Monsters & Maniacs DVD News
We begin with the wackiness that is Minoru Kawasaki, the filmmaker responsible for The Calamari Wrestler and Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit, and the DVD release of his silly and surreal 2005 animal costume slasher/thriller/comedy Executive Koala.
Tamara is just an average Japanese salaryman working for a pickle company except for the fact that he suffers from periodic memory loss, his vanished years earlier, and he happens to be a six-foot tall koala bear. His latest girlfriend is murdered and he becomes the prime suspect. Tamara joins forces with his boss (a white rabbit) and a friendly convenience store clerk (a frog) to prove his innocence.
Synapse Films will be treating us Americans to Executive Koala on November 18th (pre-order it here!), releasing it as part of what they are calling "The Minoru Kawasaki Collection". The other two in the collection, also being released on the 18th, are The Rug Cop, a spot-on spoof of 1970s Japanese cop shows about a hardboiled detective who can throw his toupee as a lethal weapon, and The World Sinks Except Japan, a parody of the recent Japanese disaster epic The Sinking of Japan, only in Kawasaki's version it's the rest of the world evacuating to Japan, the only land on Earth not sinking into the ocean depth.
Continuing with Japanese genre releases, Tokyo Shock will bring Gamera The Brave (review) to American shores. Made in 2006, this was an attempt to re-kid-ify the Gamera movies after Shusuke Kaneko's darker, genre redefining Gamera trilogy of the 1990s. More a coming of age story involving giant monsters than a traditional daikaiju movie, a young boy discovers a Gamera egg (the original Gamera having apparently sacrificed itself in a battle with Gaos back in the Seventies) and raises the future fighting turtle, which he names Toto. Like the original Gamera, Toto is also the friend of children everywhere. A Godzilla-esque sea monster named Zedus eventually rises from the depths to terrorize Japan. Toto is soon grows to full size to save day.
Opinions on the film are wide ranging from wonderful to terrible. Personally, as much as I love Japanese monster movies, I've never been able to bring myself to watch it despite having had a copy in my possession for well over a year. I don't know if it's the "Pokegamera" plot that turns me off or the fact that the adult Toto looks like a Downs Syndrome Gamera. You can decide for yourself next month (pre-order it here). It may be your last chance to see a new Gamera movie for a long time since Gamera The Brave was quite the box office flop in Japan.
Turning to more traditional horror releases, December 15th is the day MTI releases Spiker starring DTV action star Frank Zagarino as an unstoppable albino maniac who escapes an insane asylum and returns to terrorize a town using railroad spikes as his favorite instrument of death. Go back and read the article I wrote about the film back in June for more details.
MTI will follow that up on January 6th with the romantic horror flick Kiss of the Vampire starring "The Young & The Restless"' Daniel Goddard, Costas' brother Louis Mandylor, Aussie action movie star Gary Daniels, I Come in Peace alien Matthias Hues, and Katherine Hawkes (who also wrote and produced). Goddard stars as debonair vampire that falls for a mortal played by Hawkes, whose father is a scientist researching immortality for the Illuminati. The vampire, desperate for a return to mortal life, makes a deal with the Illuminati; they promise to find a cure for vampirisim in exchange for him giving them a taste of his immortality. The result is an all-out war between the vampires and the Illuminati. You’ll find the trailer on YouTube.
It seems like just yesterday I was reviewing the Sci-Fi Channel original Yeti (review). That's probably because it was yesterday. If you missed it you'll only have to wait until January 13th when Genius Entertainment unleashes this Abominable Snowman to DVD (pre-order it here). It's being released under the "Maneater" banner, a series of titles usually reserved for RHI Entertainment-produced killer animal movies (i.e. Croc, Blood Monkey, In the Spider's Web, etc.) Does this mean Genius Entertainment acknowledges the Yeti's existence and therefore rightful place amongst legitimate zoological hominids? Good for them.
It'll be a duel of Sci-Fi Channel originals as January 13th will also see the DVD release of Warbirds (review) (pre-order it). Set during WW2, a planeload of female fighter pilots (and "Charmed"'s Brian Krause) crash on an island in the South Pacific where they have to contend with both a contingent of Japanese soldiers and prehistoric pteradons. I found Warbirds to be a nifty concept turned into a pretty routine and rather underwhelming film when I reviewed it earlier this year.
Now if you're looking at the DVD artwork and wondering when did T-Rexes learn to fly; I assure you these are not your typical pterodactyls.
More Sci-Fi Channel to DVD news with the just announced February 3rd release of RHI Entertainment's Black Swarm (review) starring Robert England. Don't let the Sci-Fi Channel original moniker turn you off; Black Swarm is a surprisingly well made "X-Files"-esque tale of mutant wasps wreaking havoc in small town. You can go back and read my review to learn more about why you ought to give this one a shot, the click here to pre-order it.
Good news for fans of the strange 1994 superhero/horror flick Shrunken Heads: the DVD will be available this Friday. Or was it last Friday? I’m not quite sure. Directed by Richard Elfman (brother of Danny), three kids get murdered by gangbangers; a local voodoo priest then brings them back to life - their talking, flying, murdering shrunken heads to be exact - in order to seek revenge against their killers. Surf over to Full Moon Direct for details on how the order this Charles Band-produced oddity.
Those in need of their shark movie fix will get it on January 6th when First Look Pictures releases the Shark Attack Pack, a DVD five-pack of recent killer shark movies, none of which are any of the actual Shark Attack films (pre-order it). The five: 2001's Shark Hunter (Antonio Sabato Jr. vs. the megalodon shark that ate his family), 2003's Dark Waters (Lorenzo Lamas vs. unusually aggressive sharks), 2003's Shark Zone (A shark biologist terrified of both sharks and water has to save San Francisco from man-eating sharks and treasure-seeking Russian mobsters), 2004's Blue Demon (a shark with a neutron bomb strapped to it attempts to suicide bomb the Golden Gate Bridge), and Hammerhead (Jeffrey Combs creates a man-shark). All this can by yours for the suggested retail price of $19.99.
Finally, Wild Eye Releasing has a pair of ultra low budget grindhouse-style shockers coming December 15th courtesy of underground filmmaker Keith Crocker. Blitzkrieg: Escape from Stalag 69 is a throwback to both Nazi sex films and women in prison flicks of the 1970s with USO girls fighting to survive inside the Third Reich's most wicked POW camp. The other is The Bloody Ape, Crocker's first feature film shot on Super 8 back in 1998. A 1970 drive-in homage inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue", a bloodthirsty gorilla in heat escapes the local carnival and goes about raping and killing a series of strippers. Both discs will boast a myriad of extras (director's commentary, interviews, other Keith Crocker short films, and so on). Head over to Wild Eye's website for more details.
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