Sunday, April 28, 2019

Phil attends the Thursday Night Preview of AVENGERS: ENDGAME at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge - April 25, 2019


Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Josh Brolin
Based on the Comic Book by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin
Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cinematography by Trent Opaloch
Edited by Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt
Produced by Kevin Feige, Jon Favreau, James Gunn, Stan Lee, Victoria Alonso, Trinh Tran
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
Released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

On Tuesday, April 29, 2008, I attended a special advance screening of Marvel Studios' first feature film IRON MAN, starring  Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and directed by Jon Favreau. It was on this day that I witnessed the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Eleven years and twenty-one films later, I found myself at the Cinelux Almaden Café & Lounge to watch the final chapter of what Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige has called "The Infinity Saga." I suddenly realized just how fast time goes, as I have seen every single MCU installment in the cinemas. And here I was, eagerly awaiting the closure of what has become one of the most important chapters in my cinematic experience, and it did not disappoint. It goes without saying that AVENGERS: ENDGAME will go down as one of the important and entertaining films of all time!

The film's official synopsis: The grave course of events set in motion by Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured the Avengers ranks compels the remaining Avengers to take one final stand in Marvel Studios' grand conclusion to twenty-two films, AVENGERS: ENDGAME.

I'm not going to spoil the film here in my review. Instead, I'm just going to issue the following statement: THIS WAS THE BEST MCU FILM OF ALL TIME!!

As I write this post, the film has broken several cinema records. First, it broke the record Thursday Night screenings, earning an impressive $60 million, breaking the previous record held by STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, which was $57 million total. On Friday, it grossed $305 million internationally, combined with Thursday Night's earnings for a staggering $365 million! As of Sunday morning, it has been reported that the film has now grossed globally an incredible $1.2 BILLION!! The breakdown from that is $350 million domestically and $859 internationally!! It now has become the first film in cinema history to surpass $1 billion in its opening weekend!! I seriously doubt that this record will be broken anytime soon!!

AVENGERS: ENDGAME is one of the most epic, satisfying, blockbuster and film of the year and a fitting conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that fans could ever wanted or hoped for!! It's also an end of an era, has this closes the chapter of the MCU, and is the beginning of the next phase that will entertain us with new characters, new adventures, and new films!! But before that, I would like to say "Thank You" to everyone who has been involved with the MCU and applaud you for all your hard work these past eleven years!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

AVENGERS: ENDGAME is currently playing in theaters in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 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!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Phil's Cult Classics: ROBOT NINJA (1989) from Tempe Entertainment - April 24, 2019

ROBOT NINJA Slipcover Blu-Ray

Starring Michael Todd, Bogdan Pecic, Maria Markovic, Floyd Ewing Jr., Bill Morrison, James L. Edwards, Michael Kemper, Burt Ward, Linnea Quigley, Scott Spiegel
Written by J.R. Bookwalter
Cinematography by Michael Tolochko
Edited by J.R. Bookwalter
Produced by David DeCoteau, J.R. Bookwalter
Directed by J.R. Bookwalter
Originally distributed by Cinema Home Video
Re-released by Tempe Entertainment

By the late 1980's, video stores were booming, and there was plenty to rent on their shelves. At this time, the home video market became a cash cow for low budget, independent horror films and cult classics. Among the names that were synonymous during this era were Fred Olen Ray, David DeCoteau, Rick Sloane, and Jim Wynorski. But there was another name that snuck in late in the game but made some great low budget films for the mom & pop video stores. His name was J.R. Bookwalter, and, in 1986, made the 8mm horror film THE DEAD NEXT DOOR for video renters. In 1989, he made his sophomore feature that, unfortunately, didn't measure up to his expectations, and was abandoned by the filmmaker himself. Now, thirty years later, Bookwalter has repaired and restored this forgotten movie and has unleashed ROBOT NINJA onto the masses once again!

The film's official synopsis: Late one night, frustrated comic book artist Leonard Miller witnesses the brutal rape and murder of a young couple at the hands of ruthless small-town thugs. Seeking vigilante justice, Miller decides to become his most famous character, stalking the night intent on spilling the blood of any criminal who stands in his way! Painstakingly restored from a 2K film scan of the original 16mm A/B roll cut negative with a dynamic new 5.1 surround sound remix, this VHS-era classic returns in a streaming-exclusive 16:9 widescreen presentation for the first time ever. Written, produced, and directed by J.R. Bookwalter (THE DEAD NEXT DOOR, OZONE), ROBOT NINJA slashes, stabs, guts, pokes, and jabs its way to a climactic finale, putting a unique imprint on the superhero genre.

