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As you can see here, Rosie doesn't quite know what the right thing may be, or how she might go about doing that right thing.

U.S. Region 1 releases>>
- Do the Right Thing (20th Anniversary release)
- The Education of Charlie Banks (directed by Fred Durst--whaaaaaaaaaa?!?)
- Kaidan (a 2007 reinterpretation of classic Japanese horror)
- King of Kings (1961) (imdb says "The Life of Christ" - need you say anything else?)
- The Legend of Big Foot/Snowbeast! (there's-monsters-in-them-hills schlock from the mid 70s)
- Lookin’ to Get Out (Hal Ashby, Jon "He Bit Me!" Voight, and Baby Jolie)
- Monster X Strikes Back (starring Takeshi Kitano - ahh, it is Guilala! Run!)
- Oliver Twist (1922)
- Pedro (on Pedro Zamora, the Poz Real World Cast member from the mid 90s)
- Rip! A Remix Manifesto (a doc about remixin'; could be interestin...)
- Split Sides: Merce Cunningham Dance Company
- They Call Me Bruce? (25th Anniversary Edition) (hey, that goofy Korean looks like Bruce Lee!)
- Tokyo! (directed by Bong Joon-Ho, Michel Gondry, Leos Carax)
- 12 Rounds (starring another WCW wrestler)

Multi-region and other foreign releases>>
- Che, 1 & 2 (dir. Steven Soderbergh) (Region 2 PAL UK)
- The House by the Cemetery (there's a house, it's by the cemetery, it's 1981, it's Lucio Fulci) (Region 2 PAL UK)
- Macabre (dir. Lamberto Bava) (Region 2 PAL UK)
- Modern Boy (an action/drama set in Korea's colonial period) (DVD Region 3)
- Push (a sort of unofficial adaptation of Marvel's "Exiles?") (Region 2 PAL UK)
- The Scam ("where sleek black suits hide white-collar crime", via Korea) (DVD Region 3)
- Sleepless (directed by Dario Argento, but since it's from 2001 it may not be worth the bother) (Region 2 PAL UK)
- Surveillance (David Lynch's daughter directs Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond in a weird and ultraviolent thriller) (Region 2 PAL UK)

Region 1 Blu-Ray releases>>
- Do the Right Thing (20th Anniversary release)
- Tokyo! (directed by Bong Joon-Ho, Michel Gondry, Leos Carax) – movie

happy birthday, amber!

(it gets especially buggy about the four and a half minute mark...)


Field Guide to Invertebrates in Film: Feast of the Praying Mantis

Feast of the Praying Mantis (2003)
Critter: Mantoidia sapiens var. plantii
Size: About 5 feet 8 inches tall
Modus Operandi: Woos victims with a bouquet of flowers, then sexes them to death
How the Menace Emerges: A mystery. Apparently this species is only found in the south (in Belgium I presume), but exists throughout time as illustrated by the lamest epilogue scene I’ve ever seen.
End Goal: Sex and death

The Feast of the Praying Mantis is a different kind of terrible bug film than I’m used to. Rather than settling comfortably into being a slow, Euro-art film or a cheeky B-movie, it attempts to straddle the line of both, achieving nothing by its compromise. The film is about Sylvia (Get it? She’s a nature girl because her name means “of the forest”! Yawn!) an immortal, critter who seems to be a hybrid between a humanoid, a vine and a praying mantis. She can talk to Doberman pincers and plants, likes to have tarantulas walk on her and is an excellent gardener. Oh, and she’s also really into S & M. The plot is carried out through the barbiturate-induced voiceover of her bewitched, cello-playing boyfriend who is willing to anything to actually sleep with her. In the first line of the film, we learn that he is dead, while near the end, he tells us that he’s in oblivion. Who knew that they could record droll voiceovers from oblivion? Add to the mix a bit of bad and pointless CGI (a dove bursting into flames and a swarm of green dots that please Sylvia for no apparent reason), superfluous melodrama from subsidiary characters and tedious sex scenes, and you have a big waste of time.

Nit-picking Science: There’s no science in Feast of the Praying Mantis for me to pick apart, so instead, I’ll just talk a bit about Fabre. The film opens with a quote from Jean Henri Fabre’s incredible 1921 work Fabre’s Book of Insects. Fabre was an observant naturalist and an excellent writer, and his Book of Insects is a wonderfully written look at some of the most intriguing critters he studied. While the language is too anthropomorphic to pass for science in today’s standards and much of his observations have been disproved, it is a delightful read nonetheless. Talking of the praying mantis, Fabre said “The Mantis, I fear, has no heart. She eats her husband, and deserts her children.” Now that’s the film I wanted to see.


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Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir - coolest trailer of 2008?

U.S. and Region 1 releases>>
- Cherry Blossoms (directed by Doris Dorrie)
- Jem Cohen: An Evening’s Civil Twilight in Empires of Tin (artsy rendering of the decline of the American Century)
- Dillinger (1973) (directed by Hollywood right-winger John Millius, starring Warren Oats, Cloris Leachman, Harry Dean Stanton, and Ben Johnson)
- Last Year at Marienbad (Criterion Collection directed by Alain Resnais)
- My Dinner With Andre (Criterion Collection directed by Louis Malle)
- Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman, a former Israeli soldier, and his animated mediation on memory, guilt, and the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon)

Multi-region and other foreign releases>>
-Franklyn (Brit sci-fi with Ryan Phillipe and Eva Green) (PAL Region 2)
- Hardware (1990) (special edition of Richard Stanley's punky cult hit) (PAL Region 2)
- Occupation (story of three British soldiers' experiences, and their aftermath, in Iraq) (PAL Region 2)
- Open City (Korean crime opera) (Region 3)
- Handphone (Korean thriller set around a lost telephone and a loan shark) (Region 3)

Blu-Ray releases>>
- American Gangster (directed by Ridley Scott)
- Casino (Scorsese's last great film before 2006's The Departed)
- Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg's sophomore outing with Viggo Mortensen)
- Last Year at Marienbad (Criterion Collection directed by Alain Resnais)
- The Pink Panther (1964)
- Waltz With Bashir


Field Guide to Invertebrates in Film: Kingdom of the Spiders

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)
Critter: Once again, our fine, photogenic friends from the Theraphosidae family
Size: 4-5 inches in diameter
Modus Operandi: Swarms of deadly tarantulas overwhelm a victim with multiple venomous bites
How the Menace Emerges: Through the overuse of pesticides, humanity has eliminated the majority of the spiders’ typical food supply. Desperate to survive, the spiders evolve social behavior and venom 5 times stronger than their pre-pesticide days, enabling them to take down cows, puppies and people.
End Goal: Dinner

Kingdom of the Spiders is yet another entry into the 1970s eco-horror, critter attacks subgenre. No more, no less. It’s a bit slow, but there’s a spider panic riot at the end that’s worth sticking around for. The laughable William Shatner delivers an uncharacteristically understated performance as Dr. Rack Hansen, veterinarian to the farming folk of sleepy Verde Valley, AZ. When blood samples from a dead calf are sent off to Flagstaff, Dr. Denise Ashley, a sharp and strangely glamorous entomologist with big-city sensibilities and a knack for rebuking the patronizing flirtations of local yokel Hansen, enters the scene. Unfortunately, she soon crumbles under Hansen’s freakishly redneck come-ons and before long, I kid you not, she is fetching his beer. The venerable Woody Strode (Once Upon a Time in the West, The Professionals, Sergeant Rutledge) makes an excellent, sympathetic appearance that is cut far too short. Another unlikely appearance is on the soundtrack. Country/rockabilly icon Dorsey Burnette was somehow convinced to record the soundtrack, contributing four fine songs to this mess of a film.

At least the makers of Kingdom of the Spiders spent their meager budget well. According to IMDB, $50,000 went to spiders alone. That may explain how the final scene became a zoom out on a somewhat lame drawing, rather than something that could have conveyed the creepiness that they were after. It’s just too bad that a number of these fine furry actors and actresses were obviously squashed in the filming.

Nit-picking Science: Dr. Ashley, you stated that no members of the infraorder Mygalomorphae are remotely social, but oh how mistaken you are. Surely, you read Drachen’s 1967 paper describing the quasi-social behavior of the funnel-web tarantula Macrothele darcheni (Family: Hexathelidae). Or perhaps you’ve heard about the tarantula Hysterocrates gigas (Family: Theraphosidae) whose juveniles have been observed feeding cooperatively. Social behavior may be rare in spiders, and even rarer in Mygalomorphae, but it ain’t unheard of. And another thing, your comprehension of the long-term effects of DDT on arthropods is despicable, misleading and makes the rest of us look stupid. Individual spiders do not develop immunity to DDT, but populations of spiders may develop genetic DDT resistance over multiple generations. I suggest you consult an undergrad Biology textbook to discern the difference between Lamarck’s discredited theory of acquired characters and Darwin’s brilliant theory of natural selection before you mouth off again.


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The Shaw Brothers weave it so well in
their 1975 zombie-kung fu flick, Black Magic 2.***

Region 1 U.S. releases>>
- Ashes and Diamonds (Essential Art House edition directed by Andrzej Wajda)
- Bergman Island (Criterion Collection directed by Marie Nyerod)
- Black Magic 2 (Shaw Brothers release)***
- The Diary of Anne Frank (50th Anniversary edition)
- Essential Art House Vol. 3 (box set featuring Ashes and Diamonds, Forbidden Games, The Hidden Fortress, Last Holiday, Richard III, Variety Lights)
- Forbidden Games (Essential Art House edition directed by Rene Clement)
- Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
- Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning
- Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives
- Friday the 13th (2009)
- The Hidden Fortress (Essential Art House edition directed by Akira Kurosawa)
- Last Holiday (Essential Art House edition directed by Henry Cass)
- Madea Goes to Jail (Tyler Perry's multi-million dollar wurlizter plays on)
- Operation Valkyrie (Deutscheland version of the Tom Cruise/Brian Singer potboiler)
- Richard III (Essential Art House edition directed by Laurence Olivier)
- The Seventh Seal (Criterion Collection 2 DVD set directed by Ingmar Bergman)
- Thank You, Good Night (more alt-rock 90s nostalgia)
- Three Stooges Collection: Vol. 6
- Variety Lights (Essential Art House edition directed by Federico Fellini) – movie
- What’s Up Tiger Lily? (reissue) (dir. Woody Allen)

Multi-region and other foreign releases>>
- Anvil! The Story of Anvil (cheeky/touchy-feely doc on has been metal band Anvil) (PAL Region 2)
- Aria (Special Edition of the 1987 film featuring Liz Hurley, Bridge Fonda, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, and a slew of art-house heroes like Derek Jarman, Godard, Altman, and Ken Russell) (PAL region 2)
- The Class (dir. Laurent Cantent) (PAL region 2)
- Exodus (HK-serial killer thriller) (all region)
- Insects Unlisted in the Encyclopedia (All region) (Japanese Burroughsian-sounding flick)
- The Italian Job (40th Anniversary Ed. and holy shit look at that cast: Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill, Tony Beckley) (PAL region 2)
- Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (ninjas! duels! ninjaaaas!) (All region)
- Strange Circus (weirdo Japanese sex drama) (All region)

Blu-Ray releases>>
- The Diary of Anne Frank (50th Anniversary edition)
- Dr. Strangelove
- Friday the 13th Part 2
- Friday the 13th Part 3 (in 3D!)
- Friday the 13th (2009)
- Ghostbusters
- Into the Wild (dir. Sean Penn)
- Rockers
- The Seventh Seal (Criterion Collection 2 DVD set directed by Ingmar Bergman)
- Sling Blade (some people callit a slingblade)

*** - Oh internet - what did I ever do to make you lie to me? So, Pike sez that contrary to what OTHER websites told me (prob'ly coz few ppl have ever seen it, according to His Pikeness) this pic is indeed not from Black Magic 2, but from the first one, and it's got not nothing to do with kung-fu. Here's Pike:

Black Magic 2 is about a magician who controls zombie ladies by driving 6" nails into the top of their heads. here is a good synopsis plus pics.


Field Guide to Invertebrates in Film: Slugs, Muerte Viscosa

Slugs, Muerte Viscosa (1988)
Mutant members of the order Pulmonata
Size: Huge, for slugs- about 6 inches long, on average
Modus Operandi: Traveling in slimy packs, the slugs burrow into the victim and eat them
How the Menace Emerges: Sometime in the distant past in this sleepy town, and evil corporation dumped all of their toxic waste into the soil, mutating the native, harmless slugs into vicious killers.
End Goal: Dinner

“You ain’t got the authority to declare Happy Birthday, not in this town.”

I’m a sucker for even the worst eco-horror flick (yes, I’m even fond of The Milipitas Monster). In Slugs, it’s true that the acting is terrible, the dialogue is awkwardly nonsensical and that much of the narrative is just ridiculous. Still, Slugs was a fantastically fun romp through amazing critter and gore effects, topped off with an excellent visual sense and decent cinematography (for a B-critter flick).

