Posts Tagged ‘Mommy’s Day’

Mommy Is About to Escape!

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

I got some advance copies of the Mommy/Mommy’s Day Blu-rays that will be coming out in a week or so from MVD/VCI. I wanted to share my reactions with you and encourage you to order this three-disc package. It is still on pre-order from Amazon at a reduced price.

My editor/director of photography Phil Dingeldein and I put in many hours getting the materials ready for this release. Back in the day, the two Mommys went out to VHS and on TV as 4:3 (so-called “full screen”) presentations, though we had designed both for widescreen and on laserdisc and DVD it went out that way. But for High Def release, we needed to reframe every shot for 16:9, and that was a lot of work.

Both features had been taken by Phil and me to a place called Woodholly in Hollywood (get it?) for the then much-used “FilmLook” process, which involved frame skipping and other tricks of the trade. This allowed us to get past Lifetime and other markets with a feature shot on high-end video as opposed to film. We were never happy with Mommy after FilmLook, because we had not been informed that the process darkened the image and that we would need to allow for that in shooting (that is, deliver a brighter master than would normally be the case).

In digging through the materials, we found the original output master we had taken to FilmLook – in other words, the original, unFilmLooked version. That’s what we worked with for the Blu-ray release.

The image on the Blu-ray has a soft look, particularly on Mommy, but not unpleasingly so. I adjusted my TV to the “natural” setting (as opposed to “movie”) and liked it better; I hiked the sharpness a little, too.

Mommy’s Day (aka Mommy 2) utilized the high-end video master of the FilmLooked version – we could not find the un-FilmLooked tape, but Mommy’s Day had never bothered us, as we’d allowed for the brightness issue before we took it out to Woodholly (in Hollywood, remember?).

This is a nice 3-disc package. The two features share a Blu-ray, as does a DVD. A second DVD offers up a plethora of bonus features – a vintage “Making of Mommy” documentary, a very gritty behind-the-scenes look; another making of doc from PBS; Leonard Maltin on Entertainment Tonight extolling Mommy; an interview I did with Patty for Mommy’s Day that covers her career; a vintage trailer for Mommy; and a Blooper Reel. Back on the other two discs are new commentaries by Phil and me. Barb looks stunningly beautiful on both documentaries, by the way.

Revisiting these little movies, I remain proud of both, and think Mommy’s Day is the rare sequel that doesn’t just refry the first movie, and in some respects is better than its predecessor. I remain astounded that reviewers and viewers sometimes don’t see both films as the dark comedies they are, but on the whole the reviewers back then (and today) have been positive in their response, and picked up on the intentional humor.

I think anybody interested in my work will find this release worthwhile. Certainly any fan of The Bad Seed should jump right on board.

If you buy the 3-disc package from Amazon, and like what you see, reviews will be appreciated.

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Speaking of reviews, Barb and I will be sending out an enormous mailing today of advance copies of Girl Can’t Help It, Antiques Fire Sale, and Hot Lead, Cold Justice; also a few of the Mommy Blu-rays.

These go to reviewers in some cases, but mostly are me following up on a Killing Quarry book giveaway here a while back by sending Girl Can’t Help It in particular (and sometimes the other two books) to some of you who didn’t get in on the Quarry books. All of these are ARC’s – advance reading copies.

If you receive one of the ARC’s, take note of the publication date. Amazon won’t accept reviews until a book is out, and Girl Can’t Help It won’t be out till March, and the other two later than that.

I regret to report that no ARC’s of Do No Harm, the upcoming Nate Heller, will be available here. My publisher sent them out to the magazine reviewers and the rest were distributed at Bouchercon – they flew out of there. But I have requested copies for an Update giveaway as soon as the finished book is available.

Stay tuned.

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This is a downright wonderful Killing Quarry review that I hope you will take a look at. It’s from the delightfully named site Outright Geekery.

Another great one here.

And this one, from Criminal Element, is damn good, too. I’m so happy that this new Quarry is pleasing readers.

Meanwhile, I am just getting started on Skim Deep, the first Nolan and Jon novel in three decades or so.


