the time for him to man up and take a hold of his team and make his mark on the history of the Cleveland Browns… Denis Leary is the Head Coach, who is constantly flabbergasted at Costner’s dictatorial control he’s flexing over the team – and just be secure in knowing this Draft Day is going to be an epic win for Cleveland… but as the credits roll… who fucking cares. This is a story about nothing really. We don’t get to see if the decisions made will amount to anything for the team, or if they are just twiddling their thumbs. Cuz this is a story about Draft Day, woo hoo.


Wes Craven’s THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS is not a modern horror film… it is its own thing. The film is difficult to describe, because it is a very strange film. This flick scared me and made me think of the world within the walls and under the stairs in my home. The nightmare of what is found under the stairs and in the walls… well, it’s nightmare stuff. I mean, this is the sort of horror that when it appears in the newspapers… we just react with disbelief… but it happens. I also love the boy that’s on this horror adventure. He’s a good kid. Sadly, there’s no real extras on this disc. The print is solid though, so at least there’s that. I’ve always liked this one!

DRACULA (1979) Blu Ray

After John Badham directed the cultural nuclear bomb that was SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, he could have directed anything… He wound up directing W. D. Richter’s DRACULA script… which starred Frank Langella, who was coming off of playing Zorro for Television, as Dracula – and cast Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing! We also got Donald Pleasence as Dr. Seward, Kate Nelligan as Lucy and Jan Francis as Mina. Now – there’s something off about the film… I usually chock it up to the funky hair-do that they gave Frank Langella, which just bugs the hell out of me. But I love John Williams’ score and Albert Whitlock’s beautiful matte paintings. The scene of Langella on the wall… so creepy! I also like that Sylvester McCoy appears! But there is something offish about the film. I like Richter’s telling of the story, but there’s just some elements that Badham just couldn’t quite capture. Langella is a fascinating choice as the prince of darkness… but not with that hair. There’s a making of and a Director’s Commentary by John Badham. Nicely produced Blu! Wish there was a dedicated score track. But this’ll do.


Hot Water Burn Baby! I didn’t get sent an advance of this, which is supposed to be a Remastered Blu Ray. But it is my understanding that we’re getting all the same extras as before – and given the previous release had all those same extras – and that nobody had a gripe with the Blu Ray… I’m not sure what they’ve Remastered. The print was gorgeous before. I see no reason to double dip on this title at this time.


Feature film animated version of a PS3 Video Game of the same name. It’s like a video game made up of cut scenes – and it’s alright. Thomas Jane and Alfred Molina provide some voices – but it feels slammed together. Not really an organic bit of storytelling. However, visually… it’s kinda cool. At some point we’re going to get something epic out of this medium… just not yet. This is a nice step though. The Blu has a 15min making of. Which isn’t too illuminating. Check it out if you dig the game.


This is a story of Environmental Terrorism in the Pacific Northwest. Jesse Eisenberg is a self-radicalized leader of a cell of Eco-terrorists attempting to blow up a dam. This is to be the first action of many, to attempt to change the way of things. His young partner is played by Dakota Fanning, who has a very dire view o the future, and an ex-marine/criminal played by Peter Sarsgard. They hit a snag when they require 500lbs of Fertilizer to guarantee the explosions power to crack the dam in two… and then there’s having the nerves to see the mission through to its explosive ends. The tension once the mission is underway is brutal. Imagine trying to do something like this. The billion things that could go wrong. Then even if you are successful… there’s how in the hell you’re gonna get away with it. The film explores all of this in a pseudo-Noirish manner. Dakota is the first to begin cracking – and it’s crazy to watch this play out. I really dug this low-budget quality suspense tale. I also love how they handle… the dam. Really great. The Blu comes with no extras besides the trailer. But I really would have liked interviews with the leads. This is a great little flick.

14 BLADES Blu Ray

Wire-Fu epic wannabe, 14 BLADES features Donnie Yen, which is reason enough to pick the Blu up. I’m a believer that every film featuring Donnie Yen is at least worth a view. I love the fantasy of wire-fu, even if my favorite Donnie Yen work is from the more grounded IP MAN series… and in the realm of wire-fu, this is many levels beneath the vastly superior IRON MONKEY. There’s cool ancient gadgetry, which is always wacky fun… but ultimately the story is a let down and you wish that everyone involved were given better material and more days to work out the choreography. Still… it is a pleasant enough diversion to check out. Just won’t rate highly on your lists afterwards. Disc brings no extras.


