SAINT BERNARD BLU RAY REVIEW (SEVERIN FILMS)
Saint Bernard is a 2013 horror film written, special fx, produced, & directed by legendary fx artist Gabriel Bartalos (Leprechaun franchise, Basket Case 2/3, Brain Damage, & Frankenhooker). An unhinged orchestra conductor named Bernard (played by: Jason Dugre from Skinned Deep, Fat, Moonbeams, & Not So Silent Pictures) graphically descends into a surreal odyssey of chaos, psychosis, & a bizarre chain of events.
He meets some of the strangest people on the way which includes The Chief (played by: Peter Iasillo, Jr. from Day of the Dead, Spookies, Street Trash, & Skinned Deep), Uncle Ed (played by: Jack Doroshow from The Anderson Tapes, UR4 Given, & Chicken Pox), Miss Roadkill (played by: Katy Sullivan from I’m with Stupid, T11 Incomplete, My Name Is Earl, & NCIS: New Orleans), Father Steele (played by: Bob Zmuda from Man on the Moon, D.C. Cab, Batman Forever, & The Number 23), & Othello (played by: Warwick Davis from the Leprechaun franchise, Willow, Star Wars franchise, & Harry Potter franchise). Who can he trust? Some of these individuals are waiting to take advantage of this troubled mind. Is this fantasy or reality????
Saint Bernard is a visual nightmare that never stops! If you are looking for something that has a unique look to it with all kinds of madness then you will enjoy this weird feature. It doesn’t make much sense & it’s very incoherent at times. If you can get past that, you will have fun with this off the wall journey into insanity. The set pieces & production design is off the charts for the movie. The acting is all over the place & it’s over the top. It was great to see Warwick Davis with a cameo here. One of the true highlights from this production was the special fx from director Gabriel Bartalos (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, From Beyond, Dolls, & Gremlins 2: The New Batch).
If you have seen any Frank Henenlotter or Leprechaun film you are very familiar with his style. Those nasty & bizarre moments really stood out here. Speaking of Henenlotter (He has a cameo in this!), you can see his influence all over this feature which is a great thing when it comes to independent cinema & horror plus it has a hint of David Lynch to it. Saint Bernard is not for everyone, as a matter of fact alcohol or something else might make your viewing experience even better for this. I am still not sure what I just watched to be honest, it’s been on my mind & I definitely want to revisit it again soon. It’s one of the weirdest films that I’ve ever seen & coming from me that’s a bold statement. It’s entertaining but it will leave you scratching your head & saying WTF more a few times!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features from Severin Films! This 1080p (1.78.1) transfer looks fantastic for being a low budget independent feature. That’s the big drawl here, Saint Bernard has some crazy & unforgettable visuals that stand out on this blu ray format. It has 2 audio options which include English DTS-HD 2.0 & Dolby Digital 2.0 on the disc. The dialogue is crystal clear & the music sounds solid on the tracks. It has English subtitles on the release. “The Making Of Saint Bernard” is a little over 17 minutes. It has interviews with director Gabe Bartalos, actors Jason Dugre, Katy Sullivan, & various members of the production. They chat about the project, filming experience, the visual style, & the wild atmosphere for it. It takes you behind the scenes for various special fx & the airplane sequence. It shows you how some of the madness was put together. It has a “Trailer” for Saint Bernard. I really dig the artwork for this blu ray. This standard release is available everywhere right now. A limited edition slipcover & bundle is also available for this release at the Severin Films site. If you are wanting to watch something unique & nothing like you seen before then you should CHECK THIS OUT!!!!
LEPRECHAUN RETURNS BLU RAY REVIEW (LIONSGATE)
Leprechaun Returns is a 2018 horror film directed by Astron 6’s Steven Kostanski (The Void, Father’s Day, Manborg, & ABCs of Death 2). It was written by Suzanne Keilly (Dallas & Robo, Ash vs Evil Dead, & Killer High). It was produced by Josh Van Houdt (Sharknado franchise, Frenzy, Killer High, & No Escape Room) & Daniel Iron (The Banana Splits, Fido, Lake Placid: Legacy, & The Red Violin). It’s the 8th entry in the Leprechaun franchise & the 2nd one in a row not to feature actor Warwick Davis in the iconic role. It was made for the SYFY channel. It was filmed in South Africa. It’s a direct sequel to the original that took place 25 years ago!!!!
The deadly wisecracking Leprechaun (played by: Linden Porco from Channel Zero, Little Man, & The Ghosts of Brewer Town) is back in all his gory glory. Lila (played by: Taylor Spreitler from Melissa & Joey, Kevin Can Wait, Amityville: The Awakening, & The Contractor), the daughter of Tory Reding returns to her family home. She is greeted by stranger Ozzie (played by: Mark Holton from Leprechaun, Gacy, Teen Wolf 1/2, & Pee-wee’s Big Adventure) who’s familiar with her mother & all the secrets that they buried in the past.When the sorority sisters of the Alpha Upsilon house which includes Katie (played by: Pepi Sonuga from Under the Silver Lake, Ash vs Evil Dead, Cheerleader Death Squad, & Mortal Kombat X: Generations), Rose (played by: Sai Bennett from Trapped, Mr Selfridge, The Vintage, & Lake Placid: Legacy), & Meredith (played by: Emily Reid from Glass Houses & Belgravia) decide to go green. They end up using an old well as their water source, they unwittingly awaken a pint-sized green-clad monster. The Leprechaun wants a pot of gold buried near the sorority house but first he must recover his powers with a killing spree!!!!
Leprechaun Returns was a huge surprise! It was way better than that piece of crap Leprechaun Origins & far superior than the last few sequels especially the Hood ones. Linden Porco is no Warwick Davis but compared to Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl he deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance. He was actually a pretty good replacement for the horror icon & I was very impressed. It was great to see Mark Holton reprise his character after all these years. It really added to the nostalgia for this. It had an old school slasher vibe to it. It was full of hilarious one liners & creative kills with a decent body count. The special fx & gore really shined here, director Steven Kostanski (It, Suicide Squad, Crimson Peak, Hannibal, The Editor, Pacific Rim, & Silent Hill: Revelation) also did some of the prosthetic work for the production. It had some nice eye candy, it was beyond entertaining, & it was such a fun viewing experience. This was way better than you would think when you realize it’s a TV movie made by SYFY, it’s one of their best original productions ever made. I know they produce some questionable & cheap stuff but this was exactly what the horror community needs when it comes a horror sequel, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features from Lionsgate! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer looks like it was a theatrical release rather than a TV film made by the SYFY channel with a low budget. They were smart with their money here & used it at the right spots. The locations are simple but it provides a similar atmosphere as the original feature. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers all the goods. The dialogue is crystal clear. They even got an actress that sounds like Jennifer Aniston to do a voice over in it. All the murderous fun is elevated & the music has a killer boost to it. It also has English, English SDH, & Spanish subtitles. “Going Green with Director Steven Kostanski” is an almost 20 minute interview with the filmmaker. He chats about the Leprechaun franchise & how he watched 3 more than the others. He talks about working in a special fx shop when the script came in for this. He says he got offered the film soon after that so he knew he was working on it regardless. He mentions going overseas & filming this in South Africa. He brings up being worried about re-casting the iconic role but he knew he found the right actor after seeing his audition. He jokes that Mark Holton didn’t realize he was the director when he was doing special fx work with him. “Leprechaun Returns Behind the Scenes Footage” is a little over 3 minutes. It all focuses on the special fx for the film & it’s really cool to see some behind the scenes footage from it. “Still Gallery” is almost 4 minutes & it has a variety of photos from the production. It has a slipcover & a digital code. Leprechaun: The Complete Movie Collection is also available from Lionsgate, now you can you have a Leprechaun marathon to celebrate this new release, just skip Origins because it’s trash. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
SLAUGHTERHOUSE RULEZ DVD REVIEW (SONY)
Slaughterhouse Rulez is a 2018 horror comedy film co-written & directed by Crispian Mills (A Fantastic Fear of Everything). It was co-written by Henry Fitzherbert (Born a King). It’s the first film produced by Simon Pegg (Man Up, A Fantastic Fear of Everything, & The World’s End) & Nick Frost’s (The World’s End, Mr. Sloane, & Cuban Fury) production company Stolen Picture. The last time the legendary duo did a collaboration was in 2013. The film was released internationally on Halloween 2018 in the United Kingdom & Ireland. It only had a small limited release in the United States in May 2019 & only grossed $4,665 at the box office. The budget was £5.2 million & it made £730,670 at the box office.
Welcome to Slaughterhouse, an elite boarding school where boys & girls are groomed for power and greatness They are finally about to meet their match. The group includes Don Wallace (played by: Finn Cole from Animal Kingdom, Peaky Blinders, & Dreamland), Clemsie Lawrence (played by: Hermione Corfield from King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Rust Creek, & Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Wootton (played by: Kit Connor from Rocketman, Ready Player One, & Rocket’s Island), Kay (played by: Isabella Laughland from Harry Potter franchise, Urban Hymn, & The Last of the Haussmans), & Willoughby Blake (played by: Asa Butterfield from Hugo, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ender’s Game, Time Freak, & The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) plus the psychopath bully Clegg (played by: Tom Rhys Harries from Jekyll & Hyde, Unforgotten, Crow, & Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire).
This ancient & ordered world is about to be shaken to its foundations “literally” when a controversial frack site on prized school woodland causes seismic tremors. A mysterious sinkhole & an unspeakable horror is unleashed. The school staff includes house master Meredith Houseman (played by: Simon Pegg from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Paul, Star Trek franchise, & Mission Impossible franchise) who was just dumped by his girlfriend Audrey (played by: Margot Robbie from Suicide Squad, The Wolf of Wall Street, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, Focus, Terminal, & I, Tonya) & the principal that’s known as The Bat (played by: Michael Sheen from the Underworld franchise, Masters of Sex, TRON: Legacy, Blood Diamond, Frost/Nixon, & Kingdom of Heaven) who tries to warn everyone about going into the woods. Woody (played by: Nick Frost from from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Paul, Attack the Block, & Pirate Radio) is a camp leader with a grudge against the school but he picked the wrong time to try to get some revenge. Soon a new pecking order will be established as pupils, teachers, & the school matron become locked in a bloody battle for survival!!!!
Slaughterhouse Rulez on paper sounds like something horror fans have been begging for since the release of Shaun of the Dead. Simon Pegg & Nick Frost together again after all these years in a monster movie plus it’s Rated R? SIGN ME UP! It sounds too good to be true right? Unfortunately it was too good to be true & it didn’t deliver on what most would expect from a project like this. You would think those two would share so much screen time in this considering their cinematic history but that doesn’t really happen. Brilliant marketing for this feature, you see those two listed above plus it has a supporting cast of Margot Robbie & Michael Sheen added to the mix. Out of all those actors mentioned only Simon Pegg & Michael Sheen have decent roles here but they are far from being the leads for Slaughterhouse Rulez. They both were great in this especially Sheen. The other two are basically gloried cameos so be warned if you are expecting to see more than that. The true leads are the kids & that isn’t exactly a bad thing considering the young cast that was put together for the production. Finn Cole & Asa Butterfield really shine in Slaughterhouse Rulez. The script tries too hard for character development & nothing special happens until almost an hour into the film so you have to be very patient with this one. It’s more of a comedy until then. I will say the last thirty minutes is a blast & it’s the type of entertainment you would expect from seeing the trailer for Slaughterhouse Rulez. The creatures look cool, it has an old school vibe to them when it comes to the special fx. A decent amount of the kills are off screen so it’s not as gory as you would hope for this sub genre but it still has some nice moments. I know a good portion of this review isn’t exactly positive but it was solid for what it was. I guess my expectations were way too high for it but after it picks up it’s actually pretty fun & entertaining, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the technical aspects of this DVD release. It has anamorphic widescreen (2.39:1) transfer. It looks better than expected especially for being a DVD. It’s a shame it didn’t get a high definition release in the states. It has a nice atmosphere & visually it shines when the chaos starts to happen at the end! The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds great. The dialogue very clean, when the horror actually kicks in it’s elevated, & the music has a nice boost on it. It also has a variety of audio options besides that main version which includes English Audio Description, French 5.1, & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital on the release. It also has English, English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles. It has no extras on the disc & it’s only available on DVD here. It was actually released on blu ray overseas. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
US BLU RAY REVIEW (UNIVERSAL)
Us is a 2019 horror film written, produced, & directed by Jordan Peele (Get Out, The Twilight Zone, Lovecraft Country, & Key and Peele). It was produced by Jason Blum (Get Out, Happy Death Day 1/2, Split, Glass, The Purge franchise, Halloween, & Upgrade), Daniel Lupi (Ready Player One, Inherent Vice, Boogie Nights, Scream 2, Magnolia, & Lincoln), Sean McKittrick (BlacKkKlansman, Hell Baby, Donnie Darko, & Southland Tales), & Beatriz Sequeira (The Amazing Spider-Man 1/2, The Gift, Upgrade, & Ma). It had a budget of $20 million & it grossed $254.6 million worldwide at the box office!!!!
In 1986, young Adelaide Thomas goes on vacation with her parents to Santa Cruz. At the beach, she wanders off & enters a funhouse, where she encounters a doppelgänger of herself in the hall of mirrors. When her parents (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II from Aquaman, Watchmen, & Candyman / Anna Diop from Titans, 24: Legacy, & Bosch) eventually find her, she is unable to speak. In the present day, the adult Adelaide (played by: Lupita Nyong’o from Star Wars franchise, Black Panther, 12 Years a Slave, & Non-Stop) is going to her family’s lake house in Santa Cruz with her husband Gabe Wilson (played by: Winston Duke from Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War/Endgame, & Person of Interest) plus their two children, Zora (played by: Shahadi Wright Joseph from The Lion King, Hairspray Live!, & Dream Years) & Jason (played by: Evan Alex from Mani, Kidding, & Baby Avengers).
She just wants to stay at their place & enjoy the scenery. Gabe & the kids convince her to go to the same Santa Cruz beach. They meet up with their friends Josh (played by: Tim Heidecker from Fantastic Four, Bridesmaids, Brigsby Bear, & Ant-Man and the Wasp) & Kitty Tyler (played by: Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men, The Handmaid’s Tale, The West Wing, & Girl, Interrupted) plus their daughters (played by: the Sheldon twins from Friends). Jason takes off & it reminds Adelaide of her past incident so she freaks out! Later that night, a random family appears in their driveway & refuses to leave when confronted. They invade the Wilson’s house & when seen closer they look exactly like them. The strange doppelgängers terrorize the family one by one. They are forced to fight for their survival & escape to the Tyler family house for safety. They soon realize they are not the only ones dealing with this deadly problem. Can they make it through this & still be the same people they were once before????
Comedian Jordan Peele took the horror genre by surprise with it’s his directorial debut Get Out. So when US was announced & the whole community went crazy over it. This is a more modern day & darker approach to the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers story. Get Out was more of a suspense thriller compared to this, Peele made sure to deliver a straight up horror film with US. The small cast here was great especially the leads. They all had to perform duel roles considering the concept & everyone made their other character stand out from the original version. It’s a rare for this genre to have so much award winning talent involved which includes Oscar Winner Jordan Peele, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, & 2 time Golden Globes winner Elisabeth Moss. Lupita Nyong’o stole the show in this, you couldn’t look away from her amazing performances. I loved all the retro moments & placements in this production. The jaws shirt, the VHS tapes, Home Alone, The Goonies, & them referencing that Lost Boys was being filmed there at the time. The score & soundtrack was top notch for US, it was great to hear the Luniz get resurrected back into the mainstream with their hit “I got 5 on It” plus the later remix used in the movie. The “Fuck the Police” scene was hilarious & it had a few other comical scenes that really worked but for the most part it had lots of unintentional humor that weren’t supposed to achieve that reaction but it ended up funny in a real bad way. It had so much potential, this feature felt a little rushed at times & it didn’t come near Get Out but it still had it’s moments. I will say, this is the type of film that you need to watch more than once to appreciate it. I seen it in theaters on opening day & I definitely enjoyed it more on this revisit. I am happy that the horror genre can still turn out box office numbers like this & get the attention of a wider audience but I hope Peele takes his time on his next darker project because this should have been better. RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Universal! This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks stunning on blu ray, I can only imagine what the 4K looks like. It was really cool to see Santa Cruz used for another horror film, the visuals were great for it. The stylized cinematography made all the locations stand out. All the characters had a unique look to them. It has 4 different audio options which includes English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, & Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 on the release. It feels like I am at the theaters again for this! The dialgoue is crystal clear. All the madness is elevated & the music sounds amazing on these tracks. It also includes English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles. Both picture & sound are very impressive, this is a great technical release!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features from Universal! “The Monsters Within Us” is almost 5 minutes. It has interviews with director Jordan Peele, actors Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, & Evan Alex. They chat about the family who are the main characters in US. They talk about the actors playing them & working together on this project. They bring up how different their other roles are compared to the normal versions. “Tethered Together: Making Us Twice” is a little over 7 minutes. It has interviews with director Jordan Peele, actors Lupita Nyong’o, Shahadi Wright Joseph, & various members of the production. They talk about how they changed it up for each role. They chat about how they filmed doing scenes with the same actor. They mention the look of the production. They bring up the style & influences on US including a few horror icons. “Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror” is a little over 5 minutes. It has interviews with director Jordan Peele, producer Jason Blum, actors Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, & Elisabeth Moss. They chat about the filmmaker & their experience working with him. Jordan Peele talks about his love for the horror genre. He brings up several of his biggest influences & favorite films. “The Duality of Us” is almost 10 minutes. It has a interview with director Jordan Peele. He talks about his fascination with doppelgangers. He breaks down all the main characters for the feature. He chats about the visuals & what inspired them. He explains the animals in the film. He goes over what the title US means to him. “Becoming Red” is a little over 4 minutes. It has never before seen behind the scenes footage of actress Lupita Nyong’o becoming her evil character. “Scene Explorations” is almost 8 minutes, it includes Seven Second Massacre, It’s a Trap, & I Just Want My Little Girl Back. It has comments from director Jordan Peele, actors Elisabeth Moss, & Tim Heidecker. 6 “Deleted Scenes” that end up a little over 6 minutes, it includes I Am Not Even Near You, Rabbit Season, That’s Badass, Driftwood, The P Is Silent, & I Wanna Go Home. I am surprised a few of these got cut out of the final version. “We’re All Dying” is a little over 6 minutes. It’s an extended beach scene with Winston Duke,”Elisabeth Moss, & Tim Heidecker. As Above, So Below: Grand Pas De Deux” is a little over 5 minutes. It’s an extended dance scene between the girl & her demented doppelganger. It also includes a slipcover, a digital copy, & a DVD of the release. It was released in several different formats including 4K & DVD. Plus it had a few store exclusives. It’s available everywhere tomorrow, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U BLU RAY REVIEW (UNIVERSAL)
Happy Death Day 2U is a 2019 slasher film written & directed by Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, & Burning Palms). It’s the sequel to 2017’s Happy Death Day. It was produced by Jason Blum (The Purge franchise, Insidious franchise, Get Out, Split/Glass, Happy Death Day, Halloween, & Upgrade) & Ryan Turek (MA, Truth or Dare, Mercy Black, & Unfriended: Dark Web) for Blumhouse Productions. The budget was $9 million & it grossed $64.2 million worldwide at the box office. A third film is being considered to follow up this sequel!!!!
College student Ryan Phan (played by: Phi Vu from Happy Death Day, Fist Fight, Logan, & Kickboxer: Vengeance) wakes up in his car on September 19th. He goes back to his dorm room, he walks in on his roommate Carter Davis (played by: Israel Broussard from Happy Death Day, The Bling Ring, Extinction, & Good Kids) & Tree Gelbman (played by: Jessica Rothe from Happy Death Day, Mary + Jane, La La Land, & Valley Girl). He is working on an experimental quantum reactor with Samar Ghosh (played by: Suraj Sharma from Life of Pi, Million Dollar Arm, Homeland, & God Friended Me) & Dre Morgan (played by: Sarah Yarkin from Foursome, Eat, Brains, Love, & American Horror Story). Dean Roger Bronson (played by: Steve Zissis from The Front Runner, Her, Bad Milo, & Jeff, Who Lives at Home) shuts down the project after it taking too long to produce results. It causes a power outage & Ryan is murdered by the Babyface killer! He wakes up & it’s September 19th again. He tells Carter about it & Tree being the expert on the bizarre situation agrees to help him out. Tree ends up getting on the same time loop as before on the 18th after revisiting this annoying nightmare. She must kill herself over & over until they solve this mysterious problem. Plus she has to deal with John Tombs (played by: Rob Mello from Happy Death Day, The Magnificent Seven, Bad Ass 3: Bad Asses on the Bayou, & Crazy Lake), Lori Spengler (played by: Ruby Modine from Happy Death Day, Shameless, Central Park, & Satanic Panic), Dr. Gregory Butler (played by: Charles Aitken from Happy Death Day, The Knick, Bonkers, & Sleepy Hollow), & Danielle Bouseman (played by: Rachel Matthews from Happy Death Day, Ms. White Light, & Looking for Alaska) all over with the worst case of deja vu ever. This leads to her experiencing more time with her mom Julie (played by: Missy Yager from Happy Death Day, Mad Men, My Own Worst Enemy, & Boston Public) & it causes her to re-think about going back. Can they do it again or is she trapped dying every day for the rest of her life????
Have you seen Happy Death Day? Then you pretty much already seen Happy Death Day 2U. It’s more of a remake than an actual sequel. That isn’t exactly a bad thing because Happy Death Day was so much fun & this follow up is easy to re-visit with so many familiar characters returning. It does have more of a science fiction feel to it with the time travel elements. So it kinda went from a slasher version of Groundhog Day to a slasher version of Back to the Future which is pretty damn cool. Jessica Rothe is very easy on the eyes & she’s great in these films. She adds extra humor to the role, the comedy here had the perfect balance with horror. The rest of the cast was solid, don’t expect any Oscar nominations or anything but they all had their own unique qualities about them. Not going to lie, I don’t like the Danielle Bouseman character & she had a bigger part here than the original, at least she is excellent eye candy. The Babyface killer stands out & I’ve always liked the look of the role especially compared to stuff these days. It had some hilarious & creative kills, it delivered on the goods for any slasher expectations. It’s awesome to see a horror franchise doing something different since most horror films are one & done in recent years. We need more of that in the genre. It’s not as good as the first film but it’s still lots of fun & very entertaining, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Universal! This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks great on blu ray. It has a nice atmosphere, slasher meets science fiction, & the locations really shine here. It has 3 different audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish: DTS 5.1, & French (Canada): DTS 5.1 on the release. The dialogue sounds crystal clear, all the madness is elevated, & the music has a killer boost to it. It also has English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Universal. A little over 2 minute “Gag Reel” featuring a variety of hilarious moments from the set. 1 “Deleted Scene” that runs a little over 2 minutes. “The Never-Ending Birthday” is almost 3 minutes. It has interviews with writer/director Christopher Landon, producer Jason Blum, actors Phi Vu, Israel Broussard, Jessica Rothe, & Ruby Modine. They chat about returning to the Happy Death Day universe & working on this follow up. They bring up the concept & why they decided to do it. They talk about the comedy being a bigger part in this & the science fiction elements added to the story. They mention all the familiar characters plus the new ones. “Web of Love: Tree’s Nightmare” is a little over a minute. It has interviews with writer/director Christopher Landon, actors Israel Broussard, Jessica Rothe, & Rachel Matthews. They chat about the new relationship with Carter & Danielle for this. They talk about how it messes with Tree’s character & she tries everything to bring stuff back to normal to change it. They bring up the different situations they deal with for their roles in this sequel. It has behind the scenes footage. “Multiverse 101” is a little over 2 minutes. It takes you through the time loop for the film & it explains it. As you can see, this blu ray is a little light on the extras but it’s still better than it being bare bones. It also includes a slipcover, a digital code, & a DVD copy of the release. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
THE SUCKLING BLU RAY REVIEW (VINEGAR SYNDROME)
The Suckling (aKa Sewage Baby) is a 1990 horror movie written & directed by Francis Teri (Flesh-Eating Mothers & Head Games). It took Teri a year & a half to raise the money to make this feature. It was released in the 90s on VHS by York Entertainment. It was released on DVD by Elite Entertainment in 2005 & Around the World in 2016. This is the U.S. blu ray debut (unless you count that 2016 bootleg from Mr. Fat-W Video) for the barely seen low budget monster flick from Vinegar Syndrome! A confused & pregnant Girl (played by: Lisa Petruno from Galactic Gigolo, Troma’s War, & Angel of Passion) decides to go to the sleazy abortion clinic that also operates as a brothel in a questionable neighborhood just to look at her options. Her boyfriend Billy (played by: Tim Martin Crouse from Lethal Justice, The Orchard, & Redemption) already had different plans, the girl gets drugged & he pays owner Big Mama (played by: Janet Sovey from Behind the Burly Q, The Orchard, & Redemption) to take care of his problem right away.
PET SEMATARY 4K/BLU RAY REVIEW (PARAMOUNT)
Pet Sematary is a 1989 horror film directed by Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary II, Tales from the Crypt, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, & The Dark Path Chronicles). It’s based off the novel from the master of horror Stephen King (IT, Castle Rock, The Mist, Mr. Mercedes, & 11.22.63) who also wrote the screenplay. It’s the first time that he adapted his own work for film. Bruce Campbell was the original choice for the role of Louis Creed. George A. Romero bought the film rights in 1984 for $10,000 with producer Richard P. Rubinstein (Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside, The Stand, Golden Years, & The Langoliers) & he was the original director for the feature when it was first developed but he had to drop out when the production got delayed to work on another movie.The Ramones worked on music for the film since Stephen King referenced them in the source material. The budget was $11.5 million & it grossed $57.5 million at the box office. A sequel (II), a documentary (Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary) & a brand new remake have been made following this original production!!!!
Louis Creed (played by: Dale Midkiff from Nightmare Weekend, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct franchise, The Crow: Salvation, & The Magnificent Seven TV Series), a doctor from Chicago takes the job of the director of the University of Maine’s campus health service so he can spend more time with his family. He moves to a large house near the small town of Ludlow with his wife Rachel (played by: Denise Crosby from The Walking Dead, Ray Donovan, 48 Hrs, & Eliminators), their two young children Ellie (played by: Blaze Berdahl from DC Super Friends & Ghostwriter / Beau Berdahl from Strong Island Boys & Noel) & Gage (played by: Miko Hughes from New Nightmare, Kindergarten Cop, Full House, & Apollo 13) with their cat Church. They already start out with bad luck when they arrive there. They meet their new neighbor Jud Crandall (played by: Fred Gwynne from The Munsters, My Cousin Vinny, Car 54, Where Are You?, & Fatal Attraction) who has lived in the community his whole life. After getting to know them, Jud tells the family about the legend of pet sematary & walks them down the path of it. Louis & Rachel have a disagreement about discussing death with the children. She tells him the full story about her dying sister Zelda (played by: Andrew Hubatsek from Blue Steel & Human Resources) from spinal meningitis.
Louis Creed faces his first serious situation at his new job when student Victor Pascow (played by: Brad Greenquist from Ali, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, Star Trek franchise, & The Chair) is rushed in after being fatally injured in an automobile accident. He loses the patient but something strange happens. Pascow is still talking to Louis. Church is found dead but Jud decides to help Louis avoid telling his daughter about the tragic death. He takes him to a secret location & tells him that he must bury his own pet. Louis does it without asking why & Church shows up the next day like nothing ever happened. Church is not the same cat as before. Louis confronts Jud about the secret location & what really happened to Church there. Jud tells him about the power of the ancient burial ground where the animal was buried. Months later, Gage is killed by a speeding truck & the family is a mess over it. They go away to Chicago to get their minds off of everything. Jud tells Louis about a story that involves a human in the same spot Church was resurrected & pleads with Creed to not do the same thing with Gage. Remembering what he did with Church, Louis stays home & decides to do the same for his young son. Desperate to get their life back to normal, he opens up a world of disaster for everyone around him. What will happen next? Can he make this unholy magic work to fix it all????
Pet Sematary is one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever made! The fact that this was the first film that King himself wrote into a screenplay from his own work tells you something. He was very hands on with this project & made sure it was done in Maine. Yes, it had differences from the original novel but King keep it close to it. I love how they went with a small & more unknown cast with this. It really sold the overall story & elevated the production value for it. Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, & Brad Greenquist were great in Pet Sematary. Miko Hughes gives one of the best child performances that I’ve ever seen in my life & he is very creepy towards the end. That role is very re-memorable & stands out from most of the other evil kids in cinema history. Fred Gwynne was amazing & it’s easily his greatest performance. Jud was my favorite part of this whole experience, I really enjoyed the character. He was the reason this all happened in the first place. I won’t lie, I couldn’t stand Ellie & I disliked Berdahl twins annoying performances but besides that I thought the whole cast were perfect for this. The special effects & music really added to everything, at the time it was exactly what this featured needed. As times goes on, I actually appreciate this version more & more especially after seeing the remake this weekend. If you want to know more about this film plus it’s production, you need to check out the Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary documentary. As far as this release goes, it’s huge upgrade compared to all the others. I am so glad that Paramount gave a catalog title like this proper treatment. I am hoping the sequel gets a blu ray someday. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Paramount! This 2160p (1.78:1) transfer with Dolby Vision & HDR10 is major improvement over every Pet Sematary release in the past! I also want to mention in case you are not 4K capable yet that the new blu ray included with this release blows the original disc away in every possible way so whatever format is your preference this new 30th anniversary edition is worth adding to your collection ASAP! I thought the original HD presentation wasn’t anything special to be honest but Paramount went all out for this re-issue. So that’s at least one good thing about the remake being made, it got us a top notch transfer for this Stephen King classic. It’s damn near like watching it for the first time because it looks so much better now. I love technology because an old catalog title like this can be resurrected into primo condition. It’s loaded with a variety of audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Czech: Dolby Digital 2.0, German: Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono, French: Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese: Dolby Digital 2.0, Hungarian: Dolby Digital Mono, Portuguese: Dolby Digital Mono, & Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this release. It’s never sounded better! All the dialogue is crystal clear, all the creepy moments are boosted, & the awesome music for the film is elevated here. If you still only own this on the old Blu Ray, VHS or DVD, you desperately need to upgrade this feature right now because this is the definitive version. It also has various subtitles which includes English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, & Thai. Paramount kills it again when it comes to the technical aspects!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features from Paramount! It has an “Audio Commentary” with director Mary Lambert. She chats about the Monkey’s Paw tale that inspired the original story. She talks about author & screenwriter Stephen King. She brings up that they find the perfect house for the film but they had to move a tree to the location to make it work exactly like it was supposed to. She mentions the characters & what makes everything happen in this story. She talks about the locations, special effects, & cast. She says looks can be deceiving when comes to the bad & good angel of the story between a few characters. She mentions the influences of both of them & how it caused all these problems. She chats about some changes from the book & how difficult Cats were to train for the film. She thinks being friends with The Ramones helped her get this job since King was a huge fan of them. She brings up a earlier film that she directed before this & some similar tones it had. She mentions the editing & the people who put the movie together. She goes over various scenes & she has some nice stories about a variety of things here. She is still very passionate about this production & it really shows. She is soft spoken but gets excited when she’s chatting about the overall production.The UHD disc actually has all the new extras on it but the archival features are only available on the blu ray disc that’s also included in the set. “Pet Sematary: Fear and Remembrance” is brand new & it’s a little over 7 minutes. It has interviews with directors Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer, actors Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, & various members of the new production. It’s shows footage from the remake. They all talk about their experience with the original film & book. They tell personal stories from it that’s connected to their real lives. It’s basically a feature to promote the new film with some appreciation for the first film. “Pet Sematary: Revisitation” is brand new & it’s almost 10 minutes. It’s an interview with director Mary Lambert. She chats about how she got the job. She talks about the first time that she met Stephen King. She says that it was up to him on who directed this film. She brings up how important Miko Hughes performance was & how it made the film. She mentions working on the brand new restoration for this release & how it’s the best it’s ever looked especially compared to all the other releases. “Galleries” is brand new & it has all kinds of photos from the production.
“Stephen King Territory” is a little over 13 minutes. It’s hosted by author & screenwriter Stephen King. It brings up the novel was on the shelf for years & King originally didn’t want to publish it. King tells some personal stories & how they inspired the book. He talks about the setting & the Maine locations. It has interviews with director Mary Lambert, actors Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Brad Greenquist, & producer Richard P. Rubinstein. They chat about the source material & their experience on the production. “The Characters” is almost 13 minutes. It has interviews with director Mary Lambert, writer Stephen King, actors Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, & Brad Greenquist. It goes into detail about each main character from the film & the actors who played them. Mary Lambert brings up that Dale Midkiff & Denise Crosby auditioned together originally. Their chemistry was there from the start & it helped them get the roles. She says it was very difficult to cast the children for this. She mentions that the cats weren’t easy to work with but they all had certain tricks or things they were good at. They bring up the performances. They chat about the production. They talk about Fred Gwynne writing children books besides acting. “Filming the Horror” is a little over 10 minutes. It has interviews with director Mary Lambert, actors Dale Midkiff, Brad Greenquist, & others. Mary Lambert recalls the day & what she was doing when she first got the offer for the feature. She chats about her collaboration with Stephen King. She said he was always available to consult when it came to creative aspects. They bring up the author’s cameo in the film. They chat about some of the death scenes & how they were put together. They talk about being surprised how much success it had & that it still holds up after all these years. It has a slipcover, a digital code, & a blu ray release included. Don’t forget the remake was just released last weekend also. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE BLU RAY (SONY)
The Possession of Hannah Grace (aKa Cadaver) is a 2018 horror film directed by Diederik Van Rooijen (Keyzer & de Boer advocaten, Black Widow, Daylight, & Taped). It was written by Brian Sieve (Boogeyman 2, Boogeyman 3, & Scream: The TV Series). It was produced by Todd Garner (xXx franchise, The Fog, Anger Management, & Mortal Kombat) & Sean Robins (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Tag, Shuttle 77, & Playing with Fire). Director Diederik Van Rooijen was supposed to remake Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds but the production got delayed so he made this feature while he was waiting on it. It was originally finished in November in 2016 but it stayed on the shelf for years & it had changes made due to new studio management. The budget was an estimated $7 million & it grossed $43 million worldwide at the box office!
A former cop Megan Reed (played by: Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars, The Heiresses, You, & Mother’s Day) just out of rehab & trying to get her life together decides to take the graveyard shift job offered by her friend Lisa Roberts (played by: Stana Katic from Castle, Absentia, Superman: Unbound, Quantum of Solace, & The Spirit) at the city morgue. Is it too soon for her to come back to reality? She faces a series of strange & violent events caused by an evil entity in one of the corpses Hannah Grace (played by: Kirby Johnson from 5150, GAIA, & Farmhouse) that is delivered to the Boston Hospital after a failed exorcism. A man sneaks in & tries to put the corpse in the incinerator. The stranger is trying to prevent more destruction from happening but he’s stopped, what unholy situation will happen next in this isolated hell night????
The Possession of Hannah Grace had a few bright moments. Shay Mitchell gives the best performance of her career in this, this is one of those films with a very small cast. Stana Katic & Louis Herthum (Westworld, True Blood, Longmire, & The Last Exorcism Part II) both elevated the production with their supporting roles in this. It had really good special effects. It did have a few creepy moments that stood out. The possession sub genre is a hard one to pull off. There’s so many duds produced every year with a very similar plot. Hannah Grace was slightly different from those cliches but it was still nothing original when comes to those type of features. The script was very weak, it was filled with holes & the film was too short so it actually felt rushed towards the finale so those elements ended up hurting the overall production value of it. From the history of this movie, it sounds like it destined to be a mess since it was delayed for years & they were forced to make changes due to new management. It’s definitely worth checking out but I’d recommend renting it first before you consider adding it to your collection.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Sony Pictures! This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks great on blu ray! It has a creepy atmosphere & the morgue location is almost like another character in this. It’s loaded with 6 different audio options which include English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hindi: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1, & Spanish: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 on this disc. The dialogue is very clean, the score has a nice boost to it, & all scares are elevated here. When it comes to providing subtitles, Sony is one of the best studios out there. This release is packed with a variety of different languages that include English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Thai, & Turkish! This is a real solid technical release & any HD fan will be happy with it.
Let’s discuss the special features from Sony Pictures! “The Killer Cast” is a little over 6 minutes. It has interviews with screenwriter Brian Sieve, stars Kirby Johnson, Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Nick Thune, & various members of the production. They chat about the characters & the actors who played them in the production. They bring up their experience. They talk about how Kirby Johnson could move her body & her performance as the title role. They say it’s more than a horror movie. “An Autopsy of Hannah” is a little over 6 minutes. It has interviews with stars Kirby Johnson, Shay Mitchell, & special effects artist Adrien Morot. Kirby Johnson gives a quick tour of the morgue. They go into great detail about the effects & design of Hannah Grace’s body in the film. It takes you behind the scenes & shows them creating the gruesome make up for the title character. It’s a real cool look inside look into the production. The special effects were very impressive in this. “Megan’s Diaries” features two short segments “Night One” & “Night Two”. Both are under a minute. “I Lied to You” Deleted Scene which is under a minute. It has a variety of “Trailers” from other Sony releases. It also includes a slipcover & a digital code. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX BLU RAY REVIEW (PARAMOUNT)
The Cloverfield Paradox (aKa God Particle & Cloverfield 3) is a 2018 science fiction film directed by Julius Onah (The Girl Is in Trouble & Luce). It was written by Oren Uziel (Mortal Kombat: Legacy, 22 Jump Street, Freaks of Nature, & Shimmer Lake). It was produced by J.J. Abrams (Cloverfield franchise, Mission Impossible franchise, Star Trek franchise, Star Wars franchise, Overlord, Castle Rock, & Westworld) for Bad Robot Productions.It’s the 3rd installment in the Cloverfield series. It was made by Paramount Pictures & picked up by Netflix. It had a surprise trailer & release directly after Super Bowl LII.
In 2028, Earth is suffering from a global energy crisis. The space agencies of the world prepare to test the Shepard particle accelerator aboard the orbiting Cloverfield Station. They are sent on a mission to try to fix the situation & save the world. The crew includes a British engineer Ava Hamilton (played by: Gugu Mbatha-Raw from Concussion, Beauty and the Beast, Free State of Jones, & Odd Thomas), American commander Kiel (played by: David Oyelowo from Selma, Star Wars Rebels, Jack Reacher, & Lincoln), German physicist Ernst Schmidt (played by: Daniel Brühl from Captain America: Civil War, Inglourious Basterds, The Alienist, & Rush), Brazilian medical doctor Monk Acosta (played by: John Ortiz from Miami Vice, Kong: Skull Island, Silver Linings Playbook, & American Gangster), Irish engineer Mundy (played by: Chris O’Dowd from Get Shorty, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Thor: The Dark World, & This is 40), Russian engineer Volkov (played by: Aksel Hennie from The Martian, Hercules, Last Knights, & Headhunters), & Chinese engineer Tam (played by: Ziyi Zhang from Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Rush Hour 2, Memoirs of a Geisha, & Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
After about two years of unsuccessful attempts to activate Shepard, they finally get a reaction but it overloads & creates a power surge on the station. They find & rescue Mina Jensen (played by: Elizabeth Debicki from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Widows, Everest, & The Great Gatsby), a stranger to everyone that had no reason to be there. Strange events start happening around them & crew members end up in dangerous scenarios. They are trapped in unknown territory but all this work & time can’t be wasted. They fight for survival against the unknown. They are determined to fix the problem & finish their mission but they have to watch out for their surroundings because no one can really be trusted now!!!!
I love how every Cloverfield film is completely different from each other, Paradox definitely stands out on it’s own. I enjoyed the claustrophobic, isolated, & paranoid vibe it had. It helped build up all the suspense & thrills for it. It reminded me of Alien, you can tell it was influenced by it. The limited locations added to everything. The best thing about the production was the excellent casting & the small group of actors in this. All of the characters had their own unique personality. None of them would be considered big names or stars but most of them can easily be recognized from several major movies over the years. There’s not a single weak link here & I hate to say it but that’s a rarity in cinema today. The script & set design were very impressive. It had some twists that kept you guessing, it was entertaining & it delivered everything that you would expect from a science fiction flick. I love when they have a darker tone to them & the last half of Paradox launches into full gear there. I am looking forward to what they do next with this franchise, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features from Paramount! This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks great, I could be wrong but I think this is the first Netflix film to get a real release. I hope they start doing more blu rays or 4Ks of their other original material in the future. The cinematography & visual style really stands out on Cloverfield. It’s loaded with a variety of audio which includes English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, German: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1, & Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this disc. The audio sounds top notch on this release. The dialogue is crystal clear, the suspense is elevated, & the music has a killer boost to it. It also has English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, & Thai subtitles. When comes to highest quality for audio & subtitles. Paramount is always on top of their game & they are the best at it. “Things Are Not As They Appear: The Making of The Cloverfield Paradox” is a little over 14 minutes. It has interviews with director Julius Onah, writer Oren Uziel, actors Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Aksel Hennie, Elizabeth Debicki, & various members of the production. It shows the script read with the cast. They chat about the developmental & concept of the film. They talk about their experience on it. They go into detail about the production design & look of it. It has behind the scenes footage. “Shepard Team: The Cast” is almost 15 minutes. It has interviews with director Julius Onah, writer Oren Uziel, actors Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Aksel Hennie, Elizabeth Debicki, David Oyelowo, & Ziyi Zhang. They chat about the characters & the actors who played them. They bring up the differences between all of them. They talk about most of them learning a new language for the feature. It goes over the casting & what made them want to do this franchise. It’s also available in the Cloverfield 3 film collection. It includes a slipcover & it’s available everywhere right now (including Netflix), CHECK IT OUT!!!!
OVERLORD 4K/BLU RAY REVIEW (PARAMOUNT)
Overlord is a 2018 horror film directed by Julius Avery (Son of a Gun & Flash Gordon). It was written by Mark L. Smith (Vacancy 1/2, Martyrs, The Hole, & The Revenant) & Billy Ray (Color of Night, The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips, & Suspect Zero). It was produced by J.J. Abrams (Cloverfield franchise, Mission Impossible franchise, Star Trek franchise, Star Wars franchise, & Lost) for Bad Robot Productions. It was originally rumored to be the next Cloverfield film. The budget was $38 million & it grossed $41.7 million worldwide at the box office. On the eve of D-Day, a paratrooper squad, led by Sergeant Rensin (played by: Bokeem Woodbine from Fargo, Dead Presidents, Ray, Wishmaster 2, & Spider-Man: Homecoming) is sent to destroy a German radio tower in an old church. Their plane is shot down before they can finish the mission, leaving only five apparent survivors which include Corporal Ford (played by: Wyatt Russell from Cold in July, 22 Jump Street, We Are What We Are, & Everybody Wants Some!!), Boyce (played by: Jovan Adepo from Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Fences, The Leftovers, & Sorry for Your Loss), Tibbet (played by: John Magaro from Orange Is the New Black, Assassination of a High School President, The Box, & The Big Short), Chase (played by: Iain De Caestecker from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lost River, & Filth), & Dawson (played by: Jacob Anderson from Game of Thrones, Episodes, & The Mimic). As they are escaping from all the chaos, they are looking for a place to stay so they can put together a plan.
They run into Chloe (played by: Mathilde Ollivier from The Misfortunes of François Jane, Boss Level, The Pleasure of Your Presence, & Liberté: A Call to Spy) who helps them out. The sadistic SS Hauptsturmführer Wafner (played by: Pilou Asbæk from Game of Thrones, Ghost in the Shell, The Great Wall, & Lucy) comes by Chloe’s place for his nightly check with his Nazi soldiers. She scared that they will find the American soldiers hiding there so she does nothing when Wafner starts to force himself on her. Boyce loses his cool & captures the real monster with Ford. Boyce goes out to research & help finish their plan on the tower. He discovers some horrific secrets & experiments going on inside lead by the evil genius Dr. Schmidt (played by: Erich Redman from Captain America: The First Avenger, The 12th Man, The Illusionist, & The Danish Girl). He finds & rescues fellow solider Rosenfeld (played by: Dominic Applewhite from The King’s Speech & The Inbetweeners). After mistakes are made, they are forced to save Chloe’s brother Paul (played by: Gianny Taufer) & change up their original plan. They know it’s a suicide mission but they must enter the tower to carry out their goal. All hell breaks loose & they are fighting for their lives against unnatural creations!!!!
Overlord was one of my favorite films & theater experiences of 2018! It’s action packed, beyond entertaining, & so much fun. It’s a nice hybrid feature of the war & zombie sub genres. It’s more of a war & action production than horror so prepare yourself for that. Don’t get me wrong, it still has lots of dark elements in it plus some really cool zombies. It’s very violent & it has enough gore to satisfy any fan of the genre. I loved the fact that they went mainly with practical effects over CGI for this when it comes to the zombies. It had an old school vibe to it which is always enjoyable to witness especially these days where most stuff is the same. The visual effects for the opening scene were amazing. I think it was really smart to cast a group of unknown actors for this. They had great chemistry together & all of them turned in good performances. It felt very real & not too over the top or cartoony at all which was refreshing. Wyatt Russell looks more like a young Woody Harrelson than his legendary father Kurt. Both Wyatt Russell & Jovan Adepo were very impressive as the leads, I am looking forward to seeing more from them. Bokeem Woodbine was great, I wish his character had more screen time in this. Pilou Asbæk always plays a great scumbag, you love to hate him. The script was well written, the cinematography was top notch, & the music set the tone. The overall production for Overlord was damn near perfect. I can’t recommend this enough, it gets better with each viewing also. If you are looking for an awesome action horror hybrid, this is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Paramount Pictures!!!! This 2160p (2.40:1) transfer with Dolby Vision & HDR10 looks amazing in 4K. Overlord is one of the visual treats of 2018 & it definitely delivers on home video. It’s loaded with a variety of audio which includes English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, German: Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1, & Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this UHD disc. That’s a crazy amount of options when it comes to sound. It has a killer boost to it with all the action & chaotic moments plus dialogue is very clean. When it comes to reference quality, this is one to consider. It’s also packed with subtitles which include English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Malay, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, & Turkish. Technically, you honestly can’t get better than this. It’s beyond impressive, both picture & sound are top notch!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features from Paramount! None of them are on the UHD disc but they are included on the blu ray. “The Horrors of War” covers aspects of the production & it is broken in several different featurettes that are discussed below. “Creation” is a little over 11 minutes. It has interviews with director Julius Avery, producer J.J. Abrams, actors Wyatt Russell, Jovan Adepo, Pilou Asbæk, Bokeem Woodbine, John Magaro, Dominic Applewhite, & various members of the production. They chat about the origins of the project. They talk about the writers & script for it. Julius Avery mentions his inspirations for making a war picture. They go into details about casting the feature. They bring up the designs & overall look of it. “Death Above” is a little over 7 minutes. It has interviews with director Julius Avery, producer J.J. Abrams, actors Wyatt Russell, Jovan Adepo, Iain De Caestecker, Bokeem Woodbine, John Magaro, Dominic Applewhite, & others. They discuss how unconformable it was to shoot the opening scene. They chat about how it made them bond them together as a real group. It shows some before & after shots with the visual effects. They talk about Julius Avery’s directing style for it. “Death on the Ground” is a little over 9 minutes. It has interviews with director Julius Avery, producer J.J. Abrams, actors Pilou Asbæk, Iain De Caestecker, Mathilde Ollivier, & various members of the production. They chat about the aftermath of the opening scene & where it lead the soldiers.
