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Saturday, June 30, 2007

A lot of words about a handfull of DVDs.

I've been up to my eyeballs in wedding and moving lately, but I have managed to sneak a few movies in during the downtime. I managed to pick up a bunch of stuff on Something Weird's summer sale which came out to $8 post paid a DVD-R. For those of you who only know the SWV catalog from their special editions, they have a ton of stuff in their on-line catalog that will probably never see an Image disc. In many cases, the stuff is a little more "adult" than what a mainstream company would be comfortable carrying. There's also some of it with a much more limited appeal than what they have been releasing. And some of these prints are flawed in a way that only more dedicated fans will probably put up with them.

So, my order had a little of all three of these elements. Of course, it will probably be just my luck that Image will take the plunge on a few of these, but I kinda doubt it.

The first movie I got into probably hits all three criteria. It's Miss Nymphet's Zap-In, a Herschell Gordon Lewis film lost until a few years ago. HGL cut this one to double feature with Gore Gore Girls, though it's pretty far away in theme from that odyssey of gore.

Zap-In is kind of an "adult" take off on Laugh-In, consisting of lots of rapid fire vaudeville sketches, dirty jokes and plenty of boobies. Every now and then, the action stops and the entire cast yells "ZAP" and attempts to hold a freeze frame. Honestly, these were some of the more humorous moments in the film.

I'd like to say something good about Zap-In, but I really can't. Could HGL do comedy? Yes, at least when we're talking black comedy. That vein runs deep in most of his films. But this one just comes off corny and while it's interesting for a HGL completest, there isn't much to recommend it above and beyond that.

SWV's DVD-R looked alright to me, all things considered. This film had a really low print run and until recently, this was the only copy known to exist. (An incomplete print turned up on eBay about a year ago, but I don't know if anyone has seen it.) This print is pretty battered, with emulsion lines running through out and some rough spots at the reel changes. Still, I've seen a lot worse, and I don't think the public is going to demand this one get the Criterion treatment any time soon.

I filled a couple more holes in my HGL collection with The Magic Land of Mother Goose and Jimmy the Boy Wonder, two kiddie features Herschell shot as a hired gun. Now this is a warped double feature. Mother Goose is basically a stage play with Herschell doing little more than setting up a camera at the back of a high school auditorium. Basically, this was a vehicle for some magician and it features practically no production value at all. It does have a Raggedy Ann costume that is pure nightmare fuel and a pretty twisted which burning trick. I found this one worthwhile, but I also love K. Gordon Murray kid flicks.

(Speaking of K. Gordon Murray, one of his Santaland shorts appears as an uncredited extra on one of these discs. Both discs have a bunch of Storybook Classics trailers as filler. Pretty cool stuff there.)

Jimmy is an attempt at a real film. The premise being, this kid wished time stopped and then has to start it up again. Along the way there's terrible singing, a villain that could be Faud Ramsey's cousin and a poorly dubbed cartoon stuck in the middle as padding. (Check out Hersh's terrible Sylverter the Cat impression. Mel Blanc, he ain't!) Though there were many snooze inducing parts, again, I found it worth checking out, if you are into the warped kid flicks as I am.

Then we had an infamous one from the dynamic duo of Lee Frost and Bob Creese, Love Camp 7. I remember reading about this one in Incredibly Strange Films and knew I'd have to see it someday. This one may have been the first Nazisplotation film, a dubious honor, I'm sure. You know it was created just on the cusp of hardcore porn as you never see any of the guys take their pants off, and you see a whole bunch of torture and whatnot in lieu of sex.

The best part of the film, hands down, is Creese, in the role he was born to play, as the camp commandant. Bob doesn't just chew the scenery, he Hoovers up large pieces of it like a black hole let loose on the Hogan's Heroes set (which, according to legend, was where this was filmed.) Other than that, the movie is kind of dull. At least there's ample 60s cuties to gawk at, though the sex scenes made me reach for the fast forward button.

Other than that, I've had some time to view a few discs I got on the last Deep Discount sale. I was anxiously awaiting the new Godzilla discs from Classic Media and again, they impress with their releases. Ghidora the Three Headed Monster makes it's US DVD debut and Invasion of the Astro-Monster (aka Monster Zero) returns after being out of print for ages. Like the other releases, you get the US and Japanese cuts, commentary tracks and documentary features on one or another aspect of the Godzilla series.

Both of these movies are great, in my opinion, and Classic's discs serve them well. Quality is again top notch, though I found it a little curious that they reedited the Japanese prints to match the US dub tracks rather than using a proper US print this time around. I'm guessing it was to curb criticism like they had from their US print of Godzilla vs. Mothra that was the incorrect aspect ratio. Still, I can't recommend these discs highly enough and I only wish Classic had the rights to all the Godzilla films in the US as they appear to be the only company to truly do them right. (And the discs are cheap!)

Finally, I watched Sin City and I know at this point I must be the last person on the planet to see it. I only own it for the PSP as my friend I bought my PS from threw it in. Since I found these spiffy speakers at Target for cheap, I figured I'd kill an afternoon with it.

About the movie, my only real complaint is it could have used some tightening up. Ironic to say this, considering there's an even longer director's cut, but I just felt it could have been a little shorter and not any less of a movie for it. However, I loved the story, thought the look was great and I especially liked Mickey Rourk. Really fun stuff.

Watching a movie on a PSP is like staring at a dollar bill for two hours. It's easy to see why the UMD bombed as a movie format bombed, aside from the fact that people aren't too keep on paying twice as much for a lower quality disc they can only watch on the PSP. The screen on the PSP is great and with this Psyclone speaker set up ($25, Target clearance rack) you end up with a miniature home theater, but that's just the problem. It's too small to get really engrossed in like I like to with a movie. Even my Phillips portable with a 10" screen is a more enjoyable experience.

So, there's the latest in my movie watching diary. Also, Planet Earth on Blu-Ray is mind blowing. There's the PS3's killer app. After seeing that, it's really hard to go back to standard definition anything. Such pretty colors...

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