You get the entire Universal Monster Collection… All 30 original horror flicks for around $3 each with this package deal. Specifically – you’re getting DVDs of DRACULA (1931), FRANKENSTEIN (1931), THE MUMMY (1932), THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933), THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935), DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936), SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939), THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS (1940), THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (1940), THE MUMMY’S HAND (1940), THE WOLF MAN (1941), THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942), THE MUMMY’S GHOST (1942), THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1942), INVISIBLE AGENT (1942), PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943), FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943), SON OF DRACULA (1943), HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944), THE MUMMY’S CURSE (1944), THE INVISIBLE MAN’S REVENGE (1944), HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945), SHE-WOLF OF LONDON (1946), ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951), CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY (1955), REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955), THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (1956). This is an amazing collection… but it is just the DVD resolution and not the Blu Rays. Thus far, we’ve only been given the opportunity to have 9 of these titles on Blu Ray – and I hope like hell there’s a grandiose super Universal Blu Extravaganza coming one day… but if you’re a horror fan and you’ve been wanting a way to pick up all the classics at a deal, this is that deal. There’s not a bad movie in that lot. There’s some that get a tad kitschy, but that’s its own kind of fun. They were doing the expanded universe thing long before Marvel and Star Wars were getting into the game. The collection comes with a whole host of extras and docs and the Spanish Language DRACULA too. If you have children, raise them on these. They’ll be better kids. I promise.


This is a full on spoof of the Romantic Comedy genre and it is fucking fantastic! It starts off as pretty much a straight up send up of YOU’VE GOT MAIL, but then rolls through a whole series of Rom-Com’s with a wicked knowing sense of humor. Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler are perfect for this. Rudd seems to be having an absolute blast sending up a genre that he has so often been a part of – and Amy Poehler is relishing being Meg Ryan in this. It is actually hysterical. The reviews on this seemed to completely miss the point… it’s supposed to be insanely absurd. That’s the point. Don’t read the IMDB page for this, just let the cameos happen, they’re kind of brilliant. Also – the extras are kind of interesting. There’s a San Francisco SketchFest Table Read of the script that takes about 1:43 minutes and it’s rough video – but it is all kinds of fun on its own. Then there’s a 24 minute making of – and Director David Wain and his co-writer Michael Showalter contribute a commentary to the proceedings. Some of you could get really hung up on this very fun flick!


Let’s make no bones about it. THE WATCHER is a pretty funky flick. Keanu Reeves plays the smartest serial killer ever and James Spader plays the ex-cop that can’t catch him. And Marisa Tomei’s life is in the balance. And Ernie Hudson gets involved… and… well, it’s all pretty awful. It looks alright on Blu, but you should only like pay 50 cents for a film this bad. Or have it gifted to you by someone that thinks you need a black eye movie. You know – a film that’s so bad that it gives you a Black Eye of shame for watching it? That’s what the WATCHER is. It’s lazy, dumb, laughable and bad. Keanu wasn’t even bad enough to WIN the Razzie, it was just another failed nomination. Beware!

That’s it for this week. There’s also a host of Universal rerelease blu rays hitting, but if you have the set, that’s still the most economical way to pick the titles up and there’s no new features on any of them. And the box art is all kind of lame too. Next week, we’ll be back talking about the CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER 3D BLU, THE AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Blu, THE ADDAMS FAMILY Blu, PUMPKINHEAD Blu, STAR TREK: THE COMPENDIUM Blu, PROM NIGHT Blu, LEMONY SNICKET Blu, GODZILLA 2000 Blu, MOTHRA I, II, III Blu, THE GREAT RACE Blu, GRADUATION DAY Blu, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN Blu, GONE WITH THE WIND Blu, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM Blu, BRICK MANSIONS Blu, ACROSS 110th STREET Blu, THE KILLER ELITE Blu, JUGGERNAUT Blu, SALVADOR Blu, LA BAMBA Blu, DOGS OF WAR Blu, SEIZURE! Blu, COTTON COMES TO HARLEM Blu, THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG Blu, WILLOW CREEK Blu, THE SLAVE Blu, WORDS AND PICTURES Blu, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE Blu, TEEN WOLF Blu, THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES Blu, THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD Blu and more!

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