They talk about the Chloe & Wafner characters. They bring up the special effects for it. “Death Below” is a little over 6 minutes. It has interviews with various members of the production. It talks about the church, tower, & bunker locations. They chat about it going from a war film to horror. It takes you behind the scenes for it. “Death No More” is a little over 12 minutes. It has interviews with various members of the production. They focus on the practical special effects for the film. They chat about wanting to make it more old school & not using CGI for the zombies. It takes you behind the scenes & shows them working on the main zombie The Mistake. They talk about the character & how he became that way. They mention how they came up with Wafner’s look for the last half of the film. It goes over the action & their experience with it. “Brothers in Arms” is a little over 5 minutes. It has interviews with various members of the production. They all chat about the creative team of Julius Avery & J.J. Abrams. They talk about their experience working with them on Overlord. They bring up how their involvement elevated the entire production. They mention how well they work together on this. It also comes with a blu ray, digital code, & a slipcover. This should be included in everyone’s collection, it’s a must own. It’s available in several other formats including a solo blu ray with different artwork & DVD. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
MAUSOLEUM BLU RAY REVIEW (VINEGAR SYNDROME)
Mausoleum is a 1983 horror film directed by Michael Dugan (Super Seal, Raging Hormones, & The Adventures of Turkey Dude). It was given a limited theatrical release by Motion Picture Marketing (MPM) in 1983. It won the Special Jury Prize at the 13th Paris Film Festival of Sci-Fi & Fantasy Films. It was originally put out on home video from Embassy Home Entertainment on VHS. Years later, it was released by BCI Entertainment on DVD for their Exploitation Cinema double feature line with Blood Song. Ten year old Susan Walker attends her mother’s funeral with her aunt Cora (played by: Laura Hippe from The Swinging Barmaids, Stay Hungry, & Logan’s Run). After the funeral, Susan flees into the family’s mausoleum tomb & witnesses a demonic supernatural force that kills a vagrant in the cemetery. The encounter results in Susan falling under the influence of an ancestral demon connected to her family lineage. Twenty years later, Cora worries about Susan (played by: Bobbie Bresee from Ghoulies, Evil Spawn, Surf Nazis Must Die, & Star Slammer) on the anniversary of her mother’s death. She is married to Oliver (played by: Marjoe Gortner from Earthquake, Acapulco Gold, Starcrash, & Hellhole), he is always busy with his job.
They go out & enjoy the night. She is harassed by a man at the club. He ends up trapped in his car & burning inside of it. Oliver is forced to leave town for some work business which leaves Susan all alone. She isn’t feeling like herself, she seduces her landscaper Ben (played by: Maurice Sherbanee from The Don Is Dead, Indecent Proposal, In the Army Now, & The Pursuit of Happyness). It ends being a huge mistake. Cora brings Susan paperwork pertaining to the familial inheritance & she sees a different side of her. Maid Elsie (played by: LaWanda Page from Sanford and Son, Friday, CB4, & Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood) is unlucky & catches her boss on a bad day. Oliver notices all of their help isn’t showing up for work anymore & asks his wife what’s going on with that? She gives various excuses & acts like nothing is going on. Dr. Andrews (played by: Norman Burton from Simon King of the Witches, Diamonds Are Forever, Fade to Black, & Bloodsport) & Dr. Logan (played by: Sheri Mann) try to help the troubled woman as she is being taken over by an evil entity. They find out about her family’s past & reveal that the Nomed family is cursed. Susan is becoming worse & more dangerous as time goes on. Can they stop the demon inside her? or Will she kill everything & everyone that comes near her????
Mausoleum is full of entertainment & it has some colorful cinematography. It provides a nice atmosphere, the setting definitely catches your attention. When it comes to crazy women in cinema, Bobbie Bresee as Susan is very re-memorable. She completely loses her mind here & doesn’t hold back when it comes to violence. She also isn’t shy about showing her body either. The former playboy bunny is easy on the eyes & gives a brave performance. The rest of the supporting were real solid & helped elevate the overall production. Special effects master John Carl Buechler (A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Halloween franchise, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, From Beyond, & Bride of Re-Animator) delivers some amazing 80s gore & demons in this. It’s the true highlight in Mausoleum, it had some gruesome kills & demonic Susan looked really creepy! Any horror fan will be pleased with the end result for this. It gives you everything that you would want for this type of film especially fans of the 80s. There’s never a dull moment with the feature, it has a good pace to it & it’s fun to watch especially with some friends. Turn off your brain for a little bit & just enjoy it. It’s been hard to find for years so not as many people know about it but it’s very under-rated. Thanks to the great folks at Vinegar Syndrome, it’s been resurrected to home video & now available to the public again. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Vinegar Syndrome! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer was newly scanned & restored in 4K from it’s 35mm original camera negative. This is one of the biggest upgrades ever when it comes to home video. It completely blows away the damaged & edited BCI Entertainment DVD from years ago! It’s never looked this good anywhere, I am beyond impressed with Vinegar Syndrome’s restoration work. They bring these small films back to life & it’s like watching them for the very first time. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track is also a major improvement compared to all the other previous releases. It sounds great in my home system. The dialogue is very clean, all the madness is elevated, & the music sounds crisp. The score added the perfect vibe to this, I always enjoyed it. It has English SDH subtitles. The quality for both picture & sound on this new blu ray release is top notch!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features from Vinegar Syndrome on this disc! “Making Monsters” is an almost 9 minute interview with special effects creator John Carl Buechler. He chats about how he got the gig for this. He talks about drawing the demon right on the spot like a police sketch when the producers described what they wanted for it. He goes into great detail about some of the special effects for the production. He says producer, writer, & cinematographer Robert Barich was the real director for this. Michael Dugan was more concerned with the visual style for it. He mentions he was working on Roger Corman’s Forbidden World at the same time so he had some friends help him finish this.It has variety of promotional material which includes a “Trailer”, 2 “TV Spots”, & a 2 minute “Still Gallery”. It has reversible artwork & a DVD copy of the release with it. It was originally a Black Friday exclusive with a limited slip cover, that sold out really quick but it’s now available everywhere with this brand new standard release from Vinegar Syndrome. This needs to be in your collection ASAP, check it out!!!!
American Nightmares DVD Review (MVD VISUAL / MOONSTONE ENTERTAINMENT / PATRIOT FILMS)
American Nightmares (aKa Tales from the Hood 3, Tales from the Crib, & Mr. Malevolent) is a 2018 horror anthology from the creators of the Tales from the Hood franchise Rusty Cundieff (Tales from the Hood 1/2, Sprung, Chappelle’s Show, & Fear of a Black Hat) & Darin Scott (Caught Up, Dark House, Tales from the Hood 2, & Deep Blue Sea 2). It was written, produced, & directed by both of them. Mr. Malevolent (played by: Danny Trejo from Heat, Machete franchose, From Dusk Till Dawn franchise, & Death Race franchise) hacks into two shady computer nerds Stuart (played by: Jared Kusnitz from The Secret Life of the American Teenager) & Jamal’s (played by: Michael Felix from WRZ: White Racist Zombies) computers with the Mystic Woman (played by: Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek TV series/Films, Batman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man The Animated Series, & Heroes), they force them to watch 7 different tales that covers some of the worst outcomes in the world today. In “Mates”, Shanicka (played by: Tamala Jones from Castle, Next Friday, Blue Streak, & Booty Call) is looking for love in all the wrong places especially with Reggie (played by: Giovanni Watson from Canal Street & Love Triangle). She randomly gets sent a free trial for a dating site called Perfect Mates & ends up meeting Jaylon (played by: Jason Olive from For Better or Worse & The Comeback) from there. They immediately connect & end up hooking up that night but it’s not what she expected & soon after Reggie finds out so it becomes a dangerous love triangle.
In “The Prosecutor”, ambitious Texas prosecutor Raymond (played by: Jay Mohr from Suicide Kings, Cherry Falls, GO, & Jerry Maguire) gets Floyd Johnson (played by: Eddie Steeples from My Name is Earl, The Lost, Would You Rather, & Torque) convicted for multiple murders after a powerful speech in court. Raymond announces his run for Governor after winning the case with TV host Chris Fury (played by: Vivica A. Fox from Kill Bill, Batman & Robin, Independence Day 1/2, & Set It Off). A witness comes forward to him saying she picked the wrong man & Floyd was innocent. Already in too deep for his campaign, Raymond blackmails her & covers it up, the wanna be politician lets the power go to his head. At dinner on the night of the execution, his family gets an unexpected visitor & all hell breaks loose. Karma is looking to pay back Raymond, can he escape his fate? In “White Flight”, disgraced racist ex-cop Tommy Deuchet (played by: Brendan Sexton III from Boys Don’t Cry, The Killing, Empire Records, & Session 9) doesn’t like anyone that’s not white & treats everyone else like trash. He gets a time machine delivered to him. He transports his family to a time where you didn’t have worry about race besides being white. His dream journey quickly turns into a living nightmare with nothing but regret.
In “The Samaritan”, Mr. Preevy (played by: Chris Kattan from SNL, A Night at the Roxbury, House on Haunted Hill, & The Middle) is a very sick man that orders a date with escort Angel (played by: Molly Pan from Carmilla) from pimp Borris (played by: Mark Christopher Lawrence from Chuck, Halloween II, Circus Kane, & Cooties). He has a fetish for clowns, they try to take advantage of his weakness by charging more but they just bought themselves an evening in hell with this weirdo. Money can’t buy everything that includes your life! In “Hate Radio”, over-opinionated & infamous DJ Hugh Bluff (played by: Jimmy Shubert from The King of Queens) continues to offend most of his community with his controversial show. A serial killer named The Chopper is terrorizing his city. This radio personality has more enemies than fans especially women but he is always appreciated by dedicated listener Felix (played by: James Duval from Donnie Darko, Gone in 60 Seconds, May, & SLC Punk!). When he becomes more feminine after a strange gift, he ends up kidnapped by the chopper. The psychopath seems very familiar but he doesn’t resemble his former self so it will be hard to talk his way out of this chaotic situation!
In “The Healer”, religious con man Bishop Love (played by: Barry Shabaka Henley from Collateral, Miami Vice, Lord of Illusions, & Rush Hour) convinces everyone that he can heal them & fix their problems. Many donate & give their life savings to help the cause. Roscoe (played by: Clarence Williams III from Tales from the Hood, Half Baked, American Gangster, & Sugar Hill) is a believer that lost everything including his daughter because of Love’s false prophecy. He tracks down the fake & makes his lies real. Bishop Love now can heal others but at what cost to him? In “Thy Will Be Done”, a young woman named Gina (played by: Ella Arro from The Last Ship) is pregnant after being attacked & raped. She wants to have an abortion after the tragedy but she is stopped by William (played by: Noel Gugliemi from The Fast and the Furious, Training Day, Crank, & Street Kings), Leanne (played by: Melissa Hayden from Guiding Light & General Hospital), & Saul (played by: Galen Howard from Smosh Babies & Galen). They kidnap her & force the young woman to have her baby. It turns out to be their biggest mistake ever, what was really inside her????
This is just pure speculation but I think American Nightmares might have been pitched to current Tales from the Hood rights owner Universal & they weren’t interested at the time so the creators went to different production companies to put this together. This doesn’t come close to the original Tales from the Hood but it’s much better than it’s actual sequel (I reviewed it on TodaysHaul.net). This is basically the unofficial Tales from the Hood 3. Rusty Cundieff & Darin Scott are veterans when it comes to the horror anthology & this is a huge step above compared to their last project. They went out & got a good cast for this featuring many familiar faces. Plus it had cameos from Nick Principe (Laid to Rest, Chromeskull, Collar, & Tales of Halloween) & Duane Whitaker (Pulp Fiction, Feast, Tales from the Hood, & The Devil’s Rejects). Danny Trejo chews the scenery in American Nightmares, he has a blast as the host Mr. Malevolent.
Chris Kattan gives the best performance in his career & he plays a great villain to my surprise. The other standout supporting roles were Jay Mohr, Barry Shabaka Henley, James Duval, & Clarence Williams III. Clarence Williams III? Yes, you read that right. This probably leaves you scratching your head like me & asking yourself “Why was he not in Tales in the Hood 2 as Mr. Simms?” The biggest problem American Nightmares faces is it’s very low budget & it definitely shows at times especially with the visual effects. I thought the special effects were actually real solid especially what they had to work with. Like every horror anthology, it has it’s strong segments & it’s weak moments but overall it was way better than expected. My personal favorite tales were “The Samaritan”, “The Prosecutor”, & “The Healer”. A few of them could have easily been turned into a full length feature. There’s no special features on the disc besides “Trailers” for various MVD releases. This was very entertaining & I had lots of fun with it, RECOMMENDED!!!!
DEATH HOUSE DVD REVIEW (CLEOPATRA ENTERTAINMENT)
Death House is a 2017 horror film co-written & directed by B. Harrison Smith (6 Degrees of Hell, Camp Dread, Zombie Killers, & Dawn of 5 Evils). It was co-written & created by horror legend Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Mosquito, & Texas Chainsaw 3D). It has the biggest cast ever assembled of horror icons from various productions in the same feature. A sequel is already planned & in pre-production called Dawn of 5 Evils. Farmer Asa (played by: Tony Todd from the Candyman franchise, Final Destination franchise, The Rock, & Hell Fest) gives a warning about an unspeakable place to an injured girl. Agent Toria Boon (played by: Cortney Palm from Sushi Girl, Zombeavers, Silent Night, & The Purge: Anarchy) flashes back to killing a mother & son to keep her cover intact while investigating neo-Nazi Alois Sieg (played by: Kane Hodder from the Friday the 13th franchise, Hatchet franchise, Alligator II: The Mutation, & Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings). She ends up arresting the real life monster. She arrives at Death House where her rival is currently located. She meets Doctor Eileen Fletcher (played by: Dee Wallace from The Howling, The Hills Have Eyes, Critters, & Cujo) & fellow agent Jae Novak (played by: Cody Longo from The Last Movie Star, 48 Hours to Live, & Piranha 3D) there. Dr. Fletcher demonstrates their virtual reality technology (voiced by: Adrienne Barbeau from Swamp Thing, Escape from New York, Creepshow, & The Fog) to both agents where they run into Murderer (played by: Danny Trejo from Heat, Machete franchose, From Dusk Till Dawn franchise, & Death Race franchise) & Icicle Killer (played by: Sid Haig from Spider Baby, The Big Doll House, House of 1000 Corpses, & The Devil’s Rejects). They are introduced to Doctor Karen Redmane (played by: Barbara Crampton from Re-Animator, From Beyond, Chopping Mall, & Castle Freak) & they take a virtual tour of Death House.
They learn about “The Five Evils” which include Hirace Giger (played by: Bill Moseley from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out, Night of the Living Dead, House of 1000 Corpses, & The Devil’s Rejects), Balthoria (played by: Lindsay Hartley from Garlic & Gunpowder, Deadly Exchange, & Nightmare Nurse), Alexi Nela (played by: Vernon Wells from The Road Warrior, Weird Science, Commando, & Circuitry Man 1/2), Crau (played by: Michael Berryman from The Hills Have Eyes 1/2, Cut and Run, Weird Science, & One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), & Thile (played by: Vincent M. Ward from The Walking Dead). Doctor Bennett (played by: Richard Speight Jr. from Supernatural, Open Water 2, Demonic Toys, & Justified) shows the agents their research & experiments on the homeless. They go around & observe some of psychopaths locked inside who think they are connected to the devil. Doctor Challis (played by: Lloyd Kaufman from Terror Firmer, Slither, Orgazmo, & Crank: High Voltage) discovers the electronic device while performing surgery on the injured guard. After removing the device, it triggers a power failure throughout the facility & the inmates with their leader (played by: R.A. Mihailoff from Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Hatchet II, & Trancers III) start killing everyone after they escape! All hell breaks loose, can the agents & doctors survive this brutal destruction????
Let’s talk about the positives for Death House. It has the best horror cast that I’ve ever seen in the same feature. The cameos here are amazing besides the main cast that I already listed above which include Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Brinke Stevens (The Slumber Party Massacre), Beverly Randolph (The Return of the Living Dead), Tiffany Shepis (Victor Crowley), Debbie Rochon (Tromeo and Juliet), Elissa Dowling (We Are Still Here), Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Tony Moran (Halloween), Ari Lehman (Friday the 13th), Sean Whalen (The People Under the Stairs), Larry Zerner (Friday the 13th Part III), & Bill Oberst Jr. (Circus of the Dead). It was awesome to see some of these horror icons share the same screen for a little bit. You got to see Jason Voorhees & Leatherface fight at one point also which was a geek out moment for any true horror fan. I will warn you that a decent amount of these appearances were very quick so if you blink or turn away you might miss a few of them. I really enjoyed the music, the score fit the tone of the production perfect. The practical old school special effects were great in this & it had some really brutal moments. So far as that goes, this feature definitely delivered but the rest of it was a complete mess. I thought the two leads were awful especially compared to all the talent they had around them. I think the producers picked the wrong person to take creative control over this ambitious project. It tried to be too high tech but they didn’t have the money to pull it off so it comes off super cheap & it doesn’t look good at all. The visual effects were really bad. It was incoherent, it didn’t make much sense for the most part. It was all over the place, nothing was consistent here. It felt more like a bunch of random scenes put together as a completed film. Both the writing & directing were very sloppy, Death House had so much potential & it didn’t even come close to it. I hope that the sequel is much better, they need to take their time & use their budget better because this was a disaster. Don’t get me wrong, it had some fun & entertaining material but I would never want to watch this again.
Let’s discuss the special features on this DVD release from Cleopatra Entertainment! “Audio Commentary” with writer & director B. Harrison Smith. He talks about the opening being an homage to Psycho 3. He chats about how he got the gig for this. The producers approached him for it at his screening for Zombie Killers. He gets real excited about the cast when they show up on screen & he has nice things to say about them in all their amazing cameos in this. He does go more into detail about certain actors like Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Dee Wallace, & Barbara Crampton. He mentions a potential sequel & he tells more backstory about the larger roles here. He says his previous film Camp Dread is in the same universe as Death House. He mentions that Jurassic Park was an inspiration for this. He points out several homages & easter eggs during the feature from other films. He geeks out when he talks about Kane Hodder going back to his Jason Voorhees roots for a gruesome scene. He jokes about changing the script on the actors & surprising them on the day of filming. He does lots of scene by scene commentary here. For some reason, he reminds me of Eli Roth. He’s very passionate about the horror genre & it really shows on the track. You can tell he had a blast making this feature. It has various short “Interviews” with director B. Harrison Smith, actors Dee Wallace, Courtney Palm. Barbara Crampton, producers Rick Finklestein & Steven Chase. B. Harrison Smith talks about how he first got involved with the project. He chats about working with Gunnar Hansen on the script. He brings up changes he made from the original source material. He mentions his two leads for Death House & their characters. The others mention their experience on the production & talk about their roles in Death House a little bit. The producers chat about putting together the film after all these years & they credited it all to Gunnar Hansen for the original concept. “Cortney Jumps” (Yes, it’s spelled that way on the menu!) is a 10 second clip of actress Courtney Palm doing a stunt. There’s an almost 3 minute “Slideshow” with a variety of photos from the production. It has a “Trailer” for Death House. It also has several Cleopatra Entertainment related “Trailers”. It’s available everywhere right now!!!!
ANTHROPOPHAGUS BLU RAY REVIEW (SEVERIN FILMS)
Antropophagus (aKa The Grim Reaper, Man-Eater, & The Savage Island) is a 1980 horror film co-written, produced, & directed by Joe D’Amato (Absurd, Beyond the Darkness, Death Smiles on a Murderer, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, & Porno Holocaust). It was co-written & produced by George Eastman (The Emperor Caligula: The Untold Story, Alligator, Dog Lay Afternoon, & Terror Express). It was produced by Edward L. Montoro (Beyond the Door, Grizzly, Day of the Animals, Don’t Go in the House, & The Last Shark) for Film Ventures International. It was one of the original video nasties that was banned in the United Kingdom in the early 1980s. 1981’s Absurd is considered a “sequel” to this feature. In 1999, it was remade by German filmmaker Andreas Schnaas under the title “Anthropophagous 2000”!!!!
A pair of Germans visiting a remote Greek island go to the beach & they are murdered by an unknown monster. At the same time, tourists Maggie (played by: Serena Grandi from Delirium, The Adventures of Hercules, Miranda, & The Great Beauty), Daniel (played by: Mark Bodin from Alien 2: On Earth, Delitto di stato, La nouvelle malle des Indes, & La Cage aux Folles II), Andy (played by: Saverio Vallone from Crazy Navy, The Dark Side of Love, & Delitti), Arnold (played by: Bob Larson from Fist of Glory, Raiders of the Sun, Kill Zone, & Angelfist), & Carol (played by: Zora Kerova from Cannibal Ferox, The New York Ripper, Touch of Death, & Warriors of the Wasteland) are about to take a trip to the islands. On the way there they pick up Julie (played by: Tisa Farrow from Zombie, The Last Hunter, Strange Shadows in an Empty Room, & Fingers).
Maggie gets hurt so they stop off to a small island. The unknown monster strikes again when some stay behind on the boat. They find a house so they there for help. They discover a blind woman named Henriette (played by: Margaret Mazzantini from The Voice) there. They find out that it belongs to a man named Klaus Wortmann (played by: George Eastman from Absurd, The Barbarians, Hands of Steel, Warriors of the Wasteland, & Ironmaster). A woman in black named Ruth (played by: Rubina Rey from Càlamo) tries to warn them to go away. The unknown monster is identified as Klaus Wortmann, he starts to hunt down his unwanted guests. The friends fight to survive against this unstoppable killing machine, who will make it out alive from this living nightmare????
Antropophagus has a notorious reputation of being one of the goriest films ever made. It does have two extremely brutal moments that are very re-memorable when it comes to splatter. The kills & special effects are very impressive when the film actually picks up it’s pace! Speaking of that, it’s one thing about this feature that seems to be rarely brought up. It’s really slow, not much happens for a long time here & the main villain played by George Eastman shows up late in the production. I wish his character had more screen time in this because the backstory was interesting & I loved the look of Klaus Wortmann. They kept him a mystery for more than the first half in this so you have to be patient with this film. It actually rewards you for sitting through lots of drama & character development before it gets crazy. You will recognize some of the cast such as Serena Grandi, Zora Kerova, & Tisa Farrow from other genre flicks. Joe D’Amato liked to save money & pumped out as much low budget material he could so he usually didn’t care about the acting in his productions but this is one of the higher quality ones from him. I’ve always enjoyed Antropophagus, it’s a nice hybrid of the slasher & cannibal sub genres but I will say don’t expect it to be non stop entertainment or thrills because it’s definitely takes it’s time to deliver. Severin Films gives this video nasty it’s first blu ray release in the states with it’s semi follow up Absurd in their fully uncut gory glory! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Severin Films! Let’s be honest, Antropophagus has never looked that great or has been considered the highest quality production but this 1080p (1.85:1) transfer from a new 2K scan from the original 16mm negative blows away both 88 films blu ray releases plus it’s a huge upgrade from the previous Shriek Show DVD released in the states! It has two different audio options which include English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 & Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 on the disc. It’s a major improvement from all the other home video releases. The dialogue is clean & all the chaotic moments are elevated but the true highlight is the score from Marcello Giombini (Panic, Emmanuelle franchise, Enter the Devil, & Battle of the Stars)! It sounds great & it has a nice boost to it. It also has English & English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this blu ray disc! “Don’t Fear The Man-Eater” is a little over 13 minute interview with co-writer, producer, & actor George Eastman. He chats about how he met Joe D’Amato. He talks about his experience on this production including the grueling time in the makeup chair for his role. He goes into detail about the special effects & some of the more gruesome moments, He mentions he re-wrote the original script & brings up the cast. He said Tisa Farrow did the feature because she was dating D’Amato’s brother at the time. “The Man Who Killed The Anthropophagus” is an almost 14 minute interview with actor Saverio Vallone. He chats about how he got into acting. He talks about working with director Joe D’Amato. He brings up the cast & mentions his experience with them. He says he wasn’t familiar with horror before doing this. “Cannibal Frenzy” is an almost 6 minute interview with special effects artist Pietro Tenoglio. He chats about working with director Joe D’Amato. He says he did over 40 projects with him. He goes into details about some special effects. He jokes that D’Amato once told him that he was famous in America for this type of film.
“Brother and Sister in Editing” is an almost 13 minute interview with Bruno Micheli. He chats about his family being in the movie business, both his father & sister worked on films. He tells a funny story on how he got fired from a job that made him become an editor. He talks about working with his sister on most of his editing. He says Joe D’Amato & most of his block growing up made movies or worked in the industry somehow. He brings up that his sister had no interest in editing D’Amato hardcore material so he had to do it by himself at night. He mentions working with Fulci & how his experience in the editing room was with him plus D’Amato. He talks about his falling out with the late director. “Inside Zora’s Mouth” is a 10 minute interview with actress Zora Kerova. She talks about being in a comedy theater group. She says did modeling when she was in Italy & that’s how she got discovered as an actress. She chats about working with the director & she seems very surprised that he did hardcore films. She mentions instantly connecting with Tisa Farrow. She says the fake eye rumor is false about her. She talks about the rest of the cast including Serena Grandi, Margaret Mazzantini, Saverio Vallone, & George Eastman. She brings up that Eastman never enjoyed acting & always preferred writing. It has 3 different “Trailers” for the film. It also has reversible artwork. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
ABSURD BLU RAY REVIEW (SEVERIN FILMS)
Absurd (aKa Rosso Sangue, Monster Hunter, Horrible, Anthropophagus 2, Zombie 6, The Grim Reaper 2) is a 1981 slasher film shot, produced, & directed by Joe D’Amato (Emanuelle franchise, Beyond the Darkness, Antropophagus, & 2020 Texas Gladiators). It was written by lead actor George Eastman (Keoma, Escape from Women’s Prison, StageFright, & Metamorphosis), he hated the original script so he did a rewrote a new one from scratch. It was first production done by Joe D’Amato in English rather than being dubbed later on. Michele Soavi (Tenebre, Phenomena, Opera, & Demons) was an uncredited assistant director for this feature. It was one of the original video nasties titles from the United Kingdom. It was originally released in the United States on VHS by Wizard Video & later on DVD by Mya Communication.
Mikos Stenopolis (played by: George Eastman from Anthropophagus, Rabid Dogs, 2019: After the Fall of New York, Blastfighter, & 1990: The Bronx Warriors) is a man who was experimented on in a church-sanctioned scientific experiment that gave him a healing factor but it ends up making him crazy. The Vatican priest (played by: Edmund Purdom from Pieces, The Fifth Cord, Don’t Open Till Christmas, & Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks) who helped create him tracks down the monster in a small American town. He disembowels Mikos but he gets revived at a local hospital. He escapes & goes on a killing spree! The priest tries to warn everyone that the only way to stop him is to destroy the cerebral mass. The Bennetts (Ian Danby from Monsignor & Hanja Kochansky from The Family) leave their kids Katia (played by: Katya Berger from Piccole labbra, An Almost Perfect Affair, Tales of Ordinary Madness, & The Moon in the Gutter) & Willy (played by: Kasimir Berger from Christopher Columbus & Tuareg: The Desert Warrior) with babysitter Emily (played by: Annie Belle from House on the Edge of the Park, Lips of Blood, Forever Emmanuelle, & The Alcove) for a night out. Mikos ends up at their house during his path of destruction, “The Boogeyman” stalks them & giving them a living nightmare that they will never forget. Will the priest show up in time to help them? Can this family survive this unstoppable killing machine????
Joe D’Amato is mainly known for his sleazy & porn flicks but the horror films that he directed were usually pretty good. Absurd has always been called a semi “follow up” or “sequel” to Anthropophagus but it’s nothing like that film besides George Eastman as the villain. Also, at one point a shameless producer included it in the Zombie franchise which is laughable. It’s doesn’t resemble any of those productions either. It’s honestly more like an Italian rip off of Halloween but it’s much darker! This might get me some heat but I actually enjoyed it more than Anthropophagus. Mikos Stenopolis is a re-memorable killer, it’s one of my favorite George Eastman performances. Edmund Purdom was really good as the man who felt responsible for this beast & would do anything to stop him. Both of them really increased the production value here. Absurd is full of gruesome deaths & top notch special effects. Horror fans will be pleased with these familiar elements from the slasher sub genre, their gore appetite will be met with this one. It’s very entertaining, it has a nice pace to it & it keeps your eyes glued on the screen with each brutal moment after another, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Severin Films! This 1080p (1.66:1) transfer from a 2K restoration blows away all previous home video releases including the recent 88 Films blu ray. It’s definitely worth double dipping if you already own that version. It’s the best it’s ever looked! It has two different audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 for the American version & Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 for the shorter Italian version under the title Rosso Sangue on the disc. The sound on this release is a major improvement from past releases. The dialogue is very clean & all the chaos is elevated in this. The best thing about it is the score from Carlo Maria Cordio (Pieces, Shocking Dark, Troll 2, Aenigma, & Touch of Death). It sounds AMAZING! It also has English & English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release. It has an alternate Italian cut of the film under the title “Rosso Sangue” that runs a little shorter at 88 minutes. It mainly just removes some additional scenes with the parents, all the gore & violence is still there. “The Return of the Grim Reaper” is an almost 31 minute interview with writer & actor George Eastman. He chats about he how he first met Joe D’Amato. He talks about reconnecting with him after getting offered to rewrite scripts for him. He brings up a few projects that he acted in for him including Absurd. He mentions that he liked this feature but it could have been better with a bigger budget & a better cast. It said they rushed to save money & it mainly only had one location to keep the costs down. He says that Joe D’Amato could have done so much more with his career & wasted his potential on lower movies. He chats about the cast & working with him on this project. This is actually one of the most interviews that I’ve seen from Eastman. He’s usually negative & he seems to regret doing whatever film he’s talking about at the moment but he actually enjoyed this one. “D’Amato on Video” is an almost 20 minute archival interview with the cinematographer, producer, & director Joe D’Amato. He chats about working with Klaus Kinski, Laura Gemser, George Eastman, Tisa Farrow, & others. He goes into great detail about them. He talks about the Emanuelle franchise. He brings up various productions he worked on over the years including his own films like Beyond the Darkness, Antropophagus, & this. He mentions Michele Soavi & producing his first film StageFright for him. He talks about how he helped out lots of young directors & gave them their first opportunity. Porno Holocaust was made up from leftover footage from Erotic Nights of the Living Dead. He says he didn’t like directing hardcore films. “A Biker (Uncredited)” is an almost 18 minute interview with actor & assistant director Michele Soavi. He chats about how he first met director Joe D’Amato. He talks about how he got the role for this. He mentions being a script supervisor & assistant director on various films. He brings up that D’Amato gave him his first directing opportunity. He says he was always helping young directors get their shot at making movies. He talks about the freedom of the business & how he ended up doing different things later on. It has a “Trailer” for the film. It also includes the limited edition soundtrack CD from Carlo Maria Cordio which features 23 tracks & it’s a little over 69 minutes. This is an AMAZING extra, one of my favorites from the release. It has reversible artwork. Hands down, this is one of the best releases from Severin Films, it’s a must own for any horror fan. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
SUSPIRIA 2018 BLU RAY REVIEW (LIONSGATE)
Suspiria is a 2018 horror film produced & directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name, A Bigger Splash, I Am Love, & Melissa P). It’s inspired by Dario Argento’s 1977 film. It was produced & written by David Kajganich (Pet Sematary, The Terror, True Story, & The Invasion). Radiohead’s Thom Yorke (Offshore Incorporated, Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West, & With Stanley Donwood) did the score for the feature. Director David Gordon Green was originally attached to the project & wrote his own script for it but left due to financial issues. Both Natalie Portman & Judi Dench were rumored to be in this adaptation. It premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival 2018. It was given a limited release by Amazon Studios in Los Angeles & New York on October 26, 2018. It grossed over $180,000 in its opening weekend, marking the highest screen average box office launch of the year. Soon after, it got a bigger release all over. The budget was $20 million & it ended up making $6.3 million worldwide.
In 1977, ballerina Susie Bannion (played by: Dakota Johnson from Fifty Shades Trilogy, The Social Network, Bad Times at the El Royale, & Black Mass) arrives in Berlin at the height of the German Autumn to audition for the Tanz Dance Academy. She always had dreams of doing this but she was never professionally trained but still gets accepted because of her raw talent. Her arrival coincides with the sudden disappearance of another student Patricia Hingle (played by: Chloë Grace Moretz from Carrie, Let Me In, Kick Ass 1/2, & The Equalizer). Patricia’s psychiatrist Dr. Josef Klemperer (played by: Tilda Swinton from Avengers: Endgame, Isle of Dogs, & Doctor Strange) has Patricia’s diaries after she goes missing. It has all her shocking theories about witches & strange details about the Tanz Dance Academy including The Three Mothers: Mater Tenebaraum, Mater Lachrymarum, & Mater Suspiriorum. Susie becomes friends with dance student Sara Simms (played by: Mia Goth from A Cure for Wellness, The Secret of Marrowbone, Everest, & Nymphomaniac: Vol. II). Her dancing skills get the attention of the academy’s artistic director & head choreographer Madame Blanc (played by: Tilda Swinton from Hail, Caesar!, Snowpiercer, & Burn After Reading).
One of the rising stars from the class, Olga (played by: Elena Fokina from Blush & Here After) calls out the instructors for being witches & having something to do with Patricia’s sudden disappearance. Blanc puts a spell on her & she pays for her damaging words through her favorite thing dance! Blanc & Mother Helena Markos (played by: Tilda Swinton from Constantine, We Need to Talk About Kevin, & The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) are put against each other for the coven’s new leader. Susie is given a bigger role & she’s suspected to be the host for Markos after she wins the vote between the women. Dr. Klemperer after analyzing Patricia’s diaries decides to do his own investigation of the academy. He finds his long lost wife Anke (played by: Jessica Harper from the original Suspiria, Phantom of the Paradise, Shock Treatment, & Minority Report) while he tries to solve this unholy mystery. He goes to their big event & watches the students dance while the instructors keeps their eyes on him. Madness starts to take over as things start to lose control. This all leads a chaotic final confrontation between the Dr., the students, & the dangerous witches!!!!
Suspiria 2018 is more of a re imagining than an actual remake. It still has a decent amount of similarities like the character names & the dance academy setting but it’s a very different production compared to the original. Don’t expect that legendary colorful & beautiful cinematography here, they go a completely different direction for the visual style with this. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke adds his own unique approach to the score. He wasn’t brought in to remix a modern day version of the original classic music from Goblin so it’s something new. My two favorite things about the original Suspiria were the amazing look the film had & the iconic Goblin score so I was pretty disappointed the new creative team responsible for this “remake” ignored both of those key elements for this. Honestly, I think the wrong people made this feature & it definitely shows . The feature is a little too long & it should have been edited down more for a better flow. The pace is awkward & slow at times because of it. I was surprised how brutal it got for certain scenes & I thought the special effects were top notch in this but it didn’t come close to it’s predecessor. Let’s talk about some of the positives about this new vision. I love the original but it was incoherent so it didn’t make much sense most of the time. The script for this was much better & it really helped the overall story. The dance choreography was amazing & it’s some of the best I’ve ever seen in cinema. The acting was a major improvement compared to the 1977 version. Tilda Swinton gives one of her best performances & she plays multiple roles in Suspiria, she’s a true chameleon! Dakota Johnson is very sexy & from what I’ve seen from her in the past, this is definitely her best performance in her career so far. I was really impressed because I wasn’t expecting that from her in this. She also looked a natural when doing her dance scenes, she dedicated herself for a few years to train for this lead role. Chloë Grace Moretz was really good in her small role. I wish that character had more scenes in this because she was definitely one of the more interesting ones. The Jessica Harper cameo made me geek out & it was awesome to see her in a feature after all these years. The rest of the supporting cast was solid & it made that whole dancing academy a fascinating place to watch. It may not seem like it but I actually enjoyed Suspiria more than I thought I would. I rushed out & seen it in theaters, I didn’t know what to think after seeing it. It’s one of those movies that you need to digest & revisit. I enjoyed it much more after reviewing this new blu ray. The end is batshit CRAZY & it rewards your patience for the slower moments here, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer looks great on blu ray & I am shocked that it didn’t get a 4K release here. Like I said before, don’t go into it expecting the same visual style because it’s nothing like the original but it manages to add it’s own vibe to the Suspiria universe. It has two different audio options which include English: Dolby Atmos & English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on the disc. It’s already one of the best sounding releases from 2019! The dialogue is very clean, all the suspenseful moments are boosted, & the music is definitely elevated on these tracks! Radiohead’s Thom Yorke makes his feature film score debut here & it sounds good, it’s something different from what Goblin did many years ago. It also has English SDH & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Lionsgate. “The Making of Suspiria” is almost 4 minutes. It has interviews with producer/director Luca Guadagnino, actors Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, & Renee Soutendijk. Luca Guadagnino shows his appreciation for Dario Argento & the original film. He says he wanted to pay tribute to them but have his own vision for this version. They all talk about the project & their experience on it. “The Secret Language of Dance” is a little over 4 minutes. It has interviews with dance choreographer Damien Jalet, actors Dakota Johnson, & Mia Goth. Damien Jalet mentions the original film was a huge influence on him. He talks about training & putting together all the moves for this film. They talk about all the hard work put into this production for the dance sequences. “The Transformations of Suspiria” is a little over 4 minutes. Special effects artist Mark Coulier goes over his work for the feature. He talks about death scenes & characters he had to create for the production. He says he likes working for a director that usually doesn’t do horror. It has a few Amazon Studios trailers before the film starts. It also comes with a slipcover & a digital code. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
FERAL BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY / IFC MIDNIGHT)
Feral is a 2017 horror film written, produced, & directed by Mark Young (Tooth and Nail, Southern Gothic, & Wicked Blood). Six medical students which include Alice (played by: Scout Taylor-Compton from Rob Zombie’s Halloween 1/2, April Fool’s Day, Wicked Little Things, & The Runaways), Jules (played by: Olivia Luccardi from Channel Zero, The Deuce, It Follows, & Orange Is the New Black), Brienne (played by: Renee Olstead from Unfriended, The Murder Pact, Still Standing, & 13 Going on 30), Gina (played by: Landry Allbright from Con Air, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Beautiful, & Getaway Girls), Jesse (played by: Brock Kelly from Desolation, Faded Memories, Portal, & Born to Race), & Matt (played by: George Finn from The Harsh Life of Veronica Lambert, LOL, Time Lapse, & Just Before I Go) are on a weekend hike in the woods. Alice & Jules are in a new relationship together but this vacation turns into a living nightmare when they are attacked by unknown animal. One by one each friend turns into a rabid bloodthirsty creature after being infected with a feral disease. They run into a suspicious stranger Talbot (played by: Lew Temple from The Devil’s Rejects, The Walking Dead, 31, & The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), can he be trusted? or Will they have to kill each other for survival????
Feral brings nothing new to the table but it’s a fun blood soaked “friends trying to survive at the cabin in the woods” familiar type of tale. The gore & special effects are the true highlights here, any horror fan will be satisfied with all the gruesome moments in this. The two female leads Scout Taylor-Compton & Olivia Luccardi plus veteran character actor Lew Temple had good performances & raised the production value for Feral. I can’t say that for the other cast members but luckily it delivered the goods for the other elements expected for this sub genre. It’s one of the better infected & zombie features made in awhile. Especially for being a low budget & independent film, they put every cent into the production & it shows. I’ve always liked the cabin & woods setting, it has a nice isolation feel to it. Mark Young knows what he needs to do when it comes to horror since he’s directed a few others in the past & the final product ends up being very entertaining. It does have a twist to it but for the most part you know what you are getting into with this, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory & IFC Midnight! This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks great on blu ray. It has a nice atmosphere, the cabin & the woods setting here looks stunning. It has two different options for audio which includes English DTS-HD master audio 5.1 & 2.0 on the disc. The dialogue is very clean, all the chaos here is elevated, & the music has a killer boost to it. It also has English SDH & Spanish subtitles. The “Trailer” is the only extra on this release. It has a few IFC Midnight related previous before the feature starts. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY / IFC MIDNIGHT)
What Keeps You Alive is a 2018 thriller film written, produced, & directed by Colin Minihan (Extraterrestrial & It Stains the Sands Red). In the early stages of the film’s development, the main characters were a husband & wife rather than a same sex couple. Both leads Hannah Emily Anderson & Brittany Allen were in 2017’s Jigsaw. It had it’s world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival 2018. Jackie (played by: Hannah Emily Anderson from The Purge TV series, Jigsaw, Shoot the Messenger, & Gangland Undercover) takes her wife Jules (played by: Brittany Allen from Jigsaw, The Prodigy, Dead Before Dawn 3D, & Extraterrestrial) to a remote cabin to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. Jules becomes suspicious when Jackie’s childhood friend Sarah (played by: Martha MacIsaac from Superbad, Battle of the Sexes, The Thaw, & Almost Anything) visits & addresses Jackie as “Megan”. She investigates, she goes over to Sarah & her husband Daniel’s (played by: Joey Klein from The Vow, On the Road, Painless, & This Life) place. She finds out about her wife’s dark past & questions her about it later on. Jackie turns into a completely different person & tries to kill her wife Jules after being exposed! Can this marriage survive this distrust & mayhem????
What Keeps You Alive really surprised me! It was very intense & I loved the isolated vibe it had. I’ve always appreciated the cat & mouse approach to cinema, they take full advantage of that with this production. There’s only a few characters here & that’s the best way to do it to focus more on the important roles. Hannah Emily Anderson & Brittany Allen were both great in this, I haven’t seen them in much but they have my attention now! I loved the instant change of Hannah Emily Anderson’s performance from loving wife to a psychopath on the hunt. Martha MacIsaac has grown up & changed a lot since Superbad, it was nice seeing her in a supporting role, she was a key character in What Keeps You Alive that set off the crazy chain of the events later on. The script had a few issues, it had some questionable actions by the victim but I can see them why it was done & it extended everything. It had some real brutal moments with eye catching special effects & gore. It was very entertaining & kept you guessing until the end. It’s definitely one of the best thrillers that I’ve seen or reviewed in a long time, it’s loaded with suspense. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory & IFC Midnight! This 1080p (2.35:1) transfer looks great on blu ray! It only has 1 main location & it’s almost like another character here. It’s a great setting especially the lake & overall it has a very tense atmosphere to it. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is very clean & all the thrills are elevated in it. The music sounds really good on it & adds to the suspense! It has English SDH & Spanish subtitles. The only extra on the disc is the “Trailer” plus it has some other IFC Midnight related “Previews” before the film starts. I don’t see many critics or people talking about What Keeps You Alive but I hope more give it a chance after seeing this because it’s honestly a hidden gem. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
HALLOWEEN 2018 BLU RAY REVIEW (UNIVERSAL)
Halloween is a 2018 slasher film co-written, produced, & directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, The Sitter, Snow Angels, Joe, & Vice Principals). It was co-written & produced by Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals, Your Highness, & The Foot Fist Way). Dimension Films lost the production rights to Halloween so it reverted back to Miramax. Last time Universal did distribution for the series was in 1982 with Halloween III: Season of the Witch. It was produced & composed by John Carpenter (Halloween franchise, Body Bags, The Fog, & Vampires). It’s the 11th installment in the iconic horror franchise & a direct sequel to the original 1978 film. It also produced by Jason Blum (The Purge franchise, Insidious franchise, Get Out, Split/Glass, Happy Death Day, & Upgrade), Malek Akkad (Halloween franchise, The Hatred, The Violent Kind, & Free Fall), & David Thwaites (Black Swan, All the King’s Men, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny , & Bad Santa 2). It went through several different developments including Halloween 3D from 2011 to 2015 until this version was put together by Blumhouse Productions. It grossed $253.7 million worldwide at the box office making it the biggest in the series & number one all time slasher in the theaters. A sequel has already been planned for this!!!!
Four decades after The Babysitter Murders, true-crime podcasters Aaron Korey (played by: Jefferson Hall from Vikings, Taboo. Sherlock Holmes, & Star Wars: The Force Awakens) & Dana Haines (played by: Rhian Rees from Confession of a Child of the Century, The Lears, & Rehearsal) arrive at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium to visit Michael Myers (played by: Nick Castle from Halloween, Dark Star, & Escape from New York) before his transfer. They interview Michael’s psychiatrist Dr. Ranbir Sartain (played by: Haluk Bilginer from Buffalo Soldiers, The International, Ishtar, & Ben-Hur), a former student of Dr. Samuel Loomis. They visit & interview Laurie Strode (played by: Jamie Lee Curtis from the Halloween franchise, Terror Train, Prom Night, & Trading Places) next, she only does it for the money. She’s now living in isolation after developing agoraphobia & her house is heavily guarded. The following night, Michael’s transport crashes & he manages to escape. He goes back to his old ways & starts terrorizing Haddonfield, Illinois again.
Laurie warns her estranged daughter Karen (played by: Judy Greer from Jurassic World, Ant-Man/Ant-Man and the Wasp, War for the Planet of the Apes, & Carrie) & her son-in-law Ray (played by: Toby Huss from King of the Hill, Reno 911!, Carnivàle, & Outcast) about the familiar psychopath stalking the streets. Her granddaughter Allyson (played by: Andi Matichak from Replicate, Miles, & Evol) is away at a Halloween school dance with her boyfriend Cameron (played by: Dylan Arnold from The Purge Tv Series, Nashville, & Mudbound) & friend Oscar (played by: Drew Scheid from Boy Erased, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, & Stranger Things). She is supposed to meet up with her best friend Vicky (played by: Virginia Gardner from Runaways, Monster Party, & Tell Me How I Die) & Dave (played by: Miles Robbins from Blockers, My Friend Dahmer, & The X-Files) later on. She has no clue who’s out there & leaves the party going near her grandmother’s worst nightmare! Deputy Frank Hawkins (played by: Will Patton from The Punisher, Swamp Thing Tv Series, After Hours, & Romeo is Bleeding) is trying to find her before it’s too late & stop Michael Myers (played by: James Jude Courtney from The Hit List, The Killing Grounds, & Devil in the Flesh) from ruining his town once more. As their paths cross, this sets up a deadly final confrontation between the cursed family & the Boogeyman!!!!
