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Stoker

20th Century Fox / 2012 / 99 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Nicole Kidman may not consistently be the box-office draw or the rave of critics she once was, however you have to give the actress credit for always shaking things in her career and consistently delivering the unexpected. Take last year's thriller, 'Stoker'. If you've never heard of it, don't be surprised. This low budget thriller failed to get a wide release after the studio released it in selected cities hoping to pick up some positive buzz. But mixed reviews combined with little box-office return quickly translated into a video release. That said you can't beat the star power in front of and behind the camera of Park Chan-Wook's dark mystery, co-starring Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode

The story involves the plight of a young girl named India (Wasikowska) whose father dies in an auto accident when an Uncle Charlie (Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother (Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect he's there with ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this lonely young girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him. Uneven and at times a little slow moving, 'Stoker' does seem to be trying to evoke the type of films Hitchcock gravitated towards like 'Vertigo'. While 'Stoker' never achieves anything near that level of mystery, it is still mildly enjoyable considering the talent involved, namely Kidman's presence.

Extras include featurettes; An Exclusive Look: A Filmmakers Journey, Theatrical Behind the Scenes: Mysterious Characters, Designing the Look, Creating the Music, Red Carpet Premiere: Emily Wells' performance of "Becomes the Color", as well as deleted scenes.

Lifeforce

Scream Factory / 1986 / Rated R

Blu ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Tobe Hooper's cult classic 'Lifeforce' based upon Colin Wilson's edgy novel The Space Vampires barely made a ripple at the box-office but did muster a bit of a splash with some critics finally comes out on Blu-ray this week. Starring Steve Railsback, Patrick Stewart, Peter Firth and Frank Finlay, this 1986 sleeper will undoubtedly find a new audience based upon sci-fi diehards and Hooper's dynamite direction.

The story concerns a joint British-American space probe of Hailey's Comet. Inside the comet, the astronauts discover a spaceship that contains the dead bodies of several aliens, along with the naked bodies of three human-like creatures in suspended animation. They bring the aliens aboard the ship for examination when the unthinkable happens. The specimens start to spread contagion among the population of the ship creating a virus to epidemic proportions. Returning to earth, the beautiful space vampire) escapes into London and begins to feed of the bodies of the unwary Londoners, turning the city into a zombie-populated wasteland. Although dated by today's standards in terms of special effects, this fascinating sci-fi adventure is ripe to be remade.

Extras include Audio Commentaries with Hooper, a making-of featurette as well as three others titled Dangerous Beauty, Space Vampires in London, and Carlsen's Curse, the last featuring a final interview with Steven Railsback regarding his famous role.

Movie 43

20th Century Fox / 2013 / 120 Minutes / Rated R

Blu ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

If Farrelly Brother humor (There's Something About Mary/Shallow Hal/Three Stooges) strikes your fancy, you still may want to stay a million miles away from 'Movie 43'. A mishmash of lowbrow humor with an all-star cast including Chloe Grace Moretz, Emma Stone, Gerard Butler, Stephen Merchant, Richard Gere, and Elizabeth Banks, this 20th Century Fox misfire failed to connect with audiences or critics upon its very limited theatrical release. The studio is hoping to cash in on some of the losses on video by featuring as many of its stars to stir some initial curiosity.

Co-directed by a litany of other directors including Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Griffin Dunne, Bob Odenkirk, Peter Farrelly, and James Gunn, this scatological mess never really takes off from the very first frame. A series of interconnected short films follows a washed-up producer as he pitches insane story lines featuring some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Disjointed and painfully unfunny, the film unravels in a way that makes you wonder whether or not the filmmakers were actually trying to make a bad film. With a handful of big-name cameos, you can be rest assured after this debacle no 'Movie 44' is in the works.

Extras include a behind the scenes featurette titled 'Find Our Daughter' for those still curious, as well as the film's original theatrical trailer.

