Category Archives: Film

“THE RAILWAY CHILDREN”— The Film of the Stage Version


“The Railway Children”

The Film of the Stage Version

Amos Lassen

Edith Nesbit’s story of three children who help save a steam train from derailing and causing death and serious injury is as magical, charming and popular as it was when it was first written more than 100 years ago. Since then the book has been adapted for film and TV and now it has once gain been adapted for the screen with a film of the award winning stage version and that is just that, a film of what you see on the stage.

The lives of siblings Phyllis, Peter and Bobbie Waterbury change dramatically one day when some mysterious men take their father away. They children are forced to pack up and leave London with their mother and go to a cottage in rural Yorkshire and it is here that their adventures begin.

The acting is excellent especially from the three children— Beth Lilly as Phyllis, Rozzi Nicholson-Lailey as Bobbie and Izaak Cainer as Peter. But the real star of the show is the train that steams onto the stage. 

The play was filmed at The National Railway Museum in York, England. This is a children’s story about a family trying to adapt to life in their new Yorkshire home after their father is falsely accused of spying.Everybody is nice and very little happens; yet it has lasted over a century.

Mike Kenny’s stage adaptation is done with imagination and we see why see why it has been a hit on stage but it is all a bit much on the screen, lots of adult actors pretending to be posh kids bellowing at each other across short distances, being plucky in the face of adversity.

The production means you can see the front rows of the audience and it is noticeable that the grown-ups seem much more enthused than the kids.

The plot follows the story of Roberta (Bobbie), Peter and Phyllis, three sheltered siblings who suffer a huge upheaval when their father, who works for the Foreign Office, is taken away from their London home and (falsely) imprisoned.  The children and their mother, now penniless, are forced to move from London to rural Yorkshire near a railway line.  The story deals with themes of justice, the importance of family and the kindness of strangers.

It was filmed with seven cameras by an expert team, who navigate the unique staging including moving platforms, props and rail carts, the film captures every moment of the fast-paced production. It is important to distinguish between a film and a filmed stage version. I found this to be absolutely charming.

“ARE WE NOT CATS”— Restarting a Life

“Are We Not Cats”

Restarting Life

Amos Lassen

Eli (Michael Patrick Nicholson) has hit the bottom. Within only just a few hours, he becomes homeless, jobless and dumped. What he needs is new start.

Eli was essentially homeless and sleeping in the delivery van that was his only source of income. He gets a job delivering an engine to a small upstate town that will at least keep him afloat for a few months where he meets Kyle (Michael Godere) who is having the engine put in his car. Eli gives Kyle a ride home and then Kyle takes Eli to an underground party in an abandoned warehouse space where he meets Kyle’s girlfriend Anya (Chelsea Lopez) who seems to be really hip.

Eli takes a job where Kyle works and when Kyle has to leave on a trip, Eli keeps Anya company while he’s away. At first she is firm about keeping things on a friendship level; the two have a lot in common and seem comfortable with each other but both of them are hiding something;’ We learn that Eli suffers from trichotillomania (a compulsion for pulling out one’s own hair) while Anya has trichophagia (a compulsion to eat human hair). We discover that Anya has been wearing a wig the whole time and is nearly bald from yanking out of her own hair and eating it. The two eventually have sex and while Eli sleeps Anya eats hair and both of them look like radiation victim.

One of the consequences of trichophagia is that it can create massive hairballs in the intestines and block the normal digestive process and this is what happens to Anya. Being that she lives in the middle of nowhere, no help can arrive for hours so a distraught Eli realizes he has to perform surgery on her himself.

I am reviewing the film not writing the screenplay and I know this all sounds a bit ridiculous and yes it is ridiculous. However, Eli and Anya are almost stereotypical Millenials. Actually, the whole film is an allegory for what it is to be from that generation; the characters have nowhere to go, nothing to do and are bored out of their minds.

Nicholson and Lopez are actors who obviously don’t mind taking chances. The scene of the home surgery home surgery is fairly bloody and visceral and it may upset viewers. There is a kind of absurdist humor that’s going on during it and that does lighten the mood considerably and in fact the whole situation is kind of abstract.

The landscapes are pretty bleak here and most of the movie feels grimy and post-apocalyptic even though it’s clear that society continues to function in the movie. Unfortunately the story feels disjointed and confusing and even though we know that there is a degree of nihilism present in modern society, it is not as much as we see here. However, as an allegory for how millennials are viewed it is edgy and at least tries to take a few chances.