The effects are delightfully practical ones in Slugs, with plenty of competent prosthetics and titillating gore. When it counts, real slugs in all of their black, slimy glamour are introduced in large enough numbers to seem ominous. Of course, the scene that stole my heart is the stop motion one seen above. Those little un-sluglike teeth and tongue were just too perfect.

This was directed by the little mentioned J.P. Simon (Pod People, Cthulhu Mansion), whose anglicized name hides his Spanish origins. Apparently, he’s been a sort of Spanish B-movie king since the 80s, and Slugs impressed me enough to seek out more of his B-movie delights.
“Killah slugs, for christsakes! Whaddal it be next? Demented Crickets? Rampaging Mosquitas, Maybe?” Yes please, Mr. Simon.

Nit-picking Science: Another thing that softens me to Slugs is that someone did their homework. Yes, there are predatory slugs and yes, while snails are more commonly the carriers of the icky Schistosoma parasite, slugs can too. Aside from a bit of artistic license, (e.g. slug eggs are usually laid in clumps, not in singles) the science in Slugs is better than it should be.


do you really think she'll pull through? : the girlfriend experience

I know, I know, it's serious.

There's a scene towards the very end of Steven Soderbergh's latest, The Girlfriend Experience, where we watch a fey, Jewish jeweller nervously disrobe in the back office of his store, droning on about voting McCain and the chances for Israel's continued survival under a President Mac. Meanwhile, his companion, played by lissom porn actress Sasha Grey, strikes a tasteful pose in her tasteful off-white lingerie, a charitable look on her face. Eventually they embrace ("C'mere," whispers Grey, half-sexy, half-tender), but only their torsos and faces touch - not the lower part of their bodies - indeed, neither of them have even taken off their underwear. Holding Grey, the jeweller begins to breathe harder and harder, sighing and weeping, until he reaches orgasm, and she reaches up to stroke his hair.

The vulnerabilty Soderbergh showcases in this scene is what I'd really like to take away from the film: one that speaks directly and plainly to a notion the director manages to shape over the first half of The Girlfriend Experience only to dump for trite melodrama; that somewhere just beyond the shadow of desperation and grasping cast by significant but otherwise unspoken class divisions that loom over a big city like New York in late 2008 (and now), that there are sad and weird needs, sad and weird and basic needs people continue have, regardless of whether they're Wall Street douchebags, Saudi Princes, whiny screenwriters, hustling personal trainers, or call girls with a yen for something called "personology."

Casting Grey as the latter is Soderbergh doing his meta thing, through and through, so much so that it's hard not to see her reflecting on who she is outside of this brief stint in artsy stuff like this during a number of scenes with a probing and possibly infatuated journalist which are cross-cut with the rest of The Girlfriend Experience's goings on (ditto Soderbergh's process). She's a striking young woman, but when called on, can barely keep a scene together (though the same could be said for Scarlett Johannsen, frankly). That's not really the point though - she's a very young and somewhat notorious porn star doing a Steven Soderbergh flick about a very young high-class call girl with a vacuum in place of a personal life, so sign, meet signifier, etc., etc. Anyway, points for effort, I guess, and I have to imagine she knows the score here too, being a Herzog fan and all (at least that's what she says).

In the end, The Girlfriend Experienceis exactly what it says on the tin - curious, a little more than a little ephemeral, an experimental film cooked up in Steven Soderbergh's secret lab hidden inside the second 'L' on the Hollywood sign. And as is often the case with experimental film, this is more involved with an idea (the color and the shape of shared humanity in a substantially unequal place like 21st New York) or series of linked ideas rather than characters, though Soderbergh would've delievered a better and much more effective film overall if he hewed closer to the consistent clinicism and detachment he exhibited in his '06 stuff, like Bubble or The Good German instead of letting the piece droop into a sketch of Holly Golightly done in Joe Buck's chintzy colors.


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A particularly orange-ish scene from John Woo's Red Cliff 2.

DVD releases for the week of 6/9/09...