Halloween 2018 is definitely better than the last two Rob Zombie films but it still has it’s issues. It goes back to it’s roots & ditches the white trash vibe. Jamie Lee Curtis gives one of her best performances returning as the classic scream queen Laurie Strode in this. She has a solid supporting cast with Judy Greer, Toby Huss, Will Patton, & Haluk Bilginer. I know they were trying for “unknown” actors for the main teenagers but they should have just went with the most talented because all of their performances were pretty bad. I will say I hated the Aaron Korey character & the Julian kid didn’t fit this film. All of his scenes he tried way too hard to be funny & it honestly killed the tone of the feature at the time & it didn’t work at all. Considering the creative team involved, that was my biggest fear about this production & luckily it was mainly just that role. One thing that really surprised me about this was all the off screen kills. I don’t understand why David Gordon Green decided to go that direction but it hurt the overall quality of the Halloween. That’s one of main selling points & attractions of a slasher film so it makes no sense to do that when you have an R rating. Don’t get me wrong, it showed a few deaths here & they were brutal! It didn’t shy away from the aftermath of the murders & it had some nice special effects but they should have showed more. It had one scene that seriously made me say “WHAT THE FUCK?” when I originally seen it in the theaters & I still had a similar reaction when I revisited it. It was a pointless twist that was so ridiculous that would be considered “jumping the shark” & it’s so awful that I have to laugh at every time I see it now. I loved the Halloween 3 costumes from the trick or treaters & the P.J. Soles cameo. My favorite part about the whole production was John Carpenter returning to do the score & it was amazing. I still think it’s silly that they ignored & acted like every other sequel didn’t exist including 2 which takes place directly after the original. Besides those few flaws, Halloween 2018 is taking the franchise back to right direction after all these years. It was one of my favorites from 2018 & I hope the sequel fixes all the previous issues. It was beyond entertaining & a very fun experience, it has plenty of replay value so it’s worth adding to your collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Universal! This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks great on blu ray, I can only imagine what the 4K release looks like! It has a familiar atmosphere & all the locations look top notch here. The colors really pop out & it’s already one of the best looking releases in 2019. It has 4 different audio options which include English: DTS:X, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish: DTS 5.1, & French (Canada): DTS 5.1 on the disc. The dialogue is very clean & all the suspense is elevated especially because of the classic John Carpenter music that just brings everything to a whole new level! It’s the true highlight of this release, it roars through the home set up & it feels like I am back in the theaters. It also has English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Universal on this release! Almost 13 minutes of 7 different “Deleted/Extended Scenes” cut from the film. It has more character development & some scenes that I was surprised that got removed from the final version. “Back in Haddonfield: Making Halloween” is a little over 6 minutes. It has interviews with director David Gordon Green, producer/composer John Carpenter, producer Jason Blum, producer Malek Akkad, co-writer/producer Danny McBride, actors Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Toby Huss, James Jude Courtney, Andi Matichak, Virginia Gardner, & others. Malek Akkad says David Gordon Green & Danny McBride pitch really sold him over all the others. Jamie Lee Curtis talks about being instantly interested after reading the script. They chat about their experience on the film & their appreciation for the original. They bring up certain scenes from the production. “The Original Scream Queen” is a little over 2 minutes. It has an interview with actress Jamie Lee Curtis plus various members of the cast & crew. They pay tribute to the legendary scream queen & show their appreciation for her work. “The Sound of Fear” is a little over 3 minutes. It has interviews with composers John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies, & others. They talk about the iconic theme & music for Halloween. John Carpenter jokes about the improvements over the years & getting more help. Cody Carpenter says he was asked so much as a kid to play the theme because of his dad. It shows them creating the score for certain scenes & it takes you behind the scenes. “Journey of the Mask” is a little over 2 minutes. It has interviews with the same cast & crew from the other extras on here plus special effects artist Christopher Nelson. They talk about how the original mask was created & how iconic it is. They chat about how everything changes when the mask is put on. Christopher Nelson goes over his experience working on the new one for this feature. “The Legacy of Halloween” is a little over 4minutes. It’s a conversation between Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, David Gordon Green, & Jason Blum. Jason Blum talks about David Gordon Green always turning him down until he offered this. They all chat about being impressed by David Gordon Green & Danny McBride’s vision for this sequel. They talk about working on it & how it brought everything back. It comes with a slipcover, a digital code, & a DVD copy of the release. If you are a fan of the Halloween franchise, Michael Myers, or horror, you need to pick this up ASAP! It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
HELL FEST BLU RAY REVIEW (LIONSGATE)
Hell Fest is a 2018 slasher film directed by Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension). It was written by Seth M. Sherwood (Leatherface), Blair Butler (Polaroid), & Akela Cooper (Grimm & Luke Cage). It was produced by Gale Anne Hurd (Terminator franchise, The Punisher franchise, The Walking Dead, & Aliens) & Tucker Tooley (Brothers, The Fighter, Limitless, & Out of the Furnace). The budget was $5.5 million & it grossed $17.5 million worldwide at the box office. Hell Fest is introduced as a horror theme park which travels across the country during the Halloween season. A young girl is stalked & killed by a masked figure known as “The Other” (played by: Stephen Conroy from American Made, Cell, The Host, & Stranger Things). Natalie (played by: Amy Forsyth from A Christmas Horror Story, Torment, Channel Zero, & Beautiful Boy) meets up with her best friend Brooke (played by: Reign Edwards from The Bold and the Beautiful, MacGyver, & Snowfall) at her old place.
She discovers her former classmate Taylor (played by: Bex Taylor-Klaus from Voltron, Scream: The TV Series, The Last Witch Hunter, & Arrow) that she doesn’t like is Brooke’s new roommate. Natalie has been distant lately due to the stress of school & work. They decide to meet up with Quinn (Christian James from Dollface, Freefall, & Legal Action), Asher (Matt Mercurio from The Resident, Sleepy Hollow, & Powers), & Gavin (Roby Attal from The Long Road Home, Messiah, & Red 11) to enjoy a V.I.P night at Hell Fest. As they go through the park, they notice the same guy is following them around. Some of the group starts to disappear so they are starting to question if this is all an act or is it actually real? The Barker (played by: Tony Todd from the Candyman franchise, Final Destination franchise, Hatchet franchise, & Night of the Living Dead) narrates their living nightmare & provides some entertainment that makes them lose their head as they struggle to find their way out of Hell!!!!
Hell Fest has a really creative & awesome concept going for it but it doesn’t fully live up to it’s potential. The amusement park looked great & it was full of all kinds cool horror related things in the various locations there. The villain here has a real simple look with the creepy mask & hoodie but it actually works. The slasher sub genre hasn’t been that active for awhile now so it’s awesome to see something like this made especially with studios like CBS & Lionsgate backing it! I am really glad that they went with the R Rating & didn’t water down the production. It had some solid gore & special effects from the kills. Besides one of them, that’s the most disappointing thing with Hell Fest. They are too generic & basic, nothing stood out with them. The execution felt lazy to me especially since that’s the main attraction of this type of feature.
It also has no nudity so don’t expect anything sleazy. There will be no Oscar nominations for the acting either but I think the female leads were decent enough for the material they were given. Tony Todd’s cameo was my favorite part about this film! He narrates a variety of rides & rooms plus he has one big scene in Hell Fest. I wish his character had a bigger role in this. If they make a sequel, I hope they expand his character in it. The whole production kinda reminded me of a 90s slasher flick when stuff like Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, & Scream were making the sub genre relevant again to the mainstream. Don’t expect anything nasty or brutal like it was made in the 80s from this, it fits more of the later & more recent Slashers made. It’s a little cleaner & more stylized compared to those older classics. It’s very fun & entertaining, I still thought it was way better than expected. This could end up being a future horror franchise if it’s done right, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features from Lionsgate! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer looks stunning on this blu ray release! I can only imagine how the 4K looks, I would have loved to review that version. The cinematography is killer here, it’s a very colorful & stylized production. The amusement park provides eye catching sets for the various rides & rooms at the main location for the feature. It’s loaded with so many familiar horror elements & references to classics. It has 4 different audio options which include English: DTS:X, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English: Dolby Digital 2.0, & Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this disc. All the thrills & suspenseful are elevated here, it has a nice boost to it! The dialogue is very clean & the music roars in the home set up. Both picture & sound are excellent on this release. It also has English, English SDH, & Spanish subtitles. “Thrills and Kills: Making Hell Fest” is a little over 16 minutes. It has interviews with director Gregory Plotkin, producer Gale Anne Hurd, actors Bex Taylor-Klaus, Roby Attal, Christian James, Amy Forsyth, & others. They talk about the project & it’s stand out concept. They mention the different rooms & rides for it. It goes over the visuals for it. They chat about their experience working on Hell Fest. They say it was easy to bond together & get into their roles for the production. It has some behind the scenes footage. It brings up the kills & the villain for the film. It has a “Theatrical Trailer” for the film. It has a few Lionsgate related “Trailers” before the film starts. It also comes with a slipcover, a digital code, & A DVD copy of the release. It was released in various formats including 4K & DVD. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
BONEHILL ROAD DVD REVIEW (WILD EYE RELEASING)
Bonehill Road is a 2017 horror film written, shot, edited, produced, & directed by Todd Sheets (Clownado, House of Forbidden Secrets, Zombie Bloodbath Trilogy, & Ouija Death Trap). Emily (played by: Eli DeGeer from Dreaming Purple Neon, Empire State of the Dead, The Killers Resolute, & Spy Kids 2) & Eden Stevens (played by: Ana Plumberg from Dreaming Purple Neon & Nailbiter: The Storm Children) are living a real life nightmare everyday from the abusive Porter (played by: Aaron Brazier from Dreaming Purple Neon, WrestleMassacre, & Attack of the Unknown). He won’t stop terrorizing his family & they have finally fought back against this monster. Emily is taking her daughter to her father Rhett Tanner’s (played by: Gary Kent from The Thrill Killers, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Schoolgirls in Chains, & The Forest) place after escaping her dangerous reality. It’s late outside & they get stranded in the woods. They are trapped inside their vehicle while a werewolf stalks them. They manage to get away but they get attacked by the beast.
They find a nearby house while looking for help. Suzy (played by: Linnea Quigley from The Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Nightmare Sisters, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, & Silent Night, Deadly Night) & Tina (played by: Millie Milan from House of Forbidden Secrets, Dreaming Purple Neon, Clownado, & Kiki Meets the Vampires) are found inside tied up. They end up captured by cannibal & serial killer Coen Anders (played by: Douglas Epps from Dreaming Purple Neon & Clownado). Lucy (played by: Dilynn Fawn Harvey from Clownado, Dreaming Purple Neon, Kiki Meets the Vampires, & Sleepless Nights) is being tortured upstairs. Rhett Tanner is looking for his family after no one showing up. He’s about to run into a bad situation. The girls are faced with more problems, the house is surrounded by a family of werewolves. Can these women survive both a serial killer & werewolves to end this night of hell? or Will both end up destroying everything in sight????
Bonehill Road is very low budget production but it uses it’s limited resources at the right moments. Bonehill Road is more of survival feature with werewolves thrown in. I actually really liked the isolated vibe it had. It kept it simple with a few locations & it mainly focused on the suspense between a few characters. It felt like something that was made in 80s, it had an old school approach to it. I thought the cast was solid for the most part but a few changes would have elevated everything to a whole another level. It was great to see horror icon & scream queen Linnea Quigley make a cameo in this. I wish she had a bigger role because that’s what originally grabbed my attention for Bonehill Road. The true highlight of this film was the special effects from Joe Castro (Uncle Sam, Night of the Demons III, Wishmaster 3/4, & Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat), it’s great to see practical used rather than CGI in a recent production. They didn’t hold back here, it’s full of gore & guts! The transformations were really impressive considering the small budget for this. Todd Sheets is a independent horror veteran & he knew exactly what he needed to pull this off. The music was a mixed bag, I loved the actual score but I didn’t like the soundtrack at all. The werewolf sub genre has slowed down over the years so it was refreshing to see hints of it featured here. It was definitely better than expected overall, it kept me entertained the whole running time & it had a few brutal scenes that really stood out, Horror fans will be pleased with the throwback atmosphere & special effects, it’s lots of fun. I won’t spoil it for you but keep watching after the credits. It’s HILARIOUS & I really hope if they do a sequel to this they actually focus more on the werewolves.
Let’s discuss the DVD release for Bonehill Road from Wild Eye Releasing! “Full Moon Madness” is a 40 minute making of documentary about Bonehill Road. It has interviews with director Todd Sheets, actors Linnea Quigley, Gary Kent, Eli DeGeer, Ana Plumberg, Millie Milan, Dilynn Fawn Harvey, & various other crew members. It has all kinds of behind the scenes footage including some special effects stuff with Joe Castro. Everyone chats about their experience on the project & working with Todd Sheets. Todd Sheets said he wrote characters for specific actors & that’s why so many of his regulars are in this. He talks about being a huge fan of the werewolf sub genre & finally getting to do his own take on it. He chats about his love for cinema & how it distracted him from problems he was having in real life. Ana Plumberg says she turned down the “Heathers” remake to do this. Veteran actors Linnea Quigley & Gary Kent mention how they met the director & why they got involved with the production. Todd Sheets takes you through his journey of making this feature. He is very passionate about this project & it really shows here. It might be the only true extra on the disc but it’s a great one! You tell everyone was invested into this film & put everything into it. It’s a cool inside look into independent film making. It also has some “Trailers” from Wild Eye Releasing. It’s available everywhere right now including Walmart stores, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD BLU RAY REVIEW (WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION)
The Thing from Another World (aKa The Thing) is a 1951 science fiction-film directed by Christian Nyby (It’s a Great Life, Rawhide, Perry Mason, & Bonanza). It’s based off the 1938 novel Who Goes There? from author John W. Campbell Jr. It was produced by Howard Hawks (Rio Lobo, El Dorado, Rio Bravo, & Scarface) & Edward Lasker (The Big Sky, Reign of Terror, & Tulsa). A United States Air Force crew is dispatched from Alaska at the request of Dr. Carrington (played by: Robert Cornthwaite from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The War of the Worlds, & Doctor Detroit). They have evidence that an unknown flying object has crashed near by so reporter Ned Scott (played by: Douglas Spencer from This Island Earth, The Diary of Anne Frank, & Shane) joins them hoping for a huge story.
Dr. Carrington plus the entire crew investigate the situation which includes Captain Hendry (played by: Kenneth Tobey from Gremlins 1/2, It Came from Beneath the Sea, Strange Invaders, & Airplane!), Dr. Redding (played by: George Fenneman), Corporal Barnes (played by: William Self from Kilroy Was Here, Marshal of Cripple Creek, & Sands of Iwo Jima), Dr. Voorhees (played by: Paul Frees from Fantastic Four TV series, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, & The War of the Worlds), & others. They find a large block of ice that a body inside it. They all have different opinions on what to do with their recent discovery. Their curiosity turns into disaster when The Thing (played by: James Arness from Gunsmoke, Them!, How the West Was Won, & Hondo) thaws out. They fight for survival against this unknown monster as Nikki Nicholson (played by: Margaret Sheridan from The Diamond Wizard, Pride of the Blue Grass, & I, the Jury) updates them with critical information. Is this really the end? or Is this crew saving the world from their worst nightmare????
The Thing from Another World is one of the best science fiction films made in the 1950s. It definitely hasn’t aged as well as others but it’s a nice time capsule for that period of cinema. Let’s be honest, the best thing this production has ever did was to help inspire John Carpenter to direct 1982’s The Thing. This had a solid cast without really any big stars & it was a well written screenplay which really boosted the quality of the feature. The special FX were very impressive for it’s time. They don’t make films like this anymore, this production had class & a high quality to it. I love the cinematography & the score for this. I have always been curious if Howard Hawks did more than produce this, it does feel like he directed some of this at times. This is a completely different take compared to the other adaptations from the book. It’s more dialogue driven & it does require more patience but it’s worth the wait, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Warner Archive Collection! This 1080p (1.33:1) transfer is like watching this film for the very first time! The cinematography looks beautiful in black & white. This blows away every previous home video release. This DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0 track provides crisp & clear dialogue, this feature has plenty of that. The under-rated score is at it’s highest quality here, that’s my favorite thing about this. It also has English SDH subtitles. It has two “Trailers” for the feature but that’s the only extras here. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
HORROR OF DRACULA BLU RAY REVIEW (WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION)
Horror of Dracula (aKa Dracula) is a 1958 horror film directed by Terence Fisher (Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, The Phantom of the Opera, & The Curse of the Werewolf). It’s based off Bram Stoker’s novel. It was written by Jimmy Sangster (The Horror of Frankenstein, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, The Mummy, & The Man Who Could Cheat Death). It was the first Hammer Films production with Christopher Lee as Dracula. The original Dracula title was changed in the U.S. to avoid confusion with the 1931 film. It was released on a double bill with The Thing That Couldn’t Die. After it’s success, Hammer went on to produce 8 sequels with Christopher Lee as Count Dracula & 4 with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. In 1885, Jonathan Harker (played by: John Van Eyssen from The Men of Sherwood Forest, Moment of Indiscretion, Four Sided Triangle, & Concrete Jungle) arrives at the castle of Count Dracula (played by: Christopher Lee from Dracula franchise, Star Wars franchise, The Lord of the Rings franchise, & The Wicker Man) near Klausenburg to take up his post as librarian.
He gets a warning from a young lady but Dracula shows up before he can investigate. He is there to hunt the legendary vampire. He gets attacked when trying to help someone. Doctor Van Helsing (played by: Peter Cushing from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, The Curse of Frankenstein, Shock Waves, & The Beast Must Die) arrives in Klausenburg a few days later looking for him. Arthur Holmwood (played by: Michael Gough from the Batman franchise, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Venom, & Crucible of Horror), his wife Mina (played by: Melissa Stribling from Ghost Ship, Noose for a Lady, Thought to Kill, & The League of Gentlemen), & Harker’s fiancée Lucy (played by: Carol Marsh from Alice in Wonderland, Helter Skelter, The Tempest 1/2, & Man Accused) wait for him to return from his dangerous journey. Dracula pays them a visit & bites Lucy, she becomes very ill. Van Helsing comes back to deliver the bad news about Harker & gives them his diary with his final words. Tania (played by: Janina Faye from The Headless Ghost, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Dance of Death, & School for Unclaimed Girls) ends up in the middle of the vampires & humans feud, she is targeted to become their next victim. She is being hunted by the prince of darkness. Van Helsing helps them battle the ruthless Dracula but he won’t give up on what he wants. Can they survive this relentless monster????
Horror of Dracula is historic for the simple fact that it’s Christopher Lee’s debut as Dracula in a Hammer Film. He doesn’t have much screen time here but his presence is felt for the entire feature. He gives a powerful performance with barely any lines. I consider him to be the best Count Dracula portrayal in the history of cinema. Peter Cushing is great as the prince of darkness’s rival Doctor Van Helsing. There’s reason why these two iconic actors made so many movies together, their chemistry was amazing. The rest of the supporting cast helped elevate the production. When it came to Hammer Horror, Terence Fisher was one of the best choices to direct & he always delivered a quality product at the end of the day. It’s based off the same source material as probably the most known Dracula film in recent years from Francis Ford Coppola. They are both similar but I think each production stood out on it’s own & had a completely different vibe to them. This feature tried to make it’s own story out of the original & it’s packed with action. Horror of Dracula is a very fun & entertaining entry in the Dracula universe, it’s one of my all time favorite Hammer productions. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Warner Archive Collection! This 1080p (1.66:1) transfer is from the B.F.I restoration. The color timing is a major improvement compared to all the older home video releases. It’s definitely the best it’s ever looked in the states, I don’t own any of the overseas versions so I can’t compare it to those recent blu rays but this is worth upgrading to your Hammer Films collection especially if you are not region free. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track sounds awesome here. The dialogue is very clean, all of the suspense is elevated, & the music has never sounded better! It also has English subtitles. It only has the “Theatrical Trailer” as an extra on the disc. This has been one of the most requested titles for blu ray from Warner Bros & it’s finally here! It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
BLOODLUST BLU RAY REVIEW (MONDO MACABRO)
Bloodlust (aKa Mosquito der Schänder / Mosquito The Rapist, & The Black Forest Vampire) is a 1977 horror film directed by Marijan Vajda (Izbiracica, Zajednicki stan, & Seki snima, pazi se). It’s based off the true story of the Vampire of Nuremberg. Marijan Vajda was mainly known for directing documentary shorts, he shot almost 70 of them in his entire career. Bloodlust was cut & banned in various countries across the world. A deaf mute accountant (played by: Werner Pochath from Devil Hunter, Cop Game, Rat Man, A Man Called Rage, & Laser Mission) is haunted by a damaging childhood trauma. He has a weird hobby of collecting rare dolls & he doesn’t socialize with others.
He has a fixation with blood & a huge crush on a girl (played by: Birgit Zamulo from Techniques of Love, Clattering Chastity Belts, Bibi, & Sensational Janine) in his community. As he gets more curious about both obsessions, his life gets weirder & very dangerous. He breaks into the mortuary & finds the most attractive corpse to play with. He takes his craving for blood to the next level. He drinks her blood through a straw after stabbing her throat. He also mutilates & decapitates the female while exploring her body. He is known as the Mosquito, he begins to grave rob & raid tombs for more victims. After a tragedy, he loses his grip on reality even more & begins to KILL!!!!
Bloodlust really surprised me, I didn’t expect to like it this much! It’s a fairly obscure film that didn’t get much attention or great distribution back in the day. I definitely see the influence it might have had a little later productions that had a similar vibe to it. Mosquito is a pretty sick & disturbed character, he gets much worse before the feature is done. His morbid curiosity gets the best of him, it doesn’t help that co-workers & people around him are not very nice to him either. He goes from someone that just stays to himself to a psychopath with a craving for blood & death! Bloodlust has some really gory & sick moments that will wet any hardcore horror fan’s appetite. It had some nasty stuff especially for being from the 70s, I loved it. Werner Pochath delivers a great creepy performance in this, that’s beyond impressive considering he has no dialogue. I can’t believe it took this long to discover this film but I am very grateful that Mondo Macabro gave it some new life on blu ray with this release!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Mondo Macabro! This 1080p (1.66:1) transfer is fully uncut & remastered in 2K. Get rid of your bootlegs, old VHS, or edited DVDs of this because this is the definitive release for this obscure gem. It’s a major improvement over every previous home video release. It has two different audio options which include English: Dolby Digital 2.0 & German: Dolby Digital 2.0 on this disc. The quality on both tracks are really good but due to questionable dubbing I prefer the German version. The score sounds awesome on it. That’s another huge upgrade compared to the old releases. It also has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Mondo Macabro on this release. It has a little over 11 minute “Interview” with son of Marijan Vajda & assistant director Marijan David Vajd. He said he worked on this while at film school. He said it was his first experience on a horror film. He said his father also wrote the script but he credited for it under a fake name. He brings up that it was based on a true story. He mentions censorship. He chats about being how impressed he was with it after revisiting it after all these years. He brings up a comedy that he directed & the success it had in Germany. It has a little over 20 minute “Interview” with actress Birgit Zamulo. She talks about all the jobs she had before acting. She chats about getting her first play & getting into performing. She says did lots of terrible films but they were fun to do. She said she had to get nude a lot in them. She brings up Bloodlust & her experience on the production. She said she enjoyed working with Werner Pochath. She stole her on screen mother’s boyfriend at the time & ended up marrying him. She said she had to do some dangerous stuff here & they didn’t care if she got hurt or not, they just wanted the shot. She isn’t a fan of the film. She mentions the dubbing situation for it was a disaster. She talks about people being unconformable with her for doing this & sex films back in the day. The discussion is subtitled. It has a “Trailer” & a Mondo Macabro promo reel also. It’s available everywhere right now, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
THE INHERITORS BLU RAY REVIEW (MONDO MACABRO)
The Inheritors (aKa Die Erben) is a 1983 drama co-written & directed by Walter Bannert (Herzklopfen, Was kostet der Sieg?, Young Love: Lemon Popsicle 7, & Real Men Don’t Eat Gummi Bears). On his way home from school, 16 year old Thomas Feigl (played by: Nikolas Vogel from Was kostet der Sieg?, Herzklopfen, & Bibos Männer) helps out Charly (played by: Roger Schauer from Das Nest unter den Trümmern der Jahre) escape from the police after getting caught with a motorcycle with no license plate. The next day, the loner Thomas is getting harassed & bullied at school until Charly saves him. Both are from two different worlds but they quickly become friends & Charly convinces Thomas to join his neo-Nazi youth group. Thomas starts to change after getting some new friends in his life & finally feeling accepted. The beautiful women & dangerous tasks distract him from everything else including his home. School & family are no longer important to the teenager as he learns from his new associates. Is it too late for him????
The Inheritors is a perfect example of when a misguided youth gets into the wrong hands & under the worst influence. Thomas Feigl doesn’t feel like he belongs or knows what he’s doing in life until he meets a group of people who accept him for who he really is. Unfortunately, that same group ends up being some hateful Nazis who looking to cause some chaos. Nikolas Vogel gives an excellent performance as a lost teenager looking for something in his troubled existence. The Inheritors is a little slow at first but it proves to be worth the wait after some character development.The experience of downward spiral for a kid with no clue is very fascinating & the changes he goes through keep you glued to the screen. You get invested into the role & when it’s over it really makes think about what went wrong with him. This subject matter is still relevant today, probably more than ever. There’s enough sex & violence to make any exploitation fan happy. I never heard of this until now, I am glad that Mondo Macabro released this for more to see, HIGHLY recommended!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features from Mondo Macabro! This 1080p (1.85.1) transfer is from a new 2K scan from the original 35mm negative. It looks way better than expected for a film that wasn’t available for a long time. It definitely got proper home video treatment here. It has two different audio options which include English: Dolby Digital 2.0 & German: Dolby Digital 2.0 on the disc. The German sounds much better than the English dub, It’s cleaner especially for the dialogue & the mix is superior. It also has English subtitles. It has German & English “Trailers” for the film. It also has a Mondo Macabro promotional reel. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
BAD RONALD BLU RAY REVIEW (WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION)
Bad Ronald is a 1974 made for television thriller film directed by Buzz Kulik (Brian’s Song. The Hunter, Riot, & Sergeant Ryker). It’s based off the 1973 novel by the same name from author Jack Vance (Captain Video and His Video Rangers & Thriller). The script was written by Andrew Peter Marin (Murder C.O.D., Deadly Intentions, Sweet Revenge, & Hog Wild). It was produced by Philip Capice (The Stranger Within, Helter Skelter, Eight Is Enough, & Dallas) & Lee Rich (The Score, Just Cause, Hard to Kill, & Innocent Blood). It originally aired October 23, 1974 on ABC. It was remade in 1992 in France.
Ronald Wilby (played by: Scott Jacoby from To Die For 1/2, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, Return to Horror High, & The Anderson Tapes) is a socially awkward high school youth that just doesn’t fit in with the others. His overprotective mother Elaine (played by: Kim Hunter from The Planet of the Apes franchise, Two Evil Eyes, The Kindred, & The Swimmer) needs surgery & she has high hopes one that day that her son will be a doctor. He gets rejected by Laurie Matthews (played by: Shelley Spurlock from Absence of Malice & Cocoon: The Return) & later on her younger sister Carol (played by: Angela Hoffman from The Bionic Woman) pushes his buttons too far which makes him snap. He goes into a fit of rage & accidentally kills the girl. He confesses the crime to his mother & she tells him to hide in the house for now. He tells the locals & the police that he ran away. The nosy Mrs. Schumacher (played by: Linda Watkins from From Hell It Came, Good Neighbor Sam, Route 66, & The Parent Trap) has her own opinions about the situation.
Elaine Wilby goes in for surgery & ends up dying leaving Ronald all alone in their house. He creates his own fantasy world from all the isolation. The Woods Family which include Mom (played by: Pippa Scott from The Searchers, As Young as We Are, Petulia, & Cold Turkey), Dad (played by: Dabney Coleman from Boardwalk Empire, The Guardian, WarGames, & You’ve Got Mail), Babs (played by: Cindy Fisher from The Stone Boy, Liar’s Moon, & Hometown U.S.A.), Althea (played by: Cindy Eilbacher from Slumber Party Massacre II & The Big Bounce) & Ellen (played by: Lisa Eilbacher from Beverly Hills Cop, 10 to Midnight, An Officer and a Gentleman, & Leviathan) end up buying the house & moving in. None of them knew they had a guest lurking there & stalking their every move. Ellen brings over her boyfriend Duane Matthews (played by: Ted Eccles from In Cold Blood, My Side of the Mountain, & The Honkers) who will never forget Ronald. Ronald waits until the parents leave & he has some alone time with his new crush Babs to make his move. He wants take back his place from these strangers. Can this family survive this weird kid living in a different world from the rest of society????
Bad Ronald doesn’t feel like a TV movie at all, this could have easily been in theaters at the time. It has a dark tone to it & it didn’t feel watered down despite being made for the general public. Ronald Wilby reminds me of a young Norman Bates & Scott Jacoby is really creepy in this role. It has an excellent supporting cast & crew of television veterans. I think The People from Under the Stairs got a little inspiration from this flick. I definitely seen some similarities between this & Psycho also. It kept isolated to mainly one location & it works to it’s advantage. Ronald Wilby may be one of most obscure & unknown horror villains but he deserves to be mentioned when it comes to the most disturbing. It’s great to see Warner Archive resurrect some more TV horror on blu ray to be discovered!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Warner Archive! This 1080p (1.33:1) is a major improvement over the previous M.O.D DVD & hard to find VHS releases. For a 70s television film, this looks amazing & it’s definitely the best it’s ever been on home video! The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is a huge upgrade over every other release, the dialogue is very clean & the score sounds awesome on it. I don’t see anyone else topping this release especially for picture & sound. It also includes English SDH subtitles. There’s no extras on the disc. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED BLU RAY REVIEW (WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION)
Village of the Damned is a 1960 horror film directed by Wolf Rilla (Glad Tidings, The Black Rider, Strange Affection, & Witness in the Dark). It’s adapted from the John Wyndham 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos. It was originally supposed to be an American film but it got moved overseas before production started on it. It had a budget of $320,000 & it grossed $2,175,000 worldwide at the box office. A follow up film was made in 1964 titled Children of the Damned & it was remade in 1995 by John Carpenter. The community of Midwich suddenly fall unconscious & anyone near it. The military sends someone in & they report back after their experience. 2 months later. all women & girls of child-bearing age end up being pregnant. This causes major problems between the locals & rumors spread around. All the women give birth on the same day.
All the children have an unusual & unique appearance to them. They also have hidden powers that the adults are not aware of. Professor Gordon Zellaby (played by: George Sanders from All About Eve, Rebecca, The Picture of Dorian Gray, & The Jungle Book) & his wife Anthea (played by: Barbara Shelley from Ghost Story, Rasputin: The Mad Monk, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, & The Gorgon) find out this strange event happened in other places. The children are way too advanced for their age & it’s starting to draw attention. Zellaby’s son David (played by: Martin Stephens from Beware of Children, The Hellfire Club, The Innocents, & The Witches) takes control of the group of children & becomes their leader. They are starting to take over the community & the parents have to fight back against their own!!!!
Village of the Damned is more psychological than physical. It lets your mind decide & create it’s own thoughts on some of more dangerous moments here. It’s well written & directed, the supporting cast is very strong here. George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, & Martin Stephens all had standout performances in this. When this was made back in 60s, this was a terrifying subject that wasn’t covered by much. It’s probably made couples not to want to have kids after experiencing this. The simple eyes & hair effects really give all the kids a creepy feel to them. I will say this original version is much better than John Carpenter’s 1995 remake, that’s saying a lot considering he’s one of my all time favorite directors but that one was one of his weaker moments in cinema. I am glad this got some high definition treatment in the states, hopefully the sequel is next. RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s discuss the high definition presentation & special features from Warner Archive! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer is a major improvement from all previous home video releases & it’s the best it’s ever looked! The black & white cinematography is beautiful here! The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is a huge upgrade, the dialogue is very clean & the score sounds amazing. For a film of this age, both picture & sound are very impressive. It also has English SDH subtitles. It has an “Audio Commentary” with author/screenwriter/film historian Steve Haberman. He is very knowledgeable about the production & the people involved with it. He brings up some of the changes made to it before it got started. He goes into some interesting facts & history about Village of the Damned. He talks about director Wolf Rilla, the cast, & some of the crew in great detail. It does have some silent moments but for the most part Steven fills up your brain with all kinds of new information about this. It also has a “Trailer”. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
THE NUN 4K/BLU RAY REVIEW (WARNER BROS)
The Nun is a 2018 horror film directed by Corin Hardy (The Hallow & Gangs of London). It was written by Gary Dauberman (IT, Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, & Swamp Thing TV series). It was produced by James Wan (Saw franchise, The Conjuring franchise, & Insidious franchise) & Peter Safran (Aquaman, Shazam!, Scary Movie, & The Belko Experiment). It’s a spin off of 2016’s The Conjuring 2 & the 5th installment in The Conjuring Universe. It’s a prequel to the horror franchise. It had a budget of $22 million & it grossed $365.6 million worldwide at the box office. A possible sequel has been discussed & rumored for the future.
In 1952 Romania, two Roman Catholic nuns living at the Saint Cartha’s monastery are attacked by an unseen force when they enter a tunnel to retrieve an ancient Christian relic. The surviving nun Sister Victoria (played by: Charlotte Hope from Game of Thrones, The Theory of Everything, & Allied) runs away & it’s revealed as a demon appearing as a nun. Frenchie (played by: Jonas Bloquet from Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Family, Elle, & 3 Days to Kill) ends up at the location & sees the disastrous results. This ends up a mess for the church. The Vatican brings in Father Burke (played by: Demián Bichir from Che, Alien: Covenant, The Hateful Eight, & Machete Kills) with Sister Irene (played by: Taissa Farmiga from American Horror Story, The Mule, The Final Girls, & Anna) to investigate. Mother Superior sets them up with Frenchie as a guide. Father Burke is dealing with his own troubled past & this event brings up some bad memories for him. Sister Oana (played by: Ingrid Bisu from Dracula: The Dark Prince, The Zero Theorem, & Outbound) tells them the history of the abbey. Father Burke discovers the identity of their living nightmare as Valak (played by: Bonnie Aarons from Mulholland Drive, The Fighter, The Conjuring 2, & Annabelle: Creation). This leads to a deadly confrontation between good & evil, who will win????
The Nun is not the best entry in The Conjuring franchise by any means but it’s a solid prequel. It started out a little slow at first but towards the end it really made up for it. I was surprised how dark it got towards the finale. The two leads Demián Bichir & Taissa Farmiga elevated the production but it did suffer from some of the other performances especially Jonas Bloquet as Frenchie. They tried to make him too comical & it kinda killed the vibe of the feature during moments. I thought the character was out of place in this. The Nun is a cool villain & horror character, I really hope they continue her story because this didn’t live up to her potential. It had a nice atmosphere, beautiful cinematography, & a killer score to enhance the final product. I think it honestly got a much worse rep than it deserved & it’s definitely worth checking out. Just have to be patience with this one because it’s gets much better after awhile, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Warner Bros! This 2160p (2.40:1) transfer really shines in 4K! I love the entire vibe & look of this production. It’s loaded with audio options, it has all kinds of different tracks to choose from which include English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, & English: Dolby Digital 5.1! As far as sound goes, this one knocks it out of the park. The dialogue is very clean, all the suspenseful moments are boosted, & the score sounds awesome here. It also has English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles. This is a high quality release when it comes to picture & sound.
Let’s talk about the special features from Warner Bros on this release. The 4K disc has none, all of the extras are located on the blu ray disc. “A New Horror Icon” is a little over 5 minutes. It has interviews with actors Charlotte Hope, Jonas Bloquet, Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Bonnie Aarons, producer James Wan, writer Gary Dauberman, director Corin Hardy, & others. They talk about the film. They go over their experience. They chat about The Nun character. “Gruesome Planet” is a little over 6 minutes. It has interviews with various cast & crew members from the film. It focuses on Romania. It takes you on a tour & gives a inside look into the locations of The Nun. “The Conjuring Chronology” is almost 4 minutes. It has interviews with some of the same cast & crew members from the other extras. They go over The Conjuring universe timeline. They do a quick overview of each film in the franchise. 7 “Deleted Scenes” that end up a little over 12 minutes. It also comes with a slipcover, digital code, & a blu ray copy of the release. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
PERVERSION STORY BLU RAY REVIEW (MONDO MACABRO)
Perversion Story (aKa One on Top of the Other & Una sull’altra) is a 1969 giallo film co-written & directed by Lucio Fulci (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling, The Psychic, & The Four of the Apocalypse…). It was filmed on location in multiple United States cities including a scene in San Quentin State Prison’s gas chamber. Before this production Lucio Fulci was mainly known for comedies, this was his first stab at the giallo sub genre. It had a budget of ₤445 million & it made ₤869 million at the box office. It’s considered an inspiration to several American suspense thrillers. George Dumurrier (played by: Jean Sorel from The Day of the Jackal, Short Night of Glass Dolls, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, & Paranoia) is a wealthy doctor who runs a clinic with his younger brother Henry (played by: Alberto de Mendoza from The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, & Horror Express). He leaves care of his asthma stricken wife Susan (played by: Marisa Mell from Danger: Diabolik, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, Ring of Darkness, & Gang War in Milan) to her sister Marta (played by: Faith Domergue from This Island Earth, Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, & It Came from Beneath the Sea) & a local nurse.
He is having an affair with Jane (played by: Elsa Martinelli from Prisoner of the Volga, The Big Night, Blood and Roses, & Rampage). George receives a phone call from Henry telling him that Susan has died during a violent asthma attack. He is surprised to find out that his wife Susan had a a $1 million insurance policy. This helps him pay off his debt & get back on track. An insurance agent tips Inspector Wald (played by: John Ireland from Waxwork II: Lost in Time, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, The Incubus, & Salon Kitty) about his affair & he starts to investigate the situation. George goes to the The Roaring Twenties with Jane & sees a stripper that looks like his late wife named Monica. He is instantly attracted to her & wants to hook up with her. This sets up a deadly love triangle between the three. Benjamin Wormser (played by: Riccardo Cucciolla from Grand Slam, Blood on the Streets, & Rabid Dogs) is an obsessed wealthy client of Monica & starts to be become jealous of her new companionship with George. Evidence is planted, someone goes missing, & George is framed for murder! Can George save himself from this brutal set up? or Will he be let to die in the gas chamber????
Perversion Story is a Lucio Fulci film that doesn’t focus on or need any extreme special effects. Fulci was known for his gore drenched cinema especially in his later years but his very first giallo is all about the actual plot & characters. It really proves that the legendary filmmaker could do anything when given the opportunity. Fulci was very hit or miss when it came to his scripts but this one was one of his better efforts. It was very suspenseful & it had some nice twists to keep your eyes glued to the screen. Jean Sorel & Marisa Mell gave great performances here backed up with a real solid supporting cast! Perversion Story is very under-rated & it honestly deserves more attention so hopefully this new blu ray release from Mondo Macabro will accomplish that. I can definitely see the influence this had on some American suspense thrillers that had success years later. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for Lucio Fulci, Giallo, Italian Cinema, & Suspense/Thriller fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Mondo Macabro! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is a major improvement from all the previous releases. I own a few from the past & this is the best I’ve ever seen it look on home video. Let’s be honest, Perversion Story has never looked like anything close to reference quality especially how it was shot. The colors are very bright but it does give it an unique feel which works with this type of cinema. Good news, it’s the longer version so it includes everything with no cuts. It has both English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono & Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono tracks. The audio sounds great here, the dialogue is very clean & the music has never sounded better before, I’ve always enjoyed the score for this one (I own it on CD)! It also includes English subtitles. It’s a region free release.
Let’s discuss the special features from Mondo Macabro on this blu ray release. “On Death Row” is an almost 30 minute chat with the lead actor Jean Sorel. He talks about the origins of Perversion Story. He brings up shooting sex scenes in it & the erotic nature of Italian cinema with other films. He mentions working with Lucio Fulci. He chats about the film getting released & it’s reaction to it. He talks about the dubbing process & film industry in late 60s plus early 70s. It’s in French with English subtitles. “The Last Diva” is an almost 10 minute chat with the actress Elsa Martinelli. She talks about how she got the role. She brings up working with the cast. She gives her thoughts on director Lucio Fulci. It’s in Italian with English subtitles. ” Interview with Stephen Thrower” is a little over 38 minute chat with the author & film historian. He talks about director Lucio Fulci’s career. He mentions the genre & material made around the same time. He brings up the production of Perversion Story & shares some interesting facts about it. It’s very detailed & Thrower always supplies some great knowledge when it comes to cinema. It has a “Trailer” for the film. It also has additional Mondo Macabro trailers. I am very happy that this under appreciated feature got proper treatment from Mondo & it’s now available everywhere. CHECK IT OUT!!!!
SILENT RAGE BLU RAY REVIEW (MILL CREEK ENTERTAINMENT)
Silent Rage is a 1982 slasher film directed by Michael Miller (Street Girls, Jackson County Jail, Class Reunion, & The Burning Zone). This was Chuck Norris’s first horror film & feature produced by his company Topkick Productions. It grossed $10.5 million worldwide at the box office. It was remade in 2009 under the title “Indestructible”. In a small Texas town, John Kirby (played by: Brian Libby from The Octagon, Dreamscape, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, & Heat) goes on a killing spree. Sheriff Daniel “Dan” Stevens (played by: Chuck Norris from Missing in Action Trilogy. The Delta Force 1/2, Invasion U.S.A., & The Expendables 2) & his deputy Charlie (played by: Stephen Furst from Animal House, The Unseen, The Dream Team, & Babylon 5) arrive at the scene of the crime. They arrest the unstable killer but they are forced to shoot him after he escapes custody.
John is transferred to to an institute where he is seen by Dr. Thomas “Tom” Halman (played by: Ron Silver from Timecop, The Arrival, The Entity, & Blue Steel), Dr. Phillip Spires (played by: Steven Keats from Death Wish, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Gambler, & Black Sunday) & Dr. Paul Vaughn (played by: William Finley from Sisters, Phantom of the Paradise, Eaten Alive, & The Funhouse). Tom doesn’t want to experiment with this deranged monster after he dies but his associates use their formula on him behind his back. After seeing their work have brought the man back to life Tom starts to take interest in the patient. Dan reconnects with his old girlfriend Alison (played by: Toni Kalem from The Sopranos, American Strays, Sister Act, & The Wanderers) who also happens to be Tom’s sister. The doctors are trying to play god but they picked the wrong subject to test their work on. Tom realizes he made a huge mistake & he wants to end all of this dangerous science. John escapes the institute & he’s looking to continue his serial killing ways! What have they done? Can Dan save the town from pure evil????
Silent Rage is my all time favorite Chuck Norris feature! They were scared to promote it for what it was so they called it an action thriller or science fiction at the time. Let’s be honest, it’s an 80s slasher film. This is basically Chuck Norris vs. Michael Myers, there’s nothing wrong with that. It still had a decent amount of action to keep all those die hard fans happy but it’s a really dark production compared to most of his other work. Norris is not known for his acting but he does have really good supporting cast to elevate his overall performance here. John Kirby is a great villain, he is one of Norris’s best cinematic enemies of all time! Since it’s been marketed to different genres all these years, it’s fairly unknown to the horror community which is a shame because it’s so much fun & a very entertaining entry to the slasher sub genre. It does have some unintentional humor but it’s part of it’s charm. I wish more action stars made stuff like this in 80s, HIGHLY recommended!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Mill Creek Entertainment! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer definitely looks better than the previous version available in the triple feature release with Blind Fury & White Line Fever. It’s the best it’s ever looked on the home video. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track captures all the action, suspense, dialogue, & the music in their highest quality. It includes English SDH subtitles.It has no extras on it but it does have a limited edition retro VHS style slipcover. Mill Creek Entertainment offers a cheap & affordable blu ray that will hold up with the rest of the 80s slashers in your collection. It’s available right now at Walmart exclusively & everywhere else starting on January 15th, check it out!!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME BLU RAY REVIEW (MILL CREEK ENTERTAINMENT)
Happy Birthday to Me is a 1981 slasher film directed by J. Lee Thompson (Cape Fear, 10 to Midnight, The Guns of Navarone, & Conquest of the Planet of the Apes/Battle for the Planet of the Apes). J. Lee Thompson was mainly known as Charles Bronson’s personal director in his later years. They had several collaborations such as Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, The Evil That Men Do, Messenger of Death, Murphy’s Law, Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, & others. It was part of the Video Nasty list in the United Kingdom. Columbia Pictures spent as much money as it cost to make on promotion after the success of Friday the 13th. It was the highest grossing Canadian film until Porky’s. From the same producers as 1981’s My Bloody Valentine, André Link (Shivers, Rabid, & My Bloody Valentine 3D) & John Dunning (Satan’s Sabbath, The House by the Lake, & Meatballs 1/3).
irginia “Ginny” Wainwright (played by: Melissa Sue Anderson from Little House on the Prairie, Survival of Dana, Midnight Offerings, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, & Dead Men Don’t Die) has it all. She is pretty, popular, & a member of the elite “Top Ten” group. They usually meet up at the Silent Woman Tavern. “Top Ten” member Bernadette O’Hara (played by: Lesleh Donaldson from Curtains, Deadly Eyes, Funeral Home, & Star Wars: Droids / Ewoks) doesn’t show up one night. They play a game of chicken after leaving the bar & it traumatizes Virginia. The other members of the “Top Ten” include Ann Thomerson (played by: Tracey E. Bregman from The Bold and the Beautiful & The Young and the Restless), Alfred Morris (played by: Jack Blum from East End Hustle, Meatballs, Hog Wild, & Self Defense), Steve Maxwell (played by: Matt Craven from Jacob’s Ladder, A Few Good Men, Crimson Tide, & Indian Summer), Etienne Vercures (played by: Michel-René Labelle from Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia & Fantastica), Greg Hellman (played by: Richard Rebiere from Visiting Hours, Heavenly Bodies, & Adventures in Babysitting), Maggie (played by: Lenore Zann from Visiting Hours, American Nightmare, Murder by Phone, & X-Men TV Series), Rudi (played by: David Eisner from Phobia, Hangin’ In, To Catch a Killer, & Bless the Child), & Amelia (played by: Lisa Langlois from Class of 1984, Transformations, Phobia, & The Nest).
Virginia goes to her psychiatrist, Dr. David Faraday (played by: Glenn Ford from Superman, Raw Nerve, Experiment in Terror, & 3:10 to Yuma) for help. She has flashbacks from her past & starts to remember things. She lives her father Hal Wainwright (played by: Lawrence Dane from Scanners, Bride of Chucky, Rolling Vengeance, Darkman II, & Rituals) & tries to cope with her problems. All of her friends go missing one by one, the weird Alfred Morris is the main suspect. She’s trying to plan her birthday party around all this chaos, who will actually show up to it????
Happy Birthday to Me is well written, it has a real good cast, & it has a KILLER score!!!! It’s definitely one of the best slashers made in the 80s & that’s saying A LOT considering that’s when all the quality ones were being made. It has some slick twist & turns that will keep you on the edge until the very end. It really has an American giallo vibe to it with the mysterious black glove killer through the whole production. The kills are all different from each other, they are well executed & it has it some top notch special effects. The gore will satisfy any dedicated horror fan, it actually has a great story to it. The final act is amazing, it has a creative set up to all the madness here! It’s one of my personal favorites when it comes to 80s horror & the replay value is still very strong even after knowing the secrets from the feature. HIGHLY recommended to 80s horror, slasher, & films with twist fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Mill Creek Entertainment! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is much better the previous double feature blu ray with “When a Strangers Calls” & a 4 pack release. It’s also a huge upgrade compared to the other DVDs before this new retro VHS release. It’s the first time it’s been available solo in the U.S. at it’s highest quality. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds better than ever on this disc! The top notch score & soundtrack has a nice boost to it. It includes English SDH subtitles.It has no extras on it but it does have a limited edition retro VHS style slipcover. Mill Creek Entertainment offers a cheap & affordable blu ray that will hold up with some of the greatest slashers that were ever made in your collection. It’s available right now at Walmart exclusively & everywhere else starting on January 15th, check it out!!!!
THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA BLU RAY REVIEW (WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION)
The Satanic Rites of Dracula (aKa Dracula vit toujours à Londres & Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride) is a 1973 horror film directed by Alan Gibson (Dracula A.D. 1972 , Hammer House of Horror, Goodbye Gemini, & Tales of the Unexpected). It was produced by Hammer Film Productions. It was originally titled “Dracula is Dead…and Well and Living in London”. It was the eight Hammer film featuring Dracula & the final one to star Christopher Lee as Dracula for the legendary studio. It’s a direct follow up to Dracula A.D. 1972. In 1974, Secret Service agent barely escapes from an English country house where satanic rituals are celebrated. He informs his bosses that 4 high profile members of society including a a peer, a general & a famous scientist are all involved in this dangerous cult supposedly lead by Chin Yang (played by: Barbara Yu Ling from The Camp on Blood Island & Hardware). Colonel Mathews (played by: Richard Vernon from Goldfinger, The Tomb of Ligeia, & The Pink Panther Strikes Again) brings in Inspector Murray (played by: Michael Coles from Dracula A.D. 1972, Murder, Underworld Informers, & Sweeney!) to investigate.
