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Currently showing posts tagged Paul Shipper

  • Car Wash (1976) Blu-ray Review

    Car Wash (1976)

    Director: Michael Schultz

    Starring: Franklyn Ajaye, George Carlin, Professor Irwin Corey, Ivan Dixon, Antonio Fargas, Jack Kehoe, Clarence Muse, Lorraine Gary, The Pointer Sisters & Richard Pryor

    Released by: Shout Select

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Set in sunny Los Angeles, Car Wash hosts a day in the life of a ragtag group of car washers and and the hilarious hijinks that ensue on the job, all to a fast-moving, body-shaking soundtrack of hits.  Scripted by Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys, Falling Down) and starring a diverse roster of character actors, musicians and comedy’s finest, Michael Schultz (Cooley High, The Last Dragon) directs this hot wax of hilarity.

    Uncontrollably fun and capturing the laughs of the blue-collar grind, Car Wash, originally intended as a Broadway musical, uses its nonlinear construction to great effect, making viewers apart of the onscreen ball-busting camaraderie and radio wave boogieing.  Best known for their “hand job” touch, the stocked staff of a busy car wash including, Justin (Leon Pinkney, Deadly Hero), an African-American constantly hassled by his girlfriend to ditch his position and return to college, T.C. (Franklin Ajaye, Convoy), an afro-rockin’ employee determined to win a local radio contest and woo the local diner’s waitress, Abduallah (Bill Duke, Predator), a Black Muslim revolutionary formerly known as Duane, Lindy (Antonio Fargas, Starsky & Hutch), a flamboyantly gay employee who dishes attitude better than anyone else and the musical, dancing duo of Floyd (Darrow Igus, Fridays) and Lloyd (Otis Day, D.C. Cab), among others all bust a move while making Cali cars sparkle and shine.  From erroneously tackling a customer thought to be a criminal bomber, fellow employee Hippo (Jamie Spinks, The Big Score) knocking the boots with a local prostitute who is hilariously pursued by an all too trusting cabbie (George Carlin, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) for skipping out on a fare and graced by the money-hungry presence of a pimp-like preacher known as Daddy Rich (Richard Pryor, The Toy), Car Wash is never in short supply of comic situations and absurdness.  Rightfully earning a Grammy for Best Album written for a film, Car Wash is never overly crude or falters due to its unconventional plot that is more inclined to let audiences hang with the gang than anything else.  Instead, the cult hit keeps the fun times rolling and holds the jive allowing for an effort doused in outrageous laughs.

    Shout Select presents Car Wash with a 1080p transfer, sporting its 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  With only the faintest of speckling popping up every now and again, colors pop remarkably well with the employee’s orange jumpsuits, bright yellow taxi cabs and the establishment’s big-lettered signage all making top-notch bursts on screen.  Furthermore, skin tones are exceptional with detail evident in close-ups and white levels, most noticeably seen in Daddy Rich’s gaudy suit, looking solidly.  A most filmic representation of the musically-driven comedy, Car Wash truly shimmers in high-definition.  Matched with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is overwhelmingly audible with only occasional moments where outdoor ambiance can drown out character exchanges.  That said, the film’s constant undercurrent of music is balanced appreciatively with talky moments while, specific music-driven cues including the opening and closing titles will leave viewers singing along for days and impressed by the song’s depths.  

    Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director Michael Schultz, Workin’ at the Car Wash with Otis Day (12:13) where the actor recalls a 2 week rehearsal period on the Universal soundstages that greatly developed the cast’s chemistry before filming commenced.  Understandably, Day mentions growing incredibly sick of hearing the title song on a daily basis while also praising Schultz’s direction and hailing him as someone who truly cared about the project.  Car Wash from Start to Finish with Gary Stomberg (34:22) finds the film’s producer sharing his early starts in public relations repping the likes of Ray Charles before forming his own company that would ultimately represent Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf and The Doors.  Stromberg also remembers coming up with the idea of Car Wash during a particularly loaded evening citing Robert Altman’s Nashville as an inspiration.  Understanding the music world while Universal were left scratching their heads about the film’s potential, Stromberg’s theory to spread head the project with an album produced by Norman Whitfield that would ultimately pay for the film’s making proved true and one the studio immediately responded to.  Lastly, Radio Spots (2:59), the film’s Trailer (2:21) and Reversible Cover Art conclude the release’s extras.

    Although not an original commercial success before graduating to cult accolades, Car Wash is a hilarious hangout session with the working man where pranks, kooky customers and a rhythm-splitting soundtrack take shotgun.  A groovy time capsule with funny performances from its many principal players, this lighthearted blaxploitation romp is prime picking for all 9-5ers.  Meanwhile, Shout Select’s high-definition upgrade is a filmic stunner with a smaller but, nonetheless engaging offering of extras and dynamite new cover art provided by Paul Shipper that shines the flick up nice.  