Come out and Play

Cinedigm / 2013 / 95Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Vinessa Shaw, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Gerado Taracena and Daniel Gimenez Cacho star in the tourist horror film, 'Come out and Play'. Directed by Makinov, this creepy but slowly paced thriller has the bones of a decent tale but unfortunately gets too mired with clich├ęs, stilted dialogue and a tired premise. It's obvious the filmmakers were hoping for something more akin to the surge of success with such thrillers as 'Insidious', however this turkey has none of the shock value to warrant even a casual interest among genre fans.

The story centers on the plight of a young couple, Beth and Francis, expecting a child as they head to of all places, Mexico, for a romantic getaway. As they set out their blanket for the sun swept beaches where children fun and frolic the day away, they quickly start to discover things are not as idyllic as they head into town. Wandering through the strangely empty streets, an atmosphere of unease sets in: an abandoned hotel, a distress call that repeatedly echoes from a radio set, the sense of being watched... all while the haunting sounds of children's laughter echoes through the empty streets. Probably better served as either a 'Tales from the Crypt' segment, 'Come out and Play' has a few decent moments of creepiness, however it all quickly starts to fall apart at the seems the deeper the couple delves into the mystery.

Extras are limited to a litany of trailers of other films.

Hell's House

Kino Classics / 1932 / 72 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Kino Classics unearthed a gem from the 1930's with 'Hell's House' starring a very young and up and coming starlet by the name of Bette Davis. Co-starring Pat O'Brien, this potboiler set against the backdrop of bootlegging may stir some interest with armchair film enthusiasts and fans of the pre-Baby Jane Davis. 'Hell's House' is a rare fine considering many of these original prints have long disintegrated, leaving film historians to cull from remaining classics that managed to survive the decades of preservation.

As was in the day of these post-Talkies, the story lines were very simple and melodramatic. In 'Hell's House' the audience immediately sympathizes with the plight of a young man, Jimmy, who idolizes bootlegger by the name of Matt. But when Jimmy is put in the position of implicating his friend for the crime and he refuses, Jimmy is sent to reform school where he befriends Shorty, a young boy with a heart condition. But when the methods of the reform school borderline on the cruel and unusual, its up to our two pals to escape this prison and let the world know about their unspeakable conditions.

The film is been master and restored to HD from an original 35mm print from Bette Davis' personal collection, donated to the Library of Congress. Extras are nonexistent.

American Mary

Xlrator / 2012 / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Another unexpected thriller hits the video market this week, this one a follow-up to the exploitative hit 'Dead Hooker in a Trunk'. 'American Mary' starring Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Julia Maxwell and Paula Lindberg is directed by the team known as the "Twisted Twins" Jen and Sylvia Soska. Pretty much everything you might expect out of a sequel to 'Dead Hooker in a Trunk', the duo wastes no time in delivering the thrills in this indie pleasure.

Strapped for cash while putting herself through medical school, student Mary Mason (Isabelle) takes a job as a waitress at a strip bar run by Billy Barker (Cupo). As she becomes increasingly disillusioned with her studies, Billy introduces Mary to a new and extremely lucrative sideline, performing extreme body modifications to an odd collection of flesh-obsessed characters. With no choice but to drop out of medical school, Mary sinks her teeth deeper and deeper into her newfound career. It isn't long before her demeanor begins to steadily darken as she gets a taste for vengeance and discovers she likes it. Soon this former medical student and part-time waitress gets the moniker "Bloody Mary" as fear ripples through the streets as she searches out her next victim.

Extras include a terrific behind-the-scenes featurette as well as some commentary with the Soska Sisters, Katharine Isabelle and Tristan Risk.

21 and Over

20th Century Fox / 2013 / 93 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Tapping into the Zeitgeist of this generations Milennials, or at least attempting to, is 20th Century Fox's low-budget comedy co-directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, in the aptly titled '21 and Over'. While it didn't exactly rock the box-office or generate a ton of critical buzz, this mild hit did end up making money for the studio and will undoubtedly collect more cash now on video. With a cast of semi-familiar, if not completely unknown faces including Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin, Sarah Wright and Jonathan Keltz, this generation comedy hits enough high marks to make a worthy entry as 2013's answer to 'Reality Bites'.

From the writers of The Hangover comes a tale better suited for young adults just entering the fringe of being legal. Straight-A college student Jeff Chang (Chon) has always done what's expected of him as he heads down the path towards success. But when a sudden detour appears at the behest of his two best friends Casey (Skylar) and Miller (Teller) in the form of a surprise him visit for his 21st birthday, things finally take a decided turn towards recklessness and carefree. Jeff finally decides to throw caution to the wind; even with a looming medical school interview he has the next morning. A little 'Hangover' slash 'Risky Business' night of debauchery ensues in this mildly amusing if not entirely memorable comedy adventure.

Extras include featurettes Levels of Intoxication, Tower of Power, a gag reel as well at the film's theatrical trailer.

Jack the Giant Slayer 3D

Warner Brothers / 2013 / 114 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Warner Brothers had a big-budget headache on their hands with last year's 'Jack the Giant Slayer 3D'. Where last year Disney took the sting with 'John Carter' perhaps it's time for studios to rethink their development slate of this over bloated CGI action adventure fantasies. Directed by 'X-Men' aficionado Bryan Singer, this languid adventure failed to create a stronghold with audiences or critics upon its theatrical release. Clearly the studio is hoping to recoup some of its losses with the video release.

With a decent cast including Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian Mcshane, Bill Nighy and Ewan McGregor, this by-the-books tale of legend quickly enfolds with visual splendor. The story of an ancient war that's reignited when a young farmhand (Hoult) unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants, Singer quickly lets the CGI tell as much of the story in an attempt to keep audiences riveted. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, these giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack, into the battle of his life to stop them. Our lonesome hero must fight for a kingdom, its people, and a brave princess (Tomlinson) thrown in for good measure. Things quickly get muddled by non-stop action and a forced romance as almost any eight-year-old could predict the ending by the end of the first act.

Extras include Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel. Oddly missing is a comprehensive director's commentary you might expect with an attempted blockbuster like 'Jack the Giant Slayer'.

Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse

Starz/Anchor Bay / 2013 / 90 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

This appears to be a week of some interesting and offbeat horror films, including Starz/Anchor Bay's intriguing titled 'Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse'. Banking on audience's seemingly insatiable appetite for the genre, producers mix a dose of animation, horror, and fantasy as well as a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor to keep this colorful confection afloat. Not entirely successful, however, kudos to the filmmakers for producing at least a unique take on some well-trodden territory.

A creature of the underworld, lurking in catacombs and tunnels, the Living Corpse wears his heart on his tattered sleeve. Our hero is not cut from the same cloth you might expect, he's a zombie--but a zombie unlike one you may have ever seen before. This guy has a soul. His mission is to protect the earth from other flesh-eaters by keeping them safe in their graves rather than infecting the living with their wickedness. A self-hating zombie, I suppose, this oddball take has enough going for it that the film's brisk ninety minute length whizzes by keeping you at least mildly entertained if not completely thrilled or horrified.

Extras are nonexistent other than trailers of other releases.

Safety Last

Criterion / 1923 / 84 Minutes / Unrated

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Criterion unearths comedy legend's Harold Lloyd and his 1923 masterpiece 'Safety Last' on Blu-ray. If you've never tasted a morsel of Lloyd's comedy masterpiece, you're in for a treat. In the age of the silent era, this remains one of the best. While few comedies truly stand the test of time, Lloyd has no problem crossing generation after generation. Directed by Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, this ninety-year-old forgotten gem deserves to be seen and remembered for the genius it truly is.