U.S. and Region 1 releases>>

- Fired Up! (cheerleader humor-pron for you fans of ah, cheerleader humor-pron)
- Gran Torino (dir. Clint Eastwood; here's a long piece from "The Nation" on the Grimace That Launched a Thousand Westerns)
- The International (dir. Tom Tykwer, with Clive Owens and Naomi Watts; Aaron sez the shoot-out in the Guggenheim's alright but little else is worth watching)
- Ladies or Gentlemen
- Nelson Mandela: Son of Africa (re-release of the 1996 film)
- Were the World Mine (High School Musical by way of Q-Cinema)
- Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music (featuring Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Canned Heat, and the editing skills of one Marty Scorsese; also, check out this NYT piece on recent 60s "youth cult" DVD re-releases)

Mult-region and other foreign releases>>

- The Dirty Harry Collection (PAL Region 2)
- Disciples of Shaolin Temple (HK all-region)
- Red Cliff 2 (John Woo follow up to his swords and stuff epic, starring Tony Leung) (Region 3)
- Viy (the very wild, very first horror film ever made in Russia) (PAL Region 2)

Blu-Ray releases>>

- Fatal Attraction (dir. Adrian Lyne, possibly Hollywood's most successful misogynist)
- Gran Torino
- The International
– Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music


Field Guide to Invertebrates: Parasite

Parasite (1982)
Critter: Unclassifed ecto-/endo-parasite of human hosts
Size: It starts small, but eventually gets about Chihuahua sized
Modus Operandi: This is a bit complicated, since the two specimens in the film behaved entirely differently- Specimen A: Burrows into gut, eats host from inside, eventually exploding from barely-living host’s gut, releasing millions of reproductive spores; Specimen B: Attaches to host’s exterior with 6 suction cups arranges in 2 rows of 3, drains all of victim’s blood and moves on to a new host.
How the Menace Emerges: The evil corporation that runs the world had them engineered by a parasitologist for nefarious purposes
End Goal: Kill, Kill, Kill!
It’s the 1980s and CGI has yet to be invented. Ahhh, practical effects, how I miss you so! The critter effects in Parasite were created by a super crew of Stan Winston (Aliens, Monster Squad, Jurassic Park), Jim Kagel (The Thing (1982), Running on Karma) and Lance Anderson (The Thing (1982), Pet Semetary) and it shows. In fact, the critters are the only parts of Parasite that are truly worthwhile. After all, Charles Band (better known as a producer of the Puppetmaster series and head of Full Moon Pictures), is not known for making fine films. Other than a crazy dream sequence and some fine critter moments, this movie is a run of the mill 80s post apocalyptic affair, with nonsensical gangs of thugs and expensive petrol. Parasite was originally shown in 3D, and some of the scenes tailored for this type of showing look a bit silly when they are flat. One such scene focuses in on a pipe jutting out of a dead thug’s stomach and seems to pay homage to one of my favorite scenes from 1979’s Tourist Trap, which I don’t mind at all. Since Band was the producer of Tourist Trap, I suppose we can’t call it “ripping off”. Just as a side note, this is one of Demi Moore’s first films, and her only real purpose here seems to be to look concerned and be slapped around.

Nit-picking Science: I don’t know what it is with you movie scientists and your love of auditory pest control. What the hell did taking a “fluid” sample and exposing it to various frequencies actually tell you?


if the exquisite turkish slice-of-life don't get ya, the sweet nostalgia will: three monkeys, my winnipeg, the limits of control (and a bit o' trek)

Oh, the billowing curtainamity: Nuri Ceylan's
superfantastic Three Monkeys.

Is it too soon to be talking about best movie of the year? If not, Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s taut and ingeniously rendered Three Monkeys certainly makes a strong case for the top slot. It’s a film that manages to be all the more brilliant for what it doesn’t do for the goings-on in-frame: Ceylan’s story of a broken family - Eyup, its beleaguered and frustrated patriarch, Hacer, his yearning, broken-hearted wife, and Ismail, their dull-witted, if well-meaning son - while often bleak, is never cynical or heartless or stretched all out of shape by outsized There Will Be Blood-style emotional confrontations. In fact, director Ceylan’s confident enough here to begin the movie and the events that profoundly change these characters’ lives with something as simple as a man drifting off to sleep behind the wheel of a car late at night. And with a pensive nod, Eyup, in a sleepy gesture of something like what he’s sure is one befitting a man, accepts responsibility on behalf of his employer, that suave driver, and his equally sleepy mistake.

We’re never privy to what Hacer or Ismail first thought of Eyup’s dubiously honorable act. Rather, their feelings and the arc of pain Eyup’s flawed sense of pride caused is his family is grist for the rest of Ceylan’s story. That silent, inarticulate despair over love and purpose might just be the heart of the problems with these three monkeys. Perched in their precarious-looking apartment building, with the rest of the world busily coming and going in the nearby a train, or staring out of their window and brooding over an implacable ocean that signals at them everything Eyup, Hacer, Ismail have lost and continue to lose.