Bookwalter has done a fantastic job of restoring his movie, as well as going all out with the special features and improvements! There's a lot to list here, so bare with me for a second while I list them all! This is Blu-Ray/DVD 2-Disc Combo. Disc One is the Blu-Ray and offers the following: DTS HD-MA 5.1 Surround Remix, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Remix, Audio Commentary with writer/director J.R. Bookwalter, moderated by Matthew Dilts-Williams of Phantom Pain Films, Audio Commentary with executive producer David DeCoteau & producer J.R. Bookwalter, Audio Commentary with director J.R. Bookwalter, star James L. Edwards, associate producer Scott P. Plummer, co-creator David Lange, and special makeup consultant David P. Barton, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Dubbed Mix in German, Italian, and Castilian Spanish, Rebuilding the Robot: J.R. Bookwalter on the Restoration, Thank You Miss Barbeau: Interview with Linnea Quigley, Contemplating Coleslaw: Interview with Scott Spiegel, Dr. Goodknight's Neighborhood: Location Tour with Benjamin Bookwalter, "The Robot Ninja" 2013 Fan Film with introduction by director Johnny Dickie, Artwork & Promotional Gallery, Behind The Scenes Gallery, Production Stills Gallery, Optional English or Spanish Subtitles, and four Tempe Digital Trailers! *whew*

And now on to Disc 2 which is the DVD portion of the combo. Here are the following: The 1989 VHS Version in 4:3 Original Aspect Ratio (1.33:1, 80 mins.), Unreleased Dolby Digital 2.0 Original Stereo Mix, Audio Commentary with Doug Tilley and Moe Porne of The No-Budget Nightmares Podcast, Robot Ninja: Unmasked! featurette, Behind-the-Scenes Footage with audio commentary by director J.R. Bookwalter, Rough Cut Outtakes, "The Adventures of Robot Ninja" TV Show Promo, Newscast Outtakes, Location Preshoots, Original 1989 VHS Release Trailer, Optional English or Spanish Subtitles, and more Tempe Digital Trailers! Holy crap, I feel like I just ran a 100 mile marathon!!

ROBOT NINJA is a bona fide VHS rental cult classic that is long overdue of a resurgence of notoriety!! It's a fun, down and dirty, DIY indie film that provides the fun, action, blood, and gore for the ages!! Now, a whole new generation of genre fans can now bare witness to a film that was ahead of its time! With the Age of the Superheroes dominating the cinemas, what better time to revisit this awesome cult classic!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

ROBOT NINJA is available on Blu-Ray/DVD Combo and Limited Edition VHS for collectors. To purchase a copy and other J.R. Bookwalter titles and Tempe Entertainment releases, please visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Phil’s Porno Chic Theatre: SKIN FLICKS (1978) from Vinegar Syndrome - April 20, 2019

SKIN FLICKS Slipcover Blu-Ray

Starring Colleen Anderson, Beth Anna, Sharon Mitchell, Jamie Gillis, Tony Hudson, Herschel Savage, Joey Silvera, Jill Monroe
Written by Gerard Damiano
Cinematography by Ron Dorfman (as Arthur Ben)
Edited by Michel Biseau (as M. Biseau)
Produced by Gerard Damiano
Directed by Gerard Damiano
Originally distributed by MB Productions
Released by Vinegar Syndrome

Hello once again and welcome back to Phil’s Porno Chic Theatre! In this installment of the series, I’ll be again reviewing another film from the late, great Gerard Domiano. As you may recall, I reviewed his arthouse erotica classic MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE from Vinegar Syndrome back in February. Today’s review is also a VS release that shines a light on another forgotten Domiano title. With its amalgam of hot sex, great acting, and self-reflective storyline, SKIN FLICKS is another Domiano movie that deserves to be rediscovered again!