While most people are familiar with Charlie Chaplin from the silent era, Harold Lloyd was truly the everyman with legends of fans of his modern man in search of success comedy routines. With its torrent of perfectly executed gags and astonishing stunts, Safety Last! is an ideal introduction to the comedy of Harold Lloyd. He plays a small-town bumpkin trying to make it in the big city, who finds employment as a lowly department-store clerk. He comes up with a wild publicity stunt to draw attention to the store, resulting in an incredible feat of derring-do on his part that gets him started on the climb to success. Featuring a death-defying stunt that continues to boggle audiences and film historians alike, this gifted comedian seems to be forever imbued with the ability to make complicated comedy seem so effortless.

As expected with any Criterion release, extras are plentiful including Audio commentary featuring film critic Leonard Maltin and director and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll, Introduction by Suzanne Lloyd, Lloyd's granddaughter and president of Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius, a 104-minute documentary from 1989, Three newly restored Lloyd shorts: Take a Chance (1918), Young Mr. Jazz (1919), and His Royal Slyness (1920), with commentary by Correll and film writer John Bengtson

Locations and Effects, a new documentary featuring Bengtson and special effects expert Craig Barron, a new interview with Davis, as well as a booklet featuring an essay by critic Ed Park.

The Brass Teapot

Magnolia / 2012 / 84 Minutes / Rated R

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Magnolia Films rolls out an interesting and offbeat drama-fantasy with last year's 'The Brass Teapot'. Sort of a new twist on an old morality tale involving the premise "careful what you wish for", director Ramaa Mosley puts her cast through the paces with mixed results. Starring Juno Temple, Michael Angarano, and Alexis Bledel, 'The Brass Teapot' will undoubtedly have you remembering films of the past that executed the premise with far more finesse and success.

A fable about money and the meaning of the American dream, 'The Brass Teapot' is based upon the comic book by the same name. The story features the plight of a young couple John (Angarano) and Alice (Temple, who live in a small town in America. They're young, in love, and broke. Always wanting more, the two struggle to make ends meet and enjoy the good life when suddenly all that is about to change when they end up at a roadside antique shop where Alice is spontaneously drawn to a mysterious brass teapot. It isn't long before they realize that this is no ordinary teapot and the magic contain therein may just be the answer to all their financial problems. As expected however things are never what they seem as this couple will soon discover as their brass teapot overflows with riches beyond their imagination but the price that comes with the treasure may be more than either of them bargained for.

Extras include Audio Commentary with Mosley and executive producer P. Jennifer Dana, Interviews with the Cast & Crew, AXS TV: A Look at The Brass Teapot, as well as other trailers of Magnolia properties.

The Last Exorcism Part II

Sony / 2013 / 88 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2013

Titling a film, 'The Last Exorcism' is a tricky prospect when you're hoping the movie makes enough money to warrant a sequel. With the same situation with the surprise hit 'Taken', the filmmakers couldn't exactly title the follow-up 'Re-taken'. Here 'The Second to Last Exorcism' would sound equally awful, but not as awful as this slapped together sequel truly is in comparison to its not-so-terrific progenitor. That said 'The Last Exorcism Part II' does what it can by trying to stir up as much Satanic evil as its predecessor.

Starring Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, and Spencer Treat Clark, director Ed Gass-Donnelly tries to build upon the first film that managed to ring up some interest with genre fans with a slick marketing campaign. Once again this plot thin story line takes a back seat to the visual frights, this one featuring a creepy looking woman who slinks around with her back folded backward. A new twist on the Linda Blair head spin, I suppose as the film continues the legacy from the first as Nell Sweetzer (Bell) tries to build a new life after the events that once took hold of her in the form of the evil force inside her soul. The devil is back in a big way and now he plans to re-possess her with a more evil plan afoot for humanity.

Extras include several short featurettes including Shooting in New Orleans, Hair Salon Scare - The Last Exorcism Part II goes Viral, some Audio Commentary with Ed Gass-Donnelly and Eli Roth,

Nell's Storyline, as well as the film's theatrical trailer.

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