Friday, March 29, 2019

VHyesterdayS Trailers: The Films That Time Forgot

A while back I decided to kick off the VHyesterdayS series with a tape that kept calling my name, Communion. I had fun watching the movie again, even if I was petrified, but do you know what really stuck with me? The trailers at the start of the tape! I'm a guy that watches and is aware of a lot of films, but I hadn't heard of a single one of the movies featured in these trailers!

It got me thinking about all the films that were direct-to-video or had a very short life span in the theatre and have been left to rot, considered too weak to eke even the smallest profit. These movies may have had a limited VHS release and aren't likely to hit DVD, Blu-ray, or even a streaming service.

So here are three of those "lost films" and because I'm so lazy, it's actually the exact three that were featured on my M.C.E.G./Virgin release of Communion from 1989!

Limit Up

Limit Up is a comedy film starring Nancy Allen, Dean Stockwell, Danitra Vance, and Ray Charles. It was written (co-written with Luana Anders) and directed by Richard Martini. From what I can tell the film had a premiere in Chicago - where it is prominently set - in 1989 before being released direct-to-video in 1990.

The film follows Nancy Allen's character, Casey Falls, as she makes a deal with the Devil (portrayed by Danitra Vance of SNL fame) in order to make it big in soybean stocks. INB4 all those non-fat soy lattes!

Does it look like a by-the-numbers 80s comedy movie? Yes. Is that a problem. Absolutely not!

As is the case with all of the films I'll be featuring today I have not seen Limit Up, so I can't speak to it. A VHS copy would only cost around $6 CAD, but to have it shipped to My-Neck-of-the-Woods, Canada would be an additional $25 or so, so I haven't made the purchase. A quick search showed me that some individuals actually got their hands on a DVD copy of the film from Amazon, but my best deduction is that these were VHS ripped copies that were illegally distributed through the platform and are no longer available. I can't find any information that the film saw anything outside of its original VHS release.

That said, it appears that Limit Up is available on Amazon Prime Video in the US! It means I can't watch it in my region, but hopefully someday it'll be available in the Great White North and I'll be able to give this movie a watch. It looks like a fun little comedy/fantasy that I'd definitely like to check out.

Trust Me

Next up is Trust Me, starring Adam Ant, David Packer, and Talia Balsam. It was written and directed by Robert Houston, who is probably best known for this role of Bobby in The Hills Have Eyes

It's a crime movie in which Adam Ant's character, James Callendar, may or may not kill off Sam Brown (David Packer) in order to make his art more salable in the cutthroat art market. It could be a fun comedy romp based on the music and visual cues of the trailer or it could be a straight-forward drama. The trailer is so bad I can't even tell. I somehow gleaned as much as I did amidst the sea of shoulder-padded blazers and neon colours.

This is certainly not a movie I'd like to see, but you can score a VHS copy of the film from $7 to $10 CAD, plus shipping and handling. I couldn't find any streaming services that carry Trust Me, but I did find the entire film uploaded to YouTube, if you're so inclined!

Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts is a feel-good drama directed by Jon Amiel, starring Vittorio Duse, Joseph Long, and Anita Zagaria.

It was the first film directed by Jon Amiel, who worked in TV for the BBC for several years prior. He would go on to have a solid career in Hollywood with films like Sombersby, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Entrapment, and The Core, as well as successful TV shows like The Borgias.

This is more of a teaser than a trailer, with a run-time of about a minute, so it's difficult to get more than the feel of the movie from it, but it is about a family of Italians who live a whimsical life running a café in London.

Look at that title card! It stands out like a sore thumb. It looks like it was created by a local TV station or something. I sure hope it didn't make it into the final cut of the film.

Queen of Hearts is another movie I won't seek out personally, but not for the same reasons as Trust Me. The teaser coupled with the accolades of the director speak to the film being just fine, but it doesn't look like my cup o' tea. That said, you can find a VHS copy of the film at auction for around $13 CAD plus, I'm sure, some hefty shipping and handling on top.

Or just skip that and get the DVD! That's right, MGM owns distribution rights of the film and a DVD can be purchased through Turner Classic Movies for around $30 CAD. Sorry, from what I can tell, there are no streaming options available.

So that's it! I have to say, I was surprised to find that Limit Up was available for streaming and that Queen of Hearts actually landed a limited and expensive DVD release. For that reason it's hard to call them "lost", but I think they still remain films you likely never even heard of regardless of their availability.

I hope you enjoyed this (probably) boring trip through the films that time forgot and if you actually read the whole thing... I have nothing for you, but regret!


Friday, March 22, 2019

Memory, Blog: Those Creepy Alien Shows

For one reason or another throughout my life I've found myself drawn to TV shows and films about the paranormal and I'm not talking about those reality shows, like Ghost Hunters. Specifically, for me, it is anything to do with aliens and UFOs. It's a contributing reason for my obsession with The X-Files, but it goes much deeper than that.

I want to preface this by saying that I don't believe in aliens. I don't think there's some grand conspiracy that a group of intergalactic beings from another planet/dimension/reality/whatever are visiting earth in ships, abducting people for experimentation, and screwing around with livestock.

I think my fascination with the subject is three-fold.

One reason is that I'm captivated with the idea that there are people out there that whole-heartedly believe in it all. And I don't mean this as a condescension, like, "How could someone believe in this crap!?" It's more akin to wanting to understand why they believe what they believe. It's probably like a secular philosopher trying to better understand religion.

The second reason is that I find alien and UFO stories to be like the ghost stories of our generation. We live in a world driven by science, so of course our fireside stories are that of science fiction. It kind of just makes sense.

The third and most major reason is that the idea of aliens scares the ever-loving shit out of me.

I have zero context to offer you as to why, but when I was really little I had nightmares that the Martians from Sesame Street were going to take me from my bed at night. I had to be the only kid on the planet petrified of Muppets.

They're still creepy.

This fear was exacerbated one fateful day by my unwitting mother who picked up a new video for me to watch: E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. And why woudn't she? It was an international family-friendly hit! As soon as I saw E.T. for the first time, plodding around the forest with his freaky glowing heart, I was instantly traumatized. I can't recall so much as breathing throughout the rest of the viewing, but I somehow survived it. I had a new face for my fear and it was the dough-eyed alien that every other kid at school had on their bed sheets.

See, it's petrifying!

Considering I was so afraid of the subject I have no idea why, but I would try and watch anything that featured aliens, which in the late-80s and early-90s was no problem. The paranormal was a hot topic and one could simply flip to any channel on a Friday night and find a program featuring unexplained phenomena.

The result was a fascination with those hokey paranormal TV shows that used to cover the pages of the TV Guide. For me, it all started in the early 90s when A&E began airing re-runs of In Search Of..., which was one of my favourite TV shows ever. The ideas and topics were so interesting and they would often feature the crazy stories of aliens or UFOs that I was craving, but presented in a way that wasn't all that scary.

Okay, that's BS, I was still scared to death, but I could make it through an episode, so long as all the lights were on. I think this is why I found the courage one night to watch a relatively new show called Unsolved Mysteries, which although it wasn't strictly a paranormal show had the occasional alien/UFO-related topics. In fact, it was an episode of Unsolved Mysteries that spurred on my fear in a big way, but we'll feature that story another time.

There were all sorts of paranormal shows that cropped up in the wake of Unsolved Mysteries, like Sightings and Encounters, both of which tried to employ the trappings of a real news magazine show to make the topics at hand seem that much more credible. And lets not forget the myriad of one-off specials, like Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction or Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County.

My obsession continues to this day, so this is just the beginning for this topic on the site. I already have some related posts in the works, but I thought it made sense that I outline my fear and fascination with aliens and UFOs in films and television before we really begin to scan these starry skis... I mean skies.


Friday, March 15, 2019

Theatrical Cut - Captain Marvel

Have you had enough of all the controversy surrounding the release of Marvel's latest film, Captain Marvel? Well, Cole and I took in a viewing and here we are talking about the film without any of the BS!

I feel a little remiss not saying anything regarding the controversy surrounding the film, so what I'll say is that this is a really fun action, comic book film. If you've been reading Marvel Comics as long as I have, you might even find Captain Marvel to be the most "comic-y" (I'll call Encyclopedia Britannica and have the word added, post-haste) of the MCU films to date.

There's all sorts of anti-feminist vitriol and conspiracy regarding Rotten Tomatoes review scores and the belief that Disney has been pushing this film a little bit extra, because it's bad and they secretly want to trick you into seeing it.

This is an MCU film; they sell on name alone. They make bonkers money, no matter what. The Disney Stonecutters don't need some wild agenda to get you into the theatre to see Captain Marvel. It's a good movie that stands on its own two legs just fine and it is worth your time to see it, especially if you're going to see Avengers: Endgame in a few weeks.

Disney has been brokering deals with theatres for a long time when they are releasing their films. They have the hot movies and they know it, so they can "ask" certain things of theatres that want to screen them, like early "VIP" showings the night before release or a certain proportion of screens dedicated to their films, and get away with it. They did the same thing with Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017, which caused a big media buzz, as well. This isn't something special they've cooked up for Captain Marvel out of some crazy feminist conspiracy.

If you're looking for a fun two hours, turn your brain off, log off of social media, and settle into Captain Marvel. Cole and I found it really enjoyable and there's setup there for Avengers: Endgame hitting the silver screen on April 26th!

Make Mine Marvel,

Friday, March 8, 2019

VHyesterdayS - Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Here's some more VHS love to spice up your Friday!

As promised, in this edition of VHyesterdayS we'll be chatting about what I'm pretty sure is a 1992 release of Terminator 2 by Carolco and Live Entertainment.

I mention a Subway commercial that appears at the start of the tape, in lieu of any teasers for other films. I said in the video that it was a franchisee commercial, but I just got my thoughts jumbled. It's a regular old Subway ad from the early 90s. I wrote my notes over a month ago, wrote down that the actor looked like a franchisee, got it all mixed up when I was recording, and since this is my second time in the last few weeks re-doing this video, I'm not fixing it!

Welcome to the wonderful world of un-professional, just doing it for the kicks, content creation, folks!

Here's the ad:

As always, I hope you get something out of my obsession with old VHS tapes!


EDIT: It appears that Lionsgate feels that my video somehow infringed on their copyright for Terminator 2 and even after disputing with YouTube my video has been disabled. I don't see me having time in the near future to re-record the video to avoid copyright infringement (I played the trailer for the movie in the background without audio, if you're wondering) so for now, unfortunately, this video is dust. If I can upload a revised version in the near future, I'll make sure to update this post and make an announcement on my Twitter feed!

Friday, March 1, 2019

VHyesterdayS - The Terminator

Here we are once again as I dig through my personal treasure trove of VHS tapes and pull out some of the gems.

I can still recall when I first saw Terminator 2: Judgement Day, but I can't really recall my first viewing of The Terminator. I've always felt that T2 was the better movie - and that still stands - but I must say that over the years the original Terminator film has grown on me significantly.

In this episode of VHyesterdayS we examine a late VHS release - the 2000 Alliance Atlantis Canadian copy of The Terminator - and have a brief chat about some of the releases that preceded it.

I hope you enjoy!