The latest edition of Dossier Fantastique offers a post-mortem of this year’s Oscar winners, including GRAVITY with seven awards – a rare feat for a science fiction film.Dan Persons rhapsodizes over Alfonso Cuaron’s win, and Lawrence French defends Spike Jonze Oscar for writing HER.
Later, the Cinefantastique podcasting crew examines the latest home video releases, including THE VISITOR (the 1979 Italian rip-off of THE OMEN, now restored for home video) and TIME OF THE DOCTOR (Matt Smith’s last appearance as the time-travelling Doctor Who, with some great bonus features on DVD and Blu-ray). And Steve Biodrowski runs down the pros and cons of Redbox’s subscription service, which includes a quartet of DVDs a month, plus instant streaming – a good way to catch some otherwise unobtainable horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles.
What’s in a name? Cinefantastique Online’s newly rechristened podcast seeks to answer that question. Formerly the Black Hole Ultra-Lounge, the weekly collection of all things wonderful relating to horror, fantasy, and science fiction cinema has morphed from loose repartee and laid-back commentary to a more structured show offering capsule commentary on news, theatrical films, recent trailers, and home video releases, with a segment at the end left open to include public domain titles or 50th-anniversary retrospectives. But don’t free: the Ultra-Lounge did not completely disappear into the Black Hole; it survives, post-credits, as a sort of bonus feature for listeners suffering from an over-abundance of curiosity regarding what random thought might pop into the heads of podcasters Lawrence French, Dan Persons, and Steve Biodrowski.
This week, Dossier Fantastique features: reviews of WINTER’S TALE and THE RETURNED, currently in theatres; an autopsy on THE WALKING DEAD’s mid-season operner, “After;” capsule comments of home video titles YOUNG DETECTIVE DEA: RISE OF THE SEA DRAGON, ZOMBIE NIGHT, and UNIDENTIFIED; and a 50the-anniversary appreciation of the overlooked British Gothic thriller, THE BLACK TORMENT. Also under the microscope: Tuesday’s home video releases, including special collector’s editions of FANTASTIC MR. FOX and DARK MAN, and recent trailers for TRANSCENDENCE and JODOROWSKY’S DUNE.
In Cinefantastique’s final Black Hole Ultra-Lounge Podcast of 2013, Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski wrestle with the trailer for LEGEND OF HERCULES, travel to the end of Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor, examine the current slate of home video releases for Tuesday, December 31, and explore the public domain horrors of NIGHTMARE CASTLE (a.k.a. AMANTI DOLTRATOMBA [“Lovers from Beyond the Tomb”]), a 1965 Gothic chiller starring Queen of Horror Barbara Steele. The highlight is a review of TIME OF THE DOCTOR, in which Matt Smith winds up his tenure as the famous Time Lord and turns the TARDIS over to Peter Capaldi. Is it a worthwhile farewell or simply a gimmicky geek lovefest? Listen in to find out!
Cinefantastique’s Black Hole Ultra-Lounge Podcast returns from the grave, offering a colorful cornucopia of horror, fantasy, and science fiction news and reviews. Correspondents Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski size up the new GODZILLA teaser trailer, examine the Oscar Academy’s finalists for Best Special Effects, and bid farewell to actor Peter O’Toole (most known for his great dramatic roles, though he did a handful of genre movies, too).
Next, Steve reviews THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR on DVD. Larry recounts the extended cut of THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY. Dan enthuses over the animated television show WANDER OVER YONDER. And we wrap up with a trip to the Borderland: reviewing the non-genre SAVING MR. BANKS, because it recounts the behind-the-scenes story of the making of PETER PAN, the animated fantasy classic from Walt Disney Pictures.
DOCTOR WHO: THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR – the 50th anniversary telefilm, which aired on BBC this weekend – will screen in theatres across the U.S. tonight, courtesy of Fathom productions (click here for a list of venues). What better way to celebrate this event than with Craig Ferguson of THE LATE SHOW singing a song about the time-travelling Gallifreyan? (Stick around till the end for a cameo by the Doctor himself.)
So it’s back to the arena, where life is cheap but the production values sure as hell are not. In THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, defiant champions Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) discover how costly their rebellion actually is, both in terms of human toll as the government moves to crush any signs of rebellion inspired by their victory, and personally, as the ruling elite — represented by the likes of Donald Sutherland and Philip Seymour Hoffman — conspire to force them into a new, even more deadly competition. beabetterbooktalker.com‘s Andrea Lipinski is back once again to share her knowledge of the original book series with Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons. We’ll look into whether there’s story enough to support two-and-a-half hours of screen time, whether the return to the bloody Hunger Games competition is worth the trip, and whether all the characters have a preternaturally intimate understanding of human nature or are just damn lucky. Then, Dan and Andrea quickly discuss the celebratory DOCTOR WHO 50th anniversary episode, “Day of the Doctor.” Plus: What’s coming to theaters next week.
These are dark days indeed for US Marshall Chris Monsanto (Chris Elliott). He’s devastated over the loss of his partner, Brett Mobley (Brett Gelman), in a tragic wood chipper incident, and forced to deal with the suspicions of his colleague, Susie Wagner (Maria Thayer), that he was responsible for the death (because he was). But duty calls, there are criminals and terrorists to catch (or more likely, just to shoot dead), and not even incriminating post-mortem memory scans, global warming, or the fact that headquarters seems to be transforming, Cronenberg-like, into some kind of giant organism intent on absorbing the older members of the force into its walls, can stay Monsanto from his crucial mission.
Adult Swim’s cop-show satire, EAGLEHEART: PARADISE RISING, has returned for its third season, complete with a dramatic, new subtitle and an ambitious, season-long narrative arc. Which doesn’t mean that the stars are any less trigger-happy, the crimes any less rococo (a counterfeiting operation relying on the regenerative abilities of starfish?) or that the producers have stinted on the surreal humor (they actually seem to have doubled-down). I got to sit down with director Jason Woliner and co-creator Andrew Weinberg to discuss tight shooting schedules, mistimed gore effects, and occasional tangents into classic stage drama. Click on the player to hear the show.
Okay, admittedly that’s an inaccurate title — we’re still a few weeks out from the festive family get-together, none of the films we’re discussing in this ep are holiday-themed, and none could fairly be called a turkey (and for that last we are truly thankful). This is just our way of saying that there wasn’t any big genre film opening in theaters this past weekend, so we’ve taken the opportunity to rally up the stuff that we prepped for other shows — public domain titles, films celebrating the 50th anniversary of their release, homevid releases etc. — and sat down to trade opinions and recommendations.
The discussion features Cinefantastique Online regulars Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French and Dan Persons, and among the titles discussed are DEMENTIA (aka DAUGHTER OF HORROR), THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS, WHITE ZOMBIE, NIGHT TIDE, MATANGA, and FARSCAPE: THE COMPLETE SERIES. If you can’t find something worth watching in that roundup, kid, you should probably turn in your geek credentials.
Ever wonder what happend to the Paul McGann version of Doctor Who? You know, the one who appeared in the 1996 film on Fox TV? Low ratings put that version of the Doctor in limbo, and the franchise remained dormant for years, until the BBC resurrected the iconic Time Lord for a revamped DOCTOR WHO television series in 2004, starring Christopher Eccleston. During the interim, McGann remained the “official” Doctor, in the sense that it was his likeness that appeared on merchandising tie-ins (novelizations, etc), but he never got another shot at playing the character on screen, until now.
THE NIGHT OF THE DOCTOR is a seven-minute short subject, billed as a prequel to THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR, the 50th anniversary special that will screen for one night only in U.S. theatres on November 25, two days after its premiere on British television. In this mini-episode, we finally learn the fate of the Eighth Doctor. We won’t give it away, except to say that, as you can probably guess, it involves a regeneration; John Hurt is involved in some way; and the time frame is during the devastating Dalek war referenced in the Eccleston episodes. This is just an appetizer, of course; but it certainly suggest that THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR will be something spectacular.
Continuing its mission of lowering the standards of higher education, Adult Swim’s CHINA, IL is presently offering up its second season every Sunday night. Now expanded to a full half hour, the larger canvas has allowed creator/producer/composer/voice talent Brad Neely and executive producer Daniel Weidenfeld room to expand the adventures of the faculty and student populace of possibly the worst college ever, which doesn’t mean that things have gotten any less weird: Already, desperate professor Frank Smith has discovered himself capable of HIGHLANDER-like transformations; his brother Steve has gotten himself immersed in the Furry Underground, feline division; and sweet-natured, perennial undergrad Baby Cakes has decided to start up his own line of oddly flavored power bars. Things are definitely getting odd on the quad.
I got to talk with Neely and Weidenfeld about the show’s genesis; the challenges presented in its new, 30 minute running time; and the complexities of meeting each episode’s musical demands. Click on the player to hear the show.