Ceylan’s exquisite film unfolds in its own deep time, and the striking saturation he and cinematographer Gokhan Tiyraki adds to this poor, sweaty corner of Turkey never overwhelms. It’s the kind of film that we are rarely privileged to see nowadays: a movie which never underestimates the humanity of its characters, or the intelligence and patience of its audience. Be a smarty and go see it at the Starz before it's done gone.

Jim Jarmusch’s latest, The Limits of Control, takes aim at Three Monkey’s intensity but misses the mark. Jarmusch’s trademark embrace of classic foreign filmmakers like Pat-fave Ozu and Jean Pierre Melville does not translate well here - his neo-naturalistic and deliberate tempo is best suited to tragicomic characters and situations. There is little of either in what is essentially a movie with a few weighty ideas sunk deep under a deep river of style, numbing repetition and trancey music. Yes, there is Christopher Doyle’s gorgeous cinematography, and yes, there’s some substance; so while there’s lots to gab about afterwards, The Limits of Control is basically two hours of Isaac de Bankole wearing neato suits and a scowl.

Guy Maddin’s 2008 film My Winnipeg is about memory, secret rivers, love and hate, hockey, Mom, dead horses, the dreamy socialist super heroine Citizen Girl, hockey, family trauma, family triumph, secret back allies, pre-adolescent sexuality, class oppression, the Native people of Winnipeg, and the pointless sweetness of nostalgia. It’s also the best summer movie out there after J.J. Abrams’ fabby re-imagining of the Star Trek universe (a movie that in its own way is also an exercise in memory, love and hate, pre-adolescent sexuality, family triumph, family trauma, and the pointless sweetness of nostalgia).

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It's mucho Macha Meril this week with the release of
Jean-Luc Godard's Un Femme Mariee.

Hullo, DVD releases for the week of 6/01/09!

Region 1 U.S. releases>>

- Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
- He’s Just Not That Into You
- Henry Hills: Selected Films
- Revolutionary Road (directed by Sam Mendes)
- Shinobi No Mono 4
- Tender Mercies
- Thank You, Good Night
- Thrilla in Manilla
- Une Femme Mariee (“A Married Woman“) (directed by Jean-Luc Godard)

Multi-region and other foreign releases>>

- American Yakuza (with Viggo Mortensen) (Japan region 2)
- Battle Royale (Special Edition) (Japan region 2)
- Battle Royale 2: Revenge (Limited edition) (Japan region 2)
- A Christmas Tale (PAL/Region 2)
- Crying Freeman (Japan region 2)
- Daisies (Sedmikrasky) (PAL/Region 2)
- Dark Star (directed by John Carpenter) (PAL/Region 2)
- Shallow Grave (Special Edition) (PAL/Region 2)

Region 1 Blu-Ray>>

- Fletch
- The Graduate
- Revolutionary Road
- To Live and Die in L.A.


Field Guide to Invertebrates in Film: Kiss of the Tarantula

Kiss of the Tarantula (1976)
Critter: Sure looks like Brachypelma smithi to me, the cinematic queen of tarantulas
Size: Large, about hand-sized
Modus Operandi: Looking very creepy, causing heart failure or panicked accidents
How the Menace Emerges: Sent out into the world…for revenge
End Goal: Death, destruction, mayhem and a nice tasty cricket or two

Kiss of the Tarantula is just another installation in the 70s arty-horror cannon- not too good, but not too bad, either. I’m fond of the less splatter-driven parts of this genre, with its feeble attempts at artiness, lack of comeuppance, sympathy for the monster and generally disaffected cynicism. Our monster in this case is a spin off from Carrie without the supernatural mumbo jumbo and Willard. After murdering her spider-hating, adulterous siren of a mother, Susan (Suzanna Ling in her only IMDB entry) grows up to be an odd, reclusive gal with an inordinate fondness for red-legged tarantulas. Still, the world is not kind to kooky girls, and between being harassed by her over 30 year old classmates and molested by her creepy uncle (a murderous, adulterous cop, the lecherous swine!), she really has no choice but to turn to her furry little pals for help.
The highlights of the film, which are too few, are the scenes in which Susan unleashes her creep army on unsuspecting victims in tight spaces.

Nit-picking Science: For the first time, I have no nit-picking. Although there’s no science in the film for me to pick apart, I must comment on their good judgment nonetheless. Rather than pretending that tarantulas are chock full of venom deadly to humans (which of course they aren’t), Kiss of the Tarantulas lets them be instruments of death through their natural inclination to creep us out. Good job, sirs!