He suggests that they bring in Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing (played by: Peter Cushing from The Abominable Snowman, The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Brides of Dracula, & Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors) for additional help. Secret Service secretary ends up kidnapped & runs into the prince of darkness himself Dracula (played by: Christopher Lee from The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, The Mummy, & The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll). Agent Torrence (played by: William Franklyn from City After Midnight, Breakout, Pit of Darkness, & Paradise Island) & Van Helsing’s granddaughter Jessica (played by: Joanna Lumley from The Wolf of Wall Street, Corpse Bride, Trail of the Pink Panther, & Curse of the Pink Panther) join the investigation. Van Helsing goes to his scientist friend Professor Julian Keeley (played by: Freddie Jones from Wild at Heart, Dune, Krull, & Firestarter) looking for clues which leads him to visit the mysterious D. D. Denham. This sets off a crazy chain of events & a diabolical plan is revealed! Can they stop these unknown monsters before it’s too late????
The Satanic Rites of Dracula is a title that you would expect to be the darkest & most brutal entry from the Hammer Dracula franchise but that’s not true with this sequel. It might be the most unique chapter in the history of Dracula because it has a completely different vibe to it compared to the others. It’s more of a spy thriller compared to being a Gothic type of horror film. Hammer was trying to capitalize on the popularity of James Bond at the time so they produced a hybrid feature hoping to get more attention worldwide from it. One of my favorite things about this follow up was that several characters/actors came back from the previous Dracula A.D. 1972 project. So it had a real solid supporting cast to back up the great performances from Christopher Lee & Peter Cushing. Joanna Lumley was good as Jessica Van Helsing but I wish the original actress could have returned for the role instead of being replaced by someone else. Not a fan of when that happens for a franchise & it’s usually not as good as the original. The character was much different here compared to the other feature. The twist & last act was great but it felt a little rushed, they should have gave it some more time. Hammer delivered a quality production with this & tried to bring some fresh air to the series after so many similar outings. I definitely appreciate what they did with The Satanic Rites of Dracula & it stands out on it’s own. RECOMMENDED for fans of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Spy films, Hammer films, & the Dracula universe!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Warner Archive! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer from a new 2K scan is definitely the best this film has ever looked on home video! It blows away all the previous releases including the overseas blu ray. The color correction & restoration for this is very impressive. It’s almost like seeing it for very first time! The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is a major improvement from the past releases. The dialogue is very clean & the music here sounds awesome on the track. The Satanic Rites of Dracula will feel like a whole new experience with these upgrades. It also has English SDH subtitles. The only extra on this disc is the “Theatrical Trailer”, it’s been remastered in high definition. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
DRACULA A.D. 1972 BLU RAY REVIEW (WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION)
Dracula A.D. 1972 is a 1972 horror film directed by Alan Gibson (The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Hammer House of Horror, Goodbye Gemini, & Tales of the Unexpected). It was produced by Hammer Film Productions. It was the seventh Hammer film featuring Dracula & the sixth to star Christopher Lee. It was the return of Peter Cushing as Van Helsing for the first time since 1960. The film was inspired by the events surrounding the Highgate Vampire case. It followed by The Satanic Rites of Dracula. A group of young hippies that includes Jessica Van Helsing (played by: Stephanie Beacham from The Devil’s Widow, The Nightcomers, Schizo, & Horror Planet), the granddaughter of Lorrimer Van Helsing (played by: Peter Cushing from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, The Curse of Frankenstein, Shock Waves, & The Beast Must Die) & Johnny Alucard (played by: Christopher Neame from Lust for a Vampire, Transformations, Licence to Kill, & Steel Dawn) attend a black magic ceremony in the now abandoned St. Bartolph’s.
Johnny performs a bloody ritual on Laura Bellows (played by: Caroline Munro from The Spy Who Loved Me, Maniac, The Last Horror Film, & Slaughter High) which causes the rest of the group to leave. Dracula (played by: Christopher Lee from Dracula franchise, Star Wars franchise, The Lord of the Rings franchise, & The Wicker Man) is resurrected & already starts causing chaos! Inspector Murray (played by: Michael Coles from Slade in Flame, I Want What I Want, & The Satanic Rites of Dracula) investigates the situation & ends up interviewing Lorrimer Van Helsing. After hearing the gruesome details, he believes that his rival is back & working with someone. Johnny lures Gaynor Keating (Marsha Hunt from The Sender, Howling II, & Never Say Never Again) to St. Bartolph’s. Dracula repays his disciple by making him a vampire. He goes after Jessica’s boyfriend Bob (played by: Philip Miller) to get the attention of his desired victim. Lorrimer tracks down the newly made vampire & tries to help his granddaughter. This leads to a confrontation with his nemesis Count Dracula! It’s a battle to the death, who will win this bloody war????
Dracula A.D. 1972 did something completely different for the horror franchise. It took the classic Count Dracula character & put him in the modern world. It was a unique twist to a familiar concept. Christopher Lee against Peter Cushing is always worth the price of admission & this film doesn’t disappoint when it comes to that. Both horror icons have great performances here in roles they made their own over the years. It also has a solid supporting cast which includes Stephanie Beacham, Caroline Munro, & Christopher Neame. This is one of most entertaining & fun experiences when it comes to the legacy of Dracula. Hammer knew how to make a horror film & this production was one of their better efforts in the later years. It had a nice atmosphere & soundtrack to go with the modern vibe at the time. I am glad that more Christopher Lee Dracula films & Hammer collaborations are finally getting proper home video treatment. HIGHLY recommended for Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Hammer, & Dracula fans!!!!
This talk about the high definition presentation from Warner Archive! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer from a new 2K scan is definitely the best this film has ever looked on home video! The color correction & restoration for this is very impressive. It’s almost like seeing it for very first time! The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is a major improvement from all the previous releases. The dialogue is very clean & the music here sounds amazing in my home set up, Dracula A.D. 1972 will feel like a whole new experience with these upgrades. It also has English SDH subtitles. The only extra on this disc is the “Theatrical Trailer”, it’s been remastered in high definition. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
TRICK ‘R TREAT BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Trick ‘r Treat is a 2007 horror anthology film written & directed by Michael Dougherty (Krampus & Godzilla: King of the Monsters). Michael Dougherty was mainly known as a screenwriter for X-Men 2, Superman Returns, & Urban Legends: Bloody Mary before this. This was produced by filmmaker Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil, X-Men franchise, House, & Legion). Season’s Greetings is the original animated short that inspired the film. It sat on the shelves for 2 years at Warner Bros after being delayed numerous times & it was eventually released direct to video instead of getting a huge theatrical run like they originally planned. A sequel has been announced for this!!!!
Emma (played by: Leslie Bibb from Iron Man 1/2, Tag, Law Abiding Citizen, & Talladega Nights) & her husband Henry (played by: Tahmoh Penikett from Man of Steel, Battlestar Galactica, & Dollhouse) return home after a disastrous night. Emma tears down the seasonal decorations before the night’s end & she gets an unexpected surprise. Henry makes a gruesome discovery hours later. Charlie (played by: Brett Kelly from Bad Santa 1/2, The Sandlot 2, & Slap Shot 3) is going around smashing everyone’s jack o’ lanterns & taking too much candy from houses while trick or treating. Principal Steven Wilkins (played by: Dylan Baker from Spider-Man 2/3, Fido, The Cell, & Road to Perdition) catches the kid causing mayhem on the streets & gives him a lesson that he will never forget! A group of trick or treaters which include Macy (played by: Britt McKillip from Dead Like Me & Frequency), Sara( played by: Isabelle Deluce from The Ron Clark Story), Chip (played by: Alberto Ghisi from Final Destination 3), Schrader (played by: Jean-Luc Bilodeau from Baby Daddy, LOL, Piranha 3DD, & Kyle XY), & Rhonda (played by: Samm Todd from 10,000 Hours) take a trip after hearing the urban legend of the Halloween School Bus Massacre. Their curiosity turns out to be a huge mistake when they get more than they bargained for. Laurie (played by: Anna Paquin from True Blood, X-Men franchise, The Piano, & Scream 4), her sister Danielle (played by: Lauren Lee Smith from Mutant X, The L Word, The Shape of Water, & Pathology), Maria (played by: Rochelle Aytes from White Chicks, The Forgotten, & Mistresses) & Janet (played by: Moneca Delain from Lost Boys: The Tribe) are all looking for dates for Halloween. Laurie hasn’t found one yet & she wants her first time to be special so she’s picky about her choice. Old man Kreeg (played by: Brian Cox from Manhunter, X-Men 2, Super Troopers 1/2, & Braveheart) is very unlikable & enjoys scaring kids away from his place. Karma is finally coming around when he meets the mysterious Sam (played by: Quinn Lord from The Man in the High Castle, Deadman Standing, & In their Skin). Can he survive this night of terror or is it time for some payback?
Trick ‘r Treat is definitely the best horror anthology made in recent years. The nonlinear narrative gives it a completely different vibe compared to the others that you have seen in the past. Each story is very strong here, they all bring something unique to the table & a few of them could have easily been a full length feature. It’s hard to pick a favorite segment because they are all quality material. It has a little something for everyone. It’s full of a great variety of characters & the cast is excellent in this. The role of Sam has become an icon in the horror community. It’s well written & the music adds to the atmosphere. It’s a must watch for Halloween & it should be on everyone’s viewing list for October. It’s one of those rare productions that gets better with each viewing so the replay value is very high with this feature.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer is from a brand new 2K remaster supervised & approved by director Michael Dougherty. The biggest change here is the color timing, it’s different from the original Warner Bros release from 2009. It’s a slight upgrade from that but that blu ray already looked really good so don’t expect any mind blowing results from this. It has two audio options which include English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 on the disc. It sounds great, the dialogue is very clean & it elevates all the crazy moments. The score & soundtrack has a nice boost to them. The original release didn’t have the 2.0 track so that’s a great addition here. It also has English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Scream Factory on this Collector’s Edition! “Audio Commentary” with writer/director Michael Dougherty, concept artist Breehn Burns, storyboard artist Simeon Wilkins, & composer Douglas Pipes. They talk about the pre-production & locations used for the film. They mention they used midgets at night for the children because they had hour restrictions. They chat about the cast. They say they couldn’t use brand names for the candies so they did their own labels for them. They joke about wanting to make fake trailers for this but getting shot down by the studio. They mention alternate versions & sounds considered for certain scenes. They bring up some inspirations for this. They make fun of people not getting the shooting style of this & confusing test audiences. They said they played pranks on the actors on the set. They mention changing an ending to one of the stories because it was already done a few times before. They chat about the music & some changes they made from the original version. They say Brian Cox wanted his character to look like director John Carpenter for this. They mention the various Sam toys made at the time. This was a fun track with lots of information & stories. “Tales of Folklore & Fright: Creating Trick R Treat” is a little over 16 minutes, it has interviews with writer/director Michael Dougherty, concept artist Breehn Burns, & storyboard artist Simeon Wilkins. Michael Dougherty talks about the original animated short inspiring the film. He talks about Halloween & what the holiday means to him. He says he thought it needed a mascot & that’s what Sam is. He chats about doing animation but he wanted to expand past that. He brings up that he took existing short stories that he wrote in college & made a full length feature after adding new ones to the mix. He mentions the anthologies that inspired him to do this. He tells the story on how the concept became a reality.
He brings up the pre-production process of Trick R Treat. Breehn Burns & Simeon Wilkins chat about their work on the production. They talk about their art & creations for the feature. “Tales of Mischief & Mayhem” is almost 20 minute interview with writer/director Michael Dougherty. He goes into great detail about the overall production. He chats about the cast, crew, locations, & the stories for the film. He brings up the characters, the vibe, & the set design for the project. Lots of cool information & fun little stories from the creator of this entertaining world known as Trick R Treat. “Sounds of Shock & Superstition” is a little 11 minutes, it has interviews with writer/director Michael Dougherty & composer Douglas Pipes. Michael Dougherty says he used classic horror scores & soundtracks as his inspiration while putting this together. He says he picked the composer after seeing Monster House. Douglas Pipes chats about how he created the music for the feature. He goes into detail about his process & why he did certain things for the score. They mention the vibe & atmosphere it added to the feature. “Tales of Dread & Despair” is a little over 7 minutes, it has interviews with writer/director Michael Dougherty & Shock Waves own Rob Galluzo. It’s brought up that Trick R Treat never had a proper theatrical run. Warner Bros didn’t really know what to do with the marketing & promotion for it. It had a nice run with a few small screenings that got some amazing feedback & reviews which created a buzz for it. Warner Bros still had no interest in giving it a wide release after that & ended up putting it out direct to video years later. The toys & other merchandise get brought up here. Michael Dougherty says this was the path that was meant to be for it & he’s thankful of the outcome.
“Seasons Greetings” is almost 4 minutes & it’s the project that started it all! This is the original animated short. It has optional audio commentary from writer/director Michael Dougherty. “Trick R Treat: The Lore & Legends of Halloween” is a little over 27 minutes. It’s narrated by actor Brian Cox, it features interviews with various members of the production & others. They talk about the film & their experiences on it including some pranks played on the set. They have some entertaining stories about the production. They talk about the characters especially Sam & the vibe Trick R Treat had. It also goes over the history of Halloween & goes into great detail about the popular holiday. “School Bus FX Comparison” is a little over a minute. A little over 17 minutes of “Additional Scenes” from the film with optional audio commentary from writer/director Michael Dougherty. “Storyboard & Conceptual Artwork Gallery” is a little over 19 minutes. “Behind the Scenes Still Gallery” is a little over 13 minutes. “Comic Book Gallery” is almost 9 minutes. “Fear.Net Shorts” has various shorts & it equals up to around 13 minutes. I don’t remember this being on any previous release for the film. It has the “Trailer” for the feature. All the old extras from the original Warner Bros blu ray have been upgraded from standard to high definition here, they all look much better on this! It also has a slipcover & reversible artwork. This release is LOADED, it’s a must own for any Trick R Treat or horror anthology fan. CHECK IT OUT!!!!
THE MEG 4K/BLU RAY REVIEW (WARNER BROS)
The Meg is a 2018 horror film directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure 1/2, 3 Ninjas, Cool Runnings, & Phenomenon). It’s based off the 1997 book “Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror” from author Steve Alten. Walt Disney Studios originally purchased the film rights in 1990s but nothing was ever developed for the project so Warner Bros picked up the rights years later. Jan de Bont & Eli Roth were both attached to direct this at some point but left due to creative differences. The budget was around $150 million & it grossed $527.8 million worldwide at the box office. A sequel is rumored to be in development after the success of the original feature.
A rescue team led by Jonas Taylor (played by: Jason Statham from The Expendables franchise, Transporter franchise, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Crank 1/2, & Snatch) is saving a group of sailors trapped inside a sunk nuclear submarine when Jonas sees the hull of the submarine being damaged by an unknown creature. The mission ends up a disaster, Taylor’s claim that a giant sea creature caused the disaster was dismissed by his teammate Dr. Heller (played by: Robert Taylor from Longmire, The Matrix, Storm Warning, & Rogue). He believes that Taylor was affected with pressure induced psychosis & blames Jonas for the loss of their friends. Five years later, billionaire Jack Morris (played by: Rainn Wilson from The Office, Cooties, Super, & House of 1000 Corpses) meets Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao from Thunder Cop, 1911, Road to Dawn, & Daughter Back) at the underwater research facility. He is introduced to the team which includes Zhang;s daughter Suyin (played by: Bingbing Li from Transformers: Age of Extinction, Resident Evil: Retribution, Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame, & Guardians of the Tomb) with his granddaughter Meiying (played by: Shuya Sophia Cai from Somewhere Only We Know), James “Mac” Mackreides (played by: Cliff Curtis from Training Day, Sunshine, Blow, Live Free or Die Hard, & Collateral Damage), Dr. Heller, Jaxx (played by: Ruby Rose from Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, John Wick: Chapter 2, & Batwoman), & DJ (played by: Page Kennedy from S.W.A.T, Rush Hour TV Series, & Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood).
The other 3 members are currently on a mission financed by Morris. Lori (played by: Jessica McNamee from CHIPS & Battle of the Sexes), The Wall (played by: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson from A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Last Witch Hunter, & The BFG), & Toshi (played by: Masi Oka from Heroes, Hawaii Five-0, Get Smart, Death Note, & Jobs) have discovered a whole new world no one knew existed deep inside the water. Everything seemed like a major success until a large unknown object invades their space & starts attacking the submersible. Suyin goes off on her own trying to save her friends. Jonas Taylor is called in to help with the situation after being retired for years because of the previous mission. He pulls off the unthinkable & he is able to save almost everyone until a tragedy strikes. They thought their problem was over until they realize they let the unknown beast out. It is identified as a Megalodon, the largest shark ever known & believed to be extinct for millions of years until now! The crew is forced to battle this oversized monster & save the world from it’s destruction. A few surprises cause some major issues with them & it ends being a fight until the death with the blood crazed shark!!!!
Jason Statham vs. a giant shark? SOLD!!!! That alone got me excited about this production. The Meg is the best shark horror feature made in a long time. That sub genre has kinda become a joke due to a certain franchise. It delivered on most of what you would expect from this type of film. It had lots of action, it had plenty of hilarious moments, & it was very entertaining experience. My biggest complaint with it was that it was PG-13 which I thought really stopped it from it’s full potential. The shark attacks & kills were decent I guess but they were too quick plus the gore was toned down due to the rating. It still worked but it would have been so much better if it was Rated R. The actual book is more towards that direction but I know at the end of the day they are trying to make money & it’s hard to do great at the box office with a higher rating. It was great to see Jason Statham in a bigger movie like this, he’s been doing some smaller projects lately. He always adds something unique to a feature, it makes everything better that he’s in & this was the perfect role for him. The supporting cast was real solid here & elevated the quality of the production. It had a nice variety of characters, never a dull moment here. I had so much fun with The Meg, the replay value is strong with it. I’ve already watched it twice within a short amount of time if that tells you anything especially considering all the movies & releases sent to me for review. If you are into action & shark horror then you need to check this out ASAP, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Warner Bros! This 2160p (2.39:1) transfer looks AWESOME on home video! As far as 4K releases go, this is one of the best looking recent releases. All the water scenes really pop out on the screen & look beautiful on this UHD disc. It has a huge variety of audio options which include English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, German: Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hindi: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1, & English: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this 4K release. WOW, this is definitely the best sounding 4K released in 2018! All the action & thrills have a nice boost to them here. The dialogue is very clean & the music sounds great on the tracks. It features English SDH, French, German SDH, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, & Turkish subtitles. As far as technical aspects go, this is the most impressive UHD disc from this year!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features on the blu ray disc, none are included on the 4K version. “Chomp on This” is a little over 12 minutes. It has interviews with various members of the production including cast & crew. They bring up how much fun it was making this feature. They talk about Jason Statham & show their appreciation for the actor. They chat about the locations & the boat. They mention their experience on this. They tell some stories from the set. They talk about everything in this was big. “Designing the Beast” is a little over 10 minutes. It has interviews with various members of the production. They show some early pre-production artwork for the creature. They talk about researching & creating the monster for the film. They chat about the visual effects. Jaws gets brought up as an example here. It goes into great detail about putting together this giant shark for this feature. “New Zealand Film Commission” is almost 2 minutes. It has interviews with various members of the production which some of the cast & crew. It focuses on filming in New Zealand. It shows various locations from the production. Local crew chat about working on the film. It mentions actor Cliff Curtis is from there & he talks about his home. It has a slipcover, digital code, & a blu ray copy of the release. It’s available everywhere right now starting today in several formats including 4K, Blu Ray, DVD, & Digital. CHECK IT OUT!!!!
DEF BY TEMPTATION BLU RAY REVIEW (VINEGAR SYNDROME)
Def by Temptation is a 1990 horror film written, produced, & directed by actor James Bond III (The Red Hand Gang, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, & School Daze). Ernest R. Dickerson (Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, & Tales from the Darkside) was the cinematographer for the project. It was produced by Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger franchise, Class of Nuke Em High franchise, Mother’s Day, & Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.), Michael Herz (Blood Hook, Tromeo and Juliet, Terror Firmer, & Poultrygeist), & Nelson George (Strictly Business, CB4, The Chris Rock Show, & American Gangster). It was distributed by Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment & Troma Entertainment who also handled the home video releases.
Def by Temptation takes place in New York City. It’s about two childhood friends Joel (played by: director James Bond III) & K (played by: Kadeem Hardison from Rappin’, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, A Different World, & Vampire in Brooklyn) that reconnect after changing their lives after growing up. Both were very religious back then, Joel is training to be a minister like his late father Garth (played by: Samuel L. Jackson from Goodfellas, Juice, Fresh, & Menace II Society) & K abandoned that part of his life then became an actor. Joel wants to get away from this overbearing grandma (played by: Minnie Gentry from Bad Lieutenant, Black Caesar, Come Back Charleston Blue, & The Brother from Another Planet) so he takes a trip to visit his old friend & cousin K. K meets a new woman at a local bar & thinks there’s some real potential there. He brings Joel to meet her but she doesn’t remember him & now she’s only interested in Joel. The Temptress (played by: Cynthia Bond from Higher Education) has been taking random men home & they are never seen again! Local barfly Dougy (played by: Bill Nunn from Spider-Man trilogy, Do the Right Thing, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, & Bulletproof) tries to warn everyone about the weird woman but no one ever listens to him. Can the two friends keep their friendship together long enough to survive this pure evil????
Def by Temptation kinda brought back Urban Horror when no one else was doing it & seemed to forget about the sub genre. It was the first time a blaxploitation & horror hybrid was made in a long time. It was a unique twist on the vampire story which was starting to get tired & cliche at the time. James Bond III really invested himself into everything on this production & kept busy with his variety of jobs for it. It had a killer visual style thanks to legendary cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson. The soundtrack was a great fit for the feature & it boosted the quality. It had a solid supporting cast of actors which included an early performance from superstar Samuel L. Jackson. The script had a nice flow to it & the lines were genuine, never sounded fake or forced. It’s definitely one of the best Troma Entertainment productions when it comes to overall quality. It also had enough gore to satisfy any true horror lover, I was impressed by the special effects considering it’s low budget. This was very entertaining & I personally think it’s under-rated, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Vinegar Syndrome! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is from a 2K restoration from the 35mm original camera negative. It’s a major improvement from all the previous home video releases, it blows them away! If Ernest R. Dickerson shoots a film then it always holds up, Def by Temptation looks awesome. Vinegar Syndrome proves once again that they are the best when it comes to restorations. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track is a huge upgrade from before, The soundtrack stands out the most here & it’s still memorable after all this time. It also has English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Vinegar Syndrome on this new blu ray release! It has an “Audio Interview” with actor/writer/producer/director James Bond III with Vinegar Syndrome’s own Joe Rubin. It basically plays out like an audio commentary it’s more about his career at first than the actual film but he has lots of info about the feature later on. He talks about how he got into acting. He brings up some projects that he worked on over the years. He chats about working in the industry as a child & what his family thought about it. He brings up some of his favorite directors he worked with & some influences. He talks about when he first met Spike Lee & that he got offered a role for School Daze. He tells where he got the concept & inspiration for Def by Temptation. He says he starred & acted in the feature for budget reasons. He mentions the cast & putting together the project. He brings up the struggles of funding for this. He talks about directing himself for the film. He chats about the visual style & working with cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson. He goes into detail about the editing process for the production. He brings up the music & soundtrack. He says Troma got involved with the project late. They helped fund some additional scenes & Lloyd Kaufman did the cinematography for them. He mentions he was offered all kinds of horror sequels after this.
He tells us what he’s been doing since this feature. “Ernest & Lloyd” is a 20 minute conversation between cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson & producer Lloyd Kaufman about the feature. They chat about how the project got started. Ernest talks about all the work he did before this. He says he handled all kinds of tasks on this film. He brings up the influence on this to his style on Do the Right Thing which he shot soon after this was finished. He mentions some movies that influenced him for this. Lloyd Kaufman chats about his involvement on the feature. He says he was nervous to take over as cinematographer for the additional scenes. They bring up that it did good in theaters & got good reviews but video stores didn’t want to carry it. They mention that they used Laurence Fishburne’s house for a location. Ernest tells a funny story about buying equipment back for the production after it was stolen. The 2 minute “On Def by Temptation” features film historian & critic Michael Gingold. He shows his appreciate for the feature. He says it’s the first horror & blaxploitation in a long time. He brings up that it was one of the first things he wrote about with Fangoria. It has a few things for promotional material which include “Archival Article Gallery” & the original “Theatrical Trailer”. It has reversible cover artwork & a DVD copy of the release. A limited edition slipcover version is available at the Vinegar Syndrome store. This retail release is available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
House on Haunted Hill is a 1999 horror film directed by William Malone (Parasomnia, Feardotcom, Creature, & Scared to Death). It’s a remake of the 1959 film directed by William Castle & starring Vincent Price. It was the debut & put together by Dark Castle Entertainment (Thirteen Ghosts, House of Wax, Ghost Ship, & Gothika). It was produced by Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon franchise, Die Hard 1/2, Predator 1/2, Demon Knight, & Bordello of Blood) & Robert Zemeckis (Tales from the Crypt, Death Becomes Her, The Frighteners, & Trespass). They had a gimmick & special marketing promotion for the film in theaters where customers received a scratch off ticket with a chance of winning money when seeing this. The budget was $19 million, it opened # 1 at the box office, & it made $40.8 million worldwide. In 2007, a direct to video sequel to this “Return to House on Haunted Hill” was made.
In 1931 the patients at the Vannacutt Institute for the Criminally Insane revolt against the staff headed by the sadistic Dr. Richard Vannacutt (played by: Jeffrey Combs from the Re-Animator franchise, Motivational Growth, Would You Rather, The Wizard of Gore, & The Attic Expeditions). The patients start a fire which kills all of the inmates & all but five of the staff. Several years later in 1999, Evelyn Stockard-Price (played by: Famke Janssen from the X-Men franchise, Taken trilogy, Lord of Illusions, GoldenEye, & Hemlock Grove) asks her husband Steven Price (played by: Geoffrey Rush from the Pirates of the Caribbean frachise, The Tailor of Panama, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Intolerable Cruelty, & Munich) to set up a birthday party at the infamous location. She gives him a guest list but he changes it yet it somehow it ends up different from his own customized list. The owner Watson Pritchett (played by: Chris Kattan from SNL, A Night at the Roxbury, Corky Romano, & Santa’s Slay) brings in the 4 strangers into the cursed house which include Jennifer Jenzen (played by: Ali Larter from Final Destination 1/2, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Resident Evil franchise, & Heroes), Eddie Baker (played by: Taye Diggs from Basic, Day Break, Go, The Way of the Gun, & Equilibrium), Melissa Margaret Marr (played by: Bridgette Wilson from Mortal Kombat, Billy Madison, Last Action Hero, I Know What You Did Last Summer, & Higher Learning), & Dr. Donald Blackburn (played by: Peter Gallagher from American Beauty, The Player, Short Cuts, Malice, & The Hudsucker Proxy). They were all offered $1 million if they stayed the night & survived until the end. Anyone who died forfeited their money & the remaining guests would split up the cash. Price has his assistant Schecter (played by: Max Perlich from Drugstore Cowboy, Beautiful Girls, Homicide: Life on the Street, Blow, & Lansky) hidden & adding thrills to the already dangerous game. Each visitor has their own agenda & some have some dark secrets that haven’t been revealed yet. People start getting killed off one by one & no one can be trusted. Who’s really behind this night of terror? Who will survive & win all that money? Greed & murder follow these characters through this chilling experience into the world of the unknown!!!!
House on Haunted Hill has some similarities to the original but it’s more of a re imagining than an actual remake. It’s much darker & graphic compared to the late 50s version. It has a great ensemble cast which really brought the production to a higher level. Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Richard Vannacutt is one of true highlights here. I wish his character had more screen time in this. William Malone has always been an under-rated director & it’s a shame he didn’t get many opportunities after this feature. The special effects in the film are awesome & that’s not a surprise considered who worked on them. KNB Efx (Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, & Howard Berger), Wayne Toth, & the iconic Dick Smith. Everything still holds up great in this. Lots of gore & violence to satisfy any true horror fan. The visual effects are the complete opposite. They are very dated & they look really silly compared to technology now. Back when this was made in the late 90s, they were considered high quality but they haven’t aged well at all especially the finale for this feature. It’s extremely bad, it will probably make you laugh out loud. I prefer the original to this but the 1999 version is definitely more entertaining & fun as far as viewing experiences go. I think this is one of the better remakes from that time period when studios were pumping them out left & right. It’s worth revisiting & adding to your collection.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer from a new 2K remaster from the original film elements is a major improvement over the original Warner Bros DVD release. It’s the highest quality version ever released on home video & better than the previous blu ray import. It really makes the outdated visual effects here stand out. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds great. The dialogue is clean, all the suspense/thrills are elevated, & the music has never sounded better on this. It also has English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Scream Factory on this new release! It has an archival “Audio Commentary” with director William Malone. He talks about the Warner Bros logo & how he wanted to use the original one for this. He mentions that William Castle’s daughter was a producer on this. He mentions the screenwriter & jokes about being the first person you see in the house for the feature. He mentions KNB Fx & some of their work on this. He points out some of the cameos for the remake. He chats about the amusement park location & the visual effects used for it. He brings up Marilyn Manson almost having a part in this while his song is playing in the film. He talks about the cast for the production. He tells some additional backstory that’s not mentioned in the feature. He gets technical about some shots here. He brings up the score & how effective it is. He does a decent amount of scene by scene moments for this track. He goes into great detail about the finale & the visual effects for it. He mentions some scenes that got deleted at the end. “The Making of House on Haunted Hill” is a little over 37 minute interview with director William Malone. He chats about the original film. He shows his appreciation for William Castle & Vincent Price. He talks about how the project got started & what he was going for with it. He says that he wanted to use the original house but the location changed so much since then. He brings up adding his own concepts to the classic story. He mentions the pre-production process for it, He goes into the technical aspects of making the film. He says it was an honor to use effects from Dick Smith in this. He talks about the studio picking out most of the cast. He chats about the actors in the feature. He mentions Geoffrey Rush & how he was surprised that he wanted to do this remake. He talks about personally picking Jeffrey Combs for his role & the talent he brings to the screen. He chats about the visual effects & the team used for the production. He brings up working with the producers & editing the project. He says it was a good experience remaking this horror classic & he got good feedback for it for the most part. “Interview” is an almost 10 minute chat with composer Don Davis. He goes into great detail about the music from this film. He says he prefers it composed by actually performing rather than programmed. He brings up working with director William Malone & he mentions he turned a typical remake into something special.
“Interview” is an almost 19 minute chat with visual effects supervisor Robert Skotak. He talks about creating the look for the front of the house & the techniques used to make it look bigger than it was. He says he had to rent out space for the miniatures for the production. He tells a funny Joel Silver story when he got credit for something that he didn’t do. He brings up the finale & the visual effects process for it. He mentions working on the amusement park & ride. He talks about a certain death scene here & how it was done. He chats about working with the cast & the director for this project. He says Geoffrey Rush was very professional about everything & Famke Janssen lit up when he gave her compliments on her performance for the feature. “Concept Art and Storyboard Gallery” is almost 3 minutes. “Behind the Scenes Visual FX Gallery” is almost 6 minutes. “Movie Stills and Poster Gallery” is a little over 4 minutes. “A Tale of Two Houses” is a little over 19 minute vintage featurette. It talks about director William Castle & many of his gimmicks used for his films over the years. It has an interview with director William Malone. It makes comparisons between the original cast & the new actors for the remake. It shows the similarities & differences between the characters from both productions. It makes comparisons for the house locations & the deaths in the film. “Behind the Visual FX” is 7 minute interview with director William Malone. He goes into great detail & covers a variety of scenes from the production that used visual effects. 12 minutes of “Deleted Scenes” with comments from director William Malone explaining them. He mentions they didn’t work for the final cut. Debi Mazar is featured in a few of them & her character was completely cut out of the feature. It has promotional material which include the “Theatrical Trailer” & “TV Spots”. It also has a slipcover & reversible artwork. It’s available right now, check it out! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
CREEPSHOW BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Creepshow is a 1982 horror anthology film directed by George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, The Crazies, & Martin). It was written by horror author Stephen King (Sometimes They Come Back, The Dark Half, The Tommyknockers, Needful Things, & Dolores Claiborne). It’s a homage to the early EC horror comics from back in the day. All the cockroaches used in this film cost around $125,000. The budget was $8 million & it made $21 million at the box office worldwide. Two sequels were made after this feature. “Prologue” follows a young boy Billy (played by: writer Joe King from Horns & Tales from the Darkside) that gets yelled at & slapped by his father Stan (played by: Tom Atkins from Halloween III: Season of the Witch, The Fog, Escape from New York, Night of the Creeps, & Two Evil Eyes) for reading a horror comic Creepshow. Stan reminds his wife (played by: Iva Jean Saraceni from The Bride, Knightriders, & Money for Nothing) that he had to be hard on Billy because he does not want their son to be reading such “crap”. As Billy sits upstairs cursing his father with hopes of him rotting in Hell, he hears a sound at the window which turns out to be a ghostly apparition in the form of The Creep from the comic book, beckoning him to come closer. “Father’s Day” follows Nathan Grantham (played by: Jon Lormer from The Boogens & Rooster Cogburn) who was the miserly old patriarch of a family whose fortune was made through bootlegging, fraud, extortion & murder for hire. He is killed on Father’s Day by daughter Bedelia (played by: Viveca Lindfors from Stargate, Frankenstein’s Aunt, Silent Madness, & The Hand) after nagging her endlessly about a cake. Nathan’s family has a get together which includes his granddaughter Sylvia (played by: Carrie Nye from Screaming Skull & The Group), his great grandchildren Richard (played by: Warner Shook from Dawn of the Dead & Knightriders), Cass (played by: Elizabeth Regan), & Cass’s husband Hank (played by: Ed Harris from The Rock, The Abyss, Knightriders, & State of Grace).
Bedelia accidentally spills her whiskey bottle in front of Nathan’s headstone. He comes back from the grave as a putrefied,maggot infested corpse (played by: John Amplas from Martin, Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, & Knightriders) looking for revenge & finally getting his cake! “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” follows a dimwitted backwoods farmer Jordy Verrill (played by Stephen King from Pet Sematary, Sleepwalkers, The Stand, & The Langoliers) that discovers a meteorite on his property & he thinks it will get him some quick easy cash. He contact with it & soon after have some strange reactions to it. He starts to lose his mind as his problem grows! “Something to Tide You Over” follows Richard Vickers (played by: Leslie Nielsen from the Naked Gun franchise, Airplane!, Prom Night, & Day of the Animals) who plots revenge on his unfaithful wife Becky (played by: Gaylen Ross from Dawn of the Dead & Madman) & her lover Harry Wentworth (played by: Ted Danson from Cheers, Damages, Body Heat, & Becker). He sets them both up for a day of torture & terror at the beach. He watches them suffer until their very last breathe or at least he thought he did! The two lovers have a surprise for the jealous psychopath that he will never forget. “The Crate” follows Professors Henry Northrup (played by: Hal Holbrook from The Fog, Rituals, Girls Nite Out, & Wall Street) & Dexter Stanley (played by: Fritz Weaver from Marathon Man, Demon Seed, Jaws of Satan, & Tales from the Darkside) that investigate a mysterious crate marked “Arctic Expedition – June 19 1834” found by janitor Mike (played by: Don Keefer from The Car, Walking Tall, Mirrors, & The Twilight Zone).
The two friends must cover up & fix their new problem before it gets worse but unhappy Henry uses the situation to his advantage when he lures his verbally abusive wife Wilma (played by: Adrienne Barbeau from The Fog, Swamp Thing, Two Evil Eyes, & Escape from New York) to it. Fluffy (played by: special effects artist Darryl Ferrucci from Nightmare, The Burning, & The Prowler) is hungry & he is ready to make some new friends after being trapped in there for all that time. “They’re Creeping Up on You” follows real life grinch & ruthless businessman Upson Pratt (played by: E.G. Marshall from Superman II, Two Evil Eyes, Tora! Tora! Tora!, & The Defenders). He is the reason one of his business associates just committed suicide & he’s actually proud of that disturbing fact. He never leaves & he always keeps his high tech place clean. He notices a cockroach at his spot & he begins to freak out about it. He panics & demands his staff to take care of the problem ASAP or they are fired. They are in no rush due to his poor treatment & the bugs rapidly increase while he’s trapped at home with no help! Karma pays back a man with no morals or manners when his worst nightmares come true. “Epilogue” follows Billy getting revenge on his angry father Stan from a voodoo doll that he ordered from the Creepshow comic that he previously threw away.
Creepshow is my all time favorite horror anthology & one of the true gems when it comes to Stephen King related cinema. The visual style & cinematography is pure genius here. It’s one of the most beautiful horror films ever made. The special effects by Tom Savini are just flat out amazing in this. After all these years, they still hold up great & they are very effective in the feature. John Harrison’s score is one of most memorable ever produced in the genre. It brought Creepshow to a whole new level. George A. Romero delivered one of his finest directing jobs here & proves that he can do more than zombie movies. Stephen King’s script has so much variety to it & it has a great balance of horror mixed with some dark humor. It also has one of greatest cast ever put together for a horror production. There’s not a single weak story out of whole anthology which is very rare. I love all of them for own reasons but my two personal favorites have always been “Father’s Day” & “The Crate”. Those two could have been easily been adapted into crazy full length features & that would have been epic! It’s so much fun to watch a live action comic book with some messed up situations. The replay value is strong here, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is from a brand new 4K restoration supervised by director of photography Michael Gornick. I’ve owned this film in every possible format & I’ve seen various quality changes over the years but nothing comes close to this! It’s like seeing the feature for very first time. It looks amazing & the colorful comic book cinematography shines here. Releases like this make you appreciate modern technology & how it’s advanced so much since this was made. As far as upgrades go, this is one of the best that I’ve ever reviewed & experience in my entire life. It has two different audio options which include English 5.1 & English 2.0 DTS-HD on the disc. I’ll tell you right now, the 2.0 track is the winner here. It’s a major improvement over any home video release & it captures every moment like you are there! The dialogue is very clean & the suspense/thrills are elevated. Creepshow has one of the best scores & soundtracks of all time so it’s amazing to experience it in it’s highest quality like this. The 5.1 track some isssues, the pitch is different from the original & I thought it was really distracting. The dialogue also seemed slightly off. I highly recommend choosing 2.0 over 5.1 here. It also has English SDH subtitles. If you are fan of this classic horror anthology, you owe it to yourself to add this top notch release to your collection!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features on this disc! “Audio Commentary” # 1 with director George A. Romero & special effects artist Tom Savini moderated by Red Shirt Pictures own Michael Felsher. They joke about the opening credits being too fast. They point out Stephen King’s son at the start. They chat about the cast in the film. They go into great detail about the visual & special effects used in the feature. They bring up Stephen King’s acting performance here & crack jokes about it. They say this is the first time when Castle Rock was referenced. They mention the musical score & how specific it was for certain scenes. They talk about Leslie Nielsen always being a joker & having fun. Savini brings up that he traded The Crate used for this for Gort here. They bring up the word cunt being changed in most available versions of this. They say this experience was enjoyable & the studio didn’t interfere with the production. They mention a scene that was cute from “The Crate”. Romero tells a hilarious story at the end about not recognizing a crew member. “Audio Commentary” # 2 with first assistant director/composer John Harrison & construction coordinator/special effects Ed Fountain moderated by Red Shirt Pictures own Michael Felsher. They talk about how they got involved with this project & start working with Romero. They chat about the Pittsburgh movie industry. They bring up their experience on Knightriders. They bring up the cast & their performances in this. John Harrison talks about the music in the film. They mention that this was one of Leslie Nielsen’s last dramatic roles before he got real popular with the comedy genre. They bring up the editing on this. They are curious where some of the props from this are now. They discuss Tom Savini & his special effects work on this project. They talk about score & music for specific scenes. They chat about the script & performances. They mention that “They’re Creeping Up on You” almost didn’t get made. They have several stories about the cockroaches from the feature. “Audio Commentary” # 3 with director of photography Michael Gornick moderated by Lee Car. Gornick chats about some projects & work he did before this. He gives some advice & says never film at your own home. They talk about the variety of actors from this production. He brings up Romero had a new experience of film making with this & it started off rough. He gets technical about his camerawork for the film. He mentions that Stephen King offered them all kinds of material to make during this. He brings up Creepshow 2 which he directed. He goes over the post production process. They mention the new 4K restoration that Scream Factory did for this release. He brings up the cockroaches were everywhere on the set & it made lunch time awkward. “Audio Commentary” # 4 with with director of photography Michael Gornick, actor John Amplas, property master Bruce Alan Miller, special effects artist Darryl Ferrucci, & comic book artist Bernie Wrightson moderated by Red Shirt Pictures own Michael Felsher. This is more of a variety of audio interviews mixed together rather than an actual audio commentary but it still kinda plays out like one. Michael Felsher mentions that he rounded up some people that he couldn’t get for his Creepshow documentary “Just Deserts” for this track. Gornick talks about storyboards & the prep work for this feature. He explains how the colorful comic book visual style was achieved here. He mentions his experience working on the “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” set & Stephen King. Bruce Alan Miller explains how he met & started working with Romero for the first time.
He lists all the jobs he did for the production of Creepshow. He mentions the various props & different effects used on all the shorts. Darryl Ferrucci chats about being Tom Savini’s assistant on some early horror films. He tells the story on how he got started with special effects. He says he mainly did slashers effects before he did Creepshow. He talks about it being completely different from those features. He brings up the Fluffy character which he played in the film. He talks about the different species of cockroaches used here. John Amplas brings up that he got the role after filming already started. He jokes about being skinnier back then & that’s why he got the part. He chats about acting with the special effects applied to him. He mentions the filming location & coming out of the actual ground for it. He jokes that he chickened out with the real maggots on the set. He chats about working with Ed Harris on a few projects. Bernie Wrightson talks about working on his Creepshow comic book adaptation & the experience of the whole process, HOLY SHIT!!!! Red Shirt Pictures started this set off with a bang with all these entertaining tracks, that’s hours, hours, & hours of material just for the audio commentaries here. I highly recommend that you check out their Creepshow documentary “Just Deserts” sometime, it’s a great companion piece to this release. “Terror and The Three Rivers” is a little over 30 minutes. It’s a round table discussion with special effects creator Tom Savini, actors John Amplas, Tom Atkins, & Marty Schiff (also Grip) moderated by Red Shirt Pictures own Michael Felsher. John Amplas jokes about being scared of the maggots & letting a girl from the crew fill in for him during the scene. Tom Atkins says Romero asked him what role he wanted for this but when he answered he already had one in mind for him. They talk about this being the first time Romero worked with bigger actors rather than locals. They tell some stories about the late director. They all pay tribute to George here. They chat about Fluffy barely being in The Crate & how effective it was. They joke around about the Garbage Man # 1 & # 2 listing for the final credits. “The Comic Book Look” is almost 13 minute interview with costume designer Barbara Anderson. She talks about her experience on Knightriders. It has some behind the scenes footage for Creepshow. She chats about working with the cast including Stephen King for this & all the designs done for it. She brings up her late husband Cletus & all his work for the production here also. She jokes that she got lots of costumes for zombies at goodwill. “Ripped from the Pages” is a little over 15 minute interview with animator Rick Catizone. He said he first started working with Romero on commercials. He brings up that he did the sequel Creepshow 2 also. He chats about mixing animation & film for the feature. He says originally The Creep in the film was supposed to be all practical but the shot was too expensive to do so it ended up being animated. He shows off some original artwork & explains them. He brings up some of the special effects, characters, & working on certain scenes for the project. “The Colors of Creepshow” is a little over 10 minute interview with director of photography Michael Gornick on 4K restoration of the horror classic. He chats about the visual style & comic book look of the feature. He goes into great detail about the restoration process & the improvements on the new transfer for this. He says this is the best it’s ever looked after all these years. “Into the Mix” is a little over 13 minute interview with sound re-recordist Chris Jenkins.
He talks about being part of the B team in his crew & Romero gave him a chance. He chats about working with the late director & says if he liked something he would say “far out”. He brings up John’s Harrison’s score for the film. He goes into detail about his work on this production. He mentions the test screenings they did for the film. “Mondo Macabre” is an almost 10 minute interview with Rob Jones & Josh Curry. They mention that they do artwork, posters, & other releases for movies they love. They show their appreciation for the horror anthology. They talk about the original poster for it. They show various artwork & posters that they did for the feature. They explain each one & tell you what it was made for. “Collecting Creepshow” is a little over 12 minute interview with super fan Dave Burian. He talks about Creepshow & his dedication to it over the years. He chats about how he got into collecting & discusses items that he has picked up from it. He tells stories on how he acquired them & the people he got it from including members of the crews from this production. “Tom Savini’s Behind the Scenes Footage” is almost 26 minutes. It’s a great inside look into the special effects for this feature. It shows some of the best moments from Creepshow being created here. “Horror Hollowed Grounds” with Sean Clark & it’s almost 15 minutes. He takes you to various locations from the film & shows what they look like now. He was denied access to a few of them so you only get to see the front of them. He explains what was filmed at them & tells some stories about it. Tom Atkins makes a cameo here & talks about his Creepshow experience. They go to his house from the movie & he reminisces some more about the production. They do a hilarious skit at the end that hardcore fans will love & appreciate. It always great to see HHG episodes added to home video releases. It has a little over 15 minutes of “Deleted Scenes” from the feature. It has all kinds of promotional material like “Trailers”, “TV Spot”, “Radio Spots”, & various “Still Galleries”. It also includes reversible artwork, a high quality slipcover/box, & a top notch 37 page booklet. Scream Factory & Red Shirt Pictures really shine on this release! 2018 isn’t over with but this a great candidate for release of the year already! I am beyond impressed with the overall presentation for this. It’s available right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!
POPCORN BLU RAY REVIEW (88 FILMS)
Popcorn is a 1991 horror film directed by actor Mark Herrier (Porky’s trilogy, Freddy’s Nightmares, Real Men, & Tank). Alan Ormsby (Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, Deranged, Dead of Night, Cat People, & The Substitute) wrote the screenplay & he was the original director before he got replaced after only a few weeks. It was produced by filmmaker Bob Clark (Black Christmas, A Christmas Story, Porky’s 1/2, Dead of Night, & Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things). The original lead was Amy O’Neill but she got dropped & replaced after filming for a little bit. It was shot in Kingston, Jamaica. It bombed so bad at the box office during it’s opening that it got booked for second run/discount cinemas right away instead of major chains.
College film student & aspiring film writer Maggie Butler (played by: Jill Schoelen from The Stepfather, Cutting Class, When a Stranger Calls Back, Curse II, & The Phantom of the Opera) keeps having recurring nightmares of a young girl named Sarah who is caught in a fire & being chased by a strange man who is trying to kill her. She plans on making the story into a film. Maggie lives with her mother Suzanne (played by: Dee Wallace from The Howling, Critters, The Hills Have Eyes, Cujo, & The Frighteners). Her boyfriend Mark (played by: Derek Rydall from Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge, Night Visitor, Death Wish 4, & Telefon) is trying to distract her but she’s focused on writing her screenplay. The film department for school is struggling for funds so classmate Toby D’Amato (played by: Tom Villard from My Girl, Parasite, We Got It Made, & Force: Five) has an idea for an all-night Horror-thon to raise funds. Dr. Mnesyne (played by: Ray Walston from My Favorite Martian, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Silver Streak, The Stand, & Galaxy of Terror) helps putting together the event. It features 3 different films with 3 different gimmicks Mosquito, The Attack of the Amazing Electrified Man, & The Stench. Professor Davis (played by: Tony Roberts from Amityville 3-D, Serpico, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, & 18 Again!) is supervising everything & making sure it ends up running smooth. They find a lost short film called Possessor which is similar to Maggie’s dreams. Davis tells them about Lanyard Gates (played by: special effects artist Matt Falls from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Pit and the Pendulum, Cyborg, & Fright Night Part 2) & what happened with him after the film. Mark arrives with another girl Joy (played by: Karen Witter from Dangerously Close, Mortuary Academy, Out of the Dark, & Buried Alive) at the box office. The rest of the film department which includes Bud (played by: Malcolm Danare from Christine, The Curse, Godzilla, The Lords of Discipline, & Flashdance), Cheryl (played by: Kelly Jo Minter from The People Under the Stairs, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5, The Lost Boys, & Summer School), Joanie (played by: Ivette Soler from The Grifters), Tina (played by: Freddie Simpson from A League of Their Own), & Leon (played by: Elliott Hurst from Looking for Miracles) get ready for their big night of horror films to try to save their favorite subject in school. Someone in the theater is killing them off one by one during the event. Most people just think it’s part of the show. Who is behind this madness? Can they save the film department & survive the night????
