by Bryan Theiss
This week we got in several Alastair Sim comedies, a couple Vinegar Syndrome releases, a rock documentary, one of the best reviewed horror films of recent years, early Steven Guttenberg, and much more. It’s all available from our pickup window or through our Rent by Mail program.
BELLES OF ST. TRINIAN’S (1954)
The first in the series of films based on Ronald Searle’s popular 1940s comic strip about an all girls boarding school. Many of us know Alastair Sim for playing Ebenezer Scrooge, but here he stars in a comical dual-role as headmistress Miss Millicent Fritton and her twin brother Clarence.
THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES (1977)
Pre-Police Academy Steve Guttenberg stars in a high school coming of age comedy set in the ‘60s. Co-starring comedy legend Phil Silvers and Death Wish 3’s Ed Lauter. With new commentary by film historian Lee Gambin.
DUET FOR CANNIBALS (1969)
When a Swedish film studio invited Susan Sontag to come to Stockholm and direct a movie, she made this “roundelay of partner-swapping that gradually drifts towards uncharted territory, gamesmanship that broaches the surreal and violent.” Includes audio commentary by artist and writer Wayne Koestenbaum, and an interview with Agnes Varda and Susan Sontag.
DOLLY DEAREST (1992)
A family buys a doll factory in Mexico but doesn’t realize one of the dolls is possessed by an evil spirit. Vinegar Syndrome brings their usual loving care to restoring this Chucky-inspired early ‘90s b-movie. Includes interviews with stars Denise Crosby and Ed Gale.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
Kim Min-hee (The Handmaiden) stars as a woman in a small cafe who prefers to observe, not interact with, the other customers. From writer/director Hong Sang-soo (The Day a Pig Fell Into the Well, Woman Is the Future of Man).
HUE & CRY (1947)
A gang of kids calling themselves The Blood and Thunder Boys discover that a crime syndicate is planning jobs through a code hidden in their favorite detective comic book. Alastair Sim plays the writer of the comic. This is considered one of the first Ealing comedies, although it’s kind of a crime thriller. Since it’s shot on location it’s also appreciated as a historic document of the bombed-out buildings of post-WWII London.
Incensed by the announcement of the Oslo Accords in 1993, an Israeli extremist forms an underground militia and decides to assassinate Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Best picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards.
INSIDE DAISY CLOVER (1965) (WARNER ARCHIVE)
Natalie Wood stars as a tomboy who becomes a famous 1930s singer and actress in this melodrama from Robert Mulligan, who also directed her in Love with the Proper Stranger. Robert Redford and Ruth Gordon won Golden Globes playing her husband and mother, respectively, and it also stars Christopher Plummer and Roddy McDowall.
THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020)
Blumhouse and writer/director Leigh Whannell (Upgrade) brilliantly updated the horror classic as sort of a Sleeping With the Enemy with invisibility. Elisabeth Moss is brilliant as a woman whose abusive engineer boyfriend continues to torment her after his apparent death. It’s an intense, inventive thriller that finds scares in shots of empty chairs and rooms that we just know are actually occupied.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
Note: This is arriving late, we expect it on Wednesday
LAUGHTER IN PARADISE (1951)
A rich practical joker dies, leaving his fortune to four relatives if they perform a series of tasks contrary to their nature. One (Alastair Sim) has to get himself arrested for 28 days, one has to work as a servant for a month, one has to marry the first single woman he speaks to, one has to hold up the bank he works for. You know how it is with these huge inheritances, there’s always some crazy stunt they make you do. Congress really needs to look into that.
LONELY ARE THE BRAVE (1962)
Outlaw Kirk Douglas is on the run from sheriff Walter Matthau in this contemporary western from Sudden Fear director David Miller and Papillon writer Dalton Trumbo. Also starring Gena Rowlands, George Kennedy and Carroll O’Connor.
MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1933) (WARNER ARCHIVE)
Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) directed this horror classic about a deranged wax sculptor (Lionel Atwill) who just might be involved in some mysterious disappearances and now is obsessed with Fay Wray.
ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND (2019)
Executive producers Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard present this certified-Fresh-by-Rotten-Tomatoes rock doc which features interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, among others.
ONE HOT SUMMER (2009)
Corporate lawyer Casper Van Dien takes an assignment in Miami so he can try to win back his ex-fiance (Vaness Marcil), who broke it off because her family wanted her to marry a fellow Cuban Catholic.
PALE BLOOD (1990)
A vampire who only drinks blood sparingly takes it upon himself to stop a human serial killer giving his people a bad name by draining blood from women in Los Angeles. Starring George Chakiris, Wings Hauser and Darcy DeMoss. Vinegar Syndrome’s new restoration features interviews with director V.V. Dachin Hsu and actress DeMoss.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS (1960)
Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) gets sick of failure and victimhood and enrolls in one Dr. Potter (Alastair Sim)’s “School of Lifemanship” to change his ways and get revenge on everyone who wronged him. From Robert Hamer, director of Kind Hearts and Coronets.
SHADOW PLAY (1986)
Dee Wallace-Stone (E.T., The Howling) stars as a playwright haunted by her fiancé’s spirit while staying with his mother (Cloris Leachman) on a remote island. Includes a new interview with Wallace-Stone.
Carole Lombard and Randolph Scott go against type to star in a horror tale from the director of White Zombie! A seance happening at the same time as an experiment on a death row inmate leads Lombard to be possessed by the soul of a murderess. You don’t want that. Includes a new commentary by film historian Tim Lucas.
TAZA, SON OF COCHISE (1954)
Okay, so it stars Rock Hudson as the son of Cochise and Ian MacDonald as Geronimo, but Douglas Sirk’s Technicolor western is one of the few ‘50s films that attempts to portray Native Americans in a positive light. And you can watch it in 3D if you have the right equipment (or 2D for the rest of us). Includes new audio commentary by film historian David Del Valle, author-screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner and 3D expert Mike Ballew.
THOUSAND PIECES OF GOLD (1990)
Rosalind Chao stars as a young Chinese woman sold into slavery and won in a poker game by Chris Cooper in this acclaimed romantic western. Our friend Robert Horton wrote about it in The Seasoned Ticket #85
Includes a radio interview with director Nancy Kelly and audio commentary by Kelly and producer Kenji Yamamoto.
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (2017)
Director Issa Lopez’s dark fairy tale about children, cartels and ghosts finally makes it to disc after much raving from critics and some of our staff who saw it at Fantastic Fest. “You can feel the passion and creativity of its filmmaker in every decision. She’s fearless,” writes Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com.
(DVD and Blu-Ray)
TRUE FICTION (2019)
A young woman gets a job as the assistant to her favorite horror writer. It does not turn out to be her favorite gig. Anton Bitel of Sight and Sound writes, “The tense interplay of writer and Muse offers constant reflexive commentary on the way in which horror is at its most effective when it gaslights, manipulates and misdirects before revealing its true face.”
WE TAKE THE LOW ROAD (2019)
When Wiki-Leaks reveals the names and addresses of politicians and medical industry CEOs driving up the cost of healthcare, a group of vigilantes go after them.