DOLLS rocks, “Sirens” buzzes

At one time, Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert declined to provide commentaries on commercial DVD releases, presumably to avoid any perceived conflicts of interest where he might seem to be promoting a given movie and its studio over others. Then came opportunities to digitally preserve his thoughts on two of his favorites – CITIZEN KANE and DARK CITY – thereby throwing the Urbana native’s prior stance right out the window. Ebert has provided his services to several releases since then, which is not a bad thing considering his knack for efficiently vocalizing his opinions and thoughts on the cinema and its history.

Last week, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment finally unleashed the movie-and-monologue that we all knew had to transpire. BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, the 1970 satire chronicling the wild life of an all-girl band called The Carrie Nations, marked the first of two big-studio gigs for the late indie maverick Russ Meyer (FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!) and the first of only three Ebert screenplays to be produced. (He used pseudonyms for Meyer’s subsequent UP! and BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE ULTRA-VIXENS.) On the brand-new DVD, issued simultaneously with its in-name-only predecessor VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (1967), Ebert talks solo on one commentary while the film’s actors discuss the raucous cult classic on a second track, joining a bevy of extras bounding across two discs.

BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) and Sirens of Cinema (RAK Media Group, Inc.)

Elsewhere, the new issue of Sirens of Cinema magazine (vol.2 no.4) that hit newsstands this past Tuesday, June 20, features a two-page article by yours truly on upper East Coast actress Kristen Hudson, who stars in the comedy-horror movies SILVERSCREAM and CHAINSAW SALLY. Also contributing an article is former BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER cast member Amber Benson, who travelled to Champaign County last summer to play a supporting role in the Robin Peters/Dreamscape Cinema production, BLUEHAIR (formerly ANGST). This full-color quarterly was recently re-launched by RAK Media Group, Inc., of Indiana.

– Jason Pankoke


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Chicago Sun-Times reprints 1980 Ebert essay from Film Comment about revisiting BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS at Syracuse University.

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A recent Ebert “Answer Man” column in Chicago Sun-Times summarizes the critic’s thoughts on the new DVD.

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