Popcorn is one of the best slashers produced in the 90s. It had a creative killer & the murders were very entertaining. The special effects were impressive on this feature. Some of the visual effects here are dated now & they look silly but at the time it was made it was considered top notch quality. Technology has changed A LOT over the years since this was filmed. It had a nice atmosphere to it & it’s always very fun to watch. Jill Schoelen is one of my scream queens & this is one of her best performances. The supporting cast has all kinds of character actors & faces you remember from various other projects. They definitely brought this production to another level. I love how this embraced the horror community & it took place during all night marathon dedicated to the genre. It’s not really talked about that much compared to the others. It’s one of the most under-rated from the sub genre. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from 88 Films! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer from a 2K restoration from an archival 35mm interpositive is a huge improvement from the previous Elite DVD release! It’s never looked this good on home video. It has 2 different audio options which include the original DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix & the newly created 7.1 surround sound track on the disc. Popcorn sounds amazing on this release, it’s a major improvement compared to the older releases. It highlights all the suspense, thrills, & horror from the feature. It brings you into the audience while all the mayhem takes place. It also has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from 88 Films on this blu ray disc! It has an “Audio Commentary” with director Mark Herrier, lead actress Jill Schoelen, actor Malcolm Danare, & actor/special effects artist Matt Falls moderated by FEARnet’s Kristy Jett. Mark Herrier talks about replacing the original director for this. He points out some of the stuff Alan Ormsby directed before he accepted the job. They said almost all of the original dialogue had to be re-looped. Jill Schoelen says that the original actress that she replaced can still be seen in a few scenes, They joke about all the Jamaican music played while filming this. Later on, they discuss the soundtrack & score for the feature. They bring up all the great reviews they got this when it first came out. They chat about various members of the cast & crew. They focus on the special effects from the production.They joke about this film being hard to find on home video before now. Mark Herrier brings up when producer Bob Clark fired his own friend Alan Ormsby on this production that it ruined their relationship. He says Bob Clark was very hands on for this film & he was constantly looking over his shoulder while shooting this. “Midnight Madness: The Making of Popcorn” is a little over 57 minutes. It has interviews with director Mark Herrier, actors Jill Schoelen, Malcolm Danare, Dee Wallace, Derek Rydall, Ivette Soler, Elliott Hurst, Matt Falls (also did special effects), composer Paul Zaza, & distributor Jonathan Wolf. The cast chats about how they got their roles for this. They talk about going to the filming location 2 weeks early to rehearse & bond together. They bring up the controversy & rough start that lead to the firing of the original director after a few weeks. Alan Ormsby fought for original lead actress Amy O’Neill & lost the battle. Mark Herrier & Jill Schoelen chat about replacing those two early into the production.
They mention their first experiences on the set & say it was a little awkward because everyone already bonded together weeks before. They bring up all the recognizable & known actors from this. They mention how it was like working with them. They talk about the Jamaica location & creative ways they used extras for the feature. They joke about lots of people hooking up during this. They talk about Tom Villard & pay tribute to him. They all have kind words & great stories about the late actor. They bring up producer Bob Clark & they are not shy about his involvement here. They mention him having lots of control over everything. One actor basically said he was the actual director of this. Mark Herrier even admits that Clark shot some scenes for Popcorn. They bring up the marketing & promotion for the production. They talk about their first experience seeing it on the big screen. “Electric Memories” is an almost 7 minute interview with actor Bruce Glover. He chats about his experience working on a “film within a film” directed by Alan Ormsby in Popcorn. He talks about how he got the role. He mentions seeing it for the very first time. I wasn’t impressed by it but he was happy that he was getting rave reviews for it. It has all kinds of promotional material including the original “Theatrical Trailer”, “Television Trailer”, “TV Spots”, & a “Still Gallery”. Popcorn gets it’s definitive release overseas in the United Kingdom courtesy of 88 Films. It also has a slipcover & red case, it’s a part of the Slasher Classics Collection. It’s available all over the U.K. right now, check it out!!!!
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE BLU RAY REVIEW (VESTRON VIDEO COLLECTOR’S SERIES)
Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 horror film written & directed by author Stephen King (Carrie, Creepshow, Christine. The Shining, IT. Children of the Corn, Misery, Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Pet Sematary, The Stand, & Cujo). This was the directorial debut & only film directed by the master of horror. It was produced by Martha (Hannibal TV series, King Kong Lives, Silver Bullet, Cat’s Eye, & Firestarter) & Dino De Laurentiis (Red Dragon, Army of Darkness, Year of the Dragon, & King Kong). Rock legends AC/DC did the soundtrack for the film & released the album as “Who Made Who?”. It got nominated for two Razzies for Worst Director & Worst Actor. It had a budget of 9 million & it only made $7.4 million at the box office worldwide. It’s considered a cult classic after getting a 2nd life on television & home video. It finally got the proper release it deserved after all these years from Vestron Video & Lionsgate!!!!
In 1987, the Earth passes through the tail of a comet & previously inanimate machines suddenly spring to life then turn homicidal! It’s nothing but pure chaos when a bridge raises during heavy traffic & causes several injuries plus fatalities. Strange things start happening to the locals. Duncan Keller (played by: J.C. Quinn from C.H.U.D., The Prophecy, Days of Thunder, & The Abyss) is blinded by gas & Wanda June (played by: Ellen McElduff from Christmas Evil, Oz, Homicide: Life on the Street , & JFK) is cut by an electric knife. Bill Robinson (played by: Emilio Estevez from Repo Man, The Breakfast Club, Young Guns 1/2, & The Mighty Ducks franchise), Bubba Hendershot (played by: Pat Hingle from the Batman frachise, Sudden Impact, The Gauntlet, & Hang ‘Em High), Brett (played by: Laura Harrington from L.A. Takedown, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, & The Devil’s Advocate), Connie (played by: Yeardley Smith from The Simpsons, City Slickers, The Legend of Billie Jean, & As Good as It Gets), Curt (played by: John Short from Christmas with the Kranks, Diggstown, Ransom, & Apollo 13), Deke (played by: Holter Graham from Two Evil Eyes, Hairspray, & Six Ways to Sunday), Handy (played by: Frankie Faison from the Hannibal franchise, The Wire, C.H.U.D., & Cat People), Brad (played by: Leon Rippy from Under the Dome, Deadwood, Stargate, & Universal Soldier), & other survivors are trapped at the Dixie Boy truck stop. They are forced to fight various vehicles & machines outside that surround the location leaving no escape. Explosions, bullets, mayhem, & gruesome results follow the group that’s just trying to make it out alive. They don’t like each other but they have to work together to get through this living hell from technology. Can they outlast these killing machines????
Maximum Overdrive is criminally under-rated & it has always got a bad rep from most critics. Since it was written & directed by the master of horror Stephen King, the expectations were gigantic for this project. The fact that it wasn’t serious or character driven probably turned a decent amount off to it. The biggest thing with the film is to go into with an open mind. It’s not your typical Stephen King story & it has it’s own vibe. It’s a mindless non stop action, disaster, & survival flick. It has a good amount of characters in it but they are not really the focus here. It’s more about technology taking over & how society would react to that situation. It’s an action speaks louder than words type of entertainment driven feature. It relies on the vehicles destroying this town & all the brutal results from their attack. It’s over the top but it’s so much fun & it has amazing replay value to it. I personally think it gets better with each viewing & you really appreciate it more. It had a real solid cast with lots of familiar faces & genre actors. I thought that elevated the overall production. AC/DC added to the atmosphere with their killer soundtrack, it fit all the chaos that you experienced from the film. It’s a pretty dark feature & it doesn’t really hold back. Hopefully, this new release gives it the attention it deserves & can put more life into it after all this time. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate & Vestron Video! This 1080p (2.35:1) transfer blows away the previous bare bones DVDs from 20th Century Fox, Trinity Home Entertainment, & Anchor Bay. It’s the best it’s ever looked on home video & it’s one of the biggest upgrades ever! Two different audio options which include English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 on the disc. It’s a huge improvement over all the other releases available before. All the action & chaos sounds great here! The dialogue is very clean & the soundtrack/score rocks harder than ever. It’s still some of the best music featured in a horror film. It really boosts everything to whole new level. It also includes English, English SDH, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Lionsgate & Vestron Video! “Audio Commentary” with Hollywood’s Stephen King author Tony Magistrale moderated by Red Shirt Pictures own Michael Felsher. This track is about Stephen King’s film adaptations & not Maximum Overdrive. Tony chats about how he first met the iconic writer. He mentions that most projects King wrote the actual screenplay for weren’t as good as the original material. He says the productions written by someone else were generally better. They bring up Carrie & talk about the many versions made for the screen from it. They mention various directors that took on King’s work especially Rob Reiner & the features produced from it. They say King got lots of shit for his acting performance in Creepshow. Tony doesn’t seem to be fan of Maximum Overdrive & kinda brushes it off when it’s brought up. They talk about Pet Sematary bringing King back to cinema after a few misses years before. They highlight some of his non horror like Stand by Me, The Green Mile, & The Shawshank Redemption, Tony tells a hilarious Shawshank story about a woman not believing King about writing that novel. They bring up all the material that’s getting remade soon from him. They cover most of his known film/television work, analyze, & discuss them in great detail. Lots of information here, it’s cool to hear some additional stuff that I didn’t know about on some of these King productions. “Audio Commentary” # 2 with actor Jonah Ray & Blumhouse Film Executive Ryan Turek. They chat about their first experience seeing Maximum Overdrive. They bring up producer Dino De Laurentiis & how this feature got started. They joke that this is The Mist with machines. They say Emilio Estevez was Stephen King’s first choice for the lead role. They talk about the feature being more about action than character development & story. They mention the bands they discovered through King’s work. They talk about some of the problems King had while making this. David Lynch was filming Blue Velvet at the same time as this in the same city. They mention their favorite reading material from the director. They talk about the actors, characters, locations, & do some scene by scene chatter. “Truck Stop Tales” is an almost 16 minute interview with producer Martha De Laurentiis. She talks about the North Carolina location & studio used for the production. She says she first started working with King on Firestarter. She brings that her husband was the one that suggested him to direct this.
She mentions the soundtrack & how the music got set up for this. She talks about the cast for the feature. She brings up the original trailer & how the critics ripped it apart at the box office. “Rage Against the Machines” is an almost 10 minute interview with actress Laura Harrington. She talks about her start & struggles as an actor. She chats about her experience with the film. She mentions working with Emilio Estevez & how he introduced her to Tom Cruise during filming. She says she wasn’t a big reader of King before she got the role. She brings up a few times that this should be remade. “Honeymoon Horrors” is an 18 minute interview with actor John Short & actress Yeardley Smith. They talk about having a great working relationship for this. They made sure to spend more time together while filming to build their characters. John Short mentions he did one of his own stunts & almost died doing it. Yeardley Smith says she gets recognized from Maximum Overdrive all the time. They mention how it didn’t do great at the box office & barely lasted there. “A Kid in King’s Court” is an 17 minute interview with actor Holter Graham. It shows a old clip from him talking about being an actor. He says he auditioned for Stand by Me & Silver Bullet. Sissy Spacek was the one that helped him get this role. He chats about the process of getting this feature. He brings up his experience working with writer & director Stephen King. He mentions the local community was so used to movies being made there that they didn’t bother him or care about all the madness being filmed for it. He talks about the cast & his interaction with them on set. He says Emilio Estevez brought him to a midnight showing of Repo Man. He brings up the first time that he seen the feature on the big screen. “Maximum Carnage” is an little over 16 minute interview with make up effects creator Dean Gates. He says Tom Savini helped him get the job while they were working on Invasion U.S.A together. He mentions his George Romero connection helped with his working relationship with King. He talks about scenes that were scrapped or trimmed down for the final cut. He has stills from the production from it. He talks about stuff that was added after the film was finished. He brings up the coverage it got in Fangoria Magazine & how it helped the production. “The Wilmington Factor” is an almost 30 interview with the production crew from North Carolina from the film. They talk about getting to work in the film industry for the first time. They mention the various productions that came to their town.
They bring up that lots of Stephen King material was filmed there. They go into great detail about working on Maximum Overdrive. They chat about the vehicles, the explosions, the cast, & the variety of work that they did on the feature. They joke they knew this wasn’t Oscar worthy stuff but maybe a Razzie. They bring up all the excitement they get when this project gets brought up. “Who Made Who?” is an a little over 6 minute interview with the co-author of “AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll” Murray Engleheart. He says that band didn’t do greatest hits or soundtracks at the time. Stephen King convinced them to work on this film. It was exactly what they needed right then. He brings up that the “Who Made Who?” album brought them back after a little slump. “Goblin Resurrectus” takes an almost 10 minute look at the restoration of the Happy Toyz Goblin from the feature with Tom Shockey. It was first used as a display for a local video store. It was carefully crafted & rebuilt through studying the original release. The passion & journey of this was very fun to watch. He talks about traveling plus showing it off at various events including horror cons & car shows across the country. Almost 9 minutes of “Behind the Scenes Footage” from the production. It shows King directing & all kinds of chaos with various killer vehicles from the movie. All kinds of promotional material including a “Still Gallery”, “Theatrical Trailer”, & “TV Spots”. It also comes with a slipcover. This is one of the biggest upgrades ever from a previous release, you need to add this to your collection. This release is LOADED with so many extras! It’s definitely one of the best home video efforts this year when it comes to new material thanks to the great Red Shirt Pictures. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
MOLLY BLU RAY REVIEW (ARTSPLOITATION FILMS)
Molly is a 2017 science fiction film directed by Colinda Bongers (Hybris) & Thijs Meuwese (Holland’s Next Talkshow, Photon, & Kill Mode). A prequel to this feature titled “Kill Mode” will be released soon. In a post apocalyptic world where bullets have become currency & medicine is rare, a clan of marauders uses a home brewed drug to turn innocent people into rabid beasts to have them fight each other in their fighting pits for their entertainment. When their leader Deacon (played by: Joost Bolt from Magistratus: Overtura, Flikken Maastricht, LelleBelle, & De Punt) hears rumors of a mysterious girl named Molly (played by: Julia Batelaan from Goede tijden, slechte tijden, De spa, Magistratus: Overtura, & Kill Mode) with superpowers near them, he sends his most dangerous fighters including his main henchwoman Kimmy (played by: Annelies Appelhof from De spa, Circus Noël, Flight HS13, & StartUp) to bring her to him. Molly finds a young girl Bailey (played by: Emma de Paauw) that’s lost & alone, she decides to protect her from this wild wasteland of a world. She has defend yourself from the ruthless group or she will become their ultimate weapon for their viewing pleasure. Can she survive this destruction or will she become apart of it????
Do you enjoy the Post Apocalyptic sub genre? If so, you will have lots of fun with this one. Molly doesn’t have much of a plot or story to it but it definitely makes up for that when it comes to entertainment. Non stop battles & murder keep your eyes glued to the screen. It’s a buffet of violence that never really ends. It’s loaded with action, fights, death, & chaos that literally leaves a pile of bodies everywhere at the end! It kinda has a Turbo Kid meets Battle Royale vibe to it. The characters in this are all over the top & very violent for this crazy universe. Julia Batelaan was great as the lead character. Her role got crazier & crazier as the feature went on. She was a killing machine. Molly had a nice visual style & atmosphere to it. For being a very small independent production, they used every cent & all their talents to make this unique world look like something bigger. I am glad that this obscure sub genre is making a little come back these days with recent material like Mad Max: Fury Road, Turbo Kid, It Comes at Night, Extinction, The Last Survivors, & Future World. I am ready for some more brutality & gruesome images, looking forward to the upcoming prequel. HIGHLY recommended for post apocalyptic, independent, strong female leads, & action fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Artsploitation Films. This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer really stands out on blu ray due to it’s crazy visual style, cinematography, & creative setting. It’s a very small production but they used their resources to their best ability & it shows here. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track has a nice boost to it considering this feature is full of fight battles, killing, & action! The score sounds great on it & adds to the excitement. It also has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this blu ray disc. “Audio Commentary” with co-director & writer Thijs Meuwese. He says they wanted to start this film out different compared to all the other post apocalyptic features. He chats about working on a lower budget. He mentions he wanted the Molly character to be real & not flashy like something out of Resident Evil. He talks about some changes from the original script. He brings up the sets & locations of the production. He goes into detail about some of the characters. He chats about the fight scenes, he says it’s a martial arts film without the martial arts. HAHA He brings up the visual style of the production. He mentions the music for the4 film & the style it brought to environment. He mentions the long shot towards the end. It sounds he had a good experience making Molly. I do think a few moments are very strange & bizarre here where he doesn’t seem to know about a character or acts like he has no idea about their backstory but he was the one who wrote the script so it threw me off a little. “Making of Molly” is a little over 31 minutes. It has all kinds of behind the scenes footage for training & filming on the set. It shows the various locations used for the feature. The directors & actors speak a little bit during filming. They are all subtitled. It’s a fun inside look into the production for this. It also has a “Trailer” for the film. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
THE TOYBOX BLU RAY REVIEW (SKYLINE ENTERTAINMENT)
The Toybox is a 2018 horror film produced, edited, & directed by Tom Nagel (ClownTown). Charles (played by: Greg Violand from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, ClownTown, The Devil’s Toy Box, & The Assassin’s Code) tries to bring his family together after the loss of his wife. He is joined by his sons Steve (played by: Jeff Denton from Frankenstein Reborn, Dracula’s Curse, Automaton Transfusion, & ClownTown), Jay (played by: Brian Nagel from ClownTown, Ouija House, Dog Eat Dog, & The Accident), daughter in-law Jennifer (played by: Denise Richards from Wild Things, Starship Troopers, The World is Not Enough, & Valentine), & granddaughter Olivia (played by: Malika Michelle). Charles gets a killer deal on a used RV so he decides to take a road trip to help the estranged family bond again after experiencing loss & pain. They see a stranded vehicle with Mark (played by: Matt Mercer from Contracted 1/2, Beyond the Gates, The Mind’s Eye, & Avengers Assemble) & his sister Samantha (played by: Mischa Barton from The O.C., The Sixth Sense, Lawn Dogs, & Assassination of a High School President) soon after so they offer them a ride. After driving into the middle of nowhere, an accident leaves everyone stranded in the scorching in the isolated desert. The unsuspecting travelers soon find themselves in a fight for survival when they slowly discover the terrible secrets connected to late serial killer Robert Gunthry (played by: special FX artist David Greathouse from Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, Late Phases, Yoga Hosers, & ClownTown) within the walls of the RV.
What if Christine was a used RV instead of a 1958 Plymouth Fury? That’s what you basically get with The Toybox. It’s actually a pretty cool concept & takes the whole family road trip from hell idea to a whole another level. The fight for survival idea has been done so much but this adds a nice twist to it. It had a very fun script & the small cast with a few recognizable names really brought it to life. David Greathouse was entertaining as serial killer Robert Gunthry. He looked like a hippie version of Bob from Twin Peaks. It had a nice pace to it, the suspense & thrills show up at the right moments here. I love how they used practical effects for this production. I was impressed some of the gruesome shots in this. I could easily see this being made in the late 80s with it’s vibe. It’s a nice throwback to the genre. The isolation & closed setting made this get more value for it’s low budget. It was better than expected & I am glad that I had the chance to check it out. RECOMMENDED for road trip, survival, & killer vehicles fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Skyline Entertainment & Steel House Productions. This 1080p (2.35:1) transfer looks real sharp especially for it’s small budget. It looks bigger than it is. The isolated & deserted atmosphere adds to the already terrifying environment. It has two different audio options including English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 on this BD-R disc. Both are very solid, dialogue is clean, & it really picks up during the suspenseful moments in the film. It also has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this blu ray disc. “Audio Commentary” with actor/writer/producer Jeff Denton, writer/producer Jeff Miller, & actor/producer Brian Nagel. They chat about the cast & crew. They talk about their experience on the project. They go over the locations for the film. They discuss some issues they had with the production. They mention they used all practical effects here & the special FX team is from the show Face off. They talk about the technical aspects of the production. They bring up the music & the main song used for it. They chat about script changes & their experience playing this at film festivals. They joke around to lightened up the mood & all have great chemistry on the track.”Behind the Scenes” is a little over 9 minutes. It has all kinds of behind the scene footage here from filming. Especially the special effects material. It’s a cool little inside look for the feature. It also has the “Trailer” for The Toybox. It was released in various formats including DVD & Video on Demand. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
THE FIRST PURGE BLU RAY REVIEW (UNIVERSAL)
The First Purge is a 2018 horror film directed by Gerard McMurray (Burning Sands & The Twilight Zone). It was written & produced by The Purge creator James DeMonaco (Staten Island, The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy, & The Purge: Election Year). This is the 4th film in the franchise & it’s also a prequel. The Purge now has a television series on the USA network. It’s also produced by Blumhouse Productions (Get Out, Insidious, Split, Happy Death Day, & Upgrade) & Platinum Dunes (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Amityville Horror, & A Quiet Place). The budget was $13 million & it grossed $135.9 million worldwide at the box office!!!!
The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) are doing interviews & research on various citizens from Staten Island. Chief of staff Arlo Sabian (played by: Patch Darragh from The Path, Everything Sucks!, Sully, & Longmire) & experiment creator Dr. May Updale (played by: Marisa Tomei from My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler, Captain America: Civil War, & Spider-Man: Homecoming) announce that The Purge will take place for 12 hours. The NFFA offers residents of the Island $5000 to stay in their homes during the experiment & a compensation for those participating as well. They put tracking devices & contact lenses with cameras in them so that they can monitor all activity for the participates. Druggie Skeletor (played by: Rotimi Paul from Dutch Kills & Mapplethorpe) & local dealer Isaiah (played by: Joivan Wade from Doom Patrol, Youngers, Big School, & EastEnders) are two of the many citizens that signed up for this new experiment. Drug Lord Dimitri (played by: Y’lan Noel from Insecure, The Hustle, Slice, & House of Another) tells his crew that they can’t purge & one of his top lieutenants Capital A (played by: Christian Robinson from The Plug, Burning Sands, & When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story) says he disagrees with his rules which causes some beef between the gang. Anti-Purge activist Nya (played by: Lex Scott Davis from Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, Training Day TV Series, & SuperFly) confronts Dimitri about her brother Isaiah working for him behind her back. Nya joins her friends Dolores (played by: Mugga from Orange Is the New Black & Rhonda Mitchell M.D.), Luisa (played by: Lauren Velez from OZ, Dexter, New York Undercover, & How to Get Away with Murder), & Selina (played by: Kristen Solis from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) in a church to wait out the Purge. Isaiah joins the Purge to get his revenge on Skeletor. Dmitri gets an unexpected surprise while waiting out the Purge. All of their paths cross & they end up at the same apartment complex together. Arlo Sabian will do anything to make this experiment a success. After it starts to fail, he takes matters in his own hands & hires some mercenaries to create their own murder buzz to increase the numbers for the night. All hell breaks loose on the streets & the community comes together which includes Freddy (played by: Steve Harris from Sugar Hill, The Rock, Justified, & Quarantine), Taz (played by: Derek Basco from Love & Money, Becker, Six Days Seven Nights, & Spider’s Web), Sharpie(played by: D.K. Bowser from Are We There Yet?, Heaven, & Alien Vs. Zombies), & others to fight these outsiders to survive the Purge!!!!
The First Purge definitely took a different approach compared to the previous films in the franchise. It brought back the Urban Horror sub genre that has been absent for the most part since the early 2000s. As a prequel, it could have done so much more but it still works & it shows you another side of The Purge universe. It had a nice atmosphere, the masks/costumes were creative, & it had a decent amount of kills in this so it had lots of entertainment value to it. They went for a more unknown cast for this production besides a few & it actually comes off more realistic because of it. I was surprised to see Marisa Tomei in this, she had the best performance here. Rotimi Paul was beyond over the top as Skeletor but I thought he was one of the best things about this feature. I am a big fan of larger than life villains & I thought it worked great in this environment. It had some veteran actors like Lauren Velez & Steve Harris that really helped move the picture along plus gave it some additional quality. I am not going to lie, when I first seen this in theaters, it kinda struck a nerve with me. I actually left that experience pretty pissed off. After my repeat viewing, I like it a little more but it’s still has it’s issues. I felt like this was very anti-white film & basically every Caucasian was a piece of shit in The First Purge. It had the main villains towards the 2nd half dressed as KKK members, Nazis, & wearing Blackface. I thought it was trying way too hard to make it obvious for that evil “representation” of the race. It was probably done on purpose because it achieved what they set out to do with this. It’s very controversial & it stays with you after you watch it. Personally, it’s my least favorite from the series but I still enjoyed it overall. It has everything that you would expect for a Purge movie so most people should be pleased with this prequel. RECOMMENDED for Purge & Urban Horror fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Universal! This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks really good on blu ray. The setting & environment becomes it’s own character in this. It has a nice visual style to it & all of the masks/constumes look great here for The Purge. It has 4 different audio options which include English: DTS:X, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish: DTS 5.1, & French (Canada): DTS 5.1 on the disc. The First Purge has a nice boost to it especially for the suspenseful scenes & the action packed finale! The soundtrack fits this production perfect & it adds to the Urban Horror vibe. It also has English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on The First Purge release. “Deleted Scene” is almost 2 minutes & shows some more chaos from Skeletor against the community. “A Radical Experiment” is almost 5 minutes. It has interviews with various cast & crew members for the production. They chat about the concept & the social commentary for the film. They talk about their characters & experience plus the Staten Island location. “Bringing the Chaos” is a little over a minute. It has interviews with a few cast & crew members. It covers the action, stunts, & guns from the feature. “The Masks of The First Purge” is a little over a minute. It has interviews with various cast & crew members. They discuss their favorite masks from the film & what it means to them. It shows the variety of styles used for The First Purge. It has trailers from Universal before the movie plus a sneak peak at The Purge TV series from USA. It has a slipcover & a DVD copy included. It was released in several other formats including 4K/UHD & DVD. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH DVD REVIEW (RLJE FILMS)
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a 2018 horror film directed by Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund (Animalistic, Wither, Blood Runs Cold, & Madness). It was written by S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99, & Dragged Across Concrete). It was produced by Charles Band (Puppet Master franchise, Ghoulies 1/2, Troll, From Beyond, & Dolls), Dallas Sonnier (Bad Milo, Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99, & Some Kind of Hate), Robert Jones (The Usual Suspects, Hard Eight, Gosford Park, & Dead Snow 2), Wayne Marc Godfrey (Gotti, Siberia, Mom and Dad, & Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), & 13 others. Legendary Italian horror composer Fabio Frizzi (Zombi, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, The Psychic, & Pieces) did the score for the feature. Richard Band (Puppet Master franchise, Re-Animator franchise, The Resurrected, & Castle Freak) also did some additional music for the production. Actress Barbara Crampton had a small cameo in the original movie. This is only the 2nd film from the Puppet Master series that wasn’t made by Full Moon Features.
Edgar (played by: Thomas Lennon from Reno 911, Lethal Weapon, I Love You, Man, & Santa Clarita Diet), a recently divorced man returns to his childhood home to regroup his life. He discovers a mint condition Blade puppet in his deceased brother’s closet & plans to sell the puppet for some quick cash. Joined by his new girlfriend Ashley (played by: Jenny Pellicer from The Bridge, State of Affairs , & Cocaine Godmother) & his comic book nerd boss Markowitz (played by: Nelson Franklin from The Office, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Veep, & Jobs), the three set out on a doomed road trip to a convention in Oregon to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the infamous Toulon (played by: Udo Kier from Flesh for Frankenstein, Blood for Dracula, Suspiria, & Blade) Murders. They get a tour of the infamous location from Carol Doreski (played by: Barbara Crampton from Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak, Chopping Mall, & Puppetmaster) who experienced the chaos first hand back then. They meet all kinds of interesting characters at the convention including Detective Brown (played by: Michael Paré from Eddie and the Cruisers 1/2, Streets of Fire, Bad Moon, & Village of the Damned), Strommelson (played by: Matthias Hues from Dark Angel, Kickboxer 2, Star Trek VI, & Big Top Pee-wee), & Nerissa (played by: Charlyne Yi from Knocked Up, This is 40, House, & The Disaster Artist). All hell breaks loose at the Postville Lodge during the auction when a strange force that is motivated by an evil as old as time animates all of the various puppets throughout the convention as they go on a bloody killing spree!!!!
I’ve been a huge fan of the Puppet Master franchise since I was a kid. The first 3 films are classics & they are some of my all time favorites when it comes to the genre but the series has been going downhill for awhile now due to lack of a budget. The last few looked really cheap, they had their moments but overall they were nothing special. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is the best entry since Part 3!!!! I was very impressed on how much better this reboot was compared to the previous 9 sequels. It’s awesome to see a Puppet Master feature in this day with a decent budget because it’s been forever! It actually had a solid cast that featured some familiar faces from so many other movies. It’s definitely the most brutal & gruesome Puppet Master film made so far. The body count is ridiculous & the kills are very creative here. The special effects were top notch & they are the true highlight of the production. I really enjoyed the new look of the puppets for The Littlest Reich plus it’s great to see Torch back. As for the story line, there’s not much going on here at all but they made up for that in the entertainment department. If you are looking for a slasher with non stop gore then you will be very happy with this experience. I had so much fun with this, it brought back what these films should be. I hope this re-imagining continues for awhile, HIGHLY recommended!!!!
Let’s discuss the presentation & special features from RLJE Entertainment! Since I am reviewing the DVD version, I am not really going to get technical on this write up. The aspect ratio is 2.38:1 on the standard definition transfer & the audio track is English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 plus it has English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles. “Behind the Scenes of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich” is almost 6 minutes. It has interviews with various producers & a special effects artist. It has all kinds of behind the scenes footage from the crew doing FX for the production. “The Cast of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich” is almost 7 minutes. It has interviews with Thomas Lennon, Michael Paré, Udo Kier, Barbara Crampton, Nelson Franklin, & Jenny Pellicer. They chat about their characters & their experience on the film. “Puppets: From Concept to Creation” is almost 2 minutes. It’s a quick look at various puppets in their early stages & what the final version turned out to be. “Lightning Girl Comic: From Sketch to Final” is 40 seconds & shows some artwork from the lead character’s comic. It also has a “Photo Gallery” that features various images for the feature. It comes with a slipcover, it’s available everywhere right now, it was released in various other formats including 4K/UHD & Blu Ray, check it out!!!!
HALLOWEEN 4K/UHD REVIEW (LIONSGATE)
Halloween is a 1978 slasher film directed, co-written, & scored by John Carpenter (Escape from New York, The Fog, The Thing, Christine, & They Live). It was co-written & produced by Debra Hill (Halloween II/III, The Dead Zone, Adventures in Babysitting, Clue, & The Fisher King). It was executive produced by Irwin Yablans (Tourist Trap, Fade to Black, Hell Night, & Prison) & Moustapha Akkad (The Message, Appointment with Fear, Free Ride, & Halloween series). Halloween is one of the biggest horror franchises of all time. It has spawned 8 sequels (which includes one coming soon!), a remake by Rob Zombie, & a follow up to that film. Michael Myers is one of faces of horror & he’s considered to be one of the best horror villains in the history of cinema. It was distributed by Compass International Pictures. It had a budget of $300,000 & it ended up grossing $70 million at the box office.
In 1963 on Halloween night in the Midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois, Michael Myers murders his older sister Judith. He is hospitalized at Warren County’s Smith’s Grove Sanitarium under the care of child psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (played by: Donald Pleasence from Halloween franchise, Phenomena, The Great Escape, You Only Live Twice, & Alone in the Dark). Fifteen years later, he escapes custody & he returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Michael Myers (played by: Nick Castle from Halloween 2018, The Last Starfighter, Dennis the Menace, & Major Payne) stalks high school student Laurie Strode (played by: Jamie Lee Curtis from Terror Train, Prom Night, The Fog, Halloween 2/H20/Resurrection/2018, Trading Places, & A Fish Called Wanda). Her friends Annie Brackett (played by: Nancy Loomis from Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, & Halloween 2/3) & Lynda Van der Klok (played by: P.J. Soles from Carrie, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Stripes, & The Devil’s Rejects) think that she is just paranoid when she brings it up. Annie’s father Sheriff Leigh Brackett (played by: Charles Cyphers from The Fog, Major League, Death Wish 2, Big Bad Mama II, & Elvis) meets with Dr. Sam Loomis & finds out about the Michael Myers situation. They both try to hunt down the unstoppable monster before he starts killing again. Laurie is babysitting Tommy Doyle (played by: Brian Andrews from Three O’Clock High, The Great Santini, & Intimate Strangers), Annie Brackett is babysitting Lindsey Wallace (played by: Kyle Richards from Eaten Alive, The Car, E.R., & Little House on the Prairie)across the street, & Lynda Van der Klok is hanging out with her boyfriend Bob Simms. All of them are about to have an unforgettable night of terror with “the boogeyman” as the host. Can Loomis & Brackett save this community from it’s gruesome past? Why is Myers so focused on Laurie Strode & her surroundings? After this Halloween, Haddonfield will never be the same!!!!
Halloween is one of the greatest horror movies ever made & it’s definitely one of the best slashers ever produced! John Carpenter took the genre & made it his own. His work here is nothing but top notch quality especially his classic score for the film. It’s one of most memorable musical compositions in any genre for cinema. Almost everyone in the entire world instantly knows where it’s from when they hear it. It just stays with you after you experience it. Halloween is actually pretty tame when it comes to the slasher sub genre. There’s not much nudity in the feature. All of the violence is quick & only happens during select moments plus they are bloodless. Most of the time when this is said about this type of film it’s a not a good thing but Halloween is a cut above the rest so it manages to work somehow still. That’s when great screenwriting & acting helps out the production in a major way. John Carpenter keeps the suspense & thrills going especially the towards the 2nd half. Donald Pleasence gives one of the best performances in horror as Dr. Loomis & Jamie Lee Curtis is one of the all time greats when it comes to scream queens. Michael Myers is such a great character & always keeps you on your toes due to the mysterious history of the role. The replay value for Halloween is very strong, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this feature in my life & it honestly it never gets old after each viewing. It always entertains me every time & it’s a must watch for this time of the year. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommended!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate! Halloween has been released so many times on home video & I personally own various versions of it. This 2160p (2.35:1) transfer is the best it’s ever looked & that’s a BOLD statement considering all the previous releases of Halloween. It’s an elevated version of the 35th Anniversary edition & it looks awesome in 4K! It’s an easy upgrade for any fan & I am glad it got proper treatment in this newer format. The blu ray included in this release is a completely different transfer. It’s the brighter presentation used for the 2007 release & it’s definitely a little controversial considering how much this feature is loved all over the world. I personally think it’s nice to have a different option for Halloween but it’s not my favorite cut of the classic horror film. It’s worth checking out for a new look especially since it’s a darker feature. The English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 & English: Dolby Digital Mono tracks are very clean & they have a nice boost to them. The music for this sounds amazing in the home set up & it really adds to all the suspense in Halloween. Purist & audiophiles might be a little let down due to the lack of the original mono mix for this release. It also includes English, English SDH, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on both the 4K & blu ray discs! “Audio Commentary” with writer/composer/director John Carpenter & actress Jamie Lee Curtis. They mention they haven’t seen each other in awhile. Jamie brings up this was her first big role. She did TV before this & she was under contract with Universal at the time. They chat about the cast & crew for the production especially Debra Hill. They cover various technical aspects of the feature. They mention & focus on Jamie Lee Curtis’s hair in the film a decent amount here. They chat about the performances & style of the feature. They still have amazing chemistry & the track is very entertaining. They both plenty of stories & information about the production, great memories of what happened during then. “The Night She Came Home!!” is almost an hour long. It follows Jamie Lee Curtis on her experience at Horror Hound Weekend. She admits that she hasn’t focused or embraced the horror community in a long time. She shows off some personal items that she put up for auction at the event. It has various interactions with fans from the convention. It has interviews with them also. She reunites with some old cast members. She talks with the crowd for a little bit & says this will be her only horror con appearance. One of my biggest regrets in my life is not going to this convention. It was in my city & it was on my birthday weekend. “On Location: 25 Years Later” is a little over 10 minutes. It has interviews with actress P.J. Soles & producer Debra Hill. It shows various locations many years later. It has all kinds of information about the production. “TV Version Footage” is almost 11 minutes & it features scenes from the television version. It also has all kinds of promotional material which include a Trailer, TV Spots, & Radio Spots. It also has a slipcover. It’s a must own & should be in every collection. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
DEAD SHACK BLU RAY REVIEW (SHUDDER)
Dead Shack is a 2017 horror comedy directed by Peter Ricq (Freaktown & Come Together). Roger (played by: Donavon Stinson from Dead Rising: Endgame, Reaper, Call Me Fitz, & Fantastic Four) decides to be cheap & gets the worst rental cabin possible for his vacation. He is joined by his alcoholic girlfriend Lisa (played by: Valerie Tian from Juno, Drillbit Taylor, Jennifer’s Body, & 21 Jump Street), his two kids Summer (played by: Lizzie Boys from When Calls the Heart, Angels in the Snow, Rufus-2, & Winter’s Dream), Colin (played by: Gabriel LaBelle from The Predator, Max 2: White House Hero, & iZombie), & their friend Jason (played by: Matthew Nelson-Mahood from A Knife & V.C. Andrews’ Heaven). The 3 kids get bored & decide to check out the local area. They spy on their Neighbor (played by: Lauren Holly from Dumb and Dumber, Beautiful Girls, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, & Turbulence) & accidentally witness her killing someone then feeding him to her zombies. They get her attention letting her know that they seen everything but turns out to be a huge mistake for the tourists! This sets off a chain of events & mysterious cannibalistic woman wants to cover up secret with no survivors. Can this group of people escape this crazy lady & her family of zombies before they become their next meal????
I didn’t know what to expect going into Dead Shack because honestly I didn’t know much about it before viewing it. I was very surprised & impressed after I was finished. The zombie sub genre has been either hit or miss lately. I’ve seen more bad than good so it was refreshing to see something like this. It’s the best zombie that I’ve seen in a long time! It had the perfect balance of horror & comedy. They knew exactly what audience that they were going for with this feature. It had some sharp dialogue & the small cast was great in this. Especially Lauren Holly who probably gave her best performance in her entire career in Dead Shack. She didn’t really seem like the villain type before this but she pulled it off with perfect execution. The look of her character is very memorable so that was a nice bonus. It had plenty of gore & the special effects were top notch in this. As far as independent horror goes, this is one of my favorites in recent years. It’s beyond entertaining & the replay value is strong here. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features from Shudder! This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks great on blu ray! The cinematography from Christopher Charles Kempinski (Riese, Death Do Us Part, & Cold Zone) really elevates this over most independent horror these days. I love the atmosphere here. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track provides very clean dialogue, enhances all the action, & the soundtrack/score has a nice boost to it. It also has English SDH & Spanish subtitles. It has trailers for Don’t Grow Up, Found Footage 3D, Marrowbone, Higher Power & Dead Shack. “Dead Shack: Behind the Scenes” is a little over 20 minutes. It has interviews with director Peter Ricq, producer Amber Ripley, actors Donavon Stinson, Valerie Tian, Lizzie Boys, Gabriel LaBelle, Matthew Nelson-Mahood, & Lauren Holly. Peter Ricq talks about how the project started. The others chat about how they got involved with the feature & their characters. They mention their favorite scenes & experiences on the film. Everyone talks about the zombies in Dead Shack. They mention the special effects & shows you inside look from the production. They talk about the horror genre & working on a independent production. It has all kinds of behind the scenes footage. It’s available everywhere, check it out ASAP!!!!
TRENCH 11 DVD REVIEW (RLJE FILMS)
Trench 11 is a 2017 horror film co-written & directed by Leo Scherman (Howie Do It, Scare Tactics, Bizarre Murders, & The Carbonaro Effect). A highly contagious biological weapon, created by German forces in WWI is discovered by Allied troops as they explore an abandoned underground bunker. Lt. Berton (played by: Rossif Sutherland from Reign, King, Catastrophe, & Dead Before Dawn) is a tunneler who gets loaned out to Maj. Jennings (played by: Ted Atherton from Max Payne, Hollywoodland, The Border, & Killjoys) & Dr. Priest (played by: Charlie Carrick from Reign, Cedar Cove, The Borgias, & Angelique’s Isle). Realizing they need to contain & destroy the threat, their mission becomes a fight for survival when one of their own is infected by the deadly parasite & begins to violently attack them. The soldiers now need to not only save themselves, but must stop the outbreak before it spreads to the rest of the world. Reiner (played by: Robert Stadlober from Engel & Joe, Enemy at the Gates, Crazy, & Summer Storm) will do anything to keep his creation around!!!!
Trench 11 has a very claustrophobic & dark atmosphere to it. A group of soldiers are on a mysterious mission that ends up being a disaster. Science gone wrong with people getting into situations where they have no control over. As time goes on, everything gets worse & it becomes a living nightmare. It’s a smaller film that uses a few locations to create an isolated & suspenseful journey into paranoia. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s been done before but this feature put it’s own spin on it. It’s well written & the cast is pretty damn good here. Besides the 3 leads mentioned above the supporting crew which includes Karine Vanasse (Revenge), Shaun Benson (Channel Zero), Luke Humphrey (Slasher), Jeff Strome (Goon), John B. Lowe (The Butterfly Effect), Andrew Cecon (Silent Night), & Adam Hurtig (Curse of Chucky & Cult of Chucky) elevated the entire production. I really liked the ending, it was tense & the build up was a great set up for it. This was definitely better than expected, RECOMMENDED for any independent horror or film fan!!!!
Let’s talk about the DVD presentation from RLJE Films! This (2.35:1) transfer actually looks better than what you would think considering it’s low budget. The cinematography fits the tone of the feature, it’s real dark & gloomy. It has a nice style to it & it goes with the closed off setting for this. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 has a nice kick to it & it stands out during the suspenseful scenes. The score helps all of that come together & it’s one of the best things about this track. It also has English SDH for the German dialogue in the film. There’s no extras on this disc. It’s available everywhere right now, you should check this out!!!!
ASH VS. EVIL DEAD: SEASON 3 BLU RAY REVIEW (LIONSGATE)
Ash vs Evil Dead is a horror comedy television series produced by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead Trilogy, Spider-Man Trilogy, Darkman, A Simple Plan, & Drag Me To Hell), Robert Tapert (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, American Gothic, & Spartacus), & star Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead trilogy, Burn Notice, Bubba Ho-Tep, Jack of All Trades, & The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.). It follows Ash Williams many years after the original Evil Dead trilogy (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, & Army of Darkness). It was originally going to be the 4th film in the franchise but it was easier to get it funded as a TV show. It was produced for & aired on Starz during it’s 30 episode run. The third & final season was directed by Mark Beesley (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Power Rangers Mystic Force, & Legend of the Seeker), Andres Meza-Valdes (No Seasons, Boniato, & Haunt Ed), Diego Meza-Valdes (Stripper Wars, Play Dead, & The Babysitters), Daniel Nettheim (Last Man Standing, Doctor Who, & The Hunter), Regan Hall (3 Hours & Fast Girls), & Rick Jacobson (Bitch Slap, Baywatch, The Unborn II, & Bloodfist 6/8).
Ash Williams (played by: Bruce Campbell from Maniac Cop 1/2, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat, The Hudsucker Proxy, & Escape from L.A.) is finally celebrated as a hero in Elk Grove. After defeating all the evil around, he decides to open a hardware store. It doesn’t last for long & he discovers a life changing secret when he meets Brandy Barr (played by: Arielle Carver-O’Neill from Suburbs & Worst Year of My Life, Again!). Ruby Knowby (played by: Lucy Lawless from Xena: Warrior Princess, Spartacus, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, & EuroTrip) disguises herself & tries to get close to Brandy to use it against Ash. Kelly Maxwell (played by: Dana DeLorenzo from A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Impress Me, & The Mad Ones) returns with a new friend who is leading the search for The One to defeat The Dark One. Pablo Bolivar (played by: Ray Santiago from Meet the Fockers, The Sasquatch Gang, Raising Hope, & Suburban Gothic) & Dalton (played by: Lindsay Farris from Home and Away, Gods of Egypt, & The Code) are already off to a rough start. Neither one trust each other so it causes some problems between the group. Brock Williams (played by: Lee Majors from The Six Million Dollar Man, The Fall Guy, Killer Fish, & Tour of Duty) tries to warn them about an otherworldly hurricane brewing. More Knights of Sumeria agents come to join them to defeat evil. The situation gets more chaotic as when others join the excitement! Can Ash & his crew survive one last battle with the Evil Dead to save the world again????
Ash vs Evil Dead was a true gift all horror fans all over the world. One of the most iconic characters in the genre made his return & he was on TV every week! It has been a long time after Army of Darkness before this started. His cameo in the Evil Dead remake resurrected all hope & got everyone excited to see their favorite chainsaw swinging anti hero back. Ash vs Evil Dead honestly had a great run on TV & the fact it lasted for 3 seasons tells you how much support it had. These days television shows get cancelled after a few episodes fail to find an audience quick. This show was never censored & it always had all of it’s creative choices displayed for everyone to witness. Since it had so much freedom, it got better & crazier with each season! It didn’t hold back & delivered all the goods that you would expect from the Evil Dead franchise. It introduced a younger & modern crowd into Ash’s chaotic world. Season 3 was everything I hoped for & more after viewing it. I wish it could have went on for a few more years because this wild & fun material had so much potential for further explanation. Bruce Campbell was born to play this role & no one will ever be able to replace him.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate! The bloody visuals on every 1080p (1.78:1) episode looks top notch here! It was great to see the Evil Dead universe expanded on television & it will be missed by so many horror fans all over the world. I loved the atmosphere & crazy settings here. It has 3 different audio options which include English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0, & French: Dolby Digital 5.1 on two blu ray dsics. The tracks provide an awesome extra boost with all the action & horror in this last season. Both picture & sound are very impressive on this release. They add to the already entertaining experience of Ash vs. Evil Dead. It also has English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on these two blu ray discs. Audio Commentaries for “Family:” with director Mark Beesley, executive producer/actor Bruce Campbell, & actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill. “Booth Three:” with executive producer Bob Tapert, director Mark Beesley, & actress Lucy Lawless. “Apparently Dead:” with executive producer Bob Tapert, directors Diego Meza-Valdes, Andres Meza-Valdes, & actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill. “Unfinished Business:” with actors Arielle Carver-O’Neill, Dana Delorenzo, & Ray Santiago. “Baby Proof:” with executive producer Rick Jacobson, stunt coordinator Stuart Thorp, & actors Dana Delorenzo & Ray Santiago. These commentaries are all featured on disc 1 for this release. If you are into that type of extra then you are for a treat with this blu ray. It’s full of information, stories, & just them having fun with their experience on this show. Disc 2 has a decent amount of extras on it. Audio Commentaries for “Tales from the Rift:” with executive producer Bob Tapert, visual effects supervisor Tim Capper, & actors Dana Delorenzo, Lucy Lawless, & Ray Santiago. “Twist and Shout:” with director Mark Beesley, executive producer/Actor Bruce Campbell, & actresses Arielle Carver-O’Neill & Lucy Lawless. “Rifting Apart:” with executive producer Bob Tapert actors Arielle Carver-O’Neill, Dana Delorenzo, & Ray Santiago. “Judgement Day:” with executive producer/writer/director Rick Jacobson, executive Producer/actor Bruce Campbell, & actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill.
“The Mettle of Man:” with executive producer/writer/director Rick Jacobson, executive producer/actor Bruce Campbell, & actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill. It’s pretty cool that every episode gets covered here. It’s full of information, stories, & just them having fun with their experience on this show. It’s also great to hear Bruce Campbell involved in a few more tracks for this disc. As far as commentaries goes, he’s one of the best of all time! There’s never a dull moment with him & he always elevates the overall experience. “Season Overview” is almost 3 minutes & it covers the basics really quick for the viewer. You get updated on all the new additions including the characters added to this season. “Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead” has several short featurettes covering each episode for Season 3 which include “Inside Episode 301: Family” (2:02),” Inside Episode 302: Booth Three” (1:40), “Inside Episode 303: Apparently Dead” (1:55), “Inside Episode 304: Unfinished Business” (1:48), “Inside Episode 305: Baby Proof” (2:07), “Inside Episode 306: Tales from the Rift” (1:46), “Inside Episode 307: Twist and Shout” (1:42), “Inside Episode 308: Rifting Apart” (1:55), “Inside Episode 309: Judgement Day” (1:58), & “Inside Episode 310: The Mettle of Man” (1:36). They are quick recaps that go into details about the plot, characters, effects, & everything else that’s going on for the show with a brief view inside the Evil Dead world. Ash vs. Evil Dead was one of my favorite television shows of all time & I hate to see it go after only a few years but I am grateful for those few seasons because it was an awesome update on an iconic horror character. BEYOND recommended, the show may be dead but it can still live through home video so make sure you support this release & check it out!!!!
THE CHANGELING BLU RAY REVIEW (SEVERIN FILMS)
The Changeling is a 1980 horror film directed by Peter Medak (Romeo Is Bleeding, Species II, The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt, & Homicide: Life on the Street). Donald Cammell & Tony Richardson were the two original choices to direct this but both left the project due to creative differences. The screenplay is based upon events that writer Russell Hunter claimed he experienced while he was living in the Henry Treat Rogers mansion. It won the first ever Genie Award for Best Canadian Film. It also won awards for Best Foreign Actor, Best Foreign Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Design, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, & Best Sound Editing. In 1987, director Lamberto Bava did an unofficial made for television film that was marketed as a sequel for its home video releases called Until Death.
John Russell (played by: George C. Scott from Patton, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Hardcore, The Exorcist III, & Firestarter) is a composer from New York that moved to Seattle after a traumatic event that caused him to lose both his wife & daughter at the same time. He doesn’t really want to be bothered so he rents a old abandoned mansion. Claire Norman (played by: Trish Van Devere from The Hearse, Messenger of Death, Hollywood Vice Squad, & Movie Movie) tells him that the property has been vacant for 12 years. John starts to experience some strange things at his new home. He starts to get curious about the previous owners & the history of the location so he does his own investigation of it. He finds out about some dark stuff that happened in this mysterious place. He holds a seance at the house & overhears the voice of the spirit caught on audio recording equipment. He is calling himself Joseph Carmichael & John discovers that Joseph was murdered in 1906 here. He tries to contact Senator Carmichael (played by: Melvyn Douglas from Ghost Story, The Tenant, The Vampire Bat, & Being There) about this disturbing past but gets ignored by the man. Captain DeWitt (played by: John Colicos from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Battlestar Galactica, The Last Don, & X-Men) is sent by the senator to get a family item back & to question the stranger who had such outlandish claims about his past. Senator Carmichael finally agrees to talk with John after some recent bad luck. This all leads back to the mysterious mansion & anyone that comes near it ends up cursed somehow. John is trying to survive this nightmare while being tormented by his past, can he handle all this stress?
As far as ghost stories go, The Changeling is one of the best films ever produced in that sub genre. It could easily be considered the greatest one ever made. One of the proudest moments in the history of Canadian cinema. Everything about this production is at it’s highest quality. It was carefully crafted at every level. The cinematography looks great, it has a nice creepy atmosphere to it, the locations are memorable, the score elevates the suspense, the script is well written, & the performances rival any other genre when it comes to acting! Especially George C. Scott, he’s a powerhouse in this & takes over every scene that he’s in. It’s one of the greatest efforts in the existence of horror. There’s a reason why The Changeling is a influence to so many filmmakers out there. It’s one of those features that gets better with each viewing. It just stays with you & it kinda haunts your mind a little bit after the overall experience. It doesn’t depend on cheap scares. It gets inside your mind & play tricks with you. I love psychological material like this. I am surprised it took so long for this to get proper treatment from a label. This is a high profile release & it’s been anticipated for a long time from fans. Severin Films has resurrected & upgraded a true classic to high definition for home video!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Severin Films. This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer from a brand new 4K restoration is a huge upgrade from all previous releases & it’s the highest quality it’s ever been on home video. The colors pop out on the screen, the cinematography really shines, & it just enhances the already creepy atmosphere that the film has. It’s already been reported & confirmed that there’s a few issues with the DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 track. Severin Films has set up a replacement program for it. The the other audio options include DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0, Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 2.0, Dolby Digital Audio Italian 2.0, Dolby Digital Audio German 2.0 & they all have no issues here. The dialogue is very clean & Rick Wilkins (Night Walk, Ladies’ Night, The Suicide Murders, & The Accident) score sounds awesome on it! It also has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this blu ray disc. “Audio commentary” with director Peter Medak & producer Joel B. Michaels moderated by Severin Films own David Gregory. They talk about the various locations. They chat about working with the great George C. Scott. They go into detail about how he got the role & what he thought about the finished product. They bring up the performances in this feature. Peter Medak goes through his overall experience on the production. They mention ghosts & it’s sub genre. They chat about this film influencing so many others in cinema. They bring up the Haunting & they talk a little bit about it. They talk about the iconic poster & how it was picked for this. They discuss the music for The Changeling. They chat about the classic seance scene. They mention Steven Spielberg & Poltergeist. Peter Medak talks about getting his opportunity to work America. They bring up the casting & the supporting actors for this. They mention that this film didn’t do that great in America due to poor distribution decisions. They said it had success everywhere else. They cover a decent amount of scene by scene conversations. They are full of information & stories about the production. The track has a nice flow to it & it’s never dull. “The House On Cheesman Park: The Haunting True Story Of The Changeling” is a little over 17 minutes. Author & historian Dr. Phil Goodstein goes over the history of this location. He tells various stories about it & you end up learning lots of information that you didn’t know about. “The Music Of The Changeling: Interview With Music Arranger Kenneth Wannberg” is almost 9 minutes. He chats about working with his friend John Williams on various projects. He talks about how he got the gig for the feature & his overall experience for it. He says he loves working on horror films. He bring up that the music box was already done before he joined the production. He plays what his version would have sounded like if he actually done it. “Building The House Of Horror: Interview With Art Director Reuben Freed” is almost 11 minutes. He brings up how he got the job & talks about some previous work. He chats about the locations for it. He mentions some of the collaborations & people he worked with for the movie. He says the bouncing ball was a struggle. He brings up that it had a very low budget compared to films today. He says that he is glad people are still interested in The Changeling. “Master of Horror Mick Garris On The Changeling” is a little over 5 minute chat with the horror director. He shows his appreciation for the film. He chats about George C. Scott & his performance. He also brings up The Haunting & Don’t Look Now. He talks about inviting & having Peter Medak working on his television show “Masters of Horror”. He mentions how little know this was back in the day & it always felt personal to him. He says the ghost sun genre is misunderstood by most. “The Psychotronic Tourist: The Changeling” with Kier-La L Janisse is 16 minutes. She shows how some of filming locations look now from various scenes. Fangoria’s Michael Gingold & “We are Still Here” director Ted Geoghegan also make an appearance to show a location for the film in New York. They mention other stuff that was filmed around there. FX artist/Director Ryan Nicholson visits a location in Canada that has changed drastically since filming. This is pretty cool & lots of locations have changed so much over the years. Last but not least, it has promotional material like “Poster & Still Gallery”, “Trailer”, & a “TV Spot”. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out! A limited edition version is also available from Severin Films, it includes a slipcover with different artwork, a poster, enamel pin, replica ball, & a CD for the original score. This release needs to be in every horror fan’s collection, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
THE UNBORN BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
The Unborn is a 1991 horror film directed by Rodman Flender (Leprechaun 2, Idle Hands, Tales from the Crypt, & Scream TV Series). It was produced by the legendary Roger Corman (Death Race 2000, Piranha, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Humanoids from the Deep, & Boxcar Bertha). It was written by John Brancato (Watchers II, Mindwarp, The Net, The Game, & Terminator 3/4) & Michael Ferris (Bloodfist II, Surrogates, Catwoman, The Others TV Series, & The Net franchise) under “Henry Dominic”. In 1994, a lower budget sequel was made & got a small release. Gary Numan (From Inside) from the band Cars did the score for this production & he used some of the featured music from The Unborn on albums released later on. Michael R. Smith (The Bikini Carwash Company II) did some additional music for the film.
A married couple Virginia (played by: Brooke Adams from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Dead Zone, Sometimes They Come Back, & Days of Heaven) & Brad Marshall (played by: Jeff Hayenga from And the Band Played On, Memron, Bones, The Blacklist, & Star Trek) have been trying to have children for 5 years now with no luck. They have went through a few miscarriages & mental breakdowns during their struggles. A friend recommends Dr. Richard Meyerling (played by: James Karen from The Return of the Living Dead 1/2, Mulholland Drive, Poltergeist, & Wall Street) who runs a in-vitro fertilization program. They are joined by several others for the experimental trial. At first, everything seems to be going great & a miracle is finally going to happen for these desperate individuals. A few strange events occur & most people around them just think it’s stress getting to the new soon to be mothers. A few of them dig around & investigate Dr. Richard Meyerling’s past. Something isn’t right & these pregnant women don’t know what’s inside them. Their reality becomes a nightmare after the side effects starting becoming worse. Did they sell their soul to the devil for their dream? Can they escape what they have always wanted in life? Nothing is what it seems.
The Unborn managed to do what many films fail at in this genre for me. It generally creeped out me at times & it had some real crazy moments that made me feel uneasy. The science gone wrong theme has been done so many times in horror but this feature manages to put it’s own unique twist on it. It actually feels like it could happen anywhere at anytime in this world. That’s exactly why some of the dark material here had an impact on me compared to similar movies. Rodman Flender took control in theatrical full length feature directing debut. This is one of the best that Roger Corman produced in the 90s. Both Brooke Adams & James Karen really shine in their roles in this. Brooke Adams keeps getting crazier as time goes on with her mental breakdown. It’s a fearless performance that keeps your eyes glue on the screen. James Karen is not your typical villain here & he’s plays it like he doesn’t think he is doing anything wrong. He’s not over the top at all & he’s just trying to help out families that are struggling to have kids. I like characters like that & sometimes it’s hard to see them as the bad guy with that type of delivery. The special effects were really good for the production’s low budget & they are effective during their scenes. I am probably one of the few people to say this but I’d watch this over Rosemary’s Baby anytime! It’s much more entertaining & the replay value is definitely better here. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This 1080p (1.85:1) is a new 2K scan from the original film elements. You can throw out that old DVD because this blu ray release is best that this has ever looked on home video & it’s definitely an upgrade compared to any previous release. There’s a few moments when the quality changes a little but nothing crazy or real distracting. The English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA track is very clean & elevates all the suspenseful moments here. The score from Gary Numan sounds great here & it adds to the creepy atmosphere. I wish he did more stuff like this in films because it really works on The Unborn & it has it’s own vibe. It also has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this disc. “Audio Commentary” with director Rodman Flender & filmmaker Adam Simon. They talk about the cast especially Brooke Adams & James Karen. Rodman Flender says this was his first big opportunity in the movie industry. He chats about working with Roger Corman & tells a story why he’s uncredited on this production. He mentions that Roger Corman had an exclusive distribution deal with MGM/UA for all his titles at the time under his label. He wanted to branch out a little bit & do some different things so he created Califilm to work with other distributors for various features. He couldn’t have his name on these films or they would end up at MGM/UA. Adam Simon seems to have forgotten that he had a cameo in this & he starts to joke about it. He brings up some of the work he’s done. They say this was more aimed at the Child’s Play & It’s Alive audience rather than Rosemary’s Baby. Rodman Flender brings up that one of his crew members in a later film said this feature made her never had kids. Both of them have some great memories & things to say about The Unborn. It’s a entertaining track & keeps at a good pace. Last but not least, you get the “Theatrical Trailer”. It’s available everywhere, check it out!!!!
BRAINSCAN BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Brainscan is a 1994 horror film directed by John Flynn (Out for Justice, Lock Up, Best Seller, & Rolling Thunder). This is based on the computer-game “Brainwaves” also known as “Brainscanners” in Europe.The soundtrack features various hard rock, grunge, & heavy metal music from Mudhoney, White Zombie, OLD, Dandelion, Primus, Tad, Pitchshifter & the Butthole Surfers. A lonely boy named Michael Brower (played by: Edward Furlong from Pet Sematary II, Terminator 2, American History X, & Detroit Rock City) lives an isolated existence in his absent father’s mansion. Michael’s mother was killed in a car accident, which also permanently injured his leg. When he’s not playing video games he spends his spare time stalking his neighbor Kimberly (played by: Amy Hargreaves from Blue Ruin, Wonderstruck, Homeland, & 13 Reasons Why) who happens to be his crush. Since Michael stays to himself & he’s considered weird by most of his classmates he only has one friend Kyle (played by: Jamie Marsh from Evolver, Pie in the Sky, Best Laid Plans, & The Forsaken). They both enjoy the same hobbies which include horror movies & they even have their own club for it at school. Dr. Fromberg (played by: David Hemblen from Maximum Risk, Tales from the Cryptkeeper, Short Circuit 2, Tommy Boy, & La Femme Nikita) bans it after catching them watching “Die, Die, Die Part 2” & demands that he must approve all content before viewing it there. Michael is told about a mysterious new game & calls to order it. He doesn’t have much luck when trying to get it so he doesn’t really give it much thought after that. Until it randomly shows up at his house without him ever giving out that information to the company. He gives in to temptation & gives it a shot. It’s the most realistic game he’s ever played & the murder felt so real. The next day while trying to visit Kimberly, he sees the exact crime he committed on the game on the news. He freaks out & leaves right away. He checks out the scene of the crime & runs into Detective Hayden (played by: Frank Langella from Dracula, Masters of the Universe, The Box, & Superman Returns). Trickster (played by: T. Ryder Smith from Nocturne, The Venture Bros., & American Experience) appears & tells Michael he must finish the game. He tells him that he has to kill the only witness. Michael doesn’t believe it’s real & tries to figure out the horrible situation by playing some more of Brainscan! This leads to nothing but destruction & regret as Michael struggles to deal with his new reality. How can he escape this deadly trap? Is he really killing them? or Is it the Trickster who’s playing mind games with him? Entertainment has never been this dangerous!!!!
Brainscan had potential to be the next big horror franchise! It took advantage of the new technology at the time & Trickster was such a cool villain with so much charisma. The concept was pretty creative & it could have went various different directions in later sequels on how it was set it up. What happened? It’s a real shame it all stopped with this one feature. The special effects were great in this but the visual effects are beyond dated compared to these days. They definitely look silly but at the time this was made they were considered the highest quality. Technology has drastically changed since 1994 & it shows here. It kinda just reminds you of that specific year & brings you back for a little bit with this viewing experience. One of the best things about this production was the music. It had an awesome line up of featured bands for the soundtrack & the unforgettable score by George S. Clinton. Edward Furlong gives one of his best performances of his career & veteran actor Frank Langella elevates everything that he’s in. Brainscan is very entertaining & fun, it represents the early 90s to the fullest. It’s a great reminder of what horror used to be like back then.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer is definitely a upgrade compared to the old OOP DVD release from Sony Pictures that I’ve owned for a long time now. Everything shows up in great detail & it actually makes some of the dated visual effects look a little silly but it adds to the nostalgia so it works. This is the best that Brainscan has ever looked on home video! The English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA track is very clean & it’s also an improvement from all the previous releases. The true highlight is the music is this feature! The soundtrack is great & the top notch score from George S. Clinton (Austin Powers trilogy, Mortal Kombat, Hellbound, & American Ninja 2/3). It’s one of my personal favorite scores of all time in the horror genre. It has a Twin Peaks meets A Nightmare on Elm Street vibe to it. It also has English subtitles. Very impressed with this Scream Factory & Sony Pictures collaboration so far, looking forward to the next release!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features on this blu ray disc! “Audio Commentary” with assistant to the director Tara Georges Flynn moderated by Red Shirt Pictures own Michael Felsher. He is the son of director John Flynn. He talks about traveling a decent amount during his childhood. He says he meet & seen some big stars while on set for some of his father’s films. He brings up being an extra in a few of them. He mentions some of his jobs in the movie industry. He chats about filming in Canada & making it look like New Jersey. He talks about the cast & crew for the production. He brings up the effects for the film. They talk about John being unfamiliar with the horror genre & stepping in new territory with this project. They mention it’s one of the first experiences where he didn’t have a huge star as his lead. He talks about working with Edward Furlong & hanging out with him at a concert. He talks about the visual style & look of Brainscan. They chat about the visual effects & using them for the first time. He talks about his overall experience on Brainscan. He mentions all of his dad’s other projects & goes over his career, They bring up the music for the feature. He brings up that Quentin Tarantino was a huge fan of his father & always considered him an influence. They talk about it’s theatrical release & how it was received by critics. There’s never a dull moment here & the conversation keeps flowing the whole time. Tara Georges Flynn is very knowledgeable & passionate about his father’s work. “A Virtual Debut” is a little over 14 minute interview with screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker. He talks about the relationship between the two main characters. He says he was making lower budget stuff than Troma at the time. He brings up how he got the opportunity for this & his experience with the project. He mentions that his parents let him take time off work to write this script. He talks about the original screenplay didn’t have Trickster character in it. It was just a voice but it was re-written & changed when it got filmed. He said he had no clue this was being made until he seen the trailer which had his name on it. “Talking With Trickster” is an almost 14 minute interview with actor & villain T. Ryder Smith. He talks about being a theatre actor helped him get the role. He chats about working with the director John Flynn & lead actor Edward Furlong. He says the original look for his character was much different than the final version seen in the film. He said they tried several different looks for Trickster.
He mentions the long process of the special effects make up for this role. He chats about his overall experience with Brainscan & brings up seeing it when it hit the big screen. “Merging Realities” is 19 minutes & it covers the special effects in the film. It has interviews with supervisor Steve Johnson, artists Andy Schoneberg & Mike Smithson. They talk about this being the end of the glory days & digital taking over. They say Trickster look is based off Keith Richards. They talk about the character had a different look before filming. They talk about it being earlier interaction between practical & digital effects. They bring up a creature that was scrapped from the final cut & it has behind the scenes footage for it. They joke about getting interrogated about their work in this film. The producers were trying to save $50 avoiding the issue & the permit mistake ended up costing them $30,000 after it was done. After getting out of jail they went straight to the strip club. They chat about their experience on the production & working with T. Ryder Smith. “Musical Virtuosity” is a little over 11 minute interview with composer George S. Clinton. He says Cheech & Chong got him into making music for films. He talks about how he got the gig for this. He mentions that he’s picky about what horror work he does. He brings up his technique & motivations for the score. He says he didn’t really deal with the Trickster character. He was mainly covered by the soundtrack. He jokes about trying to sneak his own original song under a fake name on the actual soundtrack but the producers turned it down right away. He talks about revisiting the feature before this interview & he’s glad the music still holds up after all these years. Archival “Trickin’ With Trickster” is a little over 5 minutes & it has behind the scenes footage from the production. A rare “Deleted Scene”. “Behind-The-Scenes Footage” is almost 8 minutes & it gives you more of an inside look from the film. Last but not least, it has all kinds of promotional material for Brainscan which include a “Teaser Trailer”, “Theatrical Trailer”, “TV Spot”, “Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery”, & “Still Gallery”. I am actually surprised this wasn’t labeled as a “Collector’s Edition” because it has a good amount of extras on it! I am so glad this film finally got the proper treatment it deserved from Scream Factory & it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, It’s available in two weeks, check it out!!!!
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART 2 COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Return of the Living Dead Part II is a 1988 horror comedy written & directed by Ken Wiederhorn (Shock Waves, Eyes of a Stranger, Dark Tower, & Freddy’s Nightmares). It’s a sequel to the original 1985 film.& it’s followed by 3 other sequels for the Return of the Living Dead franchise. A military truck is transporting barrels of Trioxin, when one breaks loose & falls into a river without the driver (played by: Troy Fromin from Phantasm II, Monster High, Class of Nuke ‘Em High 2/3, & Saved by the Bell) noticing. A group of boys which include Jesse Wilson (played by: Michael Kenworthy from The Blob), Billy (played by: Thor Van Lingen), & Johnny (played by: Jason Hogan) go to a mausoleum in a cemetery. They find a Trioxin barrel & open it. The bullies lock up & trap Jesse in the mausoleum because he starts talking about contacting the army about the mysterious item that they all found. Grave robbers Ed (played by: James Karen from The Return of the Living Dead, The Unborn, Poltergeist, Mulholland Drive, & Wall Street) & Joey (played by: Thom Mathews from Mean Guns, The Return of the Living Dead, Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, Crazy Six, & Dangerously Close) with Brenda (played by: Suzanne Snyder from Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Night of the Creeps, Weird Science, & The Night Before) as the look out go to the cemetery to make some quick cash. They run into the terrified Jesse & he escapes from the mausoleum. It starts to rain & the Trioxin spreads across the location. Jesse comes back home & his older sister Lucy (played by: Marsha Dietlein from Only You, Rumpelstiltskin, Boiler Room, & Little Children) orders him to do homework right away. Tom (played by: Dana Ashbrook from Twin Peaks, Fire Walk with Me, Waxwork, & Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat), the cable guy arrives hours late to install their new upgrade & ends up in a situation that he didn’t expect! Ed, Joey, & Brenda are surrounded by the resurrected corpses (various roles played by: Brian Peck from Return of the Living Dead 1/3, Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, & Angel 4: Undercover) of their local community. The whole town starts to get invaded by the zombies which includes Tarman (played by: Allan Trautman from The Return of the Living Dead, Dinosaurs, Muppets Tonight, & Unhappily Ever After) & no one is safe now! Those 3 end up running into Jesse, Lucy, & Tom after surviving the legion of the undead. They go to local Doc Mandel (played by: Philip Bruns from The Stunt Man, Flashdance, The Out of Towners, & Silent Night, Bloody Night) for help with all of this chaos. The military lead by the Colonel (played by: Jonathan Terry from The Return of the Living Dead, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, & Against All Odds) with dedicated soldiers like Sarge (played by: Mitch Pileggi from Shocker, The X-Files, Sons of Anarchy, Three O’Clock High, & Vampire in Brooklyn) try to make this all go away quietly without the rest of the world knowing about it. This band of unlikely heroes must face both the government & living corpses to make it out alive in this crazy battle!!!!
Return of the Living Dead Part II is one of the most misunderstood sequels in horror history! It has enough connections to the original to satisfy fans but honestly besides a few things it’s a completely different film compared to the original. If you are expecting a clone of the 1985 feature then you will most likely be pretty disappointed with this. At the time, horror comedy was a rare & barely used sub genre. It wasn’t popular at all back then. These days it’s actually gets more attention than normal horror flicks which is crazy. It doesn’t go for dark humor like most in the genre. It has a campy & slapstick vibe to it. Also, this follow up is very kids friendly & it was basically a PG-13 feature besides a few scenes. It had no nudity & the language was toned down so much in this. The lead character & villain are both played by kids. The biggest fail when it comes to this production is the marketing because it honestly didn’t know what it wanted to be & it ended up confusing everyone when it was advertised. It was great to see some familiar faces in this. A decent amount of the original cast returned for this sequel & that was a nice addition. The special effects for Return of the Living Dead Part II are top notch & it’s pure 80’s horror! That’s the highlight from this whole experience & I love the different variety of zombies here. Not as good as the first one but it also had a killer soundtrack & score. Thanks to the amazing folks at Scream Factory, it’s been resurrected for the first time on home video since VHS!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This 1080p transfer in it’s original aspect ratio (1.85:1) is a new 2K scan from the original interpositive. It’s a HUGE upgrade & major improvement over all the previous home video releases. This collaboration with Warner Bros is really paying off & we are getting some great blu rays from it. It’s always been a soft looking film with the foggy style cinematography but everything shows up in great detail here. You get two different audio options for this DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track. The more generic alternative score & soundtrack that caused mass controversy from the original DVD release. The BEST part about this is definitely the original soundtrack & score being brought back after being changed due to rights issues on the previous release. I haven’t heard it since the 80s & it was awesome to revisit after all these years. It also includes English subtitles.
Let’s talk about this LOADED collector’s edition from Scream Factory! “Audio Commentary” with actress Suzanne Snyder moderated by More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead producer Michael Perez. She talks about why she dyed her hair red for this role. She says she doesn’t really like horror movies or watching herself on screen. She chats about the cast from the feature. She gives her opinion on the original film. They point out the various zombies that Brian Peck played in this. She talks about her character & tells some stories about the production. They chat about the special effects. She mentions her experience working with director Ken Wiederhorn. They talk about the controversy of most of the original cast not being asked back to be in this sequel. She brings up the wrap party & that she was excited about it hitting the big screen everywhere. She chats about some of her other projects & what she thought about the final product of this sequel. She brings up doing conventions & meeting fans because of this. “Audio Commentary” # 2 with The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead author Gary Smart & filmmaker Christopher Griffiths. They talk about this sequel having a total different tone than the original & going for more of a slapstick comedy approach. They chat about the entire franchise & compare the films to each other. They bring up that various original cast members wrote their own scripts for a possible follow up. They mention all the actors that came back for this sequel. They bring up other horror franchises that had follow ups that were nothing like the original. They chat about producer Tom Fox & what he did with the rights for the series. They bring up Kenny Myers & the special effects. They talk about some connections between this & the first movie. They start talking about the zombie genre & bring up various examples. “Audio Commentary” # 3 with writer/director Ken Wiederhorn & actor Thor Van Lingen. Ken Wiederhorn says there’s so much confusion with the titles on this. Thor Van Lingen says this was his only acting role & tells the story on how he got involved in this production. Ken Wiederhorn explains how he got attached to this sequel. He brings up that his original script had nothing to do with the franchise. He mentions the restrictions on working with kids. They chat about the actors used in this feature. They say horror & comedy together was a suicide mission. They bring up that the studio didn’t know how to properly market & promote it when it was released. Ken Wiederhorn talks about being so impressed with Kenny Myers work on the original film that he hired him for this sequel without any hesitation. Thor Van Lingen chats about his experience with his zombie make up on here. They mention how the music was changed for the DVD home video release.
They mention some of the locations used in this. They talk about this film could have easily been PG-13 with a few words changed. Ken Wiederhorn brings up that the execution sequence cost $50,000 to do. This track is very scene specific & they discuss what’s in front of them most of the time. “Back to the Dead: The Effects of Return of the Living Dead Part II” is 25 minutes. It interviews effects creator Kenny Myers, effects artists Andy Schoneberg & Mike Smithson. Kenny Myers said he went to school for theatrical design originally. He chats about all the differences between the original & this follow up. They talk about it being more family friendly & comedic. They mention only 6 actors played all the zombies in the feature. They joke & talks about Myers doing the voice for one of the zombies. They say it was shot at the same location as The Fog. Kenny Myers brings up that he is disappointed that he changed the Tarman so much in this. It also has some behind the scenes footage from the set on here. They all bring up they wish it was more serious rather than funny. “The Laughing Dead” is a little over 19 minute interview with writer/director Ken Wiederhorn. He talks about not really making the films he wanted & somehow falling into the horror genre. He brings up his Meatballs 2 experience & he says his script for that had nothing to do with the first film. He mentions the rough shooting schedule & restrictions working with children. He tells a few stories about some disasters that took place during the production. He talks about the cast & crew for this feature. He says Kenny Myers originally thought he was making a joke out of his effects & didn’t realize that it going to have such a strong comedic tone to it. He brings up that the studio had no clue on how to market this sequel & they blew it. He says that he turned down all kinds of horror projects after this & decided to direct television instead. “Undead Melodies” is an almost 13 minute interview with composer J. Peter Robinson. He talks about how he got started & inspired to do music for films. He chats about his first few gigs in the industry. He brings up that he replaced someone for Return of the Living Dead Part II.He talks about his techniques & his approach for the mixed tone of the production. He tells what equipment he used for the score & the lack of time he had to finish it. “ROTLD2: Extravaganza!” is a 2 minute interview with actor Troy Fromin. He says he started out mainly doing extra roles but he really wanted to be in a horror film.
He gets pretty excited talking about his experience on this film. He mentions since he brought in so many extras he got the opportunity to play the army trucker in the beginning that starts this whole mess! “They Won’t Stay Dead: A Look at RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD II” is almost 30 minutes & it was originally featured on the More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead release. It features interviews with James Karen, Thom Matthews, Brian Peck, Kenny Myers, Susan Snyder, Michael Kenworthy, Allan Trautman, Linnea Quigley, & various cast/crew members. They mention that Dan O’Bannon & Tom Fox didn’t get along so that’s probably why he didn’t return for this sequel. They are all pretty negative about the script for this follow up. Most of the original cast mention they were supposed to be in this but out of no where Part II was done without much warning. New cast members talk about their characters in this. They bring up the special effects & Brian Peck discusses the various zombies he played here. They mention the return of Tarman & the different look compared to the original. The director & producers didn’t want to include the Michael Jackson zombie in it at first. They were bring up that Ken Wiederhorn was miserable during filming & didn’t seem like he wanted to be there. Lots of mixed feelings about the finished product of this feature. “Live from the Set” is a little over 5 minute featurette. It shows various clips. It has brief interviews with writer/director Ken Wiederhorn, actors James Karen, Thom Matthews, & special effects artists. “Vintage Interviews” is almost 3 minutes & it’s with writer/director Ken Wiederhorn, actors James Karen, Thom Matthews & effects creator Kenny Myers. It’s basically extended chats from the previous extra. “Behind the Scenes footage” is a little over 4 minutes & it focuses on the special effects plus some filming. Last but not least, you get various promotional material for the film which include “Theatrical Trailer”, “Teaser Trailer”, “TV Spots”, “Still Gallery of posters & stills”, & a “Still Gallery of Behind-the-Scenes stills from Makeup Effects artists Kenny Myers & Mike Smithson”. It also comes with a slipcover & reversible artwork. HOLY SHIT!!!! This is definitely my lead candidate for release of the year right now. It’s beyond packed with extras. You could spend all day on this blu ray & be entertained. This comes out Tuesday & it’s available everywhere. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
GRAVE ROBBERS BLU RAY REVIEW (VINEGAR SYNDROME)
I’ve never heard of Grave Robbers until Vinegar Syndrome announced it for blu ray. The story & concept grabbed my attention right away. I had low expectations but I was pretty excited to check it out to be honest. It ended up being so much better than I thought it would be! This lower budget film is full of entertainment & it gets really dark. Necrophilia is a subject that surprisingly doesn’t get covered much in cinema when it comes to horror. Most people would probably say it’s going too far & pushing the limits but I disagree. Everyone has the right to make whatever they want when it comes to film. In the late 80s, they were pumping out so many horror films for the home video market that smaller stuff like this got lost in the mix. It has some funny moments especially all the weird people in this but for the most part it’s more serious in tone & kinda fucked up. For what they had to work with, the special effects were very impressive on this production. There’s some memorable gruesome stuff in this. It’s definitely the highlight here. Also, one of my favorite things about this feature was the music for it. The score & the soundtrack were a nice mix. It had some solid twists & turns to keep you on your toes while viewing it. The ending kinda throws you for a loop. I didn’t expect that at all. If you are looking for something new to check out for 80s horror, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this title & release from Vinegar Syndrome!!!!
THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD BLU RAY REVIEW (VINEGAR SYNDROME)
The House of the Dead (aKa Alien Zone, Last Stop on 13th St., Five Faces of Terror, & Zone of the Dead) is a 1986 horror anthology directed by Sharron Miller (This Is the Life, Cagney & Lacey, L.A. Law, & Little Girl Lost). Talmudge (played by: John Ericson from The Money Jungle, The Destructors, Heads or Tails, & The Dirty Half Dozen) is having a secret affair with Marie (played by: Leslie Paxton from The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice & American Playhouse). Both are married, just not to each other. Talmudge leaves early to avoid getting caught. He gets dropped off at the wrong street after trying to get back to his hotel. Stuck in the rain, he takes an invite to take shelter for awhile from a mysterious old man who turns out to be a mortician (played by: Ivor Francis from Dusty’s Trail, Room 222, & Dark Shadows). He tells him 4 different stories about his current clients. Miss Sibiler (played by: Judith Novgrod from Nightwing & Bare Knuckles) is a teacher that didn’t like children.
She was a very unhappy person & treated the people around her bad. Karma finally catches up to her when she gets 3 unlikely visors under creepy Halloween masks. Growski (played by: Burr DeBenning from Freddy’s Nightmares, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, The Game, & The Incredible Melting Man) is a serial killer who likes to videotape his victims & his murderous experience with them. Two of the the world’s best criminologists Detective Malcolm Toliver (played by: Charles Aidman from Countdown, Uncommon Valor, & The Twilight Zone) & Inspector McDowal (played by: Bernard Fox from Titanic, The Mummy, & Yellowbeard) are investigating the same murder. It’s a battle of the wits when both find out some unexpected information about each other. Cantwell (played by: Richard Gates from The Kentucky Fried Movie, Hang ‘Em High, & The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Chinese Junk) is a egoistical office worker who hates society & isolates himself from everyone. He gets trapped in an abandoned location full of dangerous games. Talmudge finds out more about himself & what he’s done after The Mortician is done with 4 tales of terror!!!!
I thought I’ve seen every 80s horror anthology until Vinegar Syndrome announced this! Somehow this one slipped by me back in the day & I have a strong feeling that I wasn’t the only one. That’s why I love this label so much! They resurrect forgotten or barely known features to the public. I’ve discovered so many cool flicks through them & I appreciate their top notch restoration work. The House of the Dead actually has some pretty creative stories & concepts for it’s time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Saw creators watched this & got inspired by the 4th tale here when writing their own film. It’s put together very nicely & most of the segments were pretty good to be honest. Tale # 2 had the most potential & it could have been amazing based off the idea alone but it fell flat on it’s face here. It’s the weakest link out of the whole thing & that’s a real shame. That was the only one I was really disappointed in, I enjoyed Tale # 1 & # 3 the most out of the production. Those two could have been easily turned into full length features. It had a nice variety to it & it featured a little bit of everything in it. Hopefully, it gets a brand new audience & following after this release. I thought it had solid characters & great replay value to it, definitely RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features from Vinegar Syndrome! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is taken from a 2K scan of the original 35mm camera negatives. It blows away the previous VHS & cheap Mill Creek releases. There’s no question that this is the best that The House of the Dead is ever going to look on home video & I was very impressed by Vinegar Syndrome’s work on this. For a basically forgotten late 80s flick it got some amazing treatment here. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track is very clean & it’s also a major upgrade from anything released before! It also includes English SDH subtitles. It has an almost 22 minute “Audio Interview” with director Sharron Miller. She talks about originally getting The House of the Dead after a failed pitch of another project. She goes into detail about the origins of the feature. She chats about casting & the actors used in the production. She wasn’t a big fan of the horror genre but took the gig regardless to work. After that, you get an almost 26 minute “Audio Interview” with screenwriter David O’Malley. He says he worked with Rod Serling on a project & this was his attempt at a Twilight Zone style film. He talks about being in the film & his experience working with the director. He mentions that the film was recut & changed by the distributor. Last but not least, you get a little over a minute “Still Gallery”. It also reversible artwork & a DVD copy of the release. A limited edition version with a slipcover is available at the Vinegar Syndrome store.
PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Piranha II: The Spawning (aKa The Spawning & Piranha II: Flying Killers) is a 1981 horror film directed by James Cameron (The Terminator 1/2, Aliens, The Abyss, & True Lies) in his theatrical feature film directorial debut. James Cameron was originally hired as the special effects director for this film & took over for original director Miller Drake (Visual effects editor for Terminator 2, Last Action Hero, Batman Forever, & Men in Black II). He had no creative control over this production. James Cameron was fired after almost 3 weeks of shooting were done & producer Ovidio G. Assonitis (Beyond the Door, Madhouse, & Tentacles) finished directing the rest of the feature. They kept his name attached as the director because they wanted to sell it to American audiences. Due to it’s very low budget & cutting costs, Lance Henriksen had to pay for his own wardrobe for this film. It’s a follow up to 1978’s Piranha. The Piranha franchise has spawned 3 other films since this sequel. Which includes two different remakes & a follow up to one of them.
A group of tourists including Tyler Sherman (played by: Steve Marachuk from Eyes of Laura Mars, Waikiki , & Hot Target) are taking the diving courses provided by Anne Kimbrough (played by: Tricia O’Neil from The Gumball Rally & Are You in the House Alone?) from the Hotel Elysium. One of her divers goes missing & ends up being found mutilated. Anne’s husband, Steve Kimbrough (played by: Lance Henriksen from Alien franchise, Pumpkinhead franchise, Near Dark, & Hard Target) doesn’t believe what his wife is trying to tell him. He’s the local police chief & has to investigate this mysterious death. Other strange events & kills occur around town. Anne hooks up with stranger Tyler but she finds out why is here. He informs her about the experiments & the deadly fish that are causing all this chaos. Raoul (played by: Ted Richert from Porky’s II: The Next Day & Eyes of a Stranger) refuses to close down the hotel & stop the dives. He fires Anne after she says she won’t do it with all this dangerous out there. Gabby (played by: Ancile Gloudon from Passion and Paradise, Undue Influence, & Wide Sargasso Sea) provides proof to convince Steve about their disastrous situation! The locals & tourists are falling into a fatal trap due to Raoul’s greed. Anne & Steve’s own son Chris (played by: Ricky Paull Goldin from The Blob, Mirror Mirror, Pastime, & Lambada) gets a job on the water to spend more time with Allison Dumont (played by: Leslie Graves from Death Wish II & Here We Go Again) against their wishes. Now they must save the town & their family from these flesh ripping monsters that can fly!!!!
Considering it’s troubled history, I am not surprised that director James Cameron isn’t a big fan of this sequel. He was basically a gun for hire & got fired before he could even finish the project. However, I personally have always enjoyed this follow up to the original Piranha. The addition of making them fly was a smart choice & the fish became bigger killing machines than before! This sequel is full of murder & I honestly lost count how many people died in this which is a great thing for type of feature. It’s loaded with gore & it has those awesome practical special effects that I miss so much in the genre. It has some real brutal moments in this! The opening was a fun reminder of what horror films used to be. No one really does that anymore, it’s very effective to start out with something like that. It stays with you through out the whole experience. Plus it’s always good to see horror icon Lance Henriksen in a lead role. Besides him, I wasn’t really impressed with the cast. It seemed like they went for whoever & didn’t really put much effort into it. This production is non stop entertainment so it makes up for the poor acting choices here. It’s better than your typical Jaws rip off. I think it’s very under-rated & it’s one of the better killer animal flicks around!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory. This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is from a new 2K scan from the original camera negative. It’s a major improvement from every previous home video release from before & I’ve viewed/owned most of them. It’s great to see this sequel get some proper treatment in HD because I never thought I’d experience it to look this good! The DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono track is very solid but it’s not going roar in your home system or anything like that. The dialogue is clean & the score actually shines the most on here. It’s still a huge upgrade from all the older releases. It also has English subtitles. I am excited about this new partnership with Scream Factory & Sony Pictures! I am looking forward to their future collaborations!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features on this blu ray disc. It has an almost 16 minute “Interview” with actor Ricky Paull Goldin. He talks about being excited to get out of school to film this at a nice location. He chats about working with director James Cameron & actor Lance Henriksen. He brings up his overall experience on the production. He also mentions they filmed two completely different versions of this feature. One for America & a sexier cut for overseas. It has a little over 14 minute “Interview” with special effects artist Brian Wade. He says he is proud to have worked on James Cameron’s theatrical feature film directorial debut. He brings up that he was a fan of the original film. He talks about his experience on the feature. He jokes about the flying fish. He says the special effects in this range from gruesome to silly. He discusses the film’s ending. Last but not least, it has the Theatrical Trailer. It also has reversible artwork. It’s available everywhere right now & it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME! BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Someone’s Watching Me! (aKa High Rise) is a 1978 television horror film written & directed by John Carpenter (In the Mouth of Madness, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Starman, & Christine). NBC promoted it as a “Tales of the Unexpected special” implying that the film was related to the 1977 NBC television series “Quinn Martin’s Tales of the Unexpected” but it had no connection to that show. It first aired on NBC on November 29, 1978. John Carpenter was nominated for the 1979 Edgar Award of Best Television Feature or Miniseries for the film. It was referenced as “the lost Carpenter film” for many years considering it didn’t get a home video release until 2007!
A woman named Leigh Michaels (played by: Lauren Hutton from American Gigolo, Once Bitten, Fear, & 54) moves to Los Angeles after a bad break up. She finds a new job directing live television. She becomes friends with her new co-worker Sophie (played by: Adrienne Barbeau from The Fog, Escape from New York, Swamp Thing, & Creepshow) & meets a man named Paul Winkless (played by: David Birney from Tomorrow’s a Killer, Nightfall, The Long Journey Home, & Night of the Fox). She thinks things are starting to get better in her life with all these changes & new surroundings but she was wrong! A stranger is stalking her & watching her every move from near by. She gets weird phone calls & random gifts from the obsessed psycho. She goes to the police to report the harassment but Detective Gary Hunt (played by: Charles Cyphers from from Halloween 1/2, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, & Death Wish 2) says they can’t do anything since no threat was made. She takes matters in her own hands & plays a dangerous game with her biggest fan. Can she outsmart & stop this madness before it goes too far?
Someone’s Watching Me! is one of the most forgotten films that the master of horror John Carpenter directed in his career. It took almost 30 years for it to get an actual home video release here. So if you didn’t see it when it originally aired on television back in the day then you probably didn’t know it existed! This feature is more psychological than anything. Since it was a made for TV film, it’s a very tame effort & it doesn’t show much when it comes to violence. It’s built for suspense & thrills, it’s one of those productions you use your imagination to go deeper into it. It’s more thought provoking rather than visual. It’s clearly influenced by Hitchcock & it has a Rear Window vibe to it. It’s pretty cool to see what Carpenter was doing before he truly learned his craft & style with film making. He was more raw & experimental while directing this but you can clearly see his beginnings from how this was shot. It’s not his best work by any means but it’s one of the better horror television films made & it’s nice to see it get new life on this blu ray!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This new 1080p transfer from a 2K scan from the interpositive has two different viewing options 1.33:1 & 1.85:1 which is very cool! It looks great for a late 70s made for TV film. It’s a huge upgrade over the 2007 DVD from Warner Bros. It has two different audio options which include English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono & English: Dolby Digital 2.0 on this blu ray disc. Just like the picture quality on here, the sound is a major improvement from the previous home video release. I am very impressed with the treatment this little known feature got from Scream Factory on this new release. It also has English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this disc from Scream Factory. Audio Commentary With Are You In The House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999 author Amanda Reyes. She gives a brief history & various facts about director John Carpenter. She goes into great detail about made for television films. She chats about the cast & she has plenty of information about them. She definitely knows her stuff about television movies & there’s non stop facts through out the whole track. “Adrienne Barbeau: Looking Back at Someone’s Watching Me!” is a little over 10 minute interview with the iconic actress & former wife of John Carpenter. She talks about first hearing about the director & getting the role. She talks about her character being a lesbian & that was a big deal for the late 70s on TV. She chats about this rarely being seen & not getting much exposure besides it’s one night premier. She says she learned a decent amount from this experience & talks a little about her relationship with Carpenter. “Carpenter’s Enforcer – An Interview With Charles Cyphers on His Career in John Carpenter’s Films” is an almost 10 minute interview with the Carpenter regular. The actor talks about meeting John Carpenter for the first time. He chats about working on other projects with the master of horror. He mentions the progression of director on each production. He goes into great detail about his experiences on them. He says he is surprised at the reactions he gets at horror conventions & he loves doing them.
“Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – A Look at the Film’s Locations Today” is a little over 7 minutes & it was a nice surprise because it wasn’t listed on the back of the artwork. Sean Clark returns with another entertaining look at all the locations used in this television feature from the late 70s. He also points out stuff used in They Live & Nick of Time. “John Carpenter: Director Rising” is a 6 minute interview with the legendary director & it’s carried over from the original 2007 DVD release. He talks about starting out as a screenwriter. He mentions this was his first real big opportunity when it came to directing. He chats about the cast & crew for the production. He brings up doing Halloween two weeks after finishing this. It says this influenced the iconic film. Last but not least, it includes promotional materials like various TV Spots & a Still Gallery. One of the most rarely seen films from John Carpenter finally gets some love & it’s definitely worth adding to your collection. It’s great to see Scream Factory go into the vaults of Warner Bros & resurrect some of their back catalog. Hopefully, all of the films that were in the previous Twisted Terror DVD box set will get upgraded to high definition soon! It’s available everywhere right now, RECOMMENDED for John Carpenter, Adrienne Barbeau, Television Horror, & Suspense Thrillers fans!!!!
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
In the Mouth of Madness is a 1994 horror film scored & directed by John Carpenter (Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Someone’s Watching Me!, Body Bags, & Big Trouble in Little China). It’s the final installment for the Apocalypse Trilogy which includes The Thing & Prince of Darkness. Originally it was announced & developed in 1989. John Carpenter turned down the project at first. The two other choices to direct after that were Tony Randel (Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Amityville 1992: It’s About Time, & Ticks) & Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary 1/2 & Urban Legends: Bloody Mary) but the film didn’t get made until many years later with the master of horror deciding to give In the Mouth of Madness a chance after saying no when it was offered to him a long time ago. The feature plays homage to horror authors H. P. Lovecraft & Stephen King. It barely made it’s budget back at the box office.
After disastrous events, Dr. Wrenn (played by: David Warner from The Omen, Waxwork, The Company of Wolves, & The Island) visits John Trent (played by: Sam Neill from The Final Conflict: Omen III, Dead Calm, The Hunt for Red October, & The Piano) at a psychiatric hospital. Trent is a freelance insurance investigator & he’s offered a job looking for the missing horror author Sutter Cane (played by: Jürgen Prochnow from Das Boot, Dune, The Keep, & Beverly Hills Cop II) plus recovering the manuscript for his final novel by Arcane Publishing director Jackson Harglow (played by: Charlton Heston from The Omega Man, Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Ben-Hur, & The Ten Commandments). Cane’s editor Linda Styles (played by: Julie Carmen from Fright Night Part 2, Last Plane Out, & Manhunt: Search for the Night Stalker) is assigned to join John Trent for the investigation. They must find a town called Hobb’s End that’s not even on maps. After dealing with various weird situations, something doesn’t sit right with John Trent. He calls out Linda Styles about the whole thing being a hoax & the publishers just trying to promote Sutter Cane’s upcoming release. She admits it was all fake at first but everything that has happened in this mysterious town was very real & they had nothing to do with it. John Trent finds Sutter Cane & it changes his life forever. This new novel takes over the reader & turns fantasy into reality. In the Mouth of Madness is corrupting the world & no one can stop it now. Chaos has been set in motion & it’s nothing but delusions taking over from now on.
I might catch some heat for this but I consider In the Mouth of Madness the last great film for the legendary master of horror John Carpenter. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the other features after this like Escape from L.A. & Vampires but they honestly didn’t come close to this. The visuals, the atmosphere, the cast, the writing, the special effects, & the music were all top notch in this. The concept alone for this just grabs your attention & makes you want to check it out. Besides diehard horror fans, I don’t really see this production get brought up that much when it comes to everyone. I know it didn’t do that great during it’s original theatrical run but it stands out. It’s kinda been forgotten by the general public & that’s a shame because as far as horror goes it’s one of the best around from the 90s. It has so many memorable moments & it never gets old even after countless viewings. It’s one of those films that you notice stuff that you missed before & it adds to the excitement of the overall entertainment experience. I’ve owned this on damn every format & I am glad it finally got the proper high definition treatment from Scream Factory!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Scream Factory! This new 1080p (2.35:1) 4K scan of the original film elements completely blows away the old New Line Cinema / Warner Bros blu ray & any other previous home video release. In the Mouth of Madness has never looked this good before, it’s a HUGE upgrade! The English 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is top notch & it sounds fantastic in the home set up. Especially the score & soundtrack for the feature, it’s one of Carpenter’s best. It also has English subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this collector’s edition! “Audio Commentary” # 1 with director John Carpenter & producer Sandy King Carpenter. The married couple talks about this project being the first one that they shot in Canada. They discuss the cast, crew, & locations for the film. They have some great stories about the actors. They mention working with a lower budget on this. They talk about the Stephen King influence in this. It’s more of a scene specific track than anything, they go into detail about what’s in front of them at the time with various facts & information thrown in every once in awhile. “Audio Commentary” # 2 with director John Carpenter & Cinematographer Gary B. Kibbe. The visual team behind the film give their thoughts on the production covering various subjects. John Carpenter talks about this being apart of this Apocalypse trilogy. He goes into detail about the story & concept for the project. Gary B. Kibbe chats about his techniques & visual style for this. They bring up how they shot the special effects & creatures. Non stop conversation on this track & it’s very technical. It’s pretty cool to hear how they put this together visually. I prefer this over the other commentary. “Horror’s Hollowed Grounds” with Sean Clark is a little over 11 minutes. It’s good to see this familiar extra make a return on a Scream Factory release. Various locations used in the film are shown in this. Sean also includes some fun facts & reenacts some scenes. It’s hilarious & very entertaining.
“The Whisperer Of The Dark” is an almost 10 minute interview with actress Julie Carmen. She talks about how she got the role. She says it’s one of her most memorable characters that she’s played. She chats about working with Sam Neill, Jürgen Prochnow, & John Carpenter. She brings up a few scenes that didn’t make the final cut. She says the world is crazy like how this production predicted. “Greg Nicotero’s Things In The Basement” is a little over 16 minute interview with the special effects artist. He talks about going straight from Body Bags to this project. He chats about his appreciation for the master of horror John Carpenter & his experience working with him. He goes into great detail about the special effects & creatures in the film. He covers most of the key moments from the production in this. It has all kinds of behind the scenes footage. “Home Movies From Hobb’s End” is a little over 12 minutes. If you are into behind the scenes footage & a deeper look into the special effects then you will love this extra. Greg Nicotero provides his unreleased home video material from the set of In the Mouth of Madness. “Vintage Featurette: The Making Of In The Mouth Of Madness” is 5 minutes. It has interviews with director John Carpenter, actors Sam Neill, Charlton Heston, Julie Carmen, Jurgen Prochnow, & crew members. It’s a quick overview of the story & the characters featured in the production. Last but not least, you get promotional material which includes the Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots. It has a slipcover & reversible artwork. It’s available everywhere right now & it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Memoirs of an Invisible Man is a 1992 comedy film directed by John Carpenter (Assault on Precinct 13, Someone’s Watching Me!, Prince of Darkness, & In the Mouth of Madness). Ivan Reitman was the original director but backed out due to creative differences with star Chevy Chase. Warner Bros paid $1.35 million for the film rights in 1986. John Carpenter usually put his name before the title but this time he decided not to do that because he knew he didn’t have complete artistic control over this project. This is one of the few productions where he didn’t write & perform the music. The feature basically had to be shot twice due to it’s extensive special effects work.
Nick Halloway (played by: Chevy Chase from Caddyshack franchise, Fletch franchise, Vacation franchise, & Nothing but Trouble) is a stock analyst who spends most of his life avoiding responsibility & connections with other people. At the Academy Club, his friend George Talbot (played by: Michael McKean from Airheads, This Is Spinal Tap, Clue, & Better Call Saul) introduces him to Alice Monroe (played by: Daryl Hannah from Kill Bill, Splash, Wall Street, & Blade Runner). They make plans for Friday after instantly hitting it off. Nick attends a shareholders’ meeting at Magnascopic Laboratories. He gets bored by Dr. Bernard Wachs (played by: Jim Norton from Straw Dogs, American History X, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, & Hidden Agenda) presentation & decides to leave. A lab technician makes a huge mistake & it ends up turning Nick invisible. CIA operative David Jenkins (played by: Sam Neill from Possession, In the Mouth of Madness, Jurassic Park 1/3, & Event Horizon) finds out about his condition. He convinces his boss Warren Singleton (played by: Stephen Tobolowsky from Memento, Spaceballs, Single White Female, & Groundhog Day) not to notify headquarters so they can take credit for this. Nick flees & ends up getting others in trouble for being involved in this accident. Alice thinks Nick stood her up after not coming through on their date. Nick hides out at George’s remote beach house until unexpected company shows up. George, his wife Ellen (played by: Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond, The Middle, Back to You, & Beethoven), Alice, & Richard (played by: Gregory Paul Martin from A Walk in the Clouds & Able Danger) decides to stop by. Nick tells Alice about his odd situation & asks for her help. David Jenkins & his men do anything to track down Nick. They want to use his special talent as a weapon but he wants nothing to do with that. They won’t take no for answer. Can Nick & Alice fight off these relentless agents to get away from all this chaos????
Memoirs of an Invisible Man has kinda been forgotten over the years. It’s not your typical John Carpenter film. He was just a gun for hire on this feature. Usually he had all kinds of jobs on his projects including writing, producing, & doing the music but not with this one. I thought it was great to see the filmmaker do something different compared to his other work. He wasn’t exactly known for comedies but I thought he pulled it off on Memoirs of an Invisible Man. For being 1992, the visual effects were on another level compared to the past. I know seeing them now they might come off as a little dated but you can still appreciate the high quality at the time. This production had a well rounded cast & it really shows here. It’s one of Chevy Chase’s best performances & I think this collaboration with John Carpenter enhanced his acting abilities. He had more range with this role. It’s good to see this get some new life on home video after all these years.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. This 1080p (2.35:1) transfer makes it’s U.S. debut from Scream Factory! One thing that you can always say about Warner Bros as a studio is that they take care of their films. For a early 90s catalog title that’s basically been forgotten this looks way better than expected! It’s a huge upgrade from any other previous home video release. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track adds to the excitement when the action hits in this & elevates it’s score. Both picture & sound hold their own on this brand new blu ray release. I am looking forward to more collaborations between Scream Factory & Warner Bros in the future. It also has English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features provided by Scream Factory. “How to Become Invisible: The Dawn of Digital F/X” is a little over 4 minutes. Various crew members chat about how digital was new at the time & it shows how some of the effects were made. “Vintage Interviews with Director John Carpenter, Actors Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah” is a little over 5 minutes. They all talk about the project. They chat a little bit about each other & getting to work together. It also has some behind the scenes footage. “Behind the Scenes Footage” is a little over 5 minutes. You get to see the master of horror John Carpenter at work. Lots of footage of him directing Chevy Chase plus various other material. 3 minutes of “Outtakes”. It actually has some decent stuff in here. I wish some of this made the final cut for the film. Last but not least, you get promotional material which includes a Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots. It’s not their best work but it’s definitely worth adding to your John Carpenter or Chevy Chase collection. Recommended, it’s available everywhere right now. Check it out!!!!
DAGON BLU RAY REVIEW (VESTRON VIDEO COLLECTOR’S SERIES)
Dagon (aKa Dagon: La Secta del Mar) is a 2001 horror film directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dolls, The Pit and the Pendulum, & Castle Freak). It’s from the same creative team that brought the world Re-Animator which includes writer Dennis Paoli (The Dentist 1/2, Ghoulies II, Body Snatchers, & Meridian) & producer Brian Yuzna (Warlock, The Guyver, Return of the Living Dead III, & Necronomicon: Book of Dead). It’s based off two short stories from H.P. Lovecraft Dagon & The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It took almost 16 years to get made. It was a Spanish co-production with Flmax & it was released theatrically over there.
Stock market tycoon Paul Marsh (played by: Ezra Godden from Band of Brothers, Masters of Horror, & Laura) has a nightmare of a a mermaid with razor sharp teeth. Paul wakes up on his boat off the shores of Spain. He’s on vacation with his girlfriend Barbara (played by: Raquel Meroño from Beneath Still Waters, The Mark, Airbag, & Yo soy Bea) plus their friends Vicki (played by: Birgit Bofarull from The Deal & Second Name) & Howard (played by: Brendan Price from Doctor Who, Target, The Nun, & Exorcismus). A storm causes some problems for the friends so they have to split up. Vicki & Howard are missing, Paul goes to Imboca. He meets a old drunk named Ezequiel (played by: Francisco Rabal from Eye of the Cat, Sorcerer, Lola, & Goya in Bordeaux) there. He tells the stranger about the history of the town. After going around this unfamiliar place trying to find a way to escape Paul runs into Uxia Cambarro (played by: Macarena Gómez from The Horror Network, Witching and Bitching, Shrew’s Nest, & Boy Missing). He is caught so he ends up reunited with Vicki, Ezequiel, & Barbara. He is forced to battle & survive against a village full of Dagon worshipers including a vengeful priest Sacerdote (played by: Ferran Lahoz from The Machinist, Faust, The Lost, & Stigmata). As he gets deeper into this dark universe he starts become seduced by it’s mysterious ways. Can he leave before he’s trapped forever?
Dagon doesn’t really get as much love or notice as the other H.P. Lovecraft adaptations but it definitely stands out on it’s own. I will say it’s a little slower than some of his other material but when it picks up it gets batshit crazy so it’s worth the wait! Producer Brian Yuzna made this film during his Spanish co-production deal with Filmax so it does have that unique style to it. It’s also has a lower budget compared to his previous productions but the cast & crew made up for that in skill. The cinematography is beautiful & the whole look of the production grabs your attention from the start. It has a real dark atmosphere to it. The special effects were well made & used at the right moments during this. Horror fans will be pleased with the nightmarish visuals. Stuart Gordon delivered another quality H.P. Lovecraft film in a different setting. He really shows off his talent because he didn’t have any of the same crew or cast as the others that elevated those features from it’s surroundings. It’s also more straight forward & true to the original source material compared to previous version with more comedy & camp added to them. Recommended to any Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, H.P. Lovecraft, Spanish, & Fish horror fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer blows away the previous 2002 DVD release! It has so much going on visually & the atmosphere is top notch. It won’t be one of your reference quality discs when it comes to your collection but it’s a huge upgrade from before. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track helps move along the excitement & thrills from the feature. It’s also an improvement from the other U.S. release. Dagon got amazing treatment for being such a small film on this brand new blu ray. It includes English SDH & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Lionsgate on this Vestron Video release! Audio Commentary with director Stuart Gordon & screenwriter Dennis Paoli. They talk about the two short stories from H.P. Lovecraft that inspired this feature. They bring up that the original outline for this was written in 1985 & it was supposed to originally follow Re-Animator instead of From Beyond. They mention some of the ideas that were changed from the first draft of the script from back in the day. They go into detail about the characters & screenplay for this production. They chat about the cast & crew for Dagon. They talk about the bad weather conditions when they were filming this. They bring up how little music is used in this feature. They talk about the transformation that the main character Paul goes through during this production. Audio Commentary # 2 with with director Stuart Gordon & lead actor Ezra Godden. Stuart Gordon jokes that Ezra Godden’s real voice sounds nothing like him in the film. They talk about stunt performers refusing to work in the weather but no one else had a problem with it. Stuart Gordon says this is the wettest movie ever made. Ezra Godden chats about his character in this. He talks about how he worked with actors that didn’t speak the same language as him. They joke about their experience on the film. They bring up the special effects for it. It’s really different from the previous audio track so it’s cool to have an alternative option for this film. They have fun at the end & say they are doing a Dagon 2 sequel. “Gods & Monsters” is a little over 22 minute interview with director Stuart Gordan with filmmaker Mick Garris. Gordan says this is version of the Little Mermaid as he jokes around. He talks about how he translates H.P. Lovecraft’s work so well on screen. He says no one in America including Charles Band wanted to produce Dagon that’s why it became a Spanish production. He brings up the locations & the rough shooting conditions. He chats about working with a Spanish cast & crew. He brings up one of his favorite memories from the whole experience. Stuart Gordan jokes that H.P. Lovecraft wouldn’t have liked him in real life. He mentions his work on Masters of Horror with it’s creator.
“Shadows Over Imboca” is an almost 20 minute interview with producer Briam Yuzna. He says they originally wanted to use the same cast as Re-Animator for this back in the day. He mentions that no major studio wanted to do a film about Fish People & they struggled to get this project made for a long time. He got this made by promising Bride of Re-Animator. He mentions barely showing the monster here. He goes into financing & using foreign actors. He says Dagon was misunderstood during it’s release & it’s the most faithful Lovecraft adaptation. “Fish Stories”is a 18 minute interview with I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft author S.T. Joshi. He says Lovecraft loved the ocean but he hated seafood. He gives a brief history of the original short story that inspired the feature. He brings up the other short story that was included in this production. He talks about the change of setting from the original source material. He says the director took a more serious approach to this compared to his other adaptations. He mentions how Lovecraft hasn’t had a mainstream film made yet. He brings up that the author wasn’t a big fan of a cinema back then. A little over 21 minutes of “Archival Interviews” with director Stuart Gordon, producer Julio Fernández, actress Raquel Meroño, lead actor Ezra Godden, & actor Francisco Rabal. They all talk about their experience on Dagon. It also shows behind the scenes footage. Some of the actors are not speaking English so they are subtitled. 27 minute “Vintage EPK Featurette”. It features interviews with director Stuart Gordon, lead actor Ezra Godden, actress Macarena Gómez, & actress Raquel Meroño. They go into detail about their work on this film & cover various subjects about the project. 9 minutes of ” Conceptual Art Gallery” from artist Richard Raaphorst. 9 minutes of “Still Gallery” featuring various photos from the film. Last but not last, you get a “Theatrical Trailer” for Dagon. It also comes with a limited edition slipcover. Lionsgate once again KILLS it with this Vestron Video line, this release is LOADED! It’s available everywhere this Tuesday, check it out!!!!
BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR BLU RAY REVIEW (VESTRON VIDEO COLLECTOR’S SERIES)
Beyond Re-Animator is a 2003 horror film produced & directed by Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead III, The Dentist 1/2, & Society). It’s the 3rd installment in the Re-Animator franchise. It follows the original & Bride of Re-Animator. It was a Spanish co-production. It premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel. For the past 13 years, Dr. Herbert West (played by: Jeffrey Combs from the Re-Animator franchise, House on Haunted Hill/Return to House on Haunted Hill, Feardotcom, & I Still Know What You Did Last Summer) has been serving a prison sentence due to a murder at the hands of one of his zombies. Due to limited resources & being watched all the time. He’s only been capable of performing only extremely basic experiments on rats. He can made a break through & discovered Nano-Plasmic Energy, an energy that can be extracted from the brain of a living organism through an electrocution-like process. The young & ambitious doctor Howard Phillips (played by: Jason Barry from Titanic, Monument Ave., Chaos, & Sons of Anarchy) comes to work at the prison, He had a tragic experience when he was a kid & it’s linked to the crazed Herbert West. He make sure to get him as his assistant. Journalist Laura Olney (played by: Elsa Pataky from Fast & Furious franchise, 12 Strong, Giallo, & Snakes on a Plane) is interviewing Warden Brando (played by: Simón Andreu from The Infiltrator, Die Another Day, Hidden Assassin, & Flesh + Blood) about her story on his prison. Herbert West & Howard Phillips do their first experiment together on the deceased Moses (played by: Nico Baixas from Perfume: The Story of a Murderer & Rec 2). They manage to bring him back to life & it ends up being a huge mistake! Howard Phillips ends up getting close to the beautiful Laura Olney. After an unexpected death, the doctors try to play god again & all hell breaks loose in the prison! A riot takes places & the inmates start to control the facility. The staff which includes Sergeant Moncho (played by: Lolo Herrero from The Cold Light of Day & Rottweiler) & Nurse Vanessa (played by: Raquel Gribler from Mr. Nice) tries to stay safe from the escaped convicts. The death row prisoners Cabrera (played by: Enrique Arce from Money Heist & Che: Part Two) & Speedball (played by: Santiago Segura from Hellboy 1/2, Blade 2, Pacific Rim, Killer Barbys, & Dance with the Devil) have nothing to lose & they are looking for blood. Can the infamous Dr. Herbert West make it past this living hell so he can continue his medical work????
I wish they would have called this “Re-animator In Prison” aKa R.I.P get it? LOL Beyond Re-Animator brings back the darker approach of the original film compared to the more silly & comedic Bride of Re-Animator sequel from before. This time they got rid of the usual hospital & medical environment for this 3rd entry in the Re-Animator franchise. Putting Dr. West in prison seems appropriate after all the chaos he has caused. It also kinda adds a new sub genre to the series which was breath of fresh air. Since it was a Spanish production, the overall production value & vibe is nothing like the previous two efforts. It has it’s own unique style to it. The new cast of characters are wacky & very odd so they fit right along with the H.P. Lovecraft universe. The budget on Beyond was much lower than the others & it shows at times but they made sure utilize the special effects on this follow up. The gore, the zombies, & deaths are executed with quality. It’s not as crazy as the original & Bride but it has some real memorable moments to keep you sickos entertained with a sadistic grin on your face while viewing it. Jeffrey Combs shines once again as horror icon Dr. Herbert West & it’s honestly one of my all time favorite characters in the entire genre. HIGHLY recommended to any Re-Animator, H.P. Lovecraft, Jeffrey Combs, & gory medical experiments gone wrong fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer completely blows away the previous DVD version! As far as U.S. releases go, this is definitely the definitive release for this sequel. It’s one of the best looking from the current Vestron Video Collector’s series line up. The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track roars in my home system & it really adds the atmosphere of this production. It amps up & elevates moments from Beyond Re-Animator. It’s a huge a step up from the older release that I’ve owned for years. I am very impressed on big of an upgrade this film got from Lionsgate & it fits the Vestron Video brand perfect. It also includes English SDH & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss all the awesome special features provided by Lionsgate for this Vestron Video release! “Audio Commentary” with producer & director Brian Yuzna. He talks about how he set it up like a more modern day horror film at the beginning. He mentions the whole cast was from Spain except for the two leads Jeffrey Combs & Jason Barry. He brings up the special effects for the production. He says they were going for a different approach for this sequel. He said in the 90s no one was really trying to do another Re-Animator film but when it became the 2000s the franchise was in high demand. He talks about why it was called Beyond Re-Animator & why H.P. Lovecraft was left off the title. He goes into detail about differences between Spain & American prisons. He says Dr. Howard Phillips is basically a newer & younger version of Dan Cain. He talks about other actors from the feature & why they were cast in their roles. He brings up the difficulties of finding actors in Spain that could speak English for this film. He chats about the environment & locations of the prison. He say it adds another sub genre to the picture. He brings up that Jeffrey Combs set the tone when he showed up to reprise his classic character. He regrets that they didn’t push the violence & have more gore in this. They were trying to appeal to everyone when making this so they didn’t go too far with it. He mentions a few roles that changed from the original script. He chats about the various crew members & locations of Spain for this. He also talks about their previous work in their own country. He points out Screaming Mad George’s special effects shots in this sequel & he talks about his work history with him. He says his voice was used during some dubbing for this. He brings up the comedy in Beyond Re-Animator. He mentions the advantages of using digital. “Isolated Score Selections & Audio Interview” with Composer Xavier Capellas moderated by Red Shirt Pictures Michael Felsher. Xavier Capellas talks about he got started in the music industry.
He chats about his early inspirations. He mentions Beyond Re-Animator was better experience than his previous collaboration with Brian Yuzna on Faust. He brings up how it was working on this project. He talks about the balance of horror & comedy in this. He says he didn’t really have much contact with Richard Band about his work on the other films. He discusses his biggest challenges on the project. He says the sequel surprised him at first but he got used to it pretty quick. He chats about where he recorded it at & the time restraints he was dealing with. It’s cool to get the opportunity to hear the music & score without any dialogue for this track. “Beyond & Back” is an almost 19 minute interview with producer & director Brian Yuzna. He says he wanted to do more sequels than they actually made for the series. He mentions he didn’t want to pump them out & do pointless ones like some of the other popular horror franchises out there. He talks about Bride had an unresolved ending & it really needed a follow up. He chats about all the years that went by since the last sequel. He brings up that he didn’t want to do another hospital setting & a change of atmosphere was needed. He says he always kept in contact with Jeffrey Combs & they talked about possible sequels before this was made. He talks about the changes West made to his research since Bride. He brings up how different it was working with an all Spanish crew compared to before. He mentions how the Spanish actors had to get English lessons & some had to be dubbed in the final cut. He brings up the scrapped House of Re-Animator sequel that was announced a long time ago but unfortunately had financial issues. It sounded amazing & it needs to happen somehow still. “Death Row Sideshow” is a 20 minute interview with lead actor Jeffrey Combs. He mentions the long waits between all the sequels. He talks about the appeal of his classic character Dr. Herbert West. He brings up Brian Yuzna’s deal with Spanish company Filmax. He says it was fun playing the role in prison.
He chats about some of the actors being dubbed. He chats about the screenplay having lots of issues & it was changed all the time. He appreciates that Beyond brought back the same tone as the original production. He goes into working experience with Jason Barry & how they became friends. He also talks about various other cast members from the feature. He says it was difficult to get made. He was disappointed it didn’t really get a theater run & ended up as a Sci Fi channel premier instead. He brings up how hard it is to get independent horror pushed to a bigger audience these days. He brings up that Beyond Re-Animator didn’t get the exposure it deserved. He talks about ideas for another possible sequel for the franchise. “Six Shots by Midnight” is a little over 16 minute interview with author S.T. Joshi. He gives a brief history about H.P. Lovecraft. He says he didn’t originally want to write the Re-Animator story but he did for commission at the time. It was the first time he was paid to write something. He didn’t like how he had to squeeze & extend stuff to sell various short stories in a printed format. He talks about how Jeffrey Combs was a great choice for Herbert West. He points out the differences & changes made from written to filmed material. He talks about how funny Bride of Re-Animator was & how it turned out different than expected. He points out additions to Beyond that had nothing to do with the author. He chats about how some of Lovecraft’s work got banned when it first got published. A little over 4 minutes of “Production Art Gallery” from Illustrator Richard Raaphorst. A 17 minute “Still Gallery”. A 17 minute “Vintage EPK Featurette” that has interviews with producer/director Brian Yuzna, actors Elsa Pataky, Jason Barry, Jeffrey Combs, Lolo Herrero, Simón Andreu, Raquel Gribler, Enrique Arce, & Santiago Segura. It has all kinds of behind the scenes footage. It has some real nice special effects shots. Brian Yuzna covers various subjects in this. Just a warning, most of the actors speak in Spanish & there’s no subtitles provided on this extra. 4 minute “Dr Re-Animator – Move your Dead Bones” a music video. Last but not least, “Theatrical Trailer” for the feature. HOLY SHIT, this disc is beyond loaded & it’s a must buy for any fan of the franchise! It also includes their awesome limited edition slipcover. Lionsgate gave this sequel proper Vestron Video treatment, it’s available everywhere next Tuesday!!!!
A QUIET PLACE 4K/BLU RAY REVIEW (PARAMOUNT PICTURES)
A Quiet Place is a 2018 horror film co-starring, co-written, produced, & directed by John Krasinski (The Office, The Hollars, & Brief Interviews with Hideous Men). It was produced by Platinum Dunes: Michael Bay (Transformers franchise, Bad Boys franchise, The Purge franchise, & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise), Brad Fuller (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre/The Beginning, The Amityville Horror, Friday the 13th, & A Nightmare on Elm Street), & Andrew Form (The Hitcher, The Unborn, Ouija series, & Jack Ryan). At one point, it was considered to be included as a Cloverfield installment. The director played the monster in a motion capture suit for a few scenes. The original screenplay contained only one line of dialogue. It was made on a budget of $17 million & it ended up grossing $331.3 million worldwide at the box office. A sequel is already in development.
Over three months in 2020, most of Earth’s human population has been wiped out by sightless creatures with hypersensitive hearing & a seemingly impenetrable armored shell that attack anything that makes noise. The Abbotts which include wife Evelyn (played by: Emily Blunt from The Wolfman, Wind Chill, Wild Target, & Sunshine Cleaning), husband Lee (played by: John Krasinski from Jack Ryan, Jarhead, Aloha, & 13 Hours), congenitally deaf daughter Regan (played by: Millicent Simmonds from Wonderstruck), sons Marcus (played by: Noah Jupe from Suburbicon & Wonder), & Beau (played by: Cade Woodward) are doing their best to survive in this disastrous situation. They avoid sound at all costs to stay safe from the monsters that lurk around so they use American Sign Language. Unfortunately, a tragedy occurs & they are forced to take even more precautions. A year later, the family struggles with their pain & tries to keep it together to keep living without running into their dangerous enemies. Evelyn is pregnant & she is just trying to make everything secure before the baby is born. They found a dead woman outside & see her husband (played by: Leon Russom from Prison Break, True Grit, The Big Lebowski, & The Phantom) traumatized near the body. They try to warn him to keep quiet but he explodes with emotions & screams to the attract the murderous beasts. The Abbotts run for their lives to get away from the creatures. They get split up & must test their strengths against this non stop terror that won’t stop. Is their time up? Can this family survive again?
Yes, it’s been done before in the past but only by a few. This was the biggest & first experience for most people. How do you carry an entire film with barely any spoken dialogue? A Quiet Place manages to pull that off with no problem. The small cast is very strong in this. The children were way better than expected. It should no surprise since they are married in real life but John Krasinski & Emily Blunt’s chemistry was amazing. Believe it or not, a decent amount of actual couples are not that good together on screen so this was great to see. For it being mainly a silent film it had so much suspense & thrills. The atmosphere was damn near perfect & it made the material more intense. It was well crafted & the score really elevated those moments. This is one of those productions where the music is beyond important to the final product. It might sound a little funny but it kinda a Terminator vibe to it. This was a pretty unique experience especially for the horror genre. It proves you can achieve anything with the right cast & crew for a project. It’s very hard to do something like this. It truly stands out from all the others in the genre. I also enjoyed how it still left lots of mystery & curiosity for possible future sequels which can expand this universe. I was pleased to see a major studio like Paramount take a chance & produce a feature that resemble everything else around. HIGHLY recommended for any cinema fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Paramount Pictures. This 2160p (2.40:1) transfer shines in 4K! The visual style for A Quiet Place commands a release like this. I was really impressed with everything on here. The locations & visual effects look top notch. It features 10 different audio tracks which include English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, German: Dolby Digital 5.1 , Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1, & Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this release! For being a silent or atleast almost no spoken dialogue these tracks sound awesome in my home set up. The film makers made sure to enhance everything else when it came to sound on this production. The suspenseful & intense thrills are highlighted with it. Like I said earlier, the musical score by Marco Beltrami (Scream franchise, Resident Evil, Logan, & Terminator 3) is very powerful & it’s almost like it’s own character in the film. It’s definitely the best & my favorite thing about the audio on this UHD. It also features 28 different subtitles options which include English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Malay, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, & Turkish.
Let’s discuss the special features on the blu ray disc, there’s none on the actual 4K. “Reading the Quiet — Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Place” is almost 15 minutes. It goes over the original script for the production. They chat about how they put together a film without much dialogue. It shows appreciation to John Krasinski who had many different jobs on this feature. It focuses on locations from it. It also talks about John Krasinski & Emily Blunt real life marriage & how it worked for this. “The Sound of Darkness — Editing Sound for A Quiet Place” is almost 12 minutes. It highlights how important sound design is considering A Quiet Place barely has any spoken dialogue. It mentions the unique working conditions on set for this. It also goes into the sound effects for the film. It brings up my favorite subject about the audio featured in this project. The score by Marco Beltrami which was a key factor to make everything come together. “A Reason for Silence — The Visual Effects of A Quiet Place” is a little over 7 minutes. It’s main attention is focused on the monsters that kept this film intense & full of thrills. It’s a inside look on how they were created & put together for this. If you are looking for something different, you need to check this out ASAP! It’s available everywhere & a good change of pace for the horror genre.
AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BLOODSHOCK BLU RAY REVIEW (UNEARTHED FILMS)
American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock is a 2015 horror film directed by special fx artist Marcus Koch (Rot, Snuff Perversions: Bizarre Cases of Death, 100 Tears, & Hi-8:Horror Independent 8). It was written & produced by Stephen Biro (American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore, American Guinea Pig: The Song of Solomon, & A Serbian Documentary). American Guinea Pig is a spin off from the 1980s Japanese horror series that spawned so much controversy back in the day. Actor Charlie Sheen thought the films were real & contacted the F.B.I. after viewing them one night. This is the 2nd installment of the American Guinea Pig franchise & it follows 2014’s Bouquet of Guts and Gore. Two additional entries have made for the horror series which include Sacrifice & The Song of Solomon from 2017. Unearthed Films is bringing back that underground cinema that pushes boundaries to the extreme!!!!
A man (played by: Dan Ellis from Gutterballs, Hanger, Monsturd, & Star Vehicle) finds himself trapped & used for medical experiments in an abandoned mental facility by a demented doctor (played by: Andy Winton from American Guinea Pig: The Song of Solomon, Dead of Night, & The Kamasutra Garden) plus his crazed medical staff. He doesn’t understand why or how he got there, but the surgical tortures allow him to experience a new level of pain, sadness & reality he has never felt before. As the levels of maniacal mutilation enfolds, he finds himself down the rabbit hole. Grasping onto anything, the tormented finds a way out. Clutching onto what every human being is desperate for…little does he understand, his ending is all of our endings. He finds out that’s he’s not the only one in this living hell! He passes notes to his unknown neighbor (played by: set costumer/wardrobe Lillian McKinney from Heist, Extraction, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, & Stressed to Kill) on the other side of the wall. Is it another trap? or Can they find help to survive this endless pain & torture?
At first, I didn’t know what to expect with being shot in black & white but it really elevated this feature. It added a unique vibe to it & it went with crazy atmosphere already set in place. This had a David Lynch feel to it when it comes to style of it. I am talking about the crafty art house look & industrial music not the actual concept of the film. Unearthed Films is great about pushing the limits of cinema & they didn’t disappoint here. These characters are put through hell in Bloodshock. This makes the Hostel films look like a Disney production when it comes to torture. It’s full of gore & intense gruesome moments. The special effects are top notch in this independent film. I enjoy how each American Guinea Pig film is completely different from each other. For a few brief moments this feature goes into color & it manages to show you one of the most disturbing sex scenes ever filmed. It just kept getting more extreme as it got deeper into the experience.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Unearthed Films. This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer arrives in great detail with this black & white viewing experience. At first, I wasn’t really sold on that look for this type of film but it adds it’s own unique vibe & it works with the atmosphere to the production. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is real solid & clean. Don’t expect your home theater system to roar or anything because it’s not that kind of feature but it’s a very polished & it does the job for this especially the music. For a low budget production it really got every cent on screen for this & it shows.
Let’s discuss the special features from Unearthed Films on this blu ray. You get an Audio Commentary with director/special fx artist Marcus Koch & writer/producer Stephen Biro. They talk about the location for the film. They used an abandoned medical center that was above Stephen Biro’s old video store in Florida. They mention the cast for this a little bit including stuff they had to do for their roles. They chat about Marcus almost dying. They go into detail about certain scenes. They mention the black & white style of the feature. They bring up stuff that might be harder to notice without some color. They talk about the special effects in Bloodshock. Marcus Koch tells a few of his secrets on how he executed some of them which was cool. They joke about how they should let them do the remakes now because they are moving to California. These two have great chemistry & it’s hilarious to hear them crack open some cold beverages during it. Audio Commentary # 2 with the psychopathic doctor Andy Winton plus his evil medical staff Gene Palubicki & Alberto Giovannelli. They talk about how they got involved in the project. They bring up their experience on the production & working with the director on it. They joke around & have fun while watching their scenes for this. They discuss their characters in Bloodshock. They give their thoughts about the feature being in black & white. It was the first horror experience for Andy Winton. He was used to doing comedy before this. He says he never seen a real horror movie until this one. They bring up all the paper eating in this. They chat about the mystery about the two victims & how they really didn’t know what was behind that other wall. They discuss the medical equipment & the special effects in this American Guinea Pig entry. Andy Winton basically does most of the track as his character in this & it’s beyond hilarious! You can tell they didn’t have anything prepared for this & just riffed on what they seen on the screen which made it a very fun & random track. “Bloodshock: The Making Of” is almost 92 minutes. It’s actually shown in color also! It covers all kinds of behind the scenes footage & you really get a fun experience of making this feature. It also shows off the awesome special effects in this. “Steve Nemeth’s Bloodshock Production Cell Phone Videos” is a little over 6 minutes. It has various behind the scenes footage. Mainly location scouting for the production.
The almost 22 minute “Days of Dead Atlanta 2016 Q&A” with writer/producer Stephen Biro & director/special fx artist Marcus Koch. They cover some of the same material from the commentary on here but it also has plenty of new information & stories that’s not on there. They also get some special guests that show up towards the end to join the conversation. “Biro’s Bloodshock Introduction” is a little over 5 minutes. He talks about his old video store & shows what the location is now. He chats about acquiring the original Guinea Pig series & bringing it to America. He goes into about making his own spin off from his company Unearthed Films. He shows you the main location for the feature. “Dan Ellis Interview” is 39 minutes. He chats about his experience on the film. He talks about the special effects for the production. He mentions the location & how much time he spent in it. He goes into great detail about everything including his situation & his character from Bloodshock. “Lillian McKinney Interview” 11 minutes. She talks about her experience on the American Guinea Pig film. She talks having to shave her head & eyebrows for the role. She says she wasn’t on set as much as the others. She talks about being it difficult to shake off a certain scene in this. HOLY SHIT, this release is LOADED with extras! So much entertainment on here, you are in for a treat with this blu ray. If you can still find it, there’s also a limited edition version that includes a DVD copy, a booklet, & a CD soundtrack. If you are into hardcore gore, special effects, independent horror, & fucked up cinema I highly recommend this to you. This retail version is available at most stores, check it out sometime!!!!
DEATH WISH BLU RAY REVIEW (20TH CENTURY FOX/MGM)
Death Wish is a 2018 crime film directed by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel 1/2, Green Inferno, & Knock Knock). It’s based off the 1972 novel by Brian Garfield. Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, Pride and Glory, Smokin’ Aces, & Narc) is credited as the sole screenwriter for the final cut but there’s speculation that 8 other writers got involved before it was actually shot. It’s a remake of the 1974 film & the 6th installment in the series. It’s been developed many times since 2006 before it finally got made. Various high profile directors & actors were linked to this project at some point. It’s the first film to be distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer since 2010. This is Bruce Willis’s first major theatrical release since 2014 after doing countless direct to video movies over the years.
Paul Kersey (played by: Bruce Willis from Die Hard franchise, Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable, & Sin City 1/2) is a trauma surgeon at a Chicago hospital. He is married to Lucy (played by: Elisabeth Shue from Adventures in Babysitting, Leaving Las Vegas, Back to the Future Part II/III, & The Karate Kid) & they have a daughter named Jordan (played by: Camila Morrone from Never Goin’ Back) together. It’s his birthday & Miguel (played by: Luis Oliva from Mother!) is a valet that overhears their plans for the night. He sees it as an opportunity to make some quick cash. He takes a screenshot of their address & sends it to his criminal associates Unfortunately, Paul gets called away for work so their plans get cancelled & the girls end up with plans of making a cake at home instead. Leader Knox (played by: Beau Knapp from The Nice Guys, The Finest Hours, Southpaw, & Run All Night) with The Fish (played by: Jack Kesy from Deadpool 2, Baywatch, & The Strain) & Joe (played by: Ronnie Gene Blevins from Suburban Gothic, The Hatred, & Joe) under masks go into the Kersey home expecting it to be empty but they get a surprise!
The thieves just wanted cash & valuable items but it turns into something completely unexpected. After the tragedy, Paul tries to get help from Detective Kevin Raines (played by: Dean Norris from Breaking Bad, Under the Dome, Lethal Weapon 2, & Total Recall) to find out who’s responsible for this life changing event. After no results & seeing so much crime happen in the city Paul decides to take matters in his own hands. He saves a woman & brutally kills two scumbags during the process. He starts helping others & the outcome is dangerous. The local media call him Chicago’s “Grim Reaper”. Detective Raines & his partner Detective Leonore Jackson (played by: Kimberly Elise from Set it Off & John Q) investigate these mysterious crimes. The detectives suspect Paul’s brother Frank (played by: Vincent D’Onofrio from Full Metal Jacket, Daredevil, Ed Wood, & Jurassic World) at one point. Miguel comes into the hospital & ends up dying there. Paul notices he’s wearing his stolen watch so he takes his phone. This leads him to a deadly confrontation with the men who caused him all this recent pain & suffering. What happens when a normal man goes too far & can’t come back? Is revenge worth losing what’s left in his life?
Is it better than the original? NO! Is it better than some of the sequels? YES! Death Wish manages to create it’s own universe & give it’s own unique spin rather than being a complete copycat of the classic. Bruce Willis has been doing lots of low budget & direct to video releases for some reason lately. I am a huge fan of his but a decent amount of those features he doesn’t even try or has a small cameo in them. This is his best performance in a very long time! It’s good to see him back doing something like this. I know he seems to be a love it or hate it type of film maker but I’ve enjoyed every Eli Roth film so far & this remake didn’t disappoint. The known horror director put his own stamp on the beloved franchise. He proved he can shoot other genres if given the chance with this production. The supporting cast was top notch & it increased the quality of the overall feature. The script was way better than expected & it really tailored to Bruce’s style. You can see some of the influence of his previous characters in Death Wish. It delivered in the violence & gore department with some gruesome kills. I am hoping they make more of these films in the future. It was a fun & entertaining ride with one of all time great action stars. I highly recommend this, give it a shot!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation on this blu ray! This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks real clean & it’s shot very polished. I was expecting something for dark & gritty but visually it looks fantastic. It features 4 different audio options English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, & English: Dolby Digital 5.1 on here. Considering this has lots of action, the track really booms & sounds amazing in your home system. It also includes English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release! “Audio Commentary” by Director Eli Roth & Producer Roger Birnbaum. They mention they are recording this on the day of the theatrical release. Roger says he had this remake developed for 7 years now. They talk about setting it in Chicago. They mention they actually only shot one day in Chicago & the rest of the film was shot in Canada. They bring up several cast members & talk about casting them for this production. Eli brings up the DP & says that he wanted a more polished look to this remake compared to something gritty. They chat about rehearsing the home invasion scene & the look of the burglars.They say most of the doctors & nurses in this are actually real not actors. Eli gets real specific during key scenes & gives great detail about the situations. They highlight the character development during the film. They bring up the quality special effects & using medical knowledge to their advantage. They mention that the dark humor of the original Death Wish 2 was a influence on this.
Eli talks about the scenery change & different vibes for every major action scene. Eli points out a Dario Argento inspired Giallo shot in the feature. They bringing paying homage to the original at the end. 4 “Deleted Scenes” with Optional Commentary by Eli Roth & Roger Birnbaum & it’s a little over 6 minutes. On the audio track they explain & go into why each scene was cut from the final film. “Mancow Morning Show Extended Scenes” is almost 4 minutes & features more of the real life Chicago radio host. “Sway in the Morning Extended Scene” is almost 3 minutes & it has more of the popular hip hop DJ. “Vengeance & Vision: Directing Death Wish” is almost 12 minutes & it has interviews with director Eli Roth, actor Bruce Willis, & producer Roger Birnbaum. They bring up the experience of making the remake. Eli brings up how each death scene was at a different location plus done various ways & didn’t want them to be all the same. He jokes about Willis at the end resembling John Mcclane. “Grindhouse Trailer” is my favorite extra on this disc! This should have been the main trailer promoted everywhere for Death Wish! Last but not least, you get the standard Theatrical Trailer for the feature. It also comes with a DVD copy, digital code, & a slipcover. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
GERMAN ANGST BLU RAY REVIEW (ARTSPLOITATION FILMS)
German Angst is a 2015 horror anthology directed by Jörg Buttgereit (Nekromantik 1/2, Der Todesking, Schramm, & Video Nasty), Michal Kosakowski (Zero Killed & Just Like the Movies), & Andreas Marschall (Masks & Tears of Kali). 30.000 EUR for the budget of this film were raised through crowdfunding on Startnext.com. “Final Girl” tells the story of a young girl (played by: Lola Gave) who is obsessed with her guinea pig. Her apartment is dirty & a complete mess, she lives in her own world. She’s lonely & has a man (played by: Axel Holst from Lindenstraße, Verbotene Liebe, & You’re Dead…) captured at her place. As she starts losing it more & more the victim’s chances are getting worse for survival. “Make a Wish” is a gut-wrenching tale involves a young deaf-mute couple Jacek (played by: Matthan Harris from Stok Stalk Stock, The Inflicted, & As Worlds Collide) & Kasia (played by: Annika Strauss from Blood Feast, La petite mort, Game Over, & Skin Creepers) that get attacked by group of skin-heads lead by Jens (played by: Andreas Pape from Bunker of the Dead, Mutation 2 – Generation Dead, Rigor Mortis – The Final Colours, & Lord of the Undead). They picked the wrong people to mess with because they have a mysterious talisman that has unique powers. Everything starts to change when the attackers push things too far. “Alraune” is the final entry & it follows Eden (played by: Milton Welsh from Antibodies, Æon Flux, Conan the Barbarian, & The Grand Budapest Hotel) who finds a secret sex club & wants to spice up his life. He meets Kira (played by: Kristina Kostiv from Berlin Syndrome, Paranormal Demons, DeXit, & The Darkest Nothing series) who provokes his curiosity & gets his attention. He starts getting obsessed & follows her around to unknown territories. Petrus (played by: Rüdiger Kuhlbrodt from Wolff’s Turf, Stadtklinik, & Hinter Gittern – Der Frauenknast) uses that to manipulates Eden into a deadly game. This leads him into a dark journey & a drug that takes him places that he’s never even imagined.
German Angst has a variety of disturbing subjects on this international horror anthology. You get a little bit of everything with this sick mix of dark stories. It’s awesome to see a somewhat new film from Jörg Buttgereit & the other two directors delivered the goods also. Fans of gore & messed up cinema will love this production because it has plenty of that here. The special effects elevated this film & made moments even more intense. Just when you think they pushed all their limits on this it goes further. The visuals stay with you after viewing this. Each short could have easily been extended into their own feature. They really took of advantage of their running time & made every minute count. It’s hard to pick a favorite between the 3 because honestly there’s not a weak one in the batch so it’s toss up & opinions will probably change during each experience. I was impressed with this & I definitely highly recommend it to everyone reading this review.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation on this disc from Artsploitation Films! This 1080p (2:35:1) transfer has various different visual styles & quality through out the 3 different shorts shown in this anthology feature. Nothing drastic or distracting, it’s actually a pretty cool change from the norm. All of them bring something unique to this project. It features two different audio tracks either Dolby Digital 5.1 German & Dolby Digital Stereo German for the release. It has English subtitles. The last two segments of this film feature English dialog also.
Let’s discuss the special features for this blu ray from Artsploitation Films. “Q & A from Fantastic Fest 2015” with directors Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall & actor Matthan Harris is a little over 15 minutes. They joke about Germans always being drunk. They explain “Alraune” a little more. They talk about meeting each other & working together. They discuss how they picked the order of the stories for this. Matthan Harris explains why he got involved with the project. It’s actually in English also! “Behind the Scenes” featurette that is almost 8 minutes. It has all kinds of silent behind the scenes & video footage with music playing over it. “Crowdfunding Video for Startnext” which is almost 8 minutes. It features all 3 directors & they tell you about themselves. They talk about how they all met. They discuss the project & try to sell you on the concept. They describe all their segments in great detail. It’s in German with English subtitles. “Crowdfunding Video for Kickstarter” is almost 7 minutes. This is very similar compared to the previous extra but it does have a few differences & other stuff gets brought up. They also talk about items you would get if you donated on Kickstarter. It has a different setting & it’s in English this time not German like the other one.. It features lots of promotional material. 2 different “Official Trailers” for German Angst. “Teaser #1” is almost 2 minutes. It features various clips from the film makers. “Teaser #2” is a little over 2 minutes. It’s a brief dark & sexy promo video for the production. It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!
ANOTHER WOLFCOP BLU RAY REVIEW (RLJE FILMS)
Another WolfCop is a 2017 horror comedy film written & directed by Lowell Dean (WolfCop & 13 Eerie). It’s a follow up to 2014’s WolfCop. Several cast & crew members returned for the sequel. It has cameos from Astron-6’s Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, & Adam Brooks. The theatrical poster is a homage to the 1986 Sylvester Stallone film Cobra. Alcoholic werewolf cop Lou Garou (played by: Leo Fafard from WolfCop, Moccasin Flats, & SuperGrid) is back & ready for some action! He has his sidekick Willie Higgins (played by: Jonathan Cherry from WolfCop, Goon, Final Destination 2, & House of the Dead) & his co-worker Sergeant Tina Walsh (played by: Amy Matysio from WolfCop, Just Friends, Sleepwalking, & Stranded) to help fight more crime. Garou might have met his match with Kat (played by: Serena Miller) when Higgins introduces them. Sydney Swallows (played by: Yannick Bisson from Murdoch Mysteries, The Adventures of Napkin Man!, Casino Jack, & Animal 2) is a eccentric businessman with evil intentions. He takes advantage of Woodhaven after developing a new Darkstar brewery & hockey team in their small struggling town. They all think he is going to make everything better for them but they are just pawns in his chess game. Mayor Bubba Rich (played by: Kevin Smith from Clerks 1/2, Dogma, Mallrats, & Chasing Amy) is bribed by the shady Swallows & he’s trying to push the dangerous Chickenmilk Stout to the locals. Can these heroes save Woodhaven from pure evil & corruption? Who’s really the monster in this deadly battle????
The original WolfCop took me by surprise when it first came out. I wasn’t expecting much from it & I was very impressed by it. Naturally, I got excited when they announced this sequel. This kinda reminds me of a higher class older Troma production. It just has that crazy independent vibe to it. I won’t spoil anything for you but Another WolfCop has all kinds of bizarre & insane moments that just add to the awesome entertainment! The music & score also helps out because it definitely sounds like something they would have used back in the day. The theme song is already stuck in my head as I am writing this review. If you were a fan of the original film then you are in for a real treat because this follow up pretty much doubles up everything that made you enjoy it! The special effects & gore are reminiscent of the 80s horror that most of us grew up on. It’s loaded with blood & death so it’s exactly what you would want in this type of feature. This one had more comedy in it but I think it helped it be more of a fun ride at the end. I might catch some heat for this but I actually thought this was the best film from this series so far & I really hope they make a 3rd feature with Woodhaven’s hairy superhero!!!! I had a blast with this so it’s HIGHLY recommended from HHQ.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from RLJE Films! This 1080p (1:78:1) transfer looks very good for being an independent feature. Thanks to the stylish approach of the production the colors & the practical effects are elevated in this. I really enjoyed the visual style for this horror sequel. It stands out from most of the others. It has a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track & the soundtrack really shines on it! It also features English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this blu ray from RLJE Films! “The Making of Another WolfCop” is a little over 4 minutes. It has interviews with various cast & crew members. They joke about it having no plot & being the same as the original. “Friends & Foes: Meet the Cast” is almost 6 minutes. It has interviews with various cast & crew members. It talks about all the returning cast members. It goes into the new cast & characters added to the WolfCop universe. It brings up all the cameos in this. “The Monster Shop: Special FX” is almost 7 minutes. It has interviews with various cast & crew members especially Special Fx supervisor Emersen Ziffle. It shows behind the scenes footage & lots of inside looks into his work on the film. “Shoot or Die!: Surviving on Set” is a little over 7 minutes. It has interviews with lots of the samecast & crew members from the previous extras. They chat about the action, stunts, & weapon for the feature. Last but not least, Shooting Guns “Barn Burner” music video. This disc has a nice variety of supplements. Check it out this Tuesday, it’s available everywhere!!!!
THE CURED BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY / IFC FILMS)
The Cured is a 2017 horror film written & directed by David Freyne (The First Wave, The Tree, Handheld Horror: Take 6, & Passing). What happens when the Undead return to life? In a world ravaged for years by a virus that turns the infected into zombie-like cannibals, a cure is at last found & the wrenching process of reintegrating the survivors back into society begins. Among the formerly afflicted is Senan (played by: Sam Keeley from Anthropoid, Burnt, This Must Be the Place, & In the Heart of the Sea), a young man haunted by the horrific acts he committed while infected. Welcomed back into the family of his widowed sister-in-law Abbie (played by: Ellen Page from Hard Candy, Inception, Juno, & X-Men franchise), Senan attempts to restart his life but is society ready to forgive him and those like him? Or will fear and prejudice once again tear the world apart? Conor (played by: Tom Vaughan-Lawlor from The Infiltrator, Peaky Blinders, The Secret Agent, & Love/Hate) is struggling with this change also. Dr. Lyons (played by: Paula Malcomson from Tombstone, The Green Mile, Deadwood, Ray Donovan, & Sons of Anarchy) is desperate to fix everything & save what she can! These troubled times have got worse for the ones still around. Can they achieve redemption? or Will the guilt haunt their minds forever?
It has been done a few times before but not much so The Cured is a very unique take on the zombie genre. Personally, I haven’t really seen anything like it for the sub genre so it was refreshing to experience something like this in a tired & cliche horror subject. The Walking Dead has kinda hurt the zombie wave & made it too popular to the point it’s become a spoof. As a matter of fact, it’s commonly combined with romantic comedies these days for features. That right there should tell you something about it. I appreciate that The Cured starts out where most post apocalyptic or Undead material usually ends. It explores deeper into humans dealing with a virus that completely changed their lives. They are battling with their disturbed past & trying to move on from it. The script is really good & well written for this independent production. It’s probably why it has such a quality cast also. Don’t go into this expecting some mindless zombie action flick because it’s much more than that. It’s more psychological than physical for the first hour but it does have flashes of violence spread across it to keep your appetite ready until it gets real crazy in the last 20 minutes! I am glad someone is finally doing something different with a familiar & overdone concept, highly recommended!
Let’s talk about the high definition & special features on this release from Scream Factory & IFC Films! This 1080p (2:40:1) transfer looks real sharp! It resembles like it’s more of a bigger budget production than it is. You get two different audio options for this disc either English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or 2.0 Stereo. The track is very clean & sounds good but at the end it really has an extra boost to it! As for the special features, it’s a little light. It has a 6 minute “Behind the Scenes” featurette that has interviews with director David Freyne, actors Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, & Paula Malcomson . They talk about the origin of the project. They discuss their experience on the film. It’s pretty informative for it’s running time. Last not least, it has a Trailer for The Cured. Before the feature starts it also has a few more trailers from IFC. It comes with a slipcover & it has reversible artwork.
THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
The Curse of the Cat People is a 1944 horror film directed by Gunther von Fritsch (Flash Gordon TV Series, Stolen Identity, & Cigarette Girl) & Robert Wise (The Body Snatcher, The Haunting, The Day the Earth Stood Still, & The Sand Pebbles). It’s a sequel to 1942’s Cat People. Simone Simon, Jane Randolph, & Kent Smith all return to their roles for this follow up. Simone Simon was paid double to reprise her character from the first film. Elizabeth Russell plays a different character but she had an uncredited role in the original also. It was only supposed to be directed by Fritsch but after 18 days of filming RKO Radio Pictures assigned editor Robert Wise to take over the production. This was the first official credit & debut for the established director. It was put together by super producer Val Lewton (Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Ghost Ship, Bedlam, & Isle of the Dead). Lewton wanted this to be a stand alone film & have it titled “Amy and Her Friend” but the studio wanted to cash in on the success from it’s predecessor. RKO wasn’t happy with the final cut so they made the crew re-shoot scenes & cut out some important ones to give it a different look. They re-used the sets for Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons from 1942 to keep the budget lower for production. It’s used as a training video for child psychologists.
After the death of his wife Irena (played by: Simone Simon from Cat People, Girls’ Dormitory, Seventh Heaven, & Mademoiselle Fifi), Oliver Reed (played by: Kent Smith from Cat People, The Cat Creature, The Night Stalker, & Die Sister, Die!) has moved on in his life after experiencing a devastating tragedy. He re-married a former co-worker Alice Moore (played by: Jane Randolph from Cat People, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Falcon’s Brother, & The Falcon Strikes Back). They had a child together six years ago named Amy (played by: Ann Carter from Blondie Hits the Jackpot, The Two Mrs. Carrolls, & The North Star). Amy is struggling at her school. She stays away from the other kids & she’s always deep into her imagination. She finds a photo of Irena & ironically ends up striking a friendship with the stranger. She also meets Julia Farren (played by: Julia Dean from The Ransom, Experiment Perilous, & Girls’ School) that’s being taken care of by her daughter Barbara (played by: Elizabeth Russell from Cat People, Bedlam, The Corpse Vanishes, & Hitler’s Madman). Mrs. Farren doesn’t trust her own family. Amy gets a mysterious ring from one of her new friends. Edward (played by: Sir Lancelot from I Walked with a Zombie, The Ghost Ship, & The Buccaneer) the family servant watches over the little girl & takes her places. Barbara is angry & jealous about her mother giving Amy more attention than her. Oliver is worried about his daughter’s mental state & he’s starting to get paranoid that his past is starting to haunt him. All of these conflicts are creeping up on Reed family & it’s becoming a dangerous situation for the unit. Can they survive these odd troubles?
The Curse of the Cat People is a definitely a different kind of horror film. They really don’t make stuff like this these days. It’s a old school ghost story. It’s more of a mystery & fantasy rather than a straight up horror production. It honestly doesn’t have much to do with the original Cat People besides the returning characters. It goes a completely different direction compared to that feature. Technically, it has one of the actual Cat People in this but it doesn’t show any transformations & it never explores that universe in this. I’d almost say it falls into the creepy kid sub genre. Ann Carter gives one of the best child performances I’ve ever seen in a motion picture. As a matter of fact, the entire cast is really good! This follow up is a little slow at times but it’s one of those types that make you use your brain & actually think which is always good in my opinion. It’s a classy quality effort but you need to remember it’s a 1940s production so it’s much different than anything made today so be ready for a vintage experience with this. Recommended for fans of the Cat People & films in the golden age!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. Honestly, I haven’t seen that many Black & White films in this format but this one looks beautiful & all the details really stand out so much more with it’s look. This 1080p (1:33:1) transfer is very impressive for being such a older film. The DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 2.0 track is very clean & sounds great considering it’s age. Both picture & sound are way better than expected since the film has been around for a very long time on this blu ray release from Scream Factory!
Let’s discuss the special features on this release. You get two Audio Commentaries! A brand new one with author/historian Steve Haberman. He goes into great detail about this production. He talks about the fierce competition with Universal at the time. He gives you a brief history of some of the cast & crew. He chats about it costing more than the original & eventually going over budget. He goes into Val Lewton’s career & brings up his other projects besides this one. It’s a well informed track & you actually learn alot about this. Plus there’s an older one with historian Greg Mank. It goes over very similar information & facts from the first commentary track. He does go more into detail about what changes were made to this film. He points out key scenes that were removed & material that was added on later after it was finished. “Lewton’s Muse: The Dark Eyes of Simone Simon – a video essay by filmmaker Constantine Nasr” is a little over 31 minutes. He talks about the struggles she had getting into the movie business. I didn’t realize she was so controversial! This extra is top notch especially if you are interested in the actress. It’s loaded with information & stories from her troubled past. “Audio Interview with Ann Carter, moderated by Tom Weaver” is 19 minutes & it’s from 2007. She talks about her experience on the film. She mentions working with the cast & crew. She talks about being a child actress. She brings up her parents & agent about their help while she was making movies back then. She talks about giving up acting to be become a teacher. Last but not least, you get a Theatrical Trailer for the film. This release went beyond what anyone could expect for a film like this & it’s age! It’s really loaded & it’s full of so much history for this sequel. I was very impressed how this blu ray was handled. I hope Scream Factory gets their hands on more Val Lewton productions in the future because so many of them deserve proper high definition treatment & more exposure to this new generation of horror fans.
A TASTE OF PHOBIA DVD REVIEW (ARTSPLOITATION FILMS)
A Taste of Phobia is a 2017 horror anthology film directed by Domiziano Cristopharo (Red Krokodil), Dustin Ferguson (Nemesis 5: The New Model), Jason Impey (Grindsploitation), Sunny King (Signs), Sam Mason-Bell (Right Here Right Now), Tony Newton (VHS Lives: A Schlockumentary), Alessandro Sisti, Rob Ulitski (Maniacal), Jackson Batchelor (2 Die For), Sophia Cacciola (Bring Us Your Women), Michael J. Epstein (Magnetic), Alessandro Giordani (L’insonne: Ouverture), Chris Milewski (POE 4: The Black Cat), Davide Pesca (17 a mezzanotte), Alessandro Redaelli (Shock: My Abstraction of Death), & Lorenzo Zanoni. It features directors from all over the world which include Italy, USA, & Nigeria. A Taste of Phobia explores some of the deepest fears that get into the minds of the people that can’t handle it. It plays with their emotions & faces them against something they have been trying to avoid their whole lives. It’s seen through of the eyes of 14 independent film makers which include Caetophobia, Pharmacophobia, Parthenophobia, Coprophobia, Mysophobia, Mazeophobia, Astrophobia, Mageirocophobia, Gerascopphobia, Politicophobia, Somniphobia, Oneirophobia, Nyctophobia, & Hemophobia! I know some of you are thinking, what do those exactly mean? I’ll help you out, this film covers Hairs, Medication, Virgins, Feces, Germs, Mazes, Stars, Cooking, Aging, Politics, Sleep, Dreams, Night, & Blood.
Anthologies have been making a strong comeback in horror genre in recent years. Some of them have even spawned a few sequels. A Taste of Phobia takes a different approach from all of those & focuses on fears. It’s actually a pretty cool concept & it goes into some real odd phobias that are usually not mentioned. As for every horror anthology, it suffers from some weak spots because let’s be honest when you gather up this many directors it’s bound to have something that just doesn’t vibe with you. Luckily, most of the material in this feature holds up & it keeps the overall production satisfying. It has so much variety put into this film so it should have something for everyone when viewing this. I enjoyed how they skipped most of the cliche phobias & went into subjects that are barely referenced when to comes to fears. It’s a truly unique & bizarre vision into human’s psyche. Some of these shorts could easily been turned into their own full length feature. It’s a twisted, sick, & demented appetizer for any low budget & independent horror fan so it’s definitely recommended for that community. It has some awesome gore & special effects in this. It’s also good exposure for upcoming & new film makers that most of us have never heard of before! I am looking forward to checking out other work from some of these artists & possibly reviewing their solo material in the future. I had fun with this, it has it’s flaws but for the most part it’s a entertaining journey into some crazy shit!!!!
Let’s talk about the presentation & special features provided by Artsploitation Films for this DVD release! I have to give props to the editor of this feature because it had to be tough to put this together from 14 different directors & various quality as one complete feature. It looks better than expected after considering all of that plus it has a nice balance between all the shorts in this. The 2.0 stereo track is also mixed very well with having so much variety & unique styles between all the collaborators on this project. “Behind The Scenes of Pharmacophobia” is a little over a minute. It’s a brief look into the production. “Behind The Scenes of Somniphobia” is a little over 4 minutes. It features interviews with various cast & crew members. It gives you a inside look into making this short. “Phobia Interviews” is a little over 5 minutes. It interviews producer & director Domiziano Cristopharo. He talks about the origin of Phobia & working with various directors all the world for it. Producer & Director Tony Newton chimes in & talks about the project. Producer & Director Sam Mason-Bell talks about his involvement for this. He also mentions the Italian Giallo influences on it. “Photo Gallery: Parthenophobia” is almost 2 minutes. It features a bunch of the pictures from the film. “Special FX of Mageirocophobia” is almost 2 minutes. It shows you them making the effects. “Special FX of Parthenophobia” is almost 2 minutes. This goes into the visual effects. It shows some green screen action & then what it looks like after. Bonus Short “Achluophobia is a little over 5 minutes & it’s directed by Jason Impey. It’s about the fear of the dark. Last but not least, you get a Trailer for the feature. It’s available now everywhere, check it out!
THE ENDLESS BLU RAY REVIEW (WELL GO USA)
The Endless is a 2017 science fiction film produced, edited, & directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead (Resolution, Spring, & V/H/S Viral). It shares the same universe & similar plot point as their earlier film Resolution. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 & it was the first genre film to play in Competition since Let the Right One In. Brothers Justin (played by: co-director, producer, editor, & writer Justin Benson from Contracted: Phase II & Dementia) & Aaron Smith (played by: co-director, editor, & producer Aaron Moorhead from BeerBongi, The Day the President Moved Thanksgiving, & The Eagle and the Pit) escaped a cult when they were kids. They receive a video from from Anna (played by: Callie Hernandez from Alien: Covenant, Blair Witch, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, & La La Land) many years later. They decide to visit their old compound after seeing it since she was a member. Cult leader Hal (played by: Tate Ellington from Straight Outta Compton, Sinister 2, Shameless, The Brave, & Quantico) welcomes them back & he says they have grown stronger since they left. The other members include Tim (played by: Lew Temple from The Devil’s Rejects, The Walking Dead, Halloween, 31, & The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), Jennifer Danube (played by: Emily Montague from Fright Night & Resolution), Shitty Carl (played by: James Jordan from True Blood, Wind River, & Veronica Mars), & Smiling Dave (played by: producer David Lawson Jr from Resolution). They are make a living off homemade beer. Aaron gets brought back into the life of the following. Justin doesn’t buy what they are trying to sell & doesn’t trust his sibling’s judgement. The brothers get into some weird rituals with Shane Williams (played by: Shane Brady from Spring & V/H/S Viral). As they get more close into this circle, things start to get strange & mysterious. Will they leave before it’s too late or are they are in too deep?
The Endless is the definition of “Slow Burn”. It takes a long time to go anywhere & it’s more psychological than physical. You have to be very patient with it because it will test it until about the 70 minute mark. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well written & the cinematography looks great. One of the biggest highlights for me was the score & it really just took over at times. It grabs your attention right away unlike the first half of this production. The pacing of this was pretty bad to be honest. That’s the biggest flaw with The Endless. It just doesn’t do much until it hits a little past the first hour. The cult angle is under used & it’s basically just a set up for everything. It does give more of a character study with the small cast here. The acting & performances were better than most independents around. All of that quality helps it make it to where it really takes off & starts to show you something. The last 30 minutes make it worth the wait & you end up more satisfied than you thought you would be. I feel like this is that kind of cinema that you have to actually digest & maybe appreciate it more after a few more viewings. It just doesn’t make the best first impression to me but it ends strong which makes you want to revisit it to see if material that you didn’t notice or pick up on before because it at times it feels like there’s other stuff lurking.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation for this Well Go USA disc. This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks great for a low budget independent feature. The cinematography looks beautiful on this production & the visuals are one of the shining stars from this film. You get two different options for audio on here either the English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & English: Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. They both sound really good in the home system & certain moments are really elevated here! English SDH subtitles are also included on this blu ray release. Both picture & sound are very impressive on here.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release from Well Go USA! Audio Commentary with Directors/Actors Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, & Producer/Actor David Lawson Jr. They chat about the origin of the film. They go over how it got it financed. They mention how much their other film Spring got rejected by everyone & it was hard to get made. They also bring up how they backed Resolution with their own money. They say this one was much easier to get money for compared to all their previous work. They say that House of the Rising Sun lyrics are public domain & that’s why they used it in the feature. David Lawson mentions that he wasn’t a fan of acting in this. They talk about the cast & locations of the production. They talk about the rough shooting schedule & get real specific about scenes here. Aaron Moorhead never smoked before until this feature & it had him messed up after many takes. They mention stuff that was removed & cut from this. They talk about the advantage of having two directors. They joke about it also. They talk about using personal items for their production design & set ups. They tell you the origin of a character in this. They mention the Lion was actually stock footage from Peru. They point out multiple connections to their other film Resolution. They tell stories & go into various other things about The Endless. It’s a pretty informative track & helps the slow first half move along better compared to the original audio on it.
“Making Of” is almost 32 minutes & it covers the production of The Endless. The directors bring up the origins of the film. They talk about the connection to their film Resolution. They discuss the struggles of financing in Independent film. They go into how they got backed for this through someone online. They talk about their rehearsal process for film making. They chat about the casting for this project. They mention a family tragedy before working on this. The production design team chimes in & says a few things about the film. Composer Jimmy Lavalle, Sound Designer Yahel Dooley, & Editor Michael Felker talk a little about their experience on the feature. Behind the Scenes has two different sections. “Michael Felker, The Editor” is almost 3 minutes & “Outtakes” is 10 minutes. Both are the cast & crew having fun on the set making jokes while working pretty much. It looked like everyone was enjoyed what they were doing on this film. 7 “Deleted Scenes” that equaled up to almost 7 minutes. They mentioned a few of these scenes in the previous audio commentary. “VFX Breakdown” is almost 3 minutes & it shows you how they did some of the effects on the production. Ridiculous Extras is separated into various sections. Casting: “Smiling Dave” is almost 3 minutes & “Aaron” is a little over a minute. They show their sense of humor on these & it’s very fun to watch. “Vinny’s Story” is 9 minutes. It’s good to see them lighten up the mood for this extra. “Breaking the News” is 3 minutes. You can tell they had fun making this. “UFO Cult Comedy” is a little over 3 minutes. I enjoyed all of these silly additions to the disc. You also get promotional material which include “Tribeca Promo”, “Teaser Trailer”, & a “Trailer”. It comes with a slipcover. Well GO USA has provided a decent amount of extras for this release. Recommended for any science fiction , slow burn, & psychological fans.
DIRECTOR’S CUT BLU RAY REVIEW (EPIC PICTURES / DREAD CENTRAL PRESENTS)
Director’s Cut is a 2016 dark comedy film produced & directed by Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City, The Dark Backward, Psycho Cop Returns, & Chillerama). It was written & produced by lead actor Penn Jillette. Jillette lost so much weight around 120 lbs after principle photography ended that they were unable to go back & do any re-shoots or pick-up scenes as he looked completely different. It’s considered to to be part of the “meta-film” sub genre. It raised $1,164,928 from 4,736 donors on crowdsourcing platform FundMe. Neil Patrick Harris, Ben Stiller, Carrot Top, Dee Snider, Ron Jeremy, & Joan Rivers were some of the names that pitched in to lend their support to the crowdfunding campaign. It opened the Slamdance Film Festival in 2016.
Director Adam Rifkin (played by: himself) is working on his new film “Knocked Off”. It’s about two detectives Godfrey Winters (played by: Harry Hamlin from L.A. Law, Mad Men, Shameless, & Veronica Mars) & Reed (played by: Hayes MacArthur from Super Troopers 2, Angie Tribeca, A Haunted House 2, & Someone Marry Barry) with the help of F.B.I agent Mable (played by: Missi Pyle from Galaxy Quest, Big Fish, Dodgeball, & Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay) are investigating a psychopath that’s committing copycat murders from famous serial killers. The unknown real life monster is paying tribute to the likes of Albert Fish, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Richard Speck, Charles Whitman, & others! Captain Wheeler (played by: Lin Shaye from Detroit Rock City, Chillerama, Tales of Halloween, 2001 Maniacs 1/2, & Snakes on a Plane) is angry & wants this case solved ASAP! They run into several wacky characters while looking into the gruesome crimes which include Superintendent (played by: Gilbert Gottfried from Up All Night, Problem Child series, & Beverly Hills Cop II), Moving Company Guy (played by: Marshall Bell from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Starship Troopers, Total Recall, & Stand by Me), CSI Perry (played by: Nestor Carbonell from Bates Motel, Lost, The Dark Knight/The Dark Knight Rises, & Smokin’ Aces), & Rudy Nelson (played by: Teller from Penn & Teller, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, My Chauffeur, & Car 54, Where Are You?). Aspiring filmmaker & huge crowdfunder to the project Herbert Blount (played by: Penn Jillette from Penn & Teller, Hackers, Scorpion, & Tough Guys Don’t Dance) is disappointed in the direction that the production is going so he takes matters in his own hands! After filming various behind the scenes footage he decides to take over as the director without anyone’s permission or knowledge! He kidnaps & forces lead actress Missi Pyle to complete his vision of this failed independent feature. All hell breaks loose when he takes creative control & puts together his “Director’s Cut”!!!!
First off, I want to say that I’ve never seen anything like this before so that alone really impressed me! I’ve never witnessed a film that used a director’s commentary as the narrative. The script & concept for Director’s Cut is top notch. It’s a very creative approach at making fun of film making & what happens behind the scenes during it. Lots of cinema references & common mistakes are pointed out. It’s beyond hilarious & it keeps a sinister grin on your face during the whole running time because you just get exactly what it’s trying to do with this production. The social commentary on this is spot on. As a long time fan of anything to do with movies I felt instantly connected to it. Let me clarify that because I don’t mean I want to stalk & take over a movie production like Herbert Blount, what I mean by that is the process & situations behind creating cinema. LOL Also, I’ve always been interested in true crime so I loved the addition of the re-creations of the some of the most infamous killers of all time featured in this. So it’s definitely much more than a dark comedy & any horror fan will geek out during those familiar moments. The writing on this is pretty good at getting you to laugh at the same time while experiencing real brutal visuals so it does have a great balance to it. Penn Jillette proves if given a chance he can really shine. Also, after seeing this I want to see more scripts produced that he’s written because he brings something to the table that most in the movie business just don’t get & it’s very refreshing to see. Character actress Missi Pyle shows she has the chops to be the lead if given the opportunity. So many awesome cameos including a speaking role for Penn’s partner in crime Teller! Adam Rifkin is one of the most under-rated directors around & his last two projects proved this with no hesitation. I watched The Last Movie Star a few weeks ago & I was blown away with what he achieved with that smaller feature. I really hope he gets a chance at making something big again someday because he honestly deserves it. I’ve honestly never been disappointed with anything he’s made so far & that’s a hard thing to accomplish. Director’s Cut is truly one of a kind & it’s very original so I highly recommend this film & release to everyone especially to cinephiles!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Epic Pictures & Dread Central Presents! This 1080p (1.77:1) transfer looks great & very stylish for a low budget production. The quality drops on purpose with time codes included during the added footage from fake director & cinematic lunatic Herbert Blount which adds to the charm of this entertaining feature. Especially towards the end, it gets out of control & it’s so much fun. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is very clean & provides a nice addition to the excitement of film making gone wrong! It also has English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release from from Epic Pictures & Dread Central Presents! Audio Commentary with producer/director Adam Rifkin & writer/producer/star Penn Jillette. They joke about this being a commentary over a commentary. They point out the fake logos & disclaimer at the beginning. They talk about the origin of the project & how they both got involved in it. Jillette really enjoyed Rifkin’s film Look. He called him instantly after getting his number for a possible collaboration. Adam Rifkin mentions how much fun it was basically making two films at the same time. Missi Pyle originally was only supposed to have a cameo role in this but the lead actress dropped out so she got the lead role instead. Penn Jillette jokes about gaining 100 lbs for the role. He mentions his two inspirations that helped him come up with the name Herbert Blount. They have fun with Teller’s cameo & bring up he had the most lines out of anyone. They bring up cinematic moments & artists during the track that goes with the theme of this feature since it’s about making a movie plus what goes behind the scenes with it. They bring up the other actors featured in the film. Penn Jillette jokes about Celebrity Apprentice & Donald Trump. They go into various details about the production & the techniques used for it. They bring improvising & material that got cut from the final version. These two have excellent chemistry & this audio track is very fun to check out. It has a nice flow to it & you get to learn a decent amount about Director’s Cut. Audio Commentary # 2 with crowdfunder Perry Friedman. He says Nestor Carbonell’s character in the film is named after him. He brings up the person who helped him crowdfund this project. He chats about the low budget feel of the production & the style it adds to it. Just a warning for this audio track, it has lots of silence & it’s kinda awkward to be honest. It’s always nice to have additional extras on a disc but I personally didn’t like this commentary at all. “Riffin’ with Rifkin and Penn” is a little over 31 minutes. Penn Jillette talks about how he looks so much different since doing the film. Adam Rifkin jokes that he deserves an Oscar nomination for losing 100 lbs. They talk about their early cinema inspirations which include the Universal monsters & Horror TV hosts. They go into detail how they met. Their mutual friend Ron Jeremy recommended Penn to check out Rifkin’s film Look one day. Penn was blown away by it & decided to contact the director after he was done writing Director’s Cut. They joke about making original contact on Facebook & both having no lives on a Friday night. They talk about the original script was much darker & the Herbert Blount character was completely unlikable in it. They say Missi Pyle changed the whole feel of it when she joined the cast. They bring up that it took 2 years to get distribution for this project. They chat about how rough the movie business is & no one there has a guarantee. “Blount’s BTS: Behind The Scenes of DIRECTOR’S CUT” is a little over 19 minutes. Penn Jillette says he first came up with Director’s Cut about 10 years ago.
Director Adam Rifkin joins him for some behind the scenes footage. They laugh at being creepy & filming certain scenes with Missi Pyle. Multiple video blogs cover various production days on this shoot. It’s pretty cool to see them create this feature. Teller even steps in & chats a little bit. “KNOCKED OFF “Early Cut” is almost 14 minutes. it’s nice addition & look into the project. “Outtakes” is almost 6 minutes & it has some really funny bloopers in it. “Slamdance Premiere” is 9 minutes. It starts out with a Q & A then go into interviews with the main creative forces for this project. Producer/director Adam Rifkin & writer/producer/star Penn Jillette chat about Director’s Cut to various people & press. They are later joined by actors Missi Pyle, Harry Hamlin, Teller, & Gilbert Gottfried. “Brendan Mitchell at the L.A. Premiere” is 14 minutes. He also known as WetMovie1 & he is one of the worst reviewers around. His hoarding up YouTube videos are cringe worthy & he doesn’t seem to care about the actual releases he talks about. He’s more about the attention than anything. I still don’t understand how anyone can tolerate his awkwardness for more than a few minutes at a time. I guess it’s like watching a train wreck because it’s hard to look away sometimes. Luckily, his premier & signing videos are better than those. He starts out with a quick chat with Penn & Teller. It features a small portion of the Q & A with various cast & crew members moderated by Rob Galluzzo. Ron Jeremy is falling asleep during this & it’s kinda amusing to see. Penn says he tried to shopping it around to multiple studios & got rejected by all of them. Missi Pyle, Ron Jeremy, & Adam Rifkin are briefly interviewed. Ron Jeremy & some girls make a joke that WetMovie1 completely falls for which makes him look a little clueless. He ends the feature mumbling & shuddering trying to review what he seen but really doesn’t say much to sell you on it. Luckily, you have someone like me to give you a better insight on something like this. “The Clap: Slate-Mania from the set of DIRECTOR’S CUT” is a little over 2 minutes. It’s definitely a weird little extra. “Make Penn Bad: Original Crowdfunder Pitch Video” is 4 minutes. Penn Jillette sells the shit out of this film. He kills it at pitching this. I am not surprised that they did so good with this on Crowdfunding. This video was probably one of the main reasons for that. “Deleted Scenes” is 15 minutes & it features some of the fast forwarded stuff in the film like the Manson Family & Jeffrey Dahmer material. I kinda wish they were in the actual feature now. Last not least, you get various trailers for Dread Central Presents releases which include Two different Director’s Cut trailers, Zombiology, Vidar the Vampire, & Terrifier. Epic Pictures & Dread Central KILLED it on this release because it’s fully loaded! It will keep you busy for hours, check it out!!!!
NIGHT OF THE LEPUS BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Night of the Lepus (aKa Rabbits) is a 1972 horror film directed by William F. Claxton (Little House on the Prairie, Half Past Midnight, Rockabilly Baby, & Fangs of the Wild). Claxton was mainly known for directing Westerns & Television. It’s based on the 1964 science fiction novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit by Russell Braddon. They used domestic rabbits filmed against miniature models & actors dressed in rabbit costumes for the attack scenes. MGM originally wanted to keep the animals a secret so they changed the title but they later on gave out rabbit’s foot promotional items for the feature. It had an estimated budget of $900,000 & it made $3,711,923 worldwide at the box office. It never released on VHS here & it didn’t get a home video release until 2005. It’s been made fun & laughed at on Rifftrax featuring Mystery Science Theater 3000 members.
Rancher Cole Hillman (played by: Rory Calhoun from Motel Hell, Roller Blade Warriors, Revenge of Bigfoot, & Adventure Island) is having problems so he seeks the help of Elgin Clark (played by: DeForest Kelley from the Star Trek franchise) to take care of his rabbit overpopulation issues. Cole didn’t want to poison the animals so he didn’t want to use the previous help he had for coyotes. Elgin says he knows who can handle this situation so he goes to researchers Roy (played by: Stuart Whitman from Eaten Alive, Guyana: Cult of the Damned, Mean Johnny Barrows, & Crazy Mama) & Gerry Bennett (played by: Janet Leigh from Psycho, The Fog, Halloween H20, & Touch of Evil). The Bennett’s daughter Amanda (played by: Melanie Fullerton from To Rome with Love) becomes attached to their first test subject. They notice large animal tracks soon after near them. Mysterious attacks start happening & people are found in bad shape. This puts fear in the community. Frank (played by: Henry Wills from Drum, In like Flint, & Showdown) & Jud (played by: Chuck Hayward from Alien Nation, Nightfall , & Joe Kidd) tried to take matters in their own hands but it proves to be a huge mistake. Sheriff Cody (played by: Paul Fix from El Dorado, To Kill a Mockingbird, & Giant) is determined to fix this crazy scenario so he calls the National Guard. Everyone comes together to battle these vicious creatures that’s making their town less populated since their arrival. What have they created? Is it too late to eliminate these fast growing mutated monsters?
I realize that Night of the Lepus is considered one of those “so bad it’s good” type of films but I honestly don’t agree with that statement when it comes to this feature. Look at the talented cast & crew involved in this. It really elevated the production for this type of film. Everyone performed like it was a normal project for this. No one was hammy or over the top when it came to this killer animals flick. It helps it out & the end result is definitely way better than expected. I know this isn’t saying much because this particular sub genre is very small but this is the best killer rabbit movie that I’ve ever seen! It’s full of entertainment & I had so much fun with this one. For it’s budget & it’s age I thought the effects used in Lepus were really good for what they had to work with. It’s much more brutal than I thought it would be. It had some nice gore & it would make any horror fan happy. Never judge a book by it’s cover is the perfect statement for something like this because it’s reputation is far worse than what it actually is. I had low expectations & I ended up being very satisfied with the final product. It’s a silly feature but it’s one of those films I can watch over & over. The replay value is strong on this. Check it out!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. This new 1080p (1.85:1) 2K transfer from Warner Bros looks great & the colors really pop out on this. This production has never been this detailed when it comes to the picture. This early 70s film has barely had a home video history so this is a welcomed surprise & it’s the best it’s ever looked! The English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA is better than expected for it’s age. It’s real clean & clear plus it even has some amped up moments that add to the entertainment. Overall, I am very impressed with both technical aspects of this older catalog title. I am looking forward to more collaborations between Scream Factory & Warner Bros because so far it’s a top notch combination especially for material like this!
Let’s discuss the special features on this release from Scream Factory. Audio commentary with Massacred By Mother Nature: Exploring The Natural Horror Film author Lee Gambin. I’ve heard a few other tracks by this guy & he is always well informed. For being a solo track, he keeps it flowing & it has a nice pace to it. He says he hates the term “it’s so bad it’s good”. He goes into great detail about various cast & crew members. He talks about their other work & what they did on this feature. He mentions he doesn’t like Mystery Science Theater 3000. He chats about the social commentary of the film & the original book. He brings up the killer animal genre & goes over it during the feature. A popular subject with him is Stephen King’s Cujo since he wrote the book Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo it’s not a big surprise. He loves bringing up that film on audio tracks. It has a 2nd Audio Commentary with pop culture historian Russell Dyball. He starts out with a few jokes but gets pretty serious about this project after that. He goes into major detail about the cast & crew for this production. As far as letting you know about the news anchor’s accomplishments & roles he inspired. He talks about the director unfamiliarity of the genre since he was mainly directing Television & Westerns back then. He thinks maybe his work on the Twilight Zone helped him get this gig. He chats about the promotional campaign for this. This is vastly different from the other audio track so it’s a nice companion piece to it as an extra. I was a little worried when I see similar people were doing the same stuff for this & I didn’t want to hear a repeat soon after. I was happy to discover they both have their own unique styles & it’s a different experience for each one. You learn a good amount from both Lee Gambin & Russell Dyball about Night of the Lepus. You also get a bunch of promotional material for the film which include Theatrical Trailer, & Television Spot, Radio Spot, & almost 5 minute Image Gallery! I personally really enjoyed this flick & I highly recommend this new blu ray release from Scream Factory especially if you are into the killer animal or nature gone wrong genres.
THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT BLU RAY REVIEW (UNIVERSAL)
The Strangers: Prey at Night is a 2018 slasher film directed by Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door, 47 Metres Down, & Storage 24) . This is a sequel to 2008’s The Strangers. It was originally announced right after the original film’s release. Before the script was re-written, Liv Tyler was going to return in a cameo for this. It was co-written by Bryan Bertino who directed the first film & created the horror series. Laurent Briet was the original choice for director but after the project being delayed that all changed. None of the original strangers returned to their roles & they were all recasted for this sequel. The budget was 5 million & the follow up made 4 million on it’s opening day with $610,000 from Thursday night previews almost making all it’s money back right away. It ended grossing $29 million worldwide becoming a major success for the studio & producers.
Dollface (played by: Emma Bellomy from Before the Dark & Smoketown), Pin Up Girl (played by: stunt woman Lea Enslin from The Walking Dead & Gerald’s Game), & the Man in the Mask (played by: Damian Maffei from Ghost Lake, Nikos the Impaler, Christmas with the Dead, & Closed for the Season) are back! They terrorize a couple in a secluded trailer park. Cindy (played by: Christina Hendricks from Mad Men, Drive, The Neon Demon, & Bad Santa 2), Mike (played by: Martin Henderson from The Ring, Smokin’ Aces, Devil’s Knot, & Grey’s Anatomy), Kinsey (played by: Bailee Madison from Brothers, Just Go with It, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, & Good Witch), & Luke (played by: Lewis Pullman from Bad Times at the El Royale, Aftermath, The Ballad of Lefty Brown, & Battle of the Sexes) are taking a family trip to their relatives trailer. They are spending time together before Kinsey goes to boarding school. They get to their location a little late & someone knocks on the door. Cindy answers & a girl asks “Is Tamara is home?” She tells the stranger that she has the wrong place & she leaves. The family starts playing games & enjoy some quality time together. The same girl knocks on the door & asks the exact same question as earlier. They all just think the stranger is lost & confused. The two kids discover some unsettling things that set off a horrifying chain of events. The family is being stalked by three masked killers & they must fight their way out to survive this night from hell!!!!
It’s been a decent amount of time since the original film was released. I am surprised it took so long to get this sequel made but I do think it was worth all that wait! This follow up is actually more entertaining & brutal compared to the first film. The kills & gore are amped up in this one so horror fans will definitely be happy about that addition. It had more characters in this so I guess that helped it achieve that. It also had more locations & set pieces so it wasn’t as isolated. All the performances were real solid in this especially the kids. I thought the soundtrack didn’t fit the vibe of the film at all. It really threw me off at first because it was so out of place. It becomes such a weird experience because at the end I actually ended up enjoying it despite it not fitting in. That’s probably one of the reasons because it just makes the feature go anywhere without much of a warning so it was unique. It gave it some fresh air to the series which was cool to see.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation on this disc from Universal. This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer really shines at certain moments especially the pool scene which looks AMAZING! It’s one of the best scenes I’ve experienced for recent horror. It’s a real dark film so sometimes it doesn’t pop out as much & some stuff is kinda hidden in the night but it works with the atmosphere of this production. It adds to the suspense & thrills. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is top notch on here. It’s one of those features were the sound enhances the scenes & you feel like it’s happening to you at that very time. It sounds great in the home set up. It also includes English SDH & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release. It has an almost 2 minute “Alternate Ending”. “Prep For Night” Music Video: Director’s Cut which is over 2 minutes. “A Look Inside The Strangers: Prey At Night” is an almost 2 minute promotional piece that doesn’t really go anywhere besides a super quick look at the production. “Family Fights Back” is 2 minutes & it focuses on the main characters from this. It’s brief but it’s definitely better than the other extras on here. “The Music Of The Strangers: Prey At Night” is almost 3 minutes. Director Johannes Roberts said he wanted a John Carpenter style to this film. I am curious what Carpenter stuff he is referring to because it doesn’t remind me of the horror master at all & I consider Carpenter’s music to be some of the best in the history of horror. He talks about 80s Pop music & brings up that he had certain tracks for the right moments for this. Actress Bailee Madison chats about the music featured in the production also. I am a little shocked how light these extras are on this blu ray because none of them are honestly that special. They are just fast promo pieces they made to highlight a few things quick without going into much detail. You get two options when it comes to your viewing experience of Prey at Night either Theatrical or Unrated. There’s not much of a difference time wise between the two versions. You also get a slipcover, a digital code, & a DVD copy. I was more impressed than I thought I would be with this sequel. It was way better than expected & I highly recommended any Strangers, slasher, & horror fans to check it out ASAP!
TOMB RAIDER 4K/BLU RAY REVIEW (WARNER BROS)
Tomb Raider is a 2018 action-adventure film directed by Roar Uthaug (Cold Prey, Magic Silver, Escape, & The Wave). This is a reboot of the franchise previously starring Angelina Jolie from 2001 & 2003. It’s based off the 1996 video game but the plot comes from a 2013 release from the popular series. GK Films first acquired the rights to make the film in 2011. Junkie XL left Justice League to work on music for the film. After the the disappearance of her father Richard Croft (played by: Dominic West from The Wire, 300, Hannibal Rising, & Punisher: War Zone). Lara Croft (played by: Alicia Vikander from Ex Machina, The Danish Girl, The Fifth Estate, & The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) is training to be a fighter & has a job as a bike courier. She’s going no where in life. She gets arrested & gets bailed out by her father’s business associate Ana Miller (played by: Kristin Scott Thomas from Only God Forgives, Darkest Hour, The English Patient, & Mission: Impossible). She warns her if she does not claim her inheritance that the family estate will be sold off. She finds a clue left by her father which leads her to go to Hong Kong. She is desperate for some quick cash so she pawns off a family heirloom to Max (played by: Nick Frost from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, & Paul). She is looking for Lu Ren (played by: Daniel Wu from Into the Badlands, The Man with the Iron Fists, Warcraft, & Geostorm) & hires him as her captain to take her to the destination. The ship crashes during a dangerous storm & she is revived by Mathias Vogel (played by: Walton Goggins from House of 1000 Corpses, The Shield, Justified, The Hateful Eight, & Django Unchained). He was the last person she wanted to run into & now he has all her father’s information on where to find the desired tomb. She manages to escape his camp & finds some help she didn’t expect! Now she has to stop these corrupt men from unleashing the curse that’s been buried for a long now. Did she make a mistake going all the way out here? or Was it her destiny all along?
I thought this new vision of Tomb Raider went into the right direction for the franchise. It was less cartoon & over the top this time. It felt more real than the other films. It had a darker vibe to it which I really enjoyed. I honestly took Alicia Vikander more serious as the Lara Croft character. Walton Goggins was great like always as the villain in this. The supporting cast of Daniel Wu, Dominic West, & Kristin Scott Thomas all brought something to the table in this. It’s a well rounded group of actors that made the script that much better when it was delivered. It was also really cool to see Nick Frost in a cameo for this. He was hilarious in his small role. Director Roar Uthaug really provided a fresh approach to this familiar universe & I think it pays off at the end. It had a nice pace to it & it’s full of action. Plus it has some nice twists & turns to keep you on your toes. I hope they continue making these Tomb Raider films like this. It’s worth checking out!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from this release from Warner Bros! This 2160p (2.40:1) 4K transfer with Dolby Vision & HDR10 looks beautiful on the screen! It brings out every possible detail & enhances all the locations used in this production. The main audio track is the English Dolby Atmos (7.1 TrueHD) & it matches the excellent picture quality with top notch sound! The Junkie XL score sounds great on this. The action & suspense moments really roar out of your home system which makes it more entertaining while enjoying it in your own comfort zone. It also includes these additional audio options English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French : Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1, & English: Dolby Digital 5.1! It has subtitles for English SDH, French, Portuguese, & Spanish.
Let’s discuss the special features on the blu ray disc from Warner Bros, there’s none on the actual 4K. You get various trailers for either upcoming or current films from WB before the film starts. “Tomb Raider: Uncovered” is 7 minutes, it features various cast & crew members. The director chats about being inspired by the new gritty Lara in the recent video games. Everyone talks about doing a different take on the beloved series. They bring up Alicia Vikander becoming Lara Croft & what she brings to the film. They discuss the action in the production. “Croft Training” is 6 minutes & it has interviews with various members of the crew including the star Alicia Vikander. It shows behind the scenes & training sessions with the actress. It goes through her process of preparing for the character. It shows you several actions scenes from the feature. “Breaking Down the Rapids” is a little over 5 minutes. It has interviews with various members of the crew including Lara Croft herself Alicia Vikander. It shows you how they made the scene. It goes over the stunts used in it. It’s a pretty cool inside look into making this crazy sequence in the film. “Lara Croft: Evolution of an Icon” is almost 10 minutes. It features star Alicia Vikander, director Roar Uthaug, actor Dominic West, & a few fans. They all show their appreciation for the classic video game character. They talk about their experiences with the series. They go into the universe & bring up different versions of the game. You can tell these people are passionate about Tomb Raider & the adventures of Lara Croft. This release looks & sounds great, I really liked the direction that they took the franchise with this. I highly recommend picking this up this Tuesday when it’s available everywhere!!!!
THE MIMIC BLU RAY REVIEW (WELL GO USA)
The Mimic (aKa Jang-san-beom) is a 2017 horror film written & directed by Jung Huh (Hide and Seek). It’s inspired by the South Korean urban legend of the Jangsan Tiger. It was released in South Korean cinemas in August 2017. It earned a total of $7.3 million there & it had over a million admissions. It became the first South Korean horror film to have accrued more than a million viewers in four years. It got nominated for various awards including 1st The Seoul Awards, 54th Grand Bell Awards, & 38th Blue Dragon Film Awards. The film opens with a man in a panic driving with a women to an isolated spot. He accidentally hits a dog & he goes to put it in his trunk. It’s revealed that he has a women tied up back there. He seems to be losing his mind. After he gets rid of the lady he still hears her voice. That can’t be possible because she’s gone! This leaves the other two confused & scared for their life.
Some time after it goes to Hee-yeon (played by: Jung-ah Yum from Three… Extremes, A Tale of Two Sisters, H, & Secret Healer ) that’s moving away to take care Soon-ja (played by: Jin Heo from The Wailing) with her family Jun-hee (played by: Bang Yoo-seol) & Min-ho (played by: Hyuk-kwon Park from You’re My Favorite, Six Flying Dragons , The Producers, & Punch). She thinks she sees her missing son Jun-suh in the city. He’s been gone for 5 years now & their family is still messed up over it. Local kids go to Mt. Jang cave & get spooked. The couple comes down to check out the commotion. Hee-yeon finds a little girl (played by: Rin-Ah Shin from Return, My Love Eun Dong, & Memoir of a Murderer) in the woods. They find the dead girl from before in the cave & the police are called to the scene. One of the officers investigates all the cases that took place at the same location. They all had a similar experience. They all heard the voices of their dead loved ones before they vanished! Ever since the mysterious girl was brought in to live with them the family is starting to experience some bizarre behavior. They are falling apart, what have they let inside her home? Sometimes it’s not what it seems to be….
The Mimic starts out as a family drama for a good portion of the film. It has glimpses of some messed up stuff but it doesn’t really kick in until the last 40 minutes of this feature. The script is very good & the character development is on point. You are invited into this family’s life & what they are going through at the moment. Everyone is kinda on the edge & this situation makes everything much worse. The cast features some of the best actors you can get from South Korea so that really enhances everything in this production. This is one of those types that you have to be patient for but I am telling you now it’s worth the wait!!!! The mystery kept you wanting more until it finally hits you. It was pretty creepy during the last half & the special effects were awesome in this. I am big fan of Asian cinema & I love the ghost sub genre so this is a good combination of both. Well Go continues to deliver top notch entertainment to the United States for these films.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation & special features on the disc from Well Go USA! This 1080p (1.77:1) transfer pops out on the screen. The various locations in this really look great in HD! It features two different audio tracks on here which include Korean: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & Korean: Dolby Digital 2.0 plus English subtitles. It sounds good on my home system but nothing mind blowing or anything like that but it works! The dialogue sounds perfect so what I mean by that is there’s no real crazy amped up moments in this. Let’s discuss the special features on this release. “The Making of” section is separated by two different featurettes. “Director’s Commentary” is almost 2 minutes. It’s a quick chat with director Jung Huh. He talks a little about the story & concept of the feature. is almost 3 minutes. It features interviews with actress Jung-ah Yum, director Jung Huh, actor Hyuk-kwon Park, & actress Rin-Ah Shin. They talk a little about the film & their characters. Each person on here seems to admire each other & their work. Both extras are in Korean with English subtitles. It features a Theatrical Trailer for The Mimic. Well Go USA provided some trailers for some of their other releases also. I really liked this, it had a nice build up & it ended with a bang! I highly recommend this release, it’s being released this Tuesday so check it out!!!!
THE MIDNIGHT MAN BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY / IFC MIDNIGHT)
The Midnight Man is a 2016 horror film directed by Travis Z (Cabin Fever 2016, Intruder, & Scavengers). This is a remake of the 2013 Irish horror film with the same name. Director Travis Zariwny is no stranger to remakes considering he was the one who did the controversial same script re-boot for Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever a few years ago. A group of friends get themselves into a game they can’t escape & it leads to tragedy. Many years later on a snowy night in her grandmother’s sprawling mansion, teenager Alex (played by: Gabrielle Haugh from Jeepers Creepers III, The Institute, & 13 Reasons Why) & her best friend Miles (played by: Grayson Gabