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KaseyG (Toronto, ON)
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American Horror Story [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
American Horror Story [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Jessica Lange
Price: CDN$ 21.99
22 used & new from CDN$ 21.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Burnt Offerings Meets Desperate Housewives, Aug. 9 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I’ve never been one for ghost or haunted house stories, but American Horror Story draws you in with its intricate plotting, surprise twists and excellent cast. I began with Asylum, which was great, so I didn’t expect that this debut season would live up to that, but it did. The goings-on in this show are just CRAZY and you watch it like a train wreck, mesmerized by all the chaos. The writers rarely tip their hand, so the twists are not telegraphed, though the clues are all there beforehand, so the audience has no reason to feel cheated.

Jessica Lange’s character is so mysterious, yet likeable, you can’t wait ‘til she appears onscreen again. The show is full of accomplished actors, young and old who all really sell this material. It’s like a great combination of those ‘70s psychological thrillers like Burnt Offerings crossed with Desperate Housewives, yet too competent to qualify as a guilty pleasure.

American Horror Story: Asylum - The Complete Second Season
American Horror Story: Asylum - The Complete Second Season
DVD ~ Jessica Lange
Price: CDN$ 17.99
21 used & new from CDN$ 16.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not My Usual Taste, But I Enjoyed It, Aug. 3 2015
Let me preface this review by stating I normally have no interest in movies and programs that deal with zombies, witches, vampires and the like. I’ve never seen an episode of “The Walking Dead” or “True Blood” but a colleague’s recommendation prompted me to check out “American Horror Story” and having read the synopses of the series so far, I decided “Asylum” would be the best place to start since the premise sounded the most intriguing (well, at least since S4 isn’t available to purchase for another two months).

From the creepy David-Fincher inspired opening credit sequence I was hooked and although the season borrows elements of everything from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” to “Silence of the Lambs” and “The Exorcist” to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, everything works. The storytelling overlaps and flashes back and forth in the timeline but the program is cohesive. The cast are terrific and it’s great seeing former “Six Feet Under” alumni Frances Conroy (as a creepy yet beautiful Angel of Death) and James Cromwell (in a deliciously wicked role) reunited onscreen. Sarah Poulson and Evan Peters will have you rooting for them all the way and Lily Rabe reminds me so much of a young Julia Duffy.

But it’s Jessica Lange who steals the show. Kudos to Ms. Lange for not falling victim to the Hollywood vanity trap of Boxtox injections and facelifts to maintain an illusion of youth. There’s no way she could have pulled off the complex role of Sister Jude/Patient Judy if her face was unable to register the range of emotions required. It’s because of her I am now working my way through Season One and will eventually get around to seeing the rest.

Priority: Remastered
Priority: Remastered
Price: CDN$ 25.66
16 used & new from CDN$ 11.54

4.0 out of 5 stars The Pointers Rock on Out of the '70s, July 23 2015
This review is from: Priority: Remastered (Audio CD)
Following the breakout success of their hit single FIRE, 1979’s PRIORITY album was somewhat of a commercial disappointment for the Pointer Sisters. Perhaps the problem was that this album was not diverse enough to please a broad spectrum. Instead it’s a collection made up entirely of Bluesy Rock that paints that gals as a female version of Grand Funk Railroad or Bad Company. Not that they aren’t up to the task—on the contrary, the girls tear into this testosterone-charged material like Ian Hunter’s WHO DO YOU LOVE, Gerry Rafferty’s BLIND FAITH and Bob Seger’s ALL YOUR LOVE with ball busting vigor that rivals Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Tyler or any of the other lady rockers of the time. Like their previous album ENERGY, the material consists largely of cover versions of established acts and writers, but the Pointers totally make them their own.

Graham Parker’s TURNED UP TOO LATE, The Rolling Stones HAPPY, Springsteen’s SHE’S GOT THE FEVER and Robbie Robertson’s THE SHAPE I’M IN all get a female makeover to great affect and IMO the album’s best moment comes when the gals warn DON’T LET A THIEF STEAL INTO YOUR HEART which is like the female answer to the Eagles’ WITCHY WOMAN and has the same sinister vibe.

Those who are only familiar with NEUTRON DANCE or JUMP may find this album too abrasive but for those who are interested in how masterful the Pointers’ were in conquering the traditionally male-dominated arena of Blues-Rock, PRIORITY is quite the revelation.

FOUR STARS

Maxx is back (1990) / Vinyl record [Vinyl-LP]
Maxx is back (1990) / Vinyl record [Vinyl-LP]
2 used & new from CDN$ 5.48

2.0 out of 5 stars Bad Album Tarnishes Their Reputation, July 23 2015
On MEETING IN THE LADIES ROOM and KLYMAXX the group had cultivated a sound that was all their own. There was no confusing them with contemporaries such as The Pointer Sisters, Mary Jane Girls or The Flirts. Not so on THE MAXX IS BACK on which the production is no different than anything at the time of Bel Biv Devoe, Pebbles or Johnny Gill. This monotonous sound is a large reason why I loathe the R&B and Dance music to come out of the early ‘90s for the most part and why this album largely fails IMO. It’s in my music collection because I’m a completist but this is one of those CDs that sits alone at the bottom of the pile largely ignored.

On the title track, they sing about returning with “a new identity, the same old savoir faire” but nothing could be farther from the truth. This album is little more than generic beats, annoying, cluttered (now terribly dated) ‘90s production and lackluster songwriting with no ear-catching melodies or clever hooks or diva anthems like THE MEN ALL PAUSE, SEXY or FASHION. Even the lyrics this time are trite and the girls seem to be coasting or just filling an obligation to the label. The fact the group has been whittled down to a trio may also have been a factor. Whatever the reason, the magic is gone.

The slinky groove GOOD LOVE and sexy slow jam WHEN YOU KISS ME are probably the best of the bunch but that isn’t saying much when even the filler tracks on their first two albums (songs like I BETCHA or DANGER ZONE) are still ten times more original and memorable than what’s here. SHE’S A USER is the closest thing to past glories but as the last track, it’s a case of too-little-too-late.

A few of the high-powered hip-hop tracks like GIRLS CHASING BOYS and DON’T MESS WITH MY MAN just go on and on like endless unnecessary noise and FINISHING TOUCH is so over-syrupy listening to it more than once may cause cavities.

It’s too bad this comeback album is such a mess but it only makes MEETING IN THE LADIES ROOM and KLYMAXX all the more valuable as ‘80s R&B/Dance classics. I wish we could have had a third jewel from these ladies but alas, this album isn’t it.

Klymaxx - The Maxx Is Back - MCA Records - MCG 6096
Klymaxx - The Maxx Is Back - MCA Records - MCG 6096

2.0 out of 5 stars Bad Album Tarnishes Their Reputation, July 23 2015
On MEETING IN THE LADIES ROOM and KLYMAXX the group had cultivated a sound that was all their own. There was no confusing them with contemporaries such as The Pointer Sisters, Mary Jane Girls or The Flirts. Not so on THE MAXX IS BACK on which the production is no different than anything at the time of Bel Biv Devoe, Pebbles or Johnny Gill. This monotonous sound is a large reason why I loathe the R&B and Dance music to come out of the early ‘90s for the most part and why this album largely fails IMO. It’s in my music collection because I’m a completist but this is one of those CDs that sits alone at the bottom of the pile largely ignored.

On the title track, they sing about returning with “a new identity, the same old savoir faire” but nothing could be farther from the truth. This album is little more than generic beats, annoying, cluttered (now terribly dated) ‘90s production and lackluster songwriting with no ear-catching melodies or clever hooks or diva anthems like THE MEN ALL PAUSE, SEXY or FASHION. Even the lyrics this time are trite and the girls seem to be coasting or just filling an obligation to the label. The fact the group has been whittled down to a trio may also have been a factor. Whatever the reason, the magic is gone.

The slinky groove GOOD LOVE and sexy slow jam WHEN YOU KISS ME are probably the best of the bunch but that isn’t saying much when even the filler tracks on their first two albums (songs like I BETCHA or DANGER ZONE) are still ten times more original and memorable than what’s here. SHE’S A USER is the closest thing to past glories but as the last track, it’s a case of too-little-too-late.

A few of the high-powered hip-hop tracks like GIRLS CHASING BOYS and DON’T MESS WITH MY MAN just go on and on like endless unnecessary noise and FINISHING TOUCH is so over-syrupy listening to it more than once may cause cavities.

It’s too bad this comeback album is such a mess but it only makes MEETING IN THE LADIES ROOM and KLYMAXX all the more valuable as ‘80s R&B/Dance classics. I wish we could have had a third jewel from these ladies but alas, this album isn’t it.

Energy (3 bonus tracks)
Energy (3 bonus tracks)
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 18.24
23 used & new from CDN$ 12.41

4.0 out of 5 stars The Pointers' Best Album of the '70s, July 22 2015
This review is from: Energy (3 bonus tracks) (Audio CD)
1978's ENERGY album is where the Pointer Sisters career finally picked up steam as producer Richard Perry helped sharpen their overall sound with a collection of material that showcased their diversity and let their harmonies sparkle (not to mention the band is incredible).

Big Break Records have done a wonderful job remastering almost the complete Pointers' catalog and this is undoubtedly their best album of the '70s which is surprising since it almost entirely contains cover versions of songs recorded earlier by famous artists (and not just because it contains their first really big smash single, the timeless FIRE, penned by Springsteen). ENERGY features material from prolific songwriters such as Kenny Loggins, Bob Welch and Russ Ballard previously recorded by The Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac among others but the Pointers totally make these tunes their own.

My favorites here include their cover of Steely Dan's DIRTY WORK that features incredible spine-tingling harmonies and outshines the original; the thumping and infectious HAPPINESS should have been a huge Disco hit; the sultry grind of the aptly-titled HYPNOTIZED (much better than the Fleetwood Mac version) will do just that to your brain.

Both the rocking LAY IT ON THE LINE and ANGRY EYES are a precursor to the kind of abrasive, harder material that would compose almost the entirety of their follow-up album PRIORITY in 1979, which does showcase their versatility but is not as diverse an album.

I'm not so fond of the slower numbers such as Stephen Stills AS I COME OF AGE (great harmonies though) and the Sly and the Family Stone cover EVERYBODY IS A STAR but I'd rate this album 4 1/2 stars overall and well-worth getting as it's their best of the '70s.

**There are 3 Bonus Tracks: NOTHING BUT A HEARTACHE is not noteworthy; LOVE IS LIKE A ROLLING STONE is another gritty number that would have fit well on PRIORITY and there's a 12' Disco Version of HAPPINESS that is a welcome addition.

If These Walls Could Talk 2
If These Walls Could Talk 2
DVD ~ Michelle Williams
Price: CDN$ 9.93
25 used & new from CDN$ 2.69

3.0 out of 5 stars Redgrave's Performance/Story Is the Only Saving Grace, July 19 2015
This review is from: If These Walls Could Talk 2 (DVD)
Since I enjoyed the original IF THESE WALKS COULD TALK on DVD recently, I took some online advice from a review that said the sequel was “even better”. Trust me—it isn’t. I assumed that the stories would be another ‘abortion anthology’ and since Sharon Stone and Ellen Degeneres were pictured in a loving pose on the cover, that one of the tales would involve a lesbian couple.

All three stories are about problems faced by lesbian couples—no abortion dilemmas this time around—set in 1961, 1972 and 2000 in the same house that was featured in the original film. I can only recommend the first segment, in which Vanessa Redgrave gives one of her usual tour-de-force performances as a schoolteacher who loses her life partner Marian Seldes unexpectedly. From the opening scene in a dark movie theatre where the two are watching the climactic scene in THE CHILDREN’S HOUR where Shirley Maclaine professes her feelings for Audrey Hepburn (and basically seeing themselves onscreen), to the awkwardness of the hospital scene where she learns she’s just become a widow yet is not recognized as such, Redgrave underplays perfectly and rips your heart out. But things get worse when Seldes’ nephew and his wife (Elizabeth Perkins making the most of a small part) swoop in to start picking over Auntie’s belongings. Not only is Redgrave treated like nothing more than a roommate, she learns she is being evicted and many of her prize possessions are being handled and snatched up like ripe produce at a farmer’s market. This kind of thing is likely still happening today and should serve as a warning for same-sex couples to ensure they have an iron-clad will to stop greedy relatives from picking them clean.

Unfortunately, the second and third segments are a severe come-down from the first, with the 1972 story featuring Michelle Willlams as a radical feminist whose friends have been banned from their college women’s group due to their agenda. When they stop in at a lesbian dive bar to brood, Williams meets and becomes intrigued with the mannish Chloe Savigny, much to the frustration of her pals, who see Savigny as nothing more than another subjugating male with a vagina. I suppose the story is about accepting one’s self as is, but it is nowhere as meaty or interesting as the first.

The final act is even more frivolous with Sharon Stone and Ellen Degeneres as a successful yuppie couple trying to conceive. When the two aren’t sitting on the hood of their car staring longingly at school kids on their recess break (creepy) or making love to Dido in extended montages, Stone’s dancing around to Annie Lennox or Natalie Cole in her pajamas and Ellen’s doing her usual stammer (this time about how she’s angry she can’t get Stone pregnant!). The only message I got from all this was how privileged and lucky these two were compared to the women in the 1961 segment.

Worth seeing for Redgrave’s performance but overall lacks the punch of the 1996 original. Act I gets five stars, Act II gets three and Act III gets two stars from this reviewer.

Creepshow [Blu-ray]
Creepshow [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Leslie Nielsen
Price: CDN$ 14.98
21 used & new from CDN$ 12.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Picture Quality is Amazing, July 8 2015
This review is from: Creepshow [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
While I can’t say this movie is a real favorite of mine, I had to post here to mention how impressed I am with the quality on the Blu-Ray release. For a movie made in 1982, this looks like it was filmed yesterday. It also has a unique look for its time in that it looks as if were shot on digital video instead of old-school film stock.

The movie itself, composed of several macabre vignettes boasts top-notch talent in the likes of then up-and-comers such as Ted Danson, Ed Harris, Stephen King (!) and vets like Hal Holbrook, Leslie Nielsen and Fritz Weaver. The stories border on the ridiculous (dumb hayseed King is turned into a human plant after touching a meteor in his backyard) so the performances are the draw here. My favorites are Adrienne Barbeau as a shrewish wife in a college town and Carrie Nye (TV’s answer to Tallulah Bankhead) as a snooty society lady.

If CREEPSHOW is a favorite of yours, grab this now because the picture quality is amazing.

Double Feature: Bonnie's Kids / Centerfold Girls (Blu-ray)
Double Feature: Bonnie's Kids / Centerfold Girls (Blu-ray)
DVD ~ Aldo Ray
Price: CDN$ 20.99
13 used & new from CDN$ 20.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Probably Tiffany Bolling's Best Movie, July 8 2015
BONNIE'S KIDS is probably the best of Tiffany Bolling's 1970s drive-in credits because it's her biggest and meatiest role. Tiffany and her kid sister (played by future soap star Robin Mattson) flee to the big city from their backwoods town after Tiff shoots their sleazy stepfather for getting a little too hands-on with his pretty young charges. The two look up their rich uncle (Scott Brady) to provide room and board and before long Tiff's gotten herself involved in criminal conspiracy with averse private dick Steve Sandor, who can't resist her charms.

The story and acting in BONNIE'S KIDS is actually much better than what's usually expected in this type of drive-in fare. What helps this movie work is the fact that Bolling can actually act because let's face it, a lot of the women in these types of movies were hired because Arthur Marks could convince them to take off their clothes on-camera. While she does show some skin (look for the angora bikini she wears in the pool scene!) it's her performance that makes the movie. It doesn't hurt that many credible actors such as Alex Rocco, Scott Brady and even young Mattson does a fine job with a hilarious harangue in the middle of the movie ('I'm gonna tell the whole world that you're a g*d*mn queer!'). Steve Sandor, usually cast as the heavy, plays a sympathetic character here and does well.

Don't blink or you'll miss boxer Ken Norton (a year or so before his big breakout role in MANDINGO) in a gym scene and a pre-CAGNEY & LACEY Sharon Gless shows up as a waitress named Sharon.

THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS is like a serial-killer trilogy that follows stalk-and-slash leading man Andrew Prine working out his sexual-repression issues by taking a straight-razor to the young ladies pictured in his Centerfolds of the Year magazine, one by one.

Future YOUNG & THE RESTLESS star Jaime Lyn Bauer plays the victim in Act 1 and does an adequate job. This story is given an interesting twist because Prine's stalking is interrupted when a Manson-esque gang invades Bauer's rustic cabin to terrorize her. B-Movie regular/Roger Corman alumna Teda Bracci plays one of them and while she's usually good for a few laughs, here she's just annoying with all the subtlety of a gorilla.

Act II finds accomplished actors such as Aldo Rey, Francine York, Ray Danton and Mike Mazurki slumming in an overpopulated and ridiculous story in which Prine's character is single-handedly able to dispatch of four healthy young women and two strong men in one weekend. York is especially fun as the uptight, no-nonsense den mother at odds with Danton but this middle segment is definitely the weakest of the three, despite having the most experienced actors.

Tiffany Bolling fans have to wait for the final reel before she shows up as a stewardess/our Final Girl who squares off with Prine in the subversive climax, which finds her taking charge and surprisingly turning the tables on her tormentor.

This is an okay set. I've seen plenty of other Exploitation flicks that are much more entertaining and while these are probably the best films Arthur Marks directed, they don't really merit repeat viewings. Still, this set is much more worthwhile than the ROOMMATES/A WOMAN FOR ALL MEN double-feature that was also released by Gorgon. The Bonus Features include recent interviews with Arthur Marks, Andrew Prine, Francine York and Tiffany Bolling and the picture quality is great.

THREE-and-a-HALF stars.

If These Walls Could Talk (Full Screen)
If These Walls Could Talk (Full Screen)
DVD ~ Various
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 29.99
7 used & new from CDN$ 24.55

4.0 out of 5 stars The Abortion Anthology, June 30 2015
Too controversial for network TV, IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK, for lack of a better description is an Abortion Anthology that aired originally on HBO back in 1996 and hasn't lost any of its' bite in nearly two decades.

The three stories are set in 1952, 1974 and 1996 and star Demi Moore, Sissy Spacek and Cher, respectively. Never a fan of Moore, I purposely avoided this until recently and upon watching it, was surprised to find hers perhaps the best performance of the trio, although it probably bears mentioning her character also had the best story with which to work. She's a widowed nurse who accidentally finds herself 'in the family way' in the months following her husband's tragic death. Desperate to terminate the pregnancy and not disgrace herself or her in-laws who are still providing for her out of obligation, she ultimately suffers the dire consequences of her actions and choices.

The wonderful Spacek is unfortunately handed the short stick as her tale is not too engrossing. She's a harried housewife, mother of four and part-time college student ready to start a new self-fulfilling chapter of her life until she learns she's expecting. This is the weakest of the trilogy.

In the last segment, college co-ed Anne Hache gets knocked up by her married professor and seeks support from judgmental roommate Jada Pinkett before venturing to the abortion clinic run by Cher (whose directorial duties in this one likely limited her screen time'but she's terrific in the brief scenes she is in). Diana Scarwid ('Mommie Dearest') also deserves praise for a sensitive portrayal that turns intense in the bloody finale.

Well worth a look, no matter where you stand on the issue. FOUR STARS

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