Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Phil sees JUSTICE LEAGUE at the Cinelux Alamden Café & Lounge - November 27, 2017

The DC Extended Universe been playing catch-up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the exception of this past summer's blockbuster WONDER WOMAN, every single DCEU film has received every single kind of negative review you can think of. To be honest, I think it's a little unfair. I enjoyed the MAN OF STEEL. SUPERMAN V. BATMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE was okay, but it was uneven and incoherent. And I liked SUICIDE SQUAD. Now Warner Bros. has released the latest chapter in the DCEU with JUSTICE LEAGUE.

The film's official synopsis: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes-Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash-it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

The movie has already received mixed reviews from critics, which is really uncalled for. The film has a solid three-arc story, all the characters get their fair share of on-screen appearances, the main antagonist felt like a real threat and it had a lot action and humor. Plus the movie marks the return of the Last Son of Krypton (this is no big spoiler, it's already been mentions by several media outlets).

Both Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot reprise their roles as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. They really do look and sound like superheroes, even though word has it that Affleck might be stepping down as the Dark Knight, which is a real shame. He brought us a totally different Batman; one that has been fighting crime for over 20 years. He's the elder statesmen of the group and he's that one that initiated the formation of the Justice League. Gadot is wonderful and Wonder Woman (pun intended)! Also making their return are Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Diane Lane as Martha Kent and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth. But this time, they are joined by some new faces!

Beefcake studmuffin Jason Momoa portrays Arthur Curry aka the Aquaman! Momoa is currently every woman's wet dream. Gaining immortality from the television show Game of Thrones, Momoa's Aquaman is funny but serious and kicks a lot of ass! Ezra Miller's Flash is the kid of the group. He's unsure of himself, lack self-confidence and is new to this whole "superhero" thing. But he see him grow as the film puts him is situations where he must man up and be the hero he is capable of being. Victor Stone aka Cyborg is brought to life by actor Ray Fisher. Moody, terrified of himself and his abilities but very cool under pressure, Fisher captures the character's personality, strengths and flaws perfectly!

And last, but not least, I have to mention the great J.K. Simmons as Police Commissioner James Gordon. Wow!! Even though he was in the film for about 5 minutes, he looked and sounded like the old Jim Gordon from the comics!! Simmons has the distinct honor of portraying two of the most iconic comic book characters on film: Gordon and J. Jonah Jameson from the original SPIDER-MAN Trilogy! How freaking cool is that?!?!

Director Zack Snyder, who's petty much been in charge of the DCEU, originally was hired to direct the film, but left the project after a year into it due to the tragic death of his daughter. Joss Whedon was brought on board oversee the remainder of post-production, including writing and directing additional  his own scenes for the film. Even though Snyder's name is listed as director, one has to wonder how much tampering did Whedon do? And with that being said, will fans ever see Snyder's version of the film? Hopefully, Warner Bros. Pictures will release both versions of the movie when it comes out on Blu-Ray!

In my humble opinion, JUSTICE LEAGUE is an action packed, entertaining comic book blockbuster!! Fans of the DC comic will enjoy seeing this big screen adaptation during this holiday season!! 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

JUSTICE LEAGUE is currently playing in 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Phil's Horror Watch: HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II (1987) from MGM Home Entertainment - November 24, 2017

Starring Lisa Schrage, Michael Ironside, Wendy Lyon, Louis Ferreira, Terri Hawkes, Brock Simpson, Richard Monette
Written by Ron Oliver
Cinematography by John Herzog
Edited by Nick Rotundo
Produced by Peter Simpson, Ray Sager, Ilana Frank, Peter Haley
Directed by Bruce Pittman
Originally distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Released by MGM Home Entertainment

Throughout the 1980’s, horror fans were treated to an endless supply of films being released to theaters. The majority of these were sequels to popular franchises: FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, EVIL DEAD and A NIGHTMAE OF ELM STREET for example. Then in 1987, a sequel to the 1981 slasher film PROM NIGHT was released, but failed to capture both the audiences’ attention and box office profits. Now, exactly 30 years later, fans have finally caught up to the brilliance of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II.

The film's official synopsis: In 1957, jealous boyfriend Bill Nordham kills Hamilton High’s Prom Queen Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage). Thirty years later, Nordham (Michael Ironside) is now the principal of Hamilton High and his son Craig (Justin Louis) is attending the prom with his lovely girlfriend Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon). But when she finds and opens an old trunk in the school’s basement, the spirit of Mary Lou processes her. Now Nordham must confront his old love before she murders everyone he cares about.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the film was never to be intended to be a sequel at all. Directed by Bruce Pittman and written by Ron Oliver, it was originally titled THE HAUNTING OF HAMILTON HIGH. Oliver’s script was heavily filled with nods to other horror films such as CARRIE, THE EXORCIST and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Another interesting nod that he did was to have almost every characters’ last name pay homage to famous horror and cult directors; such has Wes Craven, Frank Henenlotter, John Carpenter, John Waters, Stephen King, George Romero, Todd Browing and Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Original Theatrical Poster (1987)
The movie was shot on location at Archbishop O’Leary High School in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. After filming wrapped, executive producer Peter Simpson – who produced the original PROM NIGHT – didn’t think the film worked and hired Oliver to rewrite and reshoot several of the film’s sequences in one week. These would be the rocking horse scene, the chalkboard whirlwind and the climax of the locker room death scene.

Once production was completed, the Samuel-Goldwyn Company, who purchased the film’s distribution rights, decided to change the title to HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II to cash in on the success of the first PROM NIGHT. It was a sheer coincidence that the name of the high school was the same from the original.

The film was released to theaters on November 13, 1987. It grossed $2.6 million at the box office against its $1.5-$2 million budget. The film performed poorly and horror fans didn’t flock to the theaters to see it. It did garner a positive review from L.A. TIMES film critic Kevin Thomas when he called it “THE BLUE VELVET of high school horror movies.” In a 2002 interview with the website The Terror Trap, Peter Simpson stated that, “But [Samuel Goldwyn] never had the courage of his convictions and it was released in a capricious and silly fashion. He wanted to build on PROM NIGHT so we changed the title, which I think hurt the movie.” Though the movie bombed at the box office, it eventually made a killing when it was released on home video. It’s here that the film finally found its audience and became a bona fide cult classic.

HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II is an often, overlooked 80’s horror gem! With its amalgam of slasher killings, supernatural scares, radical 80’s soundtrack and its social commentary on topics revolving teen sex, pregnancy and suicide, the movie demands a closer examination. So invite a bunch of your friends, make some popcorn and go watch this horror classic! Just make sure you save a seat for Mary Lou! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II is currently available on DVD at your local retailer. The film is also available several streaming platforms, such as Amazon Prime, Netflex and Shudder with paid subscriptions.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch: JACK FROST (1997) from Vinegar Syndrome - November 24, 2017

JACK FROST Limited Edition Lenticular Cover
Starring Jeremy Paige, Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Rob LaBelle, Kelly Jean Peters, Shannon Elizabeth, Charles Stevenson Jr.
Written by Michael Cooney and Jeremy Paige
Cinematography by Dean Lent
Edited by Terry Kelley
Produced by Barry L. Collier, Barbara Javitz, Jeremy Paige, Vicki Slotnick
Directed by Michael Cooney
Originally distributed by A-Pix Entertainment
Released by Vinegar Syndrome

Just because Halloween is over doesn't mean that the scares has to stop! Today's film was one of my favorite films to rent at my local video store American Video Center. It was a treasure trove for horror films: classics, shot on videos, cult classics and low budget gems. It was here that I saw a movie that I had to see. It had a lenticular cover of a killer snowman! This was right up my alley and I rented it ans watched it that day. Now 20 later, Vinegar Syndrome has re-released this cult classic on Blu-Ray. Today's horror film is the one, the only JACK FROST! (Not to be confused with the 1998 Michael Keaton movie of the same name)

The film's official synopsis:  On his way to be executed, the vehicle containing notorious serial killer Jack Frost collides with a hazardous chemical truck, turning Jack into a snow covered mutant and unleashing him on the unsuspecting town of Snomonton, ‘The Snowman Capitol of the Midwest’. Jack immediately takes advantage of his newfound freedom and blizzardy abilities to seek revenge on the bungling Sheriff, played by Christopher Allport (TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.), that accidentally ended his cross-country killing spree. On his way to the Sheriff, Jack terrorizes the snow-man themed town and murders its residents in a variety of winterized ways. Can the residents of Snomonton fight back against the psychopath snowman from Hell or will they all end up in a snow-covered grave?

London born writer/director  Michael Cooney came up with the idea for the movie back in 1989. The story of a serial killer who becomes a murdering snowman just screams cult classic! Along with co-writer and producer Jeremy Paige, these two came up with a script that is funny, over-the-top and very clever! The gags work, the one-liner are hilarious and the characters are fun caricatures of classic slashers from years past!

Original VHS Box Cover (1997)
Filmed in 18 days on short end film stock, Cooney and his gang had to be creative and came up with some clever ideas to overcome their very low budget and many obstacles. One example was that the movie was shot during the winter drought and there was no snow on the ground. To rectify this situation, foam and cotton swabs had to be used for snow. So every scene the audience sees that has "snow" they had to put it all down. Plus since this was filmed during the drought, temperatures reached about 70 degrees and all the actors are dressed in sweaters, scarfs, coats and parkas!

The film is also well know for being the feature film debut of the lovely Shannon Elizabeth (billed here as Shannon Elizabeth Fadal). She would go one to give every red-blooded American male wet dreams in films like 13 GHOSTS, SCARY MOVIE, JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK and, of course, the AMERICAN PIE franchise. The film's antagonist Scott MacDonald has had a very successful acting career, appearing in movies such as FIRE IN THE SKY, JARHEAD and WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, television shows like Charmed, The X-Files and Star Trek: Enterprise as Commander Doli. Boston born actor Christopher Allport (who plays our hero Sam) started acting way back in the 1960's. His resume includes titles like DEAD & BURIED, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., and INVADERS FROM MARS and a slew of TV shows like Another World, Days of Our Lives, M*A*S*H, St. Elsewhere, Dynasty, In The Heat of the Night and Murder, She Wrote. Sadly, Allport passed away on January 25, 2008 from a, "a trio of avalanches which swept off-trail canyons in the San Gabriel mountains at the Mountain High ski resort, northeast of Los Angeles."

The movie was released on VHS by A-Pix Entertainment on November 18, 1997. It became such a huge cult classic that a sequel entitled JACK FROST 2: REVENGE OF THE MUTANT KILLER SNOWMAN was released three years later. A third installment was planned but was scrapped when Allport died. The film was to be called JACK FROST 3: THE LAST COMING.

While the movie was released by A-Pix Entertainment on VHS, it was also distributed on DVD by Simitar Entertainment, both in the same year. Soon, it was out of print on both formants and commanded high prices on eBay. In 2016, Vinegar Syndrome released the film for the first time on Blu-ray.

JACK FROST is one of the best and funniest horror films to come out of the late 90's!! If your a horror fan who thinks they have seen it all, guess what? You are so wrong! You have not lived until you see a mutant snowman killing a naked Shannon Elizabeth in a shower! Yes, you read that right and that's just a small taste of the insanity that the movies offers! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

JACK FROST is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo at your local retailer as well on the Vinegar Syndrome website, where they are offering a Limited Edition Lenticular Cover. To order a copy for yourself, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Phil's Cult Classics: ROLLER BOOGIE (1979) from Olive Films - November 15, 2017

Starring Linda Blair, Jim Bray, Roger Perry, Beverly Garland, James Van Patten, Kimberly Beck, Albert Insinnia, Stoney Jackson, Mark Goddard
Written by Barry Schneider and Irwin Yablans
Cinematography by Dean Cundey
Edited by Byron 'Buzz' Brandt, Edilberto Cruz and Edward Salier
Produced by Irwin Yablans, Bruce Cohn Curtis and Joseph Wolf
Directed by Mark L. Lester
Originally distributed by United Artists
Released by Olive Films

Welcome back to another edition of Phil's Cult Classics! Today's film come from that groovie decade known as the 1970's. In fact, it was released in the last year of that decade and it started off a trend that continued in the early 1980's Dubbed "The CITIZEN KANE of the Roller Disco Films", ROLLER BOOGIE continues to entertain audiences long after its original release!

The film's official synopsis: Terry (Linda Blair), a classical musician, meets fast-talking roller skater Bobby James (Jim Bray) at Venice Beach, Calif. After initially ignoring Bobby, Terry warms to him when he saves her from a roller skating accident. The pair start skating together and decide to partner for a competition at the local roller rink. But, when they discover a shady plot to sell the rink to a crooked developer (Mark Goddard), Terry and Jim team up with their friends to stop the deal.

Original Theatrical Poster (1979)
Lead actress Linda Blair is no stranger to genre fans. Having shot to stardom with her role as Regan in director William Friedkin's 1973 horror film classic THE EXORCIST, she went on to appear in movies like THE EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC, HELL NIGHT, CHAINED HEAT, SAVAGE STREETS and  REPOSSESSED. At first, Blair's co-star was going to be her then boyfriend David Kennedy, but they broke up and he was later dismissed. Jim Bray (making his one and only film appearance) was originally hired to be the stunt double for Blair's then uncast leading man. When the producers failed to find an actor they liked, they cast Bray as Bobby James. By the time he was cast, he had already won a staggering 275 trophies for rollerskating! Beverly Garland had already made a name for herself in classic sci-fi and B-movies of the 1950's such as PROBLEM GIRLS, THE ROCKET MAN and Roger Corman's SWAMP WOMEN, GUNSLINGER and IT CONQUERED THE WORLD

The film was directed by the great Mark L. Lester with great set-ups and compositions. Lester started out with making exploitation classics like STEEL ARENA, TRUCK STOP WOMEN and BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW. He burst into the mainstream with films like CLASS OF 1984, FIRESTARTER, COMMANDO and ARMED AND DANGEROUS. Lester is still making films to this very day, ranging from action movies to fright flicks such as GROUPIE, POSEIDON REX and DRAGONS OF CAMELOT

Produced by Compass International and distributed by United Artists, the movie was released to theaters on December 21, 1979. The film grossed an impressive $13.2 million at the box office but it was the soundtrack that really got everyone grooving. Issued by Casablanca Records, the double-LP soundtrack featured disco hits by Cher (Hell on Wheels), Earth, Wind & Fire (Boogie Wonderland), as well as several original songs written by Bob Esty and Michelle Aller. Despite its cult status, the soundtrack still remains unavailable on CD or digitally.

ROLLER BOOGIE remains one of the best disco cult classics of all time and garnered a legion of fans who enjoy the innocence of the movie! It's a comedic, light-hearted, disco love story that will make you dance in your seat! It captures the late 1970's beautifully and reminds us how much fun it was to be alive back then! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

ROLLER BOOGIE is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD from Olive Films. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit your local retailer or order one on their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Phil Goes Bollywood: COCKTAIL (2012) from Eros International - Novemebr 11, 2017

Ever since seeing the anniversary screening of DEVDAS a couple of months back, I have been itching to return to that magical and wonderful land called Bollywood! Eros International is one of my favorite distributors and back in 2012 they released a film that I've been wanting to see. So after all these months, I once again traveled back to India (as well as London) to watch the romantic comedy COCKTAIL.

Original Theatrical Poster (2012)
The film's official synopsis: Three friends Meera (Diana Penty), Veronica (Deepika Padukone) and Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) move into an apartment together. All is well until love enters their lives & adds more complications than they can handle. Set against the vibrant and luscious backdrop of London and Capetown, this is a comical, new-age and warm celebration of relationships exploring various choices that life may offer and the extra-ordinary choices that ordinary people make.

What I enjoyed about the film is that it takes place in the modern world, in this case London. Instead of having the film be a period piece like most Bollywood movies, it gives the audience that sense of reality, knowing it takes place in the here and now, so to speak. The other aspect is that the characters are all relatable; we can identify with them and their personalities and eccentricities. We have a friend who they remind us of, or we see us in them. This breaks down the language barrier, giving audiences that ability to become emotionally invested in these characters. Love and friendship transcends language, and thus, becomes the universal language for the whole human race.

Khan's portrayal of Gautam is something most men can relate to: a cocky, self-absorbed playboy who sees women as a conquest. Of course, we were all like that at his age. I for one used to pick up on women all the time during my 20's and early 30's. It's something we all go through, but in time, we find love when we least are expecting it. Padukone's character Veronica is the all-night party girl we all know and maybe even dated. But there comes that time when the bright lights start to fade and you are wondering is there anything more than this? Penty's Meera represents those people who have everything planned out, but come to the conclusion that life doesn't always go as planned. Together, these three cinematic individuals represent us in our youths, those who are in their youth and the discovery of what life offers us. All three of these talented actors did a phenomenal job and their on-screen chemistry is second to none!!

Director Homi Adajania (FINDING FANNY, BEING CYRUS) as well as screenwriters Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali did a fabulous job of crafting a movie that has a lot of heart, laughter and hurt. Adajania's directing really captures the emotional context of the script while showcasing both London and Capetown as characters in the film as well. Not a lot of directors try to display their surroundings as characters, which is really a shame. We see London in all it's eclectic beauty: the flashy lights of the nightclubs, the rainy skylines and the clash of its modern building and historical landmarks. Capetown is a tropical heaven on Earth. His set-ups and composition's are simple yet elegant and suits the film's themes perfectly.

Produced by Illuminati Films and released by Eros International on July 13, 2012, the film received positive reviews by several media outlets. The film was nominated for several awards from various awards shows and won five, including the UK Bollywood Cosmopolitan award and the Vogue beauty award for best female debut to Diana Penty in 2012 and the BIG Star Critics Award for Best Actress and OIFA and the Award for Best Actor Female to Deepika Padukone in 2013.

COCKTAIL is a wonderful and emotionally charged romantic comedy that reminds us that life is full of love and surprises!! If you think Bollywood movies are just about singing and dancing, then this movie will definitely change your opinion on them. 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

COCKTAIL is currently available on Blu-Ray,  DVD and VOD from Eros International Pictures. To purchase a copy for yourself, and to learn more about Eros and their film library, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil sees THOR: RAGNAROK at the Cinelux Alamden Café & Lounge - November 3, 2017

Well, it's officially November folks! And you know what that means? Yup, a new Marvel movie was released! Pretty much whenever a new Marvel movie comes out it's a cause for celebration. It means another chapter of the MCU is open for us to explore, full of action and adventure! This time we're joining the God of Thunder as we bare witness of his journey in his third outing in THOR: RAGNAROK!

The film's official synopsis: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela (Cate Blanchett). But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)!

The THOR franchise has been mostly serious, sprinkled with some humor. Focusing on the God of Thunder and his human companions as they stop God-like adversaries, the series has been played straight forward. However, with this film, the franchise has made a hilarious sharp left turn and is now played as a comedic action/adventure superhero flick!

Credit goes to screenwriters Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost for crafting a hysterical, smart and action packed script that still contains the mythical aspect of the character while injecting a generous amount of humor from the James Gunn GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY series. In fact, during my viewing if the film, I thought that Gunn had written the script! It was fresh and exciting to see Thor portrayed in this kind of light, which adds a new layer to this famous comic book character. Add the incredibility talented director Taika Waititi (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, BOY, EAGLE VS. SHARK) helming the project, and you have a Marvel that will rank in the Top 5 Marvel Films of all time!

Once again Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston return as Thor and Loki, respectively. There's nothing that I can say that I haven't said about them before. This is their fourth outing together on the big screen and, all I can say is that they're fantastic! The have the best on-screen chemistry within the MCU and I can't get enough of them. I can watch these two all day! Cate Blanchett's Hela is cunning, vicious and deadly and is easily one the greatest villains in the MCU. But she isn't without a sence of humor and she's got me to laugh a couple of times!

Mark Ruffalo is back as Bruce Banner, better known as the Incredible Hulk! We learn what happened to Banner at the end of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and what he's been up to since then. Like we saw in the first AVENGERS film, Thor and Hulk continue their brawl as they have one helluva slobberknocker of a battle! But when we see Bruce interact with Thor, we witness the beginning of a beautiful friendship! Hemsworth and Ruffalo are great actors and they play off one another amazingly. I hope we see more of them in future Marvel films!

Jeff Goldblum basicallly plays himself but in a fancy costume as the Grandmaster, but it's so much fun to watch. Tessa Thompson portrays Valkyrie, the long fabled warrior from days gone by. She is a interesting new character to the THOR franchise and Thompson is a wonderful addition to the cast. Also, we get an appearance of the great Anthony Hopkins as Thor and Loki's father King Odin and Benedict Cumberbatch returns as the mystical Doctor Strange. In fact, the bonus scene at the end of his film appears in this film, which is a nice way of tying the two films together, making it feel like the comic books.

Also, I have no idea on who thought about using Led Zepplin's "The Immigrant Song" in the movie but that was the most brilliant idea ever! The song appears at the very beginning of the film and at the third act's climax and it heightens the action and intensity of both of these scenes! Plus, it exposes the song and the band to a new generation of kids who may never have heard of Led Zepplin before. So whoever is the one responsible for that, good job buddy! Make sure you get a bonus for that!

Overall, THOR: RAGNAROCK is the best film in the series and is one of the funniest, action packed films within the MCU!! Fans will no doubt being seeing this film in the theaters over and over again! So head over to your local theater and see this bad boy on the big screen!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THOR: RAGNAROCK is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!