The film's official synopsis: Harry (Tony Hudson) is an ambitious director of hardcore movies who's reached a breaking point. Fearing that he is artistically burnt out and struggling to find meaning in both his life and work, Tony finds solace with the companionship of an equally emotionally damaged young actress named Susan (Sharon Mitchell). As their relationship grows, Tony hopes to find the creative inspiration to finish his latest film, as Susan continues on a downward spiral which threatens to destroy them both.

Original Theatrical Poster (1978)
As with most of his films, Domiano always casts the most talented actors and actresses to have ever graced the silver screen. Sharon Mitchell steals the film as the young would be actress Susan, and her sex scenes are extremely arousing! Colleen Anderson, Tony Hudson are also in the movie, along with industry veterans Herschel Savage, Joey Silvera, and the late, great, and infamous Jamie Gillis. In fact, Gillis only appears in the third act, but steals the spotlight whenever he's in frame. Plus, his sex scene with the aforementioned Mitchell is just sizzling hot and dirty!

As writer, producer, and director, Domiano brings both fantasy and reality to his pictures, and this movie is another classic example of this. Once again taking cues from the European filmmakers from the 1960's, here's a picture that is self-reflective, candid about the adult industry, the loneliness one faces when acting in these films. It's not hard to compare Hudson's character Harry to Domiano, and there are similarities between the two: trying to create movies with crossover appeal, trying to live up to his own reputation, the pressures of being a filmmaker, and wondering if it will all come together in the end. A powerful and introspective look at oneself!

For this new release, the film was newly scanned & restored in 2k from the best surviving 35mm elements. There's also a couple of special features on the discs: Feature-length audio interview with actress Sharon Mitchell conducted by Casey Scott, and audio commentary with film historians Samm Deighan and Heather Drain. Like I mentioned in my MEMORIES WITHIN MISS AGGIE review, I wished there was more features on here. Silvera and Savage are still alive and it would have been nice to hear them share some of their thoughts and memories on the making of the movie and what they think about Damiano and Gillis. The combo has has a reversible cover artwork, and the first 1,500 copies has a special limited edition embossed slipcover designed by Earl Kessler Jr. As I am writing this review, the limited edition slipcovers are down to only 442 copies left in inventory!

SKIN FLICKS is yet another sensual, erotic, intelligent, and poignant adult classic from one of the best filmmakers during the Golden Age of Adult Films!! I sincerely hope that Vinegar Syndrome continues to comb through Damiano's catalog of movies, so we can witness first hand the extraordinary talent that this man possessed during the height of this period! I cannot express how much I loved this film, and I've got a hunch that if you're a fan of classic adult films, then this is a must-own!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

SKIN FLICKS is available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Vinegar Syndrome. To order a copy for yourself, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil’s Exploitation Cinema: PAROLED FROM THE BIG HOUSE (1938) from Something Weird Video - April 20, 2019

PAROLED FROM THE BIG HOUSE (aka Main Street Girl) (1938)

Starring Jean Carmen, Ted Adams, George Eldredge, Milburn Stone, Walter Anthony, Ole Olsen, Gwen Lee
Written by George Plympton
Cinematography by Edward Linden
Edited by Carl Pierson
Produced by J.D. Kendis
Directed by Elmer Clifton
Originally distributed by Syndicate Pictures
Re-released by Something Weird Video

Exploitation films hold a special place in my heart. The social norms of yesterday and what they thought was acceptable and what wasn’t tickles my funny bone. They were made fast and cheap, providing the sizzle to lure suckers into the theaters in hopes of seeing something naughty, racy, titilazing, or perhaps all three. Truth be told, some are good, some are bad, and some are just inept (more of those types of films later). Today’s trip down exploitation’s cinematic past come to us courtesy of Something Weird Video, The home of all things exploitation. Released in 1938, the film PAROLED FROM THE BIG HOUSE is a perfect example of the “its so bad it’s good” motto but provides audiences something amusing to watch and enjoy!

The film’s official synopsis: D.A. Milburn Stone is angry that the corrupt local parole board is recklessly releasing habitual criminals – like hitman Gunner Garson who callously mows down three people standing in front of a donut shop. Or conman “Slicker” Nixon who’s “the most dangerous of all because he has more brains than the average.” In fact, Slicker quickly reorganizes Gunner, pyromaniac Torchy, and other thugs into “a protective association” whose first attempt at strong-arming a local merchant ends with the man being shot dead. The merchant’s daughter, Pat Mallory (Jean Carmen), witnesses the murder and vows to get even. As Slicker’s fortunes rise, Pat sneaks into his home with a gun, almost gets caught, but is saved by rival racketeer “Red” Herron (George Eldredge of CAPTAIN VIDEO). She then goes to Slicker’s fancy new nightclub and is again saved by Red during a shootout. Taking a different approach, Pat next becomes a bathing-suit model in Slicker’s organization, but ends up being locked in a room with a sex maniac.

Back in the old days, exploitation films were either distributed to theaters or sold to specific territories. Hence, sometimes films were re-titled for different reasons. One of these reasons was if the distributor wanted to make more money off the film, they would re-title it and send it back out again. Another reason was if the theater wasn't making money from it, theaters would slap on a new, more profitable sounding title. It wasn't uncommon for audience members to see the same film twice.

Original Movie Poster w/Alternative Title (1938)
Kendis was part of a group of independent exploitation producers and distributor known throughout the film industry as The Forty Thieves. These individuals turned their back on the newly created Production Code of Censorship (better known as the Hays Code) and made films "exploiting" every single rule that the Production Code forbid. Depictions of nudity, sex, violence, vice, drinking, drugs, abortions, and homosexuality were displayed proudly and repeatedly. While Hollywood was struggling to make a profit, these exploitation pioneers were profiting and prospering, and this was during the Great Depression and before the United States entered World War II.

Kendis produced several classic exploitation films, including GUILTY PARENTS (1934), GAMBLING WITH SOULS (1936), SECRETS OF A MODEL (1940), and ESCORT GIRL (1941) just for starters (and all of these films are available from Something Weird Video). Kendis died in Los Angeles on August 2, 1957 at the age of 70. Director Elmer Clifton worked with D.W. Griffith in a number of projects between 1913 and 1922, and even acted in his films THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) and INTOLERANCE (1916). His feature film debut was DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS with Clara Bow in 1917. By the late 1920's his career was in decline, and found himself making movies for Poverty Row companies and lower-budget exploitation pictures, where he met Kendis. Clifton died on October 15, 1949 at 59 years old. Lead actress Jean Carmen appeared in several westerns, such as ARIZONA GUNFIGHTER (1937), THE PAINTED STALLION (1937) and BORN TO BATTLE (1935) before retiring to start her family. Carmen passed away on 

PAROLED FROM THE BIG HOUSE is one of most goofiest, cheesiest, and hilariously bad exploitation films of all time! It's an absurdly weird and wonderfully awful movie! The fact that it still exists for all of us to watch in the 21st century is amazing, and it's all because of the wonderful people at Something Weird Video! It doesn't get any better than this, folks!! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended!!
PAROLED FROM THE BIG HOUSE is available on DVD-R from Something Weird Video. To purchase a copy for yourself, please visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!  

Monday, April 22, 2019

Phil’s Horror Watch: MANIAC (1980) from Blue Underground - April 19, 2019

MANIAC Limited Edition Slipcover Blu-Ray
MANIAC (1980)

Starring Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper, Rita Montone, Tom Savini, Sharon Mitchell
Written by C.A. Rosenberg, Joe Spinell
Cinematography by Robert Lindsay
Edited by Larry Marinelli (as Lorenzo Marinelli)
Produced by Andrew W. Garroni, Judd Hamilton, William Lustig, John Packard, Joe Spinell
Directed by William Lustig
Originally distributed by Analysis Film Releasing Corporation
Re-released by Blue Underground

Welcome back to another horrifying installment of Phil’s Horror Watch! Today’s film is widely considered to be one of the most controversial slasher films of the early 1980’s. It was a ferocious visceral assault on the senses; degrading and misogynistic, gory and nightmarishly disturbing. At the heart of the movie was it’s lead actor, the great Joe Spinell, who gives a tour-de-force performance as the psychotic antagonist. Co-written by Spinell and directed by the legendary William Lustig, MANIAC remains as infamous and influential now since its initial release.

The film's official synopsis: Frank Zito (a career performance by co-writer/co-executive producer Joe Spinell of ROCKY and THE GODFATHER fame) is a deeply disturbed man, haunted by the traumas of unspeakable childhood abuse. And when these horrific memories begin to scream inside his mind, Frank prowls the seedy streets of New York City to stalk and slaughter innocent young women. Now Frank has begun a relationship with a beautiful photographer (Caroline Munro of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME), yet his vile compulsions remain. These are the atrocities of a human monster. This is the story of a MANIAC.

After all these years, the film still manages to make my skin crawl, forcing me to take several showers just to get the grim of New York off me! Spinell is absolutely outstanding as the sympathetic psychotic Frank Zito! He was, and still is, one of the best character actors the world has ever seen! The beautiful Caroline Munro really goes all out as his love interest/next victim Anna D'Antoni. Also appearing in the film are Tom Savini, who did all the special effects and gore (and even gets his head blown off with a shotgun), and Sharon Mitchell as one of the nurses. If her name sounds familiar, that's because she was one of the most popular adult actresses in the New York Adult Film world!

Director William Lustig's career began within the adult film world where he made two features: THE VIOLATION OF CLAUDIA (starring Sharon Mitchell and Jamie Gillis) and HOT HONEY under the pseudonym Billy Bagg. He then moved on to making mainstream films like VIGILANTE, RELENTLESS, UNCLE SAM, and the MANIAC COP Trilogy. Starting in 1997, Lustig went on to initially produce retrospective DVD documentaries for Anchor Bay Entertainment, then left to become the founder and CEO of Blue Underground in 2009, which restores and re-releases popular and little seen cult movies, grindhouse action, drama, and horror films.

Original Theatrical Poster (1981)
MANIAC was distributed by Analysis Film Releasing Corporation and had its U.S. premiere in New York City on January 30, 1981, then was released to other theaters throughout the country. During its theatrical run, the film faced a slew of backlash; unfavorable reviews due to its graphic depiction of violence towards women, censorhip and re-editing in the southern states of America, and even becoming banned in other states and countries.

The film was originally released on Beta and VHS by Media Home Entertainment in 1981, but even then it was still the edited version. Eventually, it was released unedited on VHS and DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2001. When Lustig started up Blue Underground, he re-released the film again in 2010, but this time on Blu-Ray.

Lustig and Blue Underground did an astounding job of restoring this revered horror classic! First, the movie is in a brand-new 4K Restoration from the recently discovered 16mm original camera negative! Also, the Blu-ray features Full 1080p HD Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio for the ultimate home theater experience, offered in  five different languages: English, Castellano, Français, Italiano, and Deutsch, contains optional subtitles: English SDH, Français, Español, Português, Deutsch, Italiano, Dansk, Suomen, Nederlands, Svenska, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Thai. Last, but certainly not least, this exclusive limited collector’s edition includes Blu-ray, Extras Blu-Ray, Soundtrack CD, collectable booklet, reversible sleeve, and special 3D lenticular slipcover!

Now let's talk all about the special features that this bad boy sports: Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew W. Garroni, Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini, Editor Lorenzo Marinelli, and Joe Spinell’s Assistant Luke Walter, New "Returning to the Scene of the Crime with William Lustig" Featurette, New MANIAC Outtakes Featurette, "Anna and the Killer: Interview with Star Caroline Munro" Featurette, "The Death Dealer: Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini" Featurette, "Dark Notes: Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway" Featurette, "Maniac Men: Interview with Songwriters Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky" Featurette, Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots, Mr. Robbie: Maniac 2 Promo Reel, The Joe Spinell Story, MANIAC Publicity, MANIAC Controversy, Collectable Booklet with new essay by author Michael Gingold, and once again the bonus CD of  the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Jay Chattaway!!

MANIAC is without a doubt one of the greatest horror films to come out of the 1980’s! It’s a sureal nightmare come to life that tackles serveral social issues pertaining to the decade of excess, while satisfying the ravenous blood and gore that horror fans were clamoring for! Lustig and the late Spinell created a bona fide horror classic that is still as schocking now as it was when it was first released! Now thanks to Lustig’s Blue Undergound outstanding restoration, the movie will forever live on for future generations of horror fanatics! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

MANIAC is a available in a 3-Disc Limited Edition with a lenticular slipcover from Blue Underground. To purchase a copy, please visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!