There is also plenty profanity, sexuality, some disturbing images as well as a fair amount of drug use.This is definitely not your typically love story and I admire the nerve that it took to take a distinctly unusual premise and building an unconventional film around it; one that challenges conventions about storytelling and character. The special effects are “practical, disgusting, and very well done.”

“Are We Not Cats” is “a hair-pulling winner”. Bonus features include commentary from director Xander Robin, deleted scenes, slide show and more!

“IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY” (“Akher Ayam El Medina”)— Before the 2011 Revolution,  A film by Tamer El Said

“IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY” (“Akher Ayam El Medina”)

Before the 2011 Revolution — A film by Tamer El Said

Amos Lassen

Tamer El Said’s “In the Last Days of the City”) (آخر أيام المدينة , Akher Ayam El Madina) was filmed during the hectic sociopolitical climate just before the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. In effect this film is an elegiac, self-reflexive tribute to the country’s historical capital city of Cairo and its fading grandeur. We see a collage of impressions and emotions and the documentary footage of the various ideological clashes taking place on the streets of the city are fascinating in that we see the sadness and memories etched on the faces of many of the characters, We get a strong sense of despair and loss in the film-within-the-film that communicates feelings of loss and despair.

The protagonist (British-Egyptian actor Khalid Abdalla) is an impassive type who struggles to capture the pulse of the metropolis at a precarious moment in its evolution as he himself is dealing with his own personal issues.  El Said has filmed some 250 hours of material between 2008 and 2010. The passage of time filled with events since the revolution allows him to take a more critical stance toward his own work while giving the film a sense of melancholy and nostalgia.

The film is a haunting, lyrical chronicle of recent years in the Arab world where revolutions seemed to spark hope for change but actually create further instability. Khalid Abdalla is a filmmaker in Cairo attempting to capture the zeitgeist of his city as the world changes around him including his own changes from personal love and loss to the fall of the Mubarak regime. His friends send footage and stories from Berlin, Baghdad, and Beirut, creating a powerful, multilayered meditation on the meaning of homeland. The film’s stories are a visually rich exploration of friendship, loneliness and life in cities shaped by the shadows of war and adversity.

Toward the end of the film, Khalid looks out of the window of his high-rise Cairo apartment and sees a man in a neighboring shantytown, roughing up a woman. Khalid grabs his camera, zooms in, and begins shooting; the subject immediately notices and begins yelling up to him. The divide between these two men is as much economic as it is physical, making for one of many moments wherein the film appears to be flaunting and bemoaning its own vantage point.

Khalid’s sense of detachment is like a privileged form of paralysis; wherever he goes, he finds material for an autobiographical documentary project, including interviews with his dying mother and telltale pieces of an ex-girlfriend (Laila Samy). We see Khalid’s endeavor as an incomplete flux, with ample scenes of him looking into the final cut on his laptop. Looking at a metropolis like Cairo from a first-person perspective, the film interrogates middle-class privilege in a time of crisis as a series of either-ors: leaving for Europe or staying in Cairo, hiding at home or protesting in the streets, filming blindly or seeking retrenchment. Cairo’s civil unrest  is always in the field of vision. We see protesters accusing then-President Hosni Mubarak of selling the country’s gas to Israel, yet a radio commentary  speaks about Egypt’s continued dominance of the Africa Cup (perhaps a sly metaphor for Mubarak’s unchallenged three decades in power).

Khalid obsesses over his failed romance with Laila while wondering whether he even belongs in Cairo anymore. When he checks-ins with some filmmaker friends from Beirut and Baghdad, his listless perspective changes a bit— it foreshadows that even a city as storied as Cairo could—and, in fact, did—become something of a war zone. The real-life Khalid Abdalla put his acting career on hold to participate in the Tahrir Square uprising that saw Mubarak’s ouster, only to be outflanked by Egypt’s U.S.-backed military in a 2013 coup d’etat that saw mass retribution against Muslim Brotherhood members and (eventually) stabilized the country’s lopsided, export-heavy economy. The film shows historical hindsight and free association.

To put it plainly, the film is a moody, disturbing and poetic tale about a filmmaker in Cairo documenting the capital before the revolution. Emotions are quite raw here and the city is complex. It is, at times, difficult to watch— there is no restraint in depicting the states of feeling caused by the harsh realities of lives ravaged by perpetual wars. It is the cinematography that is key here: the collage of images of cityscapes and people interviewed by filmmaker Khalid that I mentioned earlier are intense. We see vignettes of human pain and contrasting values in the other cities that are crumbling around them. An interviewee tells about being kicked out her home of 60 years by developers, a friend from Baghdad describes how a child is taught to avoid stepping on corpses in the streets.

Because the film seems slightly disjointed and even incoherent at times, reality is intensified and we see that to live in such an environment could create a disorientation of thoughts and sensations. Turmoil seems everywhere because of incongruous westernization, military tyranny and a growing fundamentalist Islamic presence. There are ominous signs of future changes with protesters shouting “Islam is coming”, increasing images of street prayers and sounds of religious chanting. Here is a heartbreaking ode to Cairo and other beloved towns in the region and it is filled with enormous affection, wistful longing, anguish and regret: “The city is alive. We live in Cairo. It’s a siren.”

“The Last Days of the City” opens in NYC on April 27 and in Los Angeles on May 4th.

“WHO IS ELMORE DEAN?”— Capturing a Moment in Six

“Who Is Elmore Dean?”

Capturing a Moment in Six

Amos Lassen

Most of you know that I love the movies and I am a sucker for epic historical film. A screen actress such as Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and/or Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine give(s) brilliant performances. Yet I am constantly amazed at short films these days and how someone can say all that he has to say in just six minutes and this is certainly in opposition to my taste for long historical drama. There is a new film by Max Rothberg that really knocked me out. “Who is Elmore Dean?” is the story of the title character who awakes on the morning of one of the most important days of his life. He is filled has taken on a mind of its own. As Dean attempts to go through his daily routine, his stress becomes more uncontrollable and appears to him to be seems manifesting itself in the inanimate interior of his apartment. (It actually took me longer to write those sentences than it did to watch the film).

Short films come in all lengths. They are, in most cases, considered short if they run about an hour or less but each must have the basic three elements of a beginning, middle and an end. (I bet you knew that). Each short has its goal of presenting a complete a story.

Rothman’s film is very short, very quick and very clever. There is no dialogue and the camera has the job of relaying Elmore’s stress and anxiety. Timothy J. Cox plays Elmore with a silent schizophrenic intensity and he totally looks as if he has become the stressed out character— he looks sad and lost and seems to be internalizing his feelings and this is reflected by the sadness we see in the way he moves. His blank stare is a reflection of his helplessness. As surreal as the idea for the movie may seem at first, we realize that it is all too real

The set looks naturally authentic even as the surreal events happen. About a minute into the film we learn that Elmore Dean is a songwriter and before we actually see him, we see how he lives. We do not see technology but we do see books, a typewriter and vinyl records. Various musical instruments are on display. Elmore’s state of mind is reflected by his messy wastepaper basket and an M.C. Escher print. When we do actually meet Elmore, it is when he wakes and begins his morning routine and we watch his demeanor go from exhausted to frantic. What we really see is man’s constant struggle against the unseen.

Dean is a somewhat reclusive songwriter who has made it big and is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even though this one of the most important days of his life, Elmore doesn’t let it change his usual routine much until he realizes that underneath the ordinary, there’s a sense of something wrong which he sees when various small, strange events happen with increasing speed. I do not see what is happening as evil or eerie but rather as mischievous. Elmore seems almost used to these bizarre happenings (or at least a not shocked by them), but he’s certainly aware that something is amiss. Who needs any extra distractions on one of the biggest and busiest days anyone could ever have?

This is a fun short film with a nice twist at the end. We’ve all had days where everything manages to be out of control despite our best efforts so we can sympathize with Elmore.

“ITZHAK”— The Life, Work and Religious Heritage of Violinist Itzhak Perlman


The Life, Work and Religious Heritage of Violinist Itzhak Perlman

Amos Lassen

Alison Chernick’s new documentary, “Itzhak” ha sboth god music and good company and it should since it is a personality sketch of the world-famous violinist, Itzhak Perlman. Chernick captures the Manhattan-dwelling subject at home and on tour around the globe, hobnobbing with classical colleagues as well as the likes of close friend Alan Alda  and former President of the United States, Barak Obama. 

Perlman was born in 1945 in Tel Aviv to Polish émigré parents who were non-musical, though they quickly supported their prodigy son’s talent. Others did not because they thought he couldn’t get far on the leg braces that polio forced on him when he was just four years old. At thirteen, he was both enrolled at Juilliard and making his first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.

We see just glimpses of his meteoric subsequent rise in archival performance and interview clips and that is deliberate. Chernick’s main focus is on the subject’s everyday life and this includes such activities as eating Chinese takeout with other living classical-musicians and legends, accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, jetting to Jerusalem for a prize, backing up Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden or playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to open a Mets game. There are also less grand moments when we see Pearlman rehearsing with an orchestra or in the recording studio, teaching music students (at Juilliard and the Perlman Program summer camp and negotiating wintertime NYC sidewalks in his wheelchair-scooter.

Perlman is quite a personality who seems comfortable in almost any setting. Yet here he often appears to take a conversational back seat around wife Toby (also a violinist who says she is “not a particularly exciting one” by comparison to her husband), a perfect soul mate in seemingly every respect. Their busy, curious, affectionately meddling dynamic sets the general tone here and we see the film as if we have been invited to spend the weekend with a family of acquaintances who just happen to include one international celebrity and celebrity freinds. The film is just that intimate. We see how important Jewish identity, culture and ritual is in the Perlman’s lives, and we see their lifestyle  as casual . There’s also time to look at the fascinations of the violin as a physical instrument whether we visit a dealer in Tel Aviv or see Perlman’s favored Stradivarius looked over by a repairer before a tour.

The music of Bach, Vivaldi, Schubert, Strauss, et al., weave through the film more incidentally than focused since this is the kind of documentary where Pearlman might reasonably enough be last seen playing with nontraditional klezmer band the Klezmatics.

Alison Chernick’s documentary is a fond portrait of the violinist Itzhak Perlman. We see him as he makes “garbage-pail soup” for Alan Alda and collaborates with other musicians. Most important, he plays, filling the film with the yearning strains of his instrument. Ample archival material shows a child sensation playing on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1958 and a young man performing in Israel in 1974.   Chernick gives time to Perlman’s discussions of the violin. He beautifully says that to elicit a sound from a piano is automatic but from a violin, he says, “when you finally get the sound, you are really getting something out of yourself.” To coax emotional shadings from a violin, “the more you have in your heart, the more you have to give,” he explains.

The film follows him unobtrusively through observing the Sabbath with family, rehearsing a trio or maneuvering his scooter through snow. His wife is with him and she is a sunny, empathetic presence.

Aside from frank views of his crutches and leg braces and a mention of early rejections because of his handicap, the film glides lightly and uncritically along the surface of a life. We get a brief look into his family’s past and emigration from Israel; the filmmaker never goes deeply enough to reveal any other substantial dimension of this man or theories about what shaped him. That does not mean that hat we see is superficial, it is the kind of film it is meant to be. This is a character-study documentary that captures Itzhak Perlman’s warmth and bravado through short, anecdote-centric scenes and we see him as something of a big-hearted raconteur who wants to tell everything about himself.

Chernick suggests that this is something in Perlman’s bubbly and open personality and not some singular biographical event, like the musician’s childhood struggles with polio that has caused his rise “to becoming the rock star of the classical music world.” She lets him talk and she uses pre-existing video and audio footage of Perlman performing to illustrate his abstract, even rambling theories about how he has grown as an artist by answering his Juilliard School students’ questions, or of what one admirer truly means when he compliments Perlman for “praying with the violin.”

Watching the film is like looking at a revealing scrapbook of Perlman’s favorite stories. We see him on “The Ed Sullivan Show in 1958” interpreting the Allegretto Non Troppo from Mendelsohhn’s joyful 64th opus (My parents never forgot that and it was often used as a goal that my sisters and I should aspire to which was really interesting since we played no musical instruments). We see him today as he replies to questions from his students after they listen to a recording of Perlman playing Johannes Brahms’s triumphal seventeenth piece in his Hungarian Dances cycle and we see Perlman at home, drinking red wine and kibitzing with Alan Alda about the ineffable nature of creative genius, just moments before we see a clip of a younger Perlman joyfully shredding Johann Sebastian Bach’s raucous second violin partita solo for a packed Israeli concert hall in 1974 (I was there that night and I will never forget it). I also will not forget this wonderful look at Perlman.

“TRAUMA”— “Chilean Horror Flick Condemns a Military Regime”


“Chilean Horror Flick Condemns a Military Regime”

Amos Lassen

In 2011, four friends who visit a rural locality of Chile are brutally attacked by a man and his son. When they do not find help in the town, they decide to confront these men with the help of a pair of policemen. By doing so, they discover that their attackers are part of the direct legacy of the darkest period of Chilean history and will have to face the most brutal enemy.

Four women, sisters Andrea (Catalina Martin) and Camila (Macarena Carrere), their cousin Magdalena (Dominga Bofill) and Camila’s girlfriend Julia (Ximena del Solar) head to the country to a family cabin for a couple days of drinks and sun. On their way they stop by a local drinking hole for directions. Some of the locals get too close when Juan (Daniel Antivilo), the local tyrant, intercedes. The women clear out and head up to the cottage. 

 Soon, the drinks start flowing and Camila and Julia start fooling around with Magdalena when they discover that Juan is looking in on the party from the outside. He and his son, Mario (Felipe Rios), force their way into the cottage, then viciously terrorize and assault the women in a savage and deadly attack, raping and beating them to near death. The terror continues into the next day when the local constabulary becomes involved and Juan kidnaps a local child and takes her back to his trap-filled fortress. 

In the prologue we go back to Chile in 1978 where director Lucio Rojas’ brutal and shattering horror film, fires an opening volley so fierce you’re left soul searching only minutes into the picture.  We understand that Juan is the boy in the prologue, and that Juan’s father was no better to him than he was to his victims of the oppressive regime. He had been indoctrinated, brainwashed, forced to do heinous things by his father and now Juan carries on his father’s brutal legacy decades after the Pinochet regime has collapsed and has been terrorizing the locals in the area. He has been doing to same to his son, Mario, who looks to be following in ‘his’ father’s footsteps now. 

The film is incredibly violent and graphic. We know that Rojas is speaking of the history and effects of the military coup in Chile. There is no doubt that Rojas does not think much of the dictatorship that terrorized his country over those years. Juan’s link to his father is presented many times throughout the film and we see news clippings in his fortress, flashbacks to Juan’s indoctrination during the first years of the dictatorship, and we even see Juan singing an old military song in the climax as the survivors of his vicious assault attempt to rescue a local girl. 

If you are at all familiar  with the military dictatorship era in Chile and know of the Human Rights violations and atrocities that occurred for some twenty-five years, this film will have meaning for you. you will relate to that. For the rest of us, it has something to say about the sins of the fathers to their sons and to their sons and then to their sons. 

“Trauma” is easily one of the most brutal, graphic and disturbing horror films to have been made in recent memory. The physical and sexual assaults by Juan and Mario in the early goings are savage and Rojas does not hold back in his depiction of its brutality. When the film is not near sexually explicit it is shockingly gory. Sometimes it is both at the same time. Martin leads the four actresses portraying strength and resilience. Carrere emulates her sister’s strength by insisting they go after Juan, after being victimized and assaulted, and rescue the girl. Bohill is naive and fragile, giving us our the saddest and most heart breaking victim in many ways. Del Solar taps into her modeling career to provide enticement and an alluring target for Juan and Mario and the unintended spark to this raging inferno.

Daniel Antivilo perfectly portrays Juan—raised to be a vicious bastard who thinks that he does no wrong. He still believes that the principles of the regime must live on with his efforts. He believes that he is truly untouchable. He plays the devil even more than the devil could have.  Rojas seems to be suggesting that everyone, no matter what state of readiness they find themselves, broken by or having lost someone to the brutality of the regime, must still stand up to its legacy of tyranny. He takes shot after shot at a military regime that devastated his homeland for more than a quarter of a century.

Lucio Rojas is quite clear and concise in his mission to repel and appall his audience. The atrocities under Augusto Pinochet that were committed against the people by his regime are unspeakable. These horrors are being carried out by the military, and pain and agony is wholly apparent as people around them are being tortured. There is a scene where a son is forced to commit an utterly despicable and unspeakable act on an already ripped and torn woman… who is his mother. The boy is instantly traumatized and so is the viewer.

When we move forward to 2011, we are thrown into a steamy lesbian sex encounter between Camila and her girlfriend, Julia. This is a scene filled with skin. We meet Andrea who is going on a trip with her sister Camila and Julia, as well as Andrea and Camila’s cousin, Magdalena as they go to a family house in a smaller community outside Santiago, Chile.When they arrive at the cottage, the party begins but before any of this drama is further pursued, there are two male assailants creepily watching the erotic female seduction going on from outside the house. Julia spots one of the guys while performing a striptease and it startles her and everyone else. Soon, the two Peeping Toms invade the dwelling with obvious malicious intent.

The men are Juan, the man who intervened in the bar earlier, and his son, Mario. The men are on a mission to sexually violate the women, and do so in particular sadistic and unsettling fashion, noticeably taking great pleasure from it. After the home invasion, another major traumatic event occurs and finally the women seek refuge in police officers they met earlier. Unfortunately, this doesn’t resolve the situation.

The movie’s title, “Trauma”, is a perfect fit, not only because of the experiences of the female victims but also because of the young boy’s traumatic childhood, as well as one unsettling scene involving a baby. The film is beautifully shot using pristine quality production, with a high level of technical merit. The film is a trip to hell with some beautiful looking women to ease the pain.

Director Rojas made the choice to deliver convincing brutality and he does. I read that after filming particularly bothersome scenes, the cast was visibly shaken and had to recover from the intensity. The gore here is realistic, repugnant and highly effective, along with the sense of tension and panic which comes through wonderfully. “Trauma” is one of the best and meanest indie horror features that I have seen. It is a vicious and shocking tale which blends the dark history of 1970s Chile with a modern tale of horror and a film that exposes the horrors of politics with the evil that can reside within the souls of ordinary men.

“WHEN THE STARLIGHT ENDS”— A Love Story and a Dark Comedy

“When the Starlight Ends”

A Love Story and a Dark Comedy

Amos Lassen

“When the Starlight Ends” is a surreal dark comedy written and directed by Adam Sigal. It follows a struggling writer, Jacob, who is despondent (Sam Heughan) and deeply depressed after losing the love of his life. He has to face the decisions that he made that compelled her to leave. We see this through a series of metaphorical vignettes that give insight into their failed relationship. Now Jacob has decided to rewrite his own life the way he wishes it would have gone. There is not much more I can say about the film without giving spoiler. This is a sweet and sincere move but it is no great shakes— it is a simply a sweet diversion and there is nothing wrong with that. Every film cannot win awards.

This is the story of love, struggles and relationships and the search for a perfect ending. We meet Sam when Cassandra (Arabella Oz) left him six weeks prior. Cassandra was his muse and his reason for love. Now she haunts him through his keyboard as he writes and rewrites his story while always looking for a fairytale ending. With each draft he writes, he is forced to relive the time they spent together (some real, some imagined). He agonizes over the decisions he made……………

“A Taste of Phobia”— A Horror Anthology

“A Taste of Phobia”

A Horror Anthology

Amos Lassen

Artsploitation has acquired the U.S. and Canadian rights to EuroObscura’s “A Taste of Phobia”, a horror anthology created by 14 international directors. It is scheduled for DVD and VOD release in May 2018.

The film delves into some of the weirdest and wildest phobias, each with its own bloody twist. Those included here are caetophobia (fear of hairs), henophobia (fear of young virgin girls), coprophobia (fear of feces), mysophobia (fear of contamination and germs), mazeophobia (fear of being lost), astrophobia (fear of celestial objects), mageirocophobia (fear of cooking) and oneirophobia (fear of dreams). Here are 90 minutes of people traumatized, institutionalized and dying from their fears.

“A Taste of Phobia” showcases the talents of directors known for making a bloody good splash such as James Quinn (The Law of Sodom), Sam Mason Bell (The Making Of), Jason Impey (Home Made), Alessandro Redaelli (P.O.E. 3), Chris Milewski (Welcome to the World, Dear Child), Alessandro Giordani (L’insonne: Ouverture) and Domiziano Cristopharo (Virus: Extreme Contamination, Dark Waves).

Here is a complete list of directors who participated:

Jackson Batchelor (UK)

Sam Mason Bell (England)

Domiziano Cristopharo (Italy)

Michael J. Epstein (USA)

Dustin Ferguson (USA)

Alessandro Giordani (Italy)

Jason Impey (UK)

Sunny King (Nigeria)

Chris Milewski (USA)

Davide Pesca (Italy)

Alessandro Redaelli (Italy)

Poison Rouge (Italy)

Rob Ulitski (UK)

Lorenzo Zanonin & Alessandro Sisti (Italy)

Many viewers will be surprised to learn about the strange and terrifying kind of phobias that exist in the world.

“KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE”— A Fun Film in a Blu-ray Special Edition

“Killer Klowns from Outer Space”

A Fun Film in a Blu-ray Special Edition

Amos Lassen

Before watching “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” let me share two important thoughts. The title really says it all and there are no surprises or great thought necessary to enjoy the film “Klowns” is quite simply a showreel for the Chiodo Brothers and their particular and crazy kind of filmmaking and outlandish special effects. The film is simply fun and that is what you must remember and all you need to know. Killer klowns arrive on Earth and set up a huge circus tent in the middle of the woods. Farmer Gene Green (Royal Dano) thinks that a comet has crashed and goes to investigate but ends up being kidnapped by a huge clown-like monster. Soon more and more strange things start happening around town and it is up to young lovers Mike (Grant Kramer) and Debbie (Suzanne Snyder), local sheriff Dave Hanson (John Allen Nelson) and ice cream salesmen the Terenzi brothers to get to the bottom of things and try to stop the murderous klowns before the whole town is gone.

“Killer Klowns From Outer Space” knows exactly what it is and runs wild with it, never letting up with the stupidity but always with a knowing wink to let us know that it is laughing along with you. There is not a lot of gore –(a decapitation punch and a human glove puppet being the only gruesome moments) but that is fine since the klowns themselves are creepy with their monstrous faces providing most of the horror elements of the film. Their are deadly versions of seemingly innocent clown props such as custard pies full of acid and mutant popcorn that turns into miniature klown heads with very sharp teeth. The special effects are very special, not just with the klowns’ animatronic masks and costumes but also the interior of their circus tent looks fantastic, like a neon nightmare. The acting isn’t great by any means. John Vernon as a grumpy police officer who has it in for anyone younger than him, however, is quite good and he certainly adds to the youthful rebellion feel of the film, despite the fact that the town’s youngsters aren’t being that rebellious and he is just a cantankerous fool. Suzanne Snyder doesn’t seem to know what film she is in and her line delivery veers from wooden to totally theatrical without any sort of middle ground. This is not a film for subtleties but her lack of consistency is a little annoying.

The Chiodo brothers who bring this film to us revel in madness and maniacal glee and silliness for the sake of silliness.When Mike and his girlfriend Debbie warn the local police that a gang of homicidal alien-clowns have landed in the nearby area (in a spaceship shaped like a circus big-top, no less), the cops are naturally skeptical. Before long however, reports are coming in from other anxious residents detailing similar run-ins with the large-shoed assailants. There can no longer be any doubt that the Killer Klowns from Outer Space are here, and they are out to destroy.

Crescent Cove is a peaceful town and the only witnesses to the klown visitation is a pair of young lovers, Mike and Debbie who impulsively decide to investigate the glowing transport on their own. Inside, they discover a bizarre collection of circus-inspired machinery, along with bulbs of cotton candy filled with dissolving human remains. In their panic, the couple triggers the attention of the ship’s inhabitants, the Killer Klowns, a distorted band of painted ghouls who’ve come to Earth to collect bodies for feeding purposes and they are ready to storm Crescent Cove and collect a wealth of victims. The Klowns head off into the night, armed with weapons and tricks employed to subdue easily amused humans. Hoping to thwart a community calamity, Mike and Debbie attempt to enlist help from Sheriff Dave (John Allen Nelson) and his doubting, bullying partner Curtis (John Vernon) before the Klowns devour the town with their specialized hunting skills.

Inspired by B-movies of the 1950s, the filmmakers set out to construct their version of an alien invasion picture and they have chosen clowns as the source of their cinematic nightmare. It’s an unusual choice, though smartly played. The colorful performers have an exaggerated monster design that keeps the antagonists hulking and fanged and make for a credible screen threat despite the silliness of the concept. The creatures are genuinely unnerving at times, especially when the Chiodos wander away from their sense of humor for a few scare moments. “Killer Klowns” is not an exhaustive horror effort, but there’s enough darkness in the material to silence the nay-sayers. At times, the Chiodos bravely treat the Klown invasion seriously or at least as seriously as this movie gets with its popcorn shotguns, balloon animal trackers, and shadow puppet attacks.

“Killer Klowns” is colorful and smartly assembled, with every scene a reminder on how a little creativity can turn a painfully low budget into passable scale, with inventive usage of matte paintings, props, and visual effects helping to capture the moment, despite clear limitations. The performances are on the exaggerated side to carry the camp value of the movie, but it does not annoy.

“Killer Klowns from Outer Space” is filled with attack sequences involving balloon-based traps, acid pies, and deadly puppet shows. The invasion is the highlight of the effort as we watch the Klowns work their circus gear to snag human prey. The Chiodos keep the titular menace front and center for full inspection, backed by an imaginative production design that places special attention on the tent ship interior, which merges surreal circus ambiance with deathtraps and creating an unforgettable home base for the Klowns.

The real enjoyment in a film like this is that the movie never once takes itself seriously. Director Stephen Chiodo has made something that seems to have been completely forgotten about in the modern era of movie making and that is FUN. As we watch this film, we realize and know the actors are enjoying every moment they film and act in. Even if the plot makes absolutely no sense, we have fun watching it.


Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

Newly remastered stereo 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio options

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

Archive audio commentary with the Chiodo Brothers

Let the Show Begin! Anatomy of a Killer Theme Song an all-new interview with the original members of the American punk band, The Dickies

The Chiodos Walk Among Us: Adventures in Super 8 Filmmaking – all-new documentary highlighting the making of the Chiodo Brothers childhood films, from the giant monster epics made in their basement to their experiments in college

New HD transfers of the complete collection of the Chiodo Brothers 8mm and Super 8 films, including Land of Terror, Free Inside, Beast from the Egg, and more!

Tales of Tobacco an interview with star Grant Cramer

Debbie s Big Night an interview with star Suzanne Snyder

Bringing Life to These Things a tour of Chiodo Bros. Productions

The Making of Killer Klowns archive production featurette

Visual Effects with Gene Warren Jr. archive interview with co-writer/producer Charles Chiodo and visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr.

Kreating Klowns archive interview with Charles Chiodo and creature fabricator Dwight Roberts

Komposing Klowns archive interview with composer John Massari

Klown Auditions

Deleted Scenes with filmmaker s audio commentary


Image Galleries

Original Theatrical Trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck

 “Klowns” has been newly restored by Arrow Video for this special edition.

“A PISTOL FOR RINGO” & “THE RETURN OF RINGO”— Two Films by Duccio Tessari

“A Pistol for Ringo” & “The Return of Ringo”

Two Films by Duccio Tessari

Amos Lassen

The original Ringo films introduced another iconic hero to the spaghetti western; a sharp shooter who was clean cut and very different to Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name.”

In “A Pistol For Ringo”, the hero Ringo (Giuliano Gemma) infiltrates a ranch of Mexican bandits to save a beautiful hostage (Nieves Navarro). In “The Return Of Ringo”, he is already a veteran of war and disguises himself as a Mexican in order to take revenge on outlaws who have stolen his property and taken his wife.

Both films were very successful when originally release and this was due to the skilled direction of Duccio Tessari. The Ringo films were influential on the Italian western and spawning numerous unofficial sequels because of their gripping set-pieces and unforgettable musical scoring by Ennio Morricone. Arrow Video now proudly presents both films in new restorations.

In “A Pistol For Ringo”, we have a band of Mexican bandits holding up a bank but during their escape they get holed up in a ranch where they take the inhabitants hostage to avoid capture. The desperate sheriff turns to gun slinging outlaw Ringo to help by infiltrating the gang and saving the day. Ringo is charismatic too with some great one liners. He has great boyish charm and a mean streak as well.

He was able to introduce playing hopscotch to kids before brutally killing two bastards in cold blood. We never know if we can trust this guy. First of all he demands 30% of the stolen cash from the town in order to rescue the ranch owners. Then he sells the gang out for 40% to help the defeat the town, and then vice versa again. He is as an anti-hero with wit and charm.

Director Duccio Tessari has a great sense of humor and uses it well. From the opening hopscotch killings, a bullet ricochet off a bell that kills a goon, some silly knife throwing scenes and of course the peculiar aspect that our antihero doesn’t drink whiskey, only milk all make for laughs. The quotable dialogue also has some laughs.

“The Return of Ringo” is a fun sequel and together the two films have made Giuliano Gemma a star in Italy. Gemma can even make a mediocre film watchable and he is great even in a loose retelling of the classic Greek epic Odyssey, with Ringo assuming the Ulysses role. He stars as Captain Montgomery “Ringo” Brown, who has returned from the Civil War, only to find that his town of Membres has been overrun by the Mexican Fuentes gang, led by Esteban (Fernando Sancho) and Paco (George Martin) Fuentes. To his horror, he also finds that his wife, Hallie, has been taken by Paco with the intent to marry her. I do not want to say much more but I wanted you to know what to expect

Here Gemma is dead-on intense and serious, a departure from the first film’s Ringo, who was a wisecracking, boyish (but still deadly) character. From the moment he finds out the fate of his town and wife, he’s pretty intense and focused and seems pretty dangerous from the get-go.


Brand new 2K restorations of both films from the original negative

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

Original Italian and English soundtracks

Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio

Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

Audio commentaries for both films by Spaghetti Western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke

They Called Him Ringo, an archival featurette with star Giuliano Gemma

A Western Greek Tragedy, an archival featurette with Lorella de Luca and camera operator Sergio D Offizi

Original trailers

Gallery of original promotional images

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx