FIRST LOOK: The Wretched

The Wretched, a horror movie, was released in theaters and VOD at the start of May.

Haven’t covered it here, yet, but now making amends. Especially because it seems like the kind of movie I’d enjoy watching.

Following his parents’ separation, a rebellious teenage boy, Ben, is sent to live with his father for the summer and work at the local marina in order to gain some form of discipline. The idyllic tourist town offers little solace for him, however, as he is forced to deal with the local, privileged teens and his father’s new girlfriend. Ben’s problems grow increasingly disturbing when he makes a chilling discovery about the family renting the house next door. A malevolent spirit from the woods has taken a hold of the parents and starts playing a sinister game of house, preying upon the children and wiping away any trace of their existence. Ben’s suspicions of the supernatural horrors go unheeded and he launches a perilous crusade in order to put an end to the skin-walking witch’s reign of terror.

Rotten Tomatoes Story Info

It’s renting for $6.99 USD across multiple services (Google Pay, Vudu, etc) which is reasonable for a new day and date release (theater and VOD).

It’s also setting box office theater records, I learned a little bit ago, considering sales numbers don’t have to be very high with a very small number of theaters open as of this writing.

When there is only one movie pulling in anything resembling “business,” at least among studios actually reporting grosses, it’s not hard to be the top movie of a given day or weekend. Nonetheless, happenstance, luck and good (or terrible) timing has left IFC’s The Wretched as the closest thing to a box office hit this summer. Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce’s throwback horror title The Wretched earned another $181,000 this weekend in 75 theaters.

‘The Wretched’ Reaches Rare Box Office Milestone Shared By ‘Black Panther’ And ‘Avatar’

As a fan of horror, this movie regrettably missed my new release radar. Here’s the trailer:

What is that thing crawling out of the inside of that animal? Looks like some sharp-looking claws. I need to pay more attention to IFC Midnight Films coming soon more on my horror radar.

From the logo on that page, they are a division of AMC and Shudder is in their group. This begs the side question: does AMC have too many subsidiary streaming channels?

Let’s see, that’s 10 separate streaming channels in the AMC Networks? Do they need that many?

Wonder if The Wretched will be picked up by Shudder or IFC Films? I was curious about the IFC Films Unlimited plan, thinking maybe this was similar to our Regal Theaters Unlimited Plan …

Not sure why Jack Bauer from 24 is showing as it’s currently not available as part of a subscription to either service, Amazon Prime Video or IFC Films Unlimited

Looks like another streaming add-on channel through Amazon or AppleTV+. It’s $5.99 a month. Just checked it out on Amazon to see if The Wretched was showing there by chance?

Nope, it’s only on VOD (or PVOD, for those who prefer that).

Imagine that, AMC has 10 different streaming channels, and none of them stream a new VOD title? Something seems wrong with that picture.

Would have been a great deal to buy a one month subscription to that and see a new movie, but alas, that deal is too good to be true. Maybe these theater releases show up on the service after the theatrical and VOD window closes? Don’t know. If anybody reading has this knowledge or has done the research, please let us know in the comments. Also, if you’ve seen this movie already, what did you think (no spoiler review in comments is welcome)?

The Wretched is available at drive-in and some other open theaters and online streaming via VOD as of May 1, 2020.

Originally Planned 9 Movies COMING TO THEATERS in June 2020 – Actual: 3 VOD, 0 Wide Theater Releases

As the image above illustrates, staying on top of what movies are coming to the theaters has been challenging.

These posts are intended to be helpful for those wanting to see movies coming to theaters in the near future. We typically post them 45+ days in advance. That is impractical due to current times when release dates are being delayed and changed frequently, but movie theater life will return soon.

Worth repeating: movie theater life will return soon.

As of this writing, presumably, theaters will begin opening again in July 2020. What remains in the post body below is largely what could have been June 2020, perhaps still happening in some parallel universe.

There are three scheduled VOD releases which should happen as scheduled. There is also the possibility that theaters open sooner and one more more movies are pushed up to screen in June.

All movies listed will be released at some point in the future either directly to VOD, streaming channels or a delayed theater release.

2020 Theater Releases
JAN | FEB | *MAR | *APR | *MAY | *JUNE

(Note: * = changes due to mass movie theater closure)

If you’d like to see a list of all movies released in 2020 click here (that post is being updated throughout the year). Most releases profiled below are WIDE screenings showing on 2,000+ theater screens in the United States. If the movie title has the word LIMITED following then it means it’s being released on less than 2,000 screenings in the United States.

All movie release dates unless otherwise indicated are for the United States, the release dates in other countries may vary.

June 2020 Movies

King of Staten Island
[FIRST LOOK]
VOD – June 12, 2020

Irresistible
[FIRST LOOK]
VOD – June 26, 2020

Street Survivors: The True Story of Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash
[FIRST LOOK]
VOD – June 30, 2020

Originally Planned to be released in June 2020, delayed

Wonder Woman 1984
[FIRST LOOK]
Original release date: June 1, 2020
New release: August 24, 2020

Candyman
Original release date: June 1, 2020
New release: September 25, 2020

Greyhound
Moved release date: June 12, 2020
New release: TBA 2020 on AppleTV+, no longer a theater release

Soul
Original release date: June 19, 2020
New release: November 20, 2020

Fatale
Original release date: October 20, 2020 moved to June 19, 2020
New release: October 30, 2020

In The Heights
Original release date: June 26, 2020
New release: June 18, 2021

Top Gun: Maverick
Original release date: June 24, 2020
New release: December 23, 2020

HBO Max Launches – Here’s What Everything Looks Like Inside #HBOmax

The HBO Max launch is here, May 27, 2020, another significant streaming service available.

For those who got in at the intro pricing $11.99/month or those getting free as part of your AT&T TV or phone plans or paying the regular $14.99/month, whichever the case, you probably don’t need this post. The rest that are curious what it looks like inside? Got you covered.

And no, still no deal with Roku as of launch day (see: Still No Announcement for HBO Max on Roku, But Multiple Alternate Ways to Cast To TV at Launch). I launched the app on my Android phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and use the Samsung Smart Things app (built-in) to cast to TV. It works great to play the movies and television shows full screen on the TV. That is but one of several cast to TV options available besides a more convenient Roku app.

My first login experience? Clean. Wow. Very clean. Love the dark background and the fact that it instantly wants to allow me add additional profiles a la Netflix.

You can create up to five additional profiles for either adults …

… or kids. The kids require setting a pin, which the system prompts immediately and intuitively to create.

Once you’ve set a pin, then you can define the content level parental controls by MPAA rating.

Here is how the profiles screen appears once a child’s account has been set.

Now, to change an existing profile, use the “MANAGE PROFILES” link at the bottom beneath the +Add buttons. A profile name is limited to 10 characters, so I couldn’t add Todd and Kara or even Todd N Kara — so had to just settle for Todd Kara.

A suggestion, would have been nice if the font size would have auto-changed smaller to allow for a few more characters. At least 20, but that’s a minor complaint. Again, UI (User Interface) is very clean and easy to follow. They wanted to make this very Netflix-like in usability, and it shows.

Once your profiles are in order, a feature which for those who don’t know how that works, it allows the system to learn what that particular user can watch, has watched, wants to watch and will provide suggestions to him/her/them based on history.

TV Series as “Series”

Going to breeze through the TV Series portion of the interface, but it’s pretty straightforward, starting with the HBO signature features and adding some coveted complete series like: The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Rick & Morty and more!

Those who already know and appreciate HBO originals will feel right at home here.

Movies

If you don’t finish a movie and move around a convenient “Continue Watching” menu appears at the top of the home menu so you can quickly return to in-progress movies.

Movies have a detailed A-Z menu along the right hand side so you can quickly and conveniently skip to the first letter title of a movie, versus scrolling through the entire list.

The movie sections are divided up into A-Z (full listing with breakpoints by letter as shown above), Originals, Just Added (!), Last Chance, Coming Soon, genre and studio and/or content grouping (DC, Sesame Street, TCM, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Looney Tunes, Crunchy Roll, Studio Ghibli).

I could write a detailed post just describing the DC grouping. It’s like a mini DC Universe worth of movies in there, including Batman getting his own section.

No comic books like DC Universe, but one could see how the two services could merge into one super, powerful mega streaming service (I’m surprised this wasn’t offered from the get-go for like $19.99/month for both). If Warner truly wants to take on Netflix with something they don’t and likely can’t offer, this would be one way to do so. Amazon, could counter this with putting up Comixology which they own. Sure, DC could pull their license of DC Comics from that service, but they wouldn’t. Watch for this being a possibility someday in the future.

DC has all the DC-related live action and animated movies in one organized place. Some of these movies left the DC Universe platform to come to HBO Max (causing unrest in that community, by the way). In September 2020 the DC Universe Rewards program ends and something is going to happen … no idea what that is, but perhaps that will be when there is a bundling deal in time for holiday (this is pure speculation on my part, but not an impossibility by any stretch).

Plenty of cartoons available under the Looney Tunes category. 31 seasons of Looney Tunes, alone.

A-Z some of many movies available for streaming at HBO Max launch

Not going to put out a complete A-Z listing of movies in this post, like we did for Peacock at launch, but below are some few notable titles:

2001: A Space Odyssey
The Abyss
Alien
Aliens
Alien: Resurrection
Alien 3
Alita: Battle Angel
Along Came Polly
American Pie
American Pie 2
Any Given Sunday
Apocalypse Now
Aquaman
The Art of Racing In The Rain
Arthur
Arthur 2: On The Rocks
Babe
Babe: Pig In The City
11+ Batman movies (see below)

Batman fans will be right at home with HBO Max

Beauty & The Beast
Ben Hur
Black KkKlansman
Blinded By The Light
The Blob
Bohemian Rhapsody
Bonnie & Clyde
Braveheart
The Bridges of Madison County
Bright Lights Big City
Casablanca
Casino Royale (the original)
Casino Royale (James Bond – Daniel Craig)
Citizen Kane
Cimmaron
Contagion
Crazy, Rich Asians
4 Critters Movies (Critters 1, 2, 3, 4)
Dick Tracy
Die Hard
Die Hard 2
Die Hard With a Vengeance
A Dog’s Life
Downton Abbey
Emma
Enemy Mine
The Entertainer
Equinox
Eraser
Eraserhead
Eyes Without A Face
Fantastic Planet
Fight Club
A Fish Called Wanda
Flawless
Galaxy of Terror
Gamer
Gangs of New York
Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster
Glengarry Glenross
8 Godzilla movies (!!!!!)

It’s Christmas Day in late May for Godzilla fans at HBO Max!

Gone With The Wind
Good Boys
Great Expectations
Green Lantern
Gremlins 1 & 2
Hackers
Hamlet
Happy Death Day
Happy Death Day 2 U
Hanzo The Razor (3 movies)
Happy Feet (2 movies)
Harry Potter (entire 7 movie series)
Hellboy
Hey Arnold The Movie
The Hitcher (1986)
The Hobbit (3 movies)
How The West Was Won
I Shot Jesse James
It: Chapter 2
Jaws (4 movies: 1,2,3 and 4)
Joker
Judge Dredd
Justice League (Snyder Cut coming in 2021)
Kin
King Kong (The original black and white!)
Kung Fu Panda
La La Land
The Lady Vanishes
The Land Before Time (10 animated movies)

Many The Land Before Time animated movies to watch/rewatch

LEGO Movies (5 movies)
Little Shop of Horrors
Lola
Lolita
Lone Wolf and Cub (6 movies)
The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner
Long Shot
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Rings (the complete trilogy)
Lost In Space
Madagascar
Madagascar 3
The Maltese Falcon
The Meg
Metro
Million Dollar Babies
Mona Lisa Smile
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Mrs. Doubtfire
Nightmare on Elm Street (5 movies)

1, 2, Freddy’s coming for YOU … at HBO Max

North By Northwest
Notting Hill
The Nun
The Odd Couple II
Of Mice and Men
An Officer and a Gentlemen
Oliver Twist
Othello
The Outsiders
Paradise Lost (3 movies)
Pearl Harbor
The Pelican Brief
Pet Sematary (the original movie)
Pirahna
Police Academy (7 movies)

Pretty and Pink
Pride and Prejudice
Quadrophenia
Quantum of Solace (James Bond)
Rebel Without A Cause (James Dean)
Rodan (more Godzilla, yes!)
Rock Star
Rock The Kasbah
Scanners
School Of Rock
Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
The Seventh Seal
Singing In The Rain

When life after the pandemic returns in your area, there is also a Singing In The Rain slot machine

The Skulls (3 movies)
Solaris
Son of Godzilla
Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains The Same
A Star Is Born (original movie)
A Star Is Born (remake 2019)
A Streetcar Named Desire
Suicide Squad
Teeth
Terror of Mechagodzilla
The Thief of Baghdad
Through A Glass Darkly
To Be Or Not To Be
Tokyo Story
Tropic Thunder
True Lies
Twins
Unfriended
Unfriended: Dark Web
Us
Valkyrie
Water For Elephants
Western Stars
Wild Hogs
Wings Of Desire
The Witches Of Eastwick
The Wizard of Oz
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot)
X-Men
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Yesterday
The Zookeeper’s Wife

A very good mix of movies both very new, very old and in between. A better selection than what’s available at any other single movie streaming service. That’s Netflix, Amazon, they don’t have all these quality movies. They have good selection, but not this overall quality of film library on day one of launch.

However, if you want originals, every streaming service has its strengths. Disney+ has Star Wars, Marvel and their animated classics which are some of the greatest movies ever made. Peacock has the potential for a good library, although their initial launch wasn’t as solid as what HBO Max offers. Maybe when Peacock goes full launch mode in July, they will draw more from their classic library available as well as even more great TV series.

It’s a full-on war of streaming and we — movie and TV show lovers — are benefiting. It’s not what is available to watch, it’s what to watch next?

A very solid launch for HBO Max. I know people may balk at the price tag, but it’s worth at least signing up and watching movies — some of which haven’t been available anywhere else except on TV until now. We’ll be subscribed for awhile.

Are you subscribed to HBO Max? Will you be? What do you think? I’m curious to read thoughts from others.

Retro FIRST LOOK: Gargoyles (animated TV Series) – Disney+

Gargoyles, the animated series – something else to blame OJ Simpson for (see: Remember O.J Simpson promoting in 1978: “Nobody Does It Better Than Hertz”? In 2020 Hertz Filing For Bankruptcy)? The murder trial, yes, prevented viewers from seeing reliable broadcasts of the show.

(Housekeeping note: Before getting to more about this show, this is the first “Retro” FIRST LOOK we’re doing here. When you see “Retro FIRST LOOK” preceding a title it means this is for a movie or TV show we have never covered here before that is available for streaming somewhere as of the post being published. Don’t know how many of these we’ll have here, but any time you see this grouping, that’s what it means)

Back to this animated TV show from the mid 1990s.

The first season of Gargoyles saw it rise to become the #1 show in its afternoon time slot, but slid to #2 after The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers hit the U.S. The sensational media event the murder trial became delivered a final blow to the series. Weisman said, “There wasn’t much thought of doing a season 3. The viewership was fractured. It sounds bizarre that OJ Simpson helped destroy Gargoyles, but it’s true.”

OJ Simpson Helped Kill Gargoyles TV Show, Says Creator

I vaguely remember Gargoyles in the 90s, as there was a movie, too, but didn’t see any episodes or watch the movie. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were a big deal in our household because we had three young children, so definitely recall them. And, of course, remember the OJ Simpson trial.

Another animated series that ran around the same time was Batman: The Animated Series, which in its entirety is available on DC Universe.

Watched the S1:E1 “Awakening, Part 1” episode. My favorite early in the episode quote: “What could be strong enough to leave claw marks in solid stone?” Gargoyles by their nature are there to protect from evil spirits, so they are, primarily, the good guys despite being monsters. This is not an adult animated show, but hey, it’s on Disney+, so that should tell you it’s relatively kid safe. It seems better suited to older children or young teens. The animation quality is on par with other animated shows in the 90s.

Some fans are wanting Disney to start making more of the series. It would be interesting to see how they handled the animation, if they did greenlight a fourth season. I’d like to see more continuations of retro TV series. A few have happened but not any from the 90s or older, that I’m aware of. Let me know in the comments if you know of any.

Gargoyles – 3 seasons, 78 episodes – is available for streaming on Disney+

FIRST LOOK: Blood Machines

Naked women with satanic crosses covering their genitals, a spaceship with lobster claws, a trippy 80s-like synth beat track … you’ve got my attention.

Blood Machines is a short 50 minute, three part science fiction journey that was released as a Shudder original this week.

I’ve watched it twice and still fascinated with the effects and world. It has a very 80s aesthetic, complete with synth-heavy John Carpenter-like music by another Carpenter (not related, it seems): Carpenter Brut.

Brut is also responsible musically for Turbo Killer, a music video that amassed millions of views and provided inspiration to the French team comprising the screen name Seth Ickman for their newest team effort.

Blood Machines was written and directed by “Seth Ickman,” a pseudonym for the French directing team of Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard. It will not surprise any viewers to learn that the filmmakers have worked in art direction, commercials, and music videos. While this project falls somewhere between TV and cinema, it also resembles an extended music video, as well as an elaborate demo reel and a gnarly pin-up dorm poster.

Blood Machines review: Shudder’s sci-fi oddity is like a retro dorm poster – Polygon

The trailer:

Now, check out the ship with those claws.

It just looks like a mechanical crustacean to me, and I’m digging it. Here’s what it looks like from behind:

Blood Machines is available for streaming on Shudder as of May 21, 2020.

FIRST LOOK: Stargirl (TV Series) – DC Universe/CW

Wasn’t sure if I’d get into this or not, but the pilot easily dug its hooks into me.

Stargirl, starring Luke Wilson as the Stripey/Pat and Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore/Stargirl season one has arrived on DC Universe and CW and new episodes are being dropped weekly.

Wilson explained why he was interested in the project.

“To think that I’ve got 25 years of acting and I’m getting to do something I’ve never done before — a superhero project,” he tells EW with a laugh. “My brother Owen’s two sons who are about 5 and 8, and my brother Andrew’s daughter is 10. I showed them a few of these scenes, and it was just so funny to see them get quiet and really concentrate and then start asking me questions like, ‘So you operate the robot?!’ They very rarely show interest in anything that I’m up to! It was funny to see them get immediately hooked in by the show.”

Luke Wilson explains why he joined DC’s Stargirl | EW.com

Stargirl is a reluctant teen named Courtney Whitmore who learns how to use this totally cool staff she discovers in a case in the basement. The staff has a personality all its own and can fight, fly and more. In the wielding hands of Stargirl, the daughter of Starman, it’s a fearsome weapon.

I’ll be reviewing new episodes on Mondays of Stargirl just like we do with Harley Quinn, also on DC Universe. With 22,000+ comic books to read, and new ones being added, these two original shows, this makes a compelling niche service to subscribe to.

Stargirl season one episodes are released every Monday on DC Universe and an edited version with commercials on CW on Tuesday as of May 18, 2020.

FIRST LOOK: The Old Guard – Netflix

Charlize Theron is a skilled actress with a lot of variety. I compare her — wrong or right — to Scarlett Johannson. I think Scarlett is more talented, but Theron has been amazing at times (Monster, for example).

There’s also an interesting meta aspect to The Old Guard’s narrative, in the sense that it’s a movie about corporate executives wanting to tap into its heroes’ unique abilities and monetize them for their personal benefit, as opposed to using them for a nobler purpose

The Old Guard Trailer: Charlize Theron is a Superhero

The trailer looks good:

I really enjoy these women kicking butt action movies. This one looks like fun. I get tired of muscle-bound guys — some of which have very little acting skill — in the roles, so nice to see some women — who do have skill acting — getting their kicks in and mixing the genre up. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a badass husband-wife pair take on an action movie? I realize this isn’t like that, but maybe we can get one someday?

The Old Guard will be streaming on Netflix on July 10, 2020.