Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Johnny California: Coming Attractions

 by JB

Twenty-five new releases to add to your personal stash!

Although Christmas is coming, DON’T BE STINGY WITH YOURSELF. You go ahead and buy yourself every new release that you think sparkles like silver and gold... silver and gold…

Already Out:
AGFA/Something Weird’s Shock-O-Rama Video Party (Blu-Ray)
I bought this more out of curiosity than anything else. The five (Count ‘em: five!) exploitation titles on this disc represent films that Something Weird preserved on S-VHS masters during the early days of home video because the original film elements have been lost to the ages. You’ll get The Naked Witch, Violated, Ghosts of Hanley House, and Passion in the Sun. Special features include a vintage audio commentary for The Naked Witch with Larry Buchanan and Nathaniel Thompson, vintage trailers and drive-in promos, and the ability to play the whole thing as an uninterrupted “all-nite slumber party.”

December 6th:
Pulp Fiction (4K), 48 Hrs. (4K), and Train to Busan (4K)

If you haven’t already hopped aboard the 4K bandwagon, what’s keeping you?

These titles alone might persuade you to make the upgrade. As a fan of physical media, I think some of the most exciting releases of the year have been 4K upgrades.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (Blu-ray)
The fine folks at Warner Archive finally break down and give us one of the most famous (and, let’s be honest, worst) films of the “Humorously-Long-Titled, Drive-In B-Movie” subgenre. You can file this one away with I Married a Monster from Outer Space (which is much better than AOT50FW) and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (which is much, much worse). Maybe it’s my recent trip to the Land of Disney & Personal Bankruptcy that has me hankering for this disc. The trailer is featured prominently on the endless loop of heavenly ephemera that plays at the Sci-Fi Dine-In restaurant at Disney Hollywood Studios.

December 13th:
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (DVD)
Why pick up this largely forgotten B-picture? Because Boris Karloff plays the titular villain! Also, it will be fun to see if Cheezy Flicks’ presentation is better than the Film Detective disc that is now eight years old.

& ParaNorman (4K), Carrie (4K), and Silent Running (4K)
More 4K upgrades, this time for my two favorite Laika films (Coraline is crazy creepy and ParaNorman has a subtext that is oh-so applicable to our current political climate).

The Carrie upgrade seems like a no-brainer (will the “spinning prom dance” sequence make you EVEN SICKER in 4K?) and Silent Running was one of my favorite science-fiction films growing up, thanks to Bruce Dern’s performance and the film’s ubiquity on the ABC-7 3:30 Movie.

Cooley High (Criterion Collection Blu-ray)

This essential 1975 film finally gets the Criterion treatment. Director Michael Schultz did such a great job turning this film and the following year’s Car Wash into hits that Universal Studios rewarded him (?) with the job of directing 1978’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Featuring the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, the latter is one of the worst movies ever made. How bad is Sgt. Pepper? The 2020 HBO documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart mentions it... a total of zero times. Watch Cooley High instead!

Thrillers from the Vault (Blu-ray)
Why would I recommend this Mill Creek super-compilation of obscure chillers from the 1930s and ’40s? Because friend-of-the-site Heath Holland recorded his first ever audio commentary for the Boris Karloff feature, The Man They Could Not Hang! As far as I’m concerned, that’s reason alone to buy the disc. But you get so much more: The Black Room, Before I Hang, The Man with Nine Lives, The Devil Commands, The Boogie Man Will Get You, Return of the Vampire, and Five. That’s nine hours and 19 minutes of creepy entertainment for only 35 US dollars. That’s less than five bucks a film or less than seven cents a minute. I hate math, but I love a bargain!

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
This may just be my most anticipated title of the year. Eureka Entertainment presents a limited edition of only 3,000 copies, featuring a score by Uwe Dierksen & Hermann Kretzschmar from 2019; original German intertitles with optional English subtitles; a new audio commentary by Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby; a vintage audio commentary by film historian David Kalat; The Asylum in Film, a brand new interview with author/critic Kim Newman; You Must Become Caligari, a video essay by film critic David Cairns; Caligari: The Birth of Horror in the First World War, a 52 minute documentary on the cultural and historical impact of the film; On The Restoration, three short video pieces on the film's restoration; and a trailer. Plus, there’s a limited-edition 100-page book, including vintage writing on the film by Lotte H. Eisner, an original Variety review of the film, rare imagery, and more. C’mon, even at current exchange rates, this gem is only about $37 plus shipping!

December 20th:
The Taking of Pelham 123 (4K) and The Hospital (Blu-Ray)
More upgrades from the land of 4K. Pelham is justifiably famous (It’s been enjoying a rebirth of sorts on basic cable lately and is required viewing WHENEVER it is on) but The Hospital is more obscure. From the pen of Paddy Chayefsky, this 1971 film attempts to do to the American Health System what Chayefsky’s later Network did for American television. It’s a gem, and features George C. Scott at his ANGRIEST. Somebody, get this man a workable HMO plan and a Snickers bar, STAT!

December 27th:
The Films of Doris Wishman: The Daylight Years (Blu-ray)
AGFA’s release of this final box set completes the trilogy they started earlier this year with The Films of Doris Wishman: The Moonlight Years and The Films of Doris Wishman: The Twilight Years. Now you can have ALL of this misunderstood auteur’s films together in three big boxsets. For less than $150, you can thrill to endless shots of legs and feet as characters walk across endless rooms, as well as the risible way director Wishman cuts to whichever person in a dialogue scene is NOT talking, to make syncing the soundtrack that much easier. What is the appeal of these films? (Hint: All of the movies but one in this third boxset feature the words “nudist,” “nature,” or “nude” in the titles: Nude on the Moon, Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, Hideout in the Sun, Gentlemen Prefer Nature Girls, Diary of a Nudist, and The Prince and the Nature Girl.) I remember I reviewed Wishman’s Bad Girls Go to Hell seven years ago on this very site. You can read that review here.

Back then I decided her odd, clothing-optional oeuvre was not up my particular alley, but I can imagine several regular readers who may wish to ask Santa Claus to gift them this holiday season with all three boxsets.

What do you say, Chaybee?


  1. Great stuff! thanks JB! and as one who sloooowly is opening the pandoras box that is 4k, i much appreciate it. (Cant wait for Pulp 4k to arrive at the doorstep any minute!!)

  2. Did you get the Warner Archive blu-rays of Mark of the Vampire and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

    The Something Weird DVD releases were my entry to the cinematic world of Doris Wishman back in the early 2010s. This past summer I had the pleasure(?) of watching one the Chesty Morgan films on the big screen at the Mahoning Drive-In for an AGFA night there. The reaction of the unsuspecting audience was golden. I have pondered getting The Moonlight Years set. Incidentally, with the release of her two hardcore films by Vinegar Syndrome, almost all of Wishman's existing films are now on blu-ray.

    There is a clip on Youtube of Doris Wishman on Conan O'Brien's show from 2002. The other guest is none other than Roger Ebert. Her banter with Ebert is hilarious.

    My first posts on FThisMovie were for your Glutton for Punishment articles, J.B. Bad Girls Go To Hell was definitely one of them.

    I remember convincing an ex-girlfriend and a housemate to watch Attack of the 50 Foot Woman with me. I did not realize what I was getting them into, and they were not happy with me afterward.

  3. Warner Archive discs of both films look gorgeous. It’s nice to have one of the few horror performances to win an Oscar on Blu-Ray disc.

    I’m slowly facing the facts that every single person on earth might enjoy Ms. Wishman’s films more than I do.

    Did the screening of 50 Foot Woman lead to her EX girlfriend status? I hope not. The film is practically a series of lessons on how to be a good husband (!)

    1. Miriam Hopkins was the biggest surprise of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I watched it last year. Her performance is among the most uninhibited of pre-code Hollywood.

      Doris Wishman is an acquired taste. I have to be in a certain frame of mind to appreciate her work, but the later films are tough to get through.

      There were bigger issues than bad movies that ended the relationship. I did subject my ex to some bad ones, though. (I warned her when I could.) Mystics In Bali and AOTFFW were among the worst. When I did ask her about her least favorite, though, her unequivocal answer was Jean-Luc Godard's LA CHINOISE. Apparently being lectured to about Maoism was worse than watching bad filmmaking.