Hellzapoppin’ (H. C. Potter, 1941)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Hellzapoppin’.

criterion logoMake way for the nuttiest, zaniest, wackiest film this side of the loony-bin!  Comedy team Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson blast through the fourth wall and demolish the musical-comedy genre, playing Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, production assistants to a fledgling stage revue.  Hellzapoppin’s screwball romance story takes a backseat to the daffy hijinks and absurdist gags that tear at breakneck speed through this play within a film within a film.  Inspired by the comedians’ highly successful Broadway show and adapted to mock the filmmaking process, Hellzapoppin’ is a singular work of celluloid irreverence where ANY SIMILARITY TO A MOTION PICTURE IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL!

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Introduction by filmmaker and comedian Mel Brooks
  • New interview on the Hellzapoppin’ Broadway musical with Jack Marshall, Artistic Director of The American Century Theater
  • Crazy House, Olsen and Johnson’s 1943 feature film follow-up where the duo attempts to film an independent movie after being fired by Universal Pictures
  • Kinescopes of Olsen and Johnson’s NBC variety show Fireball Fun for All
  • PLUS: An essay by media scholar Henry Jenkins

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Get Crazy (Allan Arkush, 1983)

IT WAS THE GREATEST ROCK EVENT EVER … UNTIL THE PLACE EXPLODED!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddIt is December 31, 1982.  Ring in 1983 at the Saturn Theater’s annual New Year’s Eve concert – featuring the far-out Captain Cloud and the Rainbow Telegraph, the king bluesman himself, King Blues, Nada and her pop bubble gum/New Wave/punk ensemble, rock icon Reggie Wanker, and folk-rock legend Auden!

The Saturn Theater’s New Year’s Eve concert is an institution to its owner, master showman Max Wolfe (Allen Garfield), but when Max has a heart attack hours before the concert and villainous promoter Colin Beverly (Ed Begley Jr.) enlists Max’s nephew Sammy (Miles Chapin) in a plot to ruin the event and have the venue signed over to Beverly, its up to stage manager Neil Allen (Daniel Stern) and visiting former stage manager Willy Loman (Gail Edwards) to ensure the show goes on.  Luckily Allen and Loman can rely on the dedication of their crew, the professionalism of their acts, and the case of pharmaceuticals provided by the spectral Electric Larry to see the concert through.  Boasting musical performances by Lou Reed, Malcolm McDowell, Lee Ving, Bill Henderson, and Lori Eastside, Allan Arkush (Rock ‘n’ Roll High School) presents a hilarious concert movie spoof celebrating sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll as only the 1980s would have it.

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer
  • High definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Original Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Surround Options
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Introduction by director, producer and writer Edgar Wright
  • Audio commentary by director Allan Arkush
  • There Will Be No Encores – a new documentary on the making of Get Crazy featuring new interviews with Allan Arkush, Daniel Stern, Malcolm McDowell, Gail Edwards, Allen Garfield, Ed Begley, Jr., Stacey Nelkin, Dan Frischman, Franklyn Ajaye, Robert Picardo, Dick Miller, and Mary Woronov
  • Hot Shots – a new documentary on the music of Get Crazy featuring new interviews with Allan Arkush, Malcolm McDowell, Howard Kaylan, Lee Ving, John Densmore, Lori Eastside, Fabian, and Bobby Sherman
  • Gone Crazy! – director, producer and actor Eli Roth on Get Crazy
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by cult film scholar Mike Watt

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Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Freaks.

criterion logo“We accept you, one of us.  Gooble-gobble, gooble-gobble.” This is the chant of Freaks, director Tod Browning’s bizarre morality play of betrayal and retribution in a circus sideshow.  In this Pre-Code masterpiece, an evil trapeze artist seduces and marries a small-statured performer in hopes of murdering him and inheriting his secret fortune.  Her plot raises the ire of the other sideshow members and the “Code of the Freaks” demands a harsh and terrible punishment for this “peacock of the air.”  Browning, a former circus contortionist, shocked audiences and his studio by bringing true circus freaks to the silver screen (including a legless boy, a human torso, Siamese twins, a human skeleton, a pair of armless women, and microcephalics – called “pinheads” in the film), and in doing so Browning created a film that effectively ended his career but became a cult classic decades later.

Disc Features:

  • High definition digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Audio commentary by Browning biographer David J. Skal
  • Freaks: Sideshow Spectacle, a documentary on sideshow performers appearing in the film
  • 3 alternate endings
  • Special Message prologue added for the film’s theatrical re-issue
  • Kim Newman on the banning of Freaks in the UK for 31 years
  • Photo gallery of production and publicity stills
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by scholar David Church and director Rona Mark, the original short story “Spurs” that inspired the film, and a script synopsis from the MGM archives

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The Lost One (Peter Lorre, 1951)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Lost One.

criterion logoIn Peter Lorre’s only directorial effort, German scientist Dr. Karl Rothe murders his fiancée for betraying him and disclosing his research to enemy nations.  Instead of being punished, Rothe’s crime is covered up by Nazi authorities, leaving the doctor gripped by a compulsion to kill.  With the end of World War II, Rothe finds work at a refugee camp under an assumed name, but his past catches up with him when a fellow scientist and former Nazi agent arrives looking for sanctuary of his own.  Co-written and starring Lorre as well, The Lost One was rejected by audiences upon its release but has since become a masterpiece of post-WWII German cinema, an intensely haunting and fatalistic film that interrogates the psychological cruelty that enabled the war and the individual and collective guilt that followed.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, undertaken by the German Film Institute, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary by Lorre biographer Stephen D. Youngkin
  • Peter Lorre – The Double Face, Harun Farocki’s 1984 documentary
  • Displaced Person: Peter Lorre, Robert Fischer’s 2007 documentary
  • Interview with German film historian Christoph Fuchs
  • Theatrical trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by Lorre scholar Sarah Thomas, excerpts of Lorre’s own work script, biographical character sketches, documents on the film’s rating, and Bertolt Brecht’s poem to Lorre, “To the Actor P.L. in Exile;” and a new paperback edition of Lorre’s original novel “The Lost One,” unreleased in Germany until 1996 and available in North America here for the first time

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HealtH (Robert Altman, 1980)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents HealtH.

criterion logoAfter the success of Nashville, Robert Altman once again tried his hand at political satire, predicting and spoofing the upcoming presidential race between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan by depicting the heated rivalry between candidates for the presidency of a health-food organization.  In a sun-drenched Florida hotel hosting the association’s annual convention, the battle between supporters spreads through Altman’s usually large cast of characters, an all-star ensemble including Lauren Bacall, James Garner, Carol Burnett, Glenda Jackson, Paul Dooley, Henry Gibson, Donald Moffat, Alfre Woodard, and Dick Cavett playing himself.  Mired in two years of delayed releases that effectively ensured that HealtH arrived in limited release to theaters dead on arrival, this wild and wacky parody of the political process exemplifies Altman’s exuberance, his extravagance, and his eccentricity.

Disc Features:

  • New high definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary with co-writer Paul Dooley
  • New interviews with stars Carol Burnett, Dick Cavett, Glenda Jackson, and Alfre Woodard
  • Galleries of rare production and publicity stills
  • PLUS: A new essay by film critic Robert Kolker, an excerpt of David Thompson’s interview with Robert Altman, and Vincent Canby’s review from HealtH‘s limited release in New York

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Love Sublime (Raj Kapoor, 1978)

A BOLLYWOOD FABLE OF LOVE, LUST AND OBSESSION

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddThere is nothing quite like Raj Kapoor’s Love Sublime – a meditation on love and beauty that lavishly mixes fantasy, psychedelia, and voluptuous sexuality against the background of 1970s India’s rural electrification program.  A playboy engineer from the city (Shashi Kapoor) is sent to a small village to oversee a new hydroelectric dam, and falls in love with a nubile temple girl (Zeenat Aman) who hides her severely scarred face from him.  He discovers her disfigurement on their wedding night and goes mad, insisting that she is an impostor and bringing her to a strange masquerade designed to restore his love.  Raj Kapoor presents a fairy tale vision that mixes the hardscrabble realism of rural life with baroque dream sequences and a scandalous degree of sexuality by his female star’s barely there wardrobe.  While representing a stunning accomplishment in visual style by cinematographer Radhu Karmakar and boasting an accomplished soundtrack by composers by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Love Sublime‘s unusual story and rampant eroticism has nevertheless defined it as the most controversial movie of Bollywood’s greatest filmmaker.

Love Sublime resembles the Hindi lovechild of Samuel Fuller and Russ Meyer, merging daring pulp perversity with a rural, Gothic, T&A melodrama and creating an irresistible social drama that may or may not teach that beauty is more than skin deep.  As Elliott Stein observes, “Although it was made for Indian audiences, I have never met an Indian who will admit to liking it and I have never met anyone from the West who didn’t like it.”

Special Features:

  • New High Definition Digital Transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Raj Kapoor in the ’70sRachel Dwyer on Raj Kapoor and his late career interest in female protagonists
  • New interviews with stars Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman
  • Sex, Saris, and Censorship – a visual essay by Monika Mehta exploring the reception and controversy of Love Sublime
  • Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
  • Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Wendy Doniger, a review by Elliott Stein, and illustrated with original stills and posters

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