    RATING: 4/5

    Available now from Shout Select, Car Wash can be purchased ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

    Director: W.D. Richter

    Starring: Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Goldblum, Lewis Smith & Ronald Lacey

    Released by: Shout Select

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    A cocktail of genre mashups, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension stars Peter Weller (RoboCop) as the titular, jack of all trades hero who dabbles in neurosurgery while, fronting a popular rock band and saves the world for kicks.  After his breakthrough matter traveling device, the Oscillation Overthruster, is sought after by a threatening squad of aliens, Banzai and his pals seek to protect humanity from the wrath of their thick-accented leader Lord John Whorfin (John Lithgow, Raising Cain).  

    Bodaciously bizarre and quirky as can be, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is a cinematic odyssey of science fiction insanity coupled with rock n’ roll style and madcap extravagance.  After the exceedingly cool and brilliant Buckaroo Banzai breaks the sound barrier and travels through solid matter to return with an alien organism in tow, the enviously unhinged and incarcerated Dr. Emilio Lizardo, whose failed experiment into the 8th dimension from years past, caused his mind to be consumed by the wicked Lord John Whorfin prompts the physicist to spring himself from the looney bin to snatch Banzai’s working invention.  As leader of the martian-esque Red Lectroids who operate under human disguises, Whorfin seeks to overthrow their nemeses, the Black Lectroids, reclaim their home Planet 10 and annihilate Earth.  Respected for his brains and beloved for his rockin’ six-string skills, global hero Buckaroo Banzai, joined by his loyal comrades The Hong Kong Cavaliers and a peaceful Black Lectroid with Jamaican flavor, stand in Whorfin’s path of inter-dimensional dominance.  After falling for his former flame’s twin sister, Whorfin’s abduction of the blonde barfly makes Banzai’s protection of the great state of New Jersey and the rest of the planet extremely personal and chaotically action-packed.

    An otherworldly product of its time, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension abolishes standard categorization, thriving on its unusual tone, skyrocketingly over the top performances and colorfully cooky inclusions of space aliens, scientific jargon and Star Peter Weller successfully pulling off blindingly red framed eyeglasses and bowties in his mission to save mankind.  Further complimented by appearances from Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption) as Banzai’s piano playing lieutenant and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) hamming it up in a cowboy outfit, the film’s villainous trio including, the brilliant John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns) are a trifecta of planet invading fun.  While the film appropriately arrives with no adherence to any one genre, Banzai’s head over heels interest in his late wife’s literal doppelgänger (Ellen Barkin, Sea of Love) and determination to rescue her feels forced and largely underdeveloped.  Promising a sequel that would never come to pass, a scatterbrained marketing campaign and a difficult to peg plot left the eccentric effort lost at the box-office.  With repeat viewings sometimes necessary to fully embrace its full absurdity, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension would rightfully explode into the cult charmer that it is.  Tuned with a dizzyingly catchy synth score from Composer Michael Boddicker (Get Crazy), The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is understatedly unlike most pictures.  Akin to a wild and crazy improvisational guitar solo, this little bit of everything feature easily ranks as one of the 80s most bonkers times put to celluloid.

    Shout Select presents The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  Looking notably clean and absent of age-related damage, skin tones are exceptionally natural and well-detailed while, bold and softer colors alike burst in every frame.  In addition, black levels boast welcome inkiness with beautiful natural film grain apparent throughout.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is crisp and easily heard while, Banzai’s brief rock club gig and Composer Michael Boddicker’s equally satisfying score shake things up nicely.  In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix has also been included.  Kicking off the Blu-ray disc, supplements include, an Audio Commentary with Director W.D. Richter & Writer Earl Mac Rauch plus, a second Audio Commentary with Michael & Denise Okuda.  Unquestionably, the true gem of the release is the newly produced Into the 8th Dimension (2:08:16).  This exhaustive eight part featurette covers the origins, visual effects, casting, design work and many other aspects of the film and its lukewarm release before its acceptance as a cult classic.  With insight from Director W.D. Richter, Producer Neil Canton, Stars Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Clancy Brown, Composer Michael Boddicker and countless others, this first-rate achievement from Producer Brian Ward is the holy grail for Buckaroo devotees.  

    Presented in standard definition on its DVD counterpart, additional special features consist of the vintage making-of featurette Buckaroo Banzai Declassified (22:41), an Alternate Opening (7:12), 14 Deleted Scenes (14:11), the New Jet Car Trailer (2:25) and the Theatrical Trailer (1:17).  Lastly, in addition to Paul Shipper’s top-notch new design work, the Reversible Cover Art hosts the film’s original 1-sheet imagery.

    Fun, flashy and enjoyably insane, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension has always been an acquired taste for many, leaving others perplexed by its inter dimensional zaniness.  A one of a kind original, W.D. Richter’s sole directorial effort concocts a sloppy joe of genre touches with an eclectic cast having the time of their lives facing off against reptilian spacemen with oddball tech, ingenuity and the power of rock n’ roll as their tools of defense.  For the inaugural release of Shout! Factory’s film fan driven Shout Select line, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension Collector’s Edition blasts to soaring heights with its virtually flawless presentation and jaw-droppingly impressive special features that have raised the bar in terms of fan service and definitive documentation.  

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Available August 16th from Shout Select, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Squirm Collector's Edition (1976) Blu-ray Review

    Squirm (1976)

    Director: Jeff Lieberman

    Starring: Don Scardino, Patricia Pearcy, R.A. Dow, Jean Sullivan & Peter MacLean

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Marking the directorial debut of Jeff Lieberman (Just Before Dawn, Remote Control), this Southern spine-tingler is guaranteed to get under your skin.  Joining the ranks of their esteemed collector’s editions, Scream Factory, the horror/cult offshoot of Shout! Factory, proudly presents Squirm on Blu-ray for the first time in the U.S.  Oozing with newly produced special features and retro-style artwork courtesy of Paul Shipper, Squirm will send you running for higher ground.

    Set in the deep south of Georgia, Squirm focuses on the aftermath of a powerful storm that has electrically charged the wet soil, causing bloodthirsty worms to rise.  When the fishing village of Fly Creek becomes overrun with terror, a group of locals must fend for themselves to survive the carnivorous creatures.  Don Scardino (director of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone), Patricia Pearcy (Cockfigher), R.A. Down, Jean Sullivan (Escape in the Desert) and Peter MacLean (Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo) star.

    MOVIE:

    On par with other “nature gone wild” efforts such as Day of the Animals and Dogs, Squirm rises above most exploitation fare due to its patient storytelling.  Maintaining a steady pace and allowing characters to properly develop, Squirm chooses to charm its audience instead of overwhelming with constant carnage.  Establishing a genuinely Southern tone and casting local talent, the humid, insect infested backwoods serves as an ideal setting for this creature feature.  Following a series of brutal storms causing fallen power lines, Geri (Pearcy) welcomes her city dwelling boyfriend, Mick (Scardino), to her neck of the woods.  Before long, the two lovebirds happen upon human remains with no luck of convincing the town sheriff of their existence.  In true Scooby-Doo fashion, the two make it their duty to get to the bottom of the dead bodies and the increased volume of worms in the area.  Unfortunately, as night falls so does the worms’ hunger for human flesh causing mass panic in the town of Fly Creek.  While, Squirm takes its time before true terror ensues, its final act of blackness and claustrophobia is well worth the wait.  In addition, the convincingly gory make-up effects, achieved by a young Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, Ed Wood), add another layer of genre appreciation to revel in Squirm.

    Well acted and undeniably soaking in B-movie charm, Squirm’s only minor setback falls in its ending which feels rather abrupt, leaving the viewer with questions rather than answers.  Nonetheless, Squirm is a wildly entertaining effort filled with cheesy Southern accents, impressive make-up effects and a creepy tone, courtesy of its slimy critters, that propels Squirm to the front line of 1970s creature features.

    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:

    Squirm arrives with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  With the exception of murky stock footage during its opening, Squirm impresses with a clean appearance, leaving flakes and speckles to a minimum.  In addition, skin tones are warm and accurate with fine detail picked up in close-ups.  Natural grain is firmly intact, retaining an uncompromised filmic appearance.  Black levels, most appreciated during the film’s final act, are satisfying with respectable visibility.  Bracing for only mildly decent quality due to the film’s low-budget, Squirm has never looked better and greatly improves on past releases.

    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO:

    Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, Squirm is never wildly dynamic but, succeeds where it counts.  Dialogue is always clear and concise while, Composer Robert Prince’s (Night Gallery, Gargoyles) warp sounding score adds effective ambiance.  Scenes of creepy crawling carnage also add an extra, albeit contained, boost in authority.  Instances of hiss and pops are featured but fail to do any disruptive harm.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jeff Lieberman: Ported over from the previous DVD release.

    • Digging In: The Making of Squirm (33:11): Writer/Director Jeff Lieberman and Star Don Scardino share informative anecdotes about the production including its origins, casting (Pearcy beat out a young Kim Basinger for her role) and shooting on location.  Lengthy and detailed, Lieberman and Scardino look back on the film with vivid recollections of the experience.

    • Eureka! With Jeff Lieberman (7:04): Lieberman serves as your guide as he journeys back to his childhood home to retrace the early ideas of Squirm.

    • Theatrical Trailer (1:56)

    • TV Spot (0:55)

    • Radio Spot (1:01)

    • Still Gallery: 25 in total.

    • More from Scream Factory: Trailers include Pumpkinhead, Motel Hell and The Beast Within.

    • Reversible Cover Art: Utilizing the memorable Drew Struzan 1-sheet.

    RATING: 4/5

    OVERALL:

    Arriving on Blu-ray for the time in the U.S., Squirm is an essential addition to the Scream Factory library, filling the void of prominent creature features.  Endlessly fun and oozing with worm-infested debauchery, Squirm basks in its B-movie agenda much to the delight of likeminded viewers.  Once again, Scream Factory chalks up another stellar collector’s edition entry with exceptional technical merits and fan pleasing extras courtesy by the uber-talented Aine Leicht.  Sealed with gloriously slimy new artwork from Paul Shipper, Squirm Collector’s Edition makes it an easy skin-crawling selection to curl up with.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available October 28th, Squirm Collector's Edition can be purchased via Shout! Factory, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.