Mommy’s 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

In 1994 and 1995, here in Muscatine, Iowa, I wrote and directed (and executive produced) two B-features – Mommy and Mommy 2: Mommy’s Day. We raised the money locally for the first film and the feature’s success funded the sequel. We brought Patty McCormack in to play Mommy, a kind of take on what might have happened to her famous Bad Seed character if she had grown up to be a mom herself. Though not officially a sequel, the idea of Rhoda grown up caught a lot of imaginations and Mommy did very well, getting tons of major media including TV (Entertainment Tonight) and print (Entertainment Weekly).

And our casts included Jason Miller, Majel Barrett, Brinke Stevens, Gary Sandy, Arlen Dean Snyder, Del Close, Paul Petersen, Larry Coven, and somebody called Mickey Spillane. My friend Mike Cornelison (Eliot Ness himself) was in both films, as were my discoveries Rachel Lemieux and Sarah Jane Miller. The idea in those days was to have plenty of names to spruce up the video box; but, boy, did having actors on that level pay off.

So. If you still have any of the money set aside for Black Friday, Cyber Monday or are looking for something to use those Amazon gift cards you’ll probably receive, look no further.

A Blu-ray double feature of Mommy and Mommy 2: Mommy’s Day is available for pre-order now at $19.98, around a third off the regular price. In addition to separate Blu-rays of the two features, a DVD packed with special features is also included – a Making of Mommy documentary, me interviewing Patty McCormack for Mommy’s Day, bloopers, media coverage and more. The release date is January 21 and you can pre-order it from Amazon right now, here.

This has been a longtime coming, and I’m thrilled to have these two features out again in a superior format and looking better than ever.

My editor and director of photography, Phil Dingeldein – one of my best friends and my most valued collaborator in the world of video and film – worked with me on both features, getting them into a 16:9 aspect ratio for proper viewing on a flat screen TV. Mommy, which appeared on Lifetime in 1995 (we shot it in 1994), was seen on TV in the old 4:3 aspect ratio (i.e., not widescreen). Mommy’s Day, which appeared on TV in many foreign countries (both broadcast and DVD), also was seen in the old square-tube 4:3 TV format. Both features enjoyed their biggest success with the Blockbuster home video chain (R.I.P.), where VHS copies were in the wretched 4:3 format. The widescreen versions were only seen on the Roan Group’s laserdisc releases, and even those simply represented a masking off of the 4:3 masters, top and bottom.

This just means we’ve never been able to get the widescreen versions in front of audiences except at occasional screenings around the Midwest (including the Muscatine premieres).

Restoring these movies – which were shot in a combo of Betacam professional video and 16mm film – required new color correction at Phil’s dphilms in Rock Island, as well as us going through and reframing every shot to accommodate our intended widescreen image. (When we shot the features, the video monitors had grease-pencil indications of where the widescreen frame would be within the tube-TV-style 4:3 image we were shooting.)

We also had to make a trip to Fairfield, Iowa, to get access to some once-state-of-the-art equipment that was now obsolete in order to check out what the content was on some of the Mommy and Mommy’s Day tapes we’d located in storage.

For Mommy we found the original output from the Avid Video Composer (cutting-edge at the time), having used one of the first digital Betacams. To make our feature acceptable to the likes of Lifetime and Blockbuster, we had to make our shot-on-video material, however high-end, look filmic. The industry standard at the time was a process called FilmLook, used a lot for TV at the time, to make video-shot features and series episodes appear to have been shot on film.

In 1994, Phil and I took our Avid output tape to Hollywood to the FilmLook facility and supervised the creation of a version that appeared more like film. We did the same two years later with Mommy’s Day.

We hadn’t been told the FilmLook process would darken the footage, and because of that our new master – the basis of the Lifetime, Blockbuster and international broadcasts and DVDs – was overly dark. If you’re familiar with Mommy, you may recall that the junkyard sequence that concludes the film is sometimes so dark it’s hard to tell what the eff is going on. To put it mildly, Phil and I have never loved that.

So it was a very good thing to have the un-FilmLooked tape to work from in creating the new widescreen Mommy master. We could not locate the Avid output tape of Mommy’s Day, but we had factored in allowing for the footage to be darkened by FilmLook, so in that case using the D-2 master (high-end for the time) was not problematic, as long as we could find a way to play the thing. VCI Home Video was able to do that.

My apologies if that was too technical. I barely understand some of it myself, but fortunately Phil is both knowledgeable and terrific in this area, and helps me through.

Phil and I often smile about the number of people we encountered in Hollywood on our FilmLook trips who would chat with us, discover we were in town to do post-production on a feature, and would want to know about how to get their movies made (!). That and other anecdotes are included in new commentaries that Phil and I recorded for this Blu-ray release.

With luck, we’ll place the Mommys with a streaming service at some point. But right now, we’re stoked about getting both of these films out there in one package, looking better than ever and in widescreen.

Check out the Mommy’s Day cast here.


Two of the 120 Greatest Mystery Writers

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

I have little to say this week, flabbergasted and delighted by the huge response to Mickey Spillane’s birthday.

First, this unexpected present from the editorial board of the Strand Magazine, where both Mickey and I are among their 120 greatest mystery writers, displayed on a coffee mug that (not surprisingly) you can buy.

Now the main reason I’m not writing much this time is that there’s already more than enough of me elsewhere to read right now on the Net. Let’s start with J. Kingston Pierce’s Rap Sheet and his very in depth interview with me about the entire effort to get Mickey’s unfinished works completed and out there.

Jeff Pierce also has the Killer Covers site, where he follows up his already massive Spillane coverage with a look at many Spillane book (and comic book) covers.

The Daily Beast offers up one of the very best essays on Mickey that appeared on his birthday. I was interviewed for it, but can take little credit.

Jon Jordan, the Crimespree guru, provides this excellent review of both novels that make up the new book, The Last Stand.

For Mickey Spillane wisdom, try these “ten wry quotes,” each and every one wonderful.

Here’s more coverage of the upcoming Mike Hammer four-issue comic book mini-series from Hard Case Crime Comics.

Out of nowhere comes this wonderful tribute to Ms. Tree at a UK site.

And this from Brash Books (scroll down for Mickey/Max stuff).

Here’s a review of The Will to Kill that is favorable but the reviewer gets thrown, due to this being the first Hammer read by said reviewer and it happened to be a change of pace yarn.

First-rate mystery writer and human, Wayne Dundee, reflects on meeting Mickey on set at Mommy’s Day over (choke) twenty years ago.

The Saturday Evening Post weighs in on Mickey’s birthday – no mention of the posthumous publishing.

Read a short but sweet tribute here.

Finally, this celebration prints my introduction to The Last Stand – good for you to read if you haven’t decided whether to read it or not.


Walk Out! Girl, Don’t You Walk Out….

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
Quarry's War

The Quarry comic book mini-series (which will later be collected as a graphic novel) was officially announced at San Diego Comic Con, where I was not in attendance. The splendid cover is included here for your enjoyment, although my enjoyment is hampered by the fact that my name isn’t on it.

I trust this is an oversight that will be rectified by Hard Case Crime Comics, though I admit it rankles when the writer of the other comic book announced did make the cover of that number one issue.

I will leave it to you whether to file this under “What am I, chopped liver?” or sour grapes.

In the meantime, here’s the Booklist advance review of Quarry’s Climax:

Collins, Max Allan (Author)
Oct 2017. 240 p. Hard Case Crime, paperback, $9.95. (9781785651809). e-book, (9781785651816).

Chronology is always a little tricky in Collins’ Quarry series. Take this one. It’s a new entry, but the story is set in the 1970s, when the first Quarry thrillers were written. The hit man with a heart of steel (and a skewed sense of, well, just desserts) is working for the Broker, a murder middleman who farms out hired kills to his operatives. This time it’s a little complicated: Quarry and his partner, Boyd, must first dispatch the hitters sent to eliminate the publisher of the Memphis-based porn mag, Climax; then determine who hired the hitters; and, finally, get rid of them, too. All in a few days’ work for the resourceful Quarry, of course, who developed his killing chops as a Vietnam sniper, but along the way Collins treats us to a wonderfully vivid look at the pornography industry in its heyday. From publishers to centerfolds to strippers to feminist protesters, he cuts through the stereotypes with quick bits of subtle characterization (but, please, don’t say you read a book with ‘Climax’ in the title only for the characters).

— Bill Ott

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The title of this week’s update is a line from the Monkees’ “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” which Crusin’ covered for a Monkees tribute CD some years back. But the subject is not rock ‘n’ roll – rather, the now legendary tendency of my wife Barb and myself where walking out of movies is concerned.

We were walking out of so many movies, readers of this weekly update were wondering what movies I might actually be able to tolerate, or perhaps even (choke) like. But others have noticed that there have been no reports of such walk-outs lately.

One possible reason for all the walk-outs has been a spate of overblown, mediocre would-be blockbusters, frequently cribbed from comics or otherwise pop-culture retreads. The Great Wall and Kong: Skull Island are typical. CHIPs and Baywatch are the kind of movies where you consider walking out during the trailer, which is all we saw of them.

The truth is, though, something strange happened this summer, at least so far: the blockbuster movie releases have been…how can I put it…good. Here’s a rundown on them, just little mini-reviews to pop like Milk Duds. And what part of the cow is the “dud,” anyway? A few of these I’ve already commented on, in passing.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. A lot of care went into making sure the quirky humor of the first film was maintained, and it paid off. Casting Kurt Russell was a very good move. These movies know exactly how to walk you up to sentimentality and then drop the trap door on you.

Wonder Woman. Chris Pine, channeling William Shatner in the manner of the recent Star Trek movies, contributes humanity and humor while lead Gal Gadot brings provides charm, beauty and athleticism in an epic origin tale craftily set in a vivid Great War setting. And it’s surprisingly faithful to the Golden Age comic book.

The Mummy. The weakest of the non-walkout-worthy summer blockbusters is nonetheless a lot of fun, with Tom Cruise (no matter what you may think about Scientology) bringing his genuine movie-star charisma and skill to the party. A female mummy (Sofia Boutella) is a nice twist, although too much back story and the clumsy inclusion of Jekyll/Hyde (Russell Crowe) is a lame attempt to build a franchise nobody is waiting for.

Baby Driver. A reminder of what it felt like to go to the movies in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, this is a slick, fast-moving crime film that is propelled by music and moves from one phenomenal, and mood-changing, set piece to another. It’s an outrageous melodrama, with compelling, often larger-than-life characters. Not sure the proposed sequel is a good idea, though.

Spiderman – Homecoming. It took some doing, getting Barb to go along, and she wasn’t won over immediately. But this third reboot (who’s counting?) manages to both re-imagine and yet be quite faithful to the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko original (how I wish I had hung onto Amazing Fantasy #15). Tom Holland is a winning Peter Parker/Spidey, though the heart and soul of the movie, oddly enough, belongs to the villain, the wonderfully cast Michael Keaton. Only real flaw is how hard the film works to invoke other aspects of the Marvel film franchise universe, with much more Avengers and Iron Man stuff than necessary. It’s too much salt on an already well-seasoned popcorn.

War for the Planet of the Apes. This may be the best Planet of the Apes movie of all, and as good as the two previous ones are (Rise and Dawn), that’s saying something. There is a grandeur and even majesty to this one, and the believability of the apes is complete and stunning. But it’s also emotionally wracking, action-packed and even frightening. Give Andy Serkis an Oscar already, would you, Academy?

Dunkirk. I’ve never been a Christopher Nolan fan, but I am now a convert. This is the year’s best movie so far. It’s demanding – for Americans, the various Brit accents may mean losing this line or that one, and there’s no Pearl Harbor back story: you’re just thrown right into four or five storylines that crisscross over the running time. The Hans Zimmer score is ruthlessly relentless, and a relaxing time at the movies this isn’t. A few have complained that the film lacks any overview, but the situation is simple: the Germans have driven the British and the French armies to the coast of France with the Channel between the Brits and home. Hundreds of thousands of allied soldiers are trying to get home, and the advancing German army as well as their fighter pilots are trying to stop that, while British civilians in their own little boats are heading across the Channel to take soldiers home by the handful. That’s all you need to know. There is heroism and cowardice and various other shades of humanity, but also a sense of patriotism in a just cause that today somehow seems remote. Churchill’s famous speech, read by a soldier from a newspaper, is a reminder that giants once guided government.

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My pal Bud Plant has found a supply of the first Ms. Tree trade paperback. It’s cheap and it’s here.

The Hard Case Crime announcement of Quarry’s War made at SDCC was picked up all over the Internet.

Finally, here’s news of the live performance of Mike Hammer: Encore for Murder next January in Florida. It stars my buddy Gary Sandy, who appeared in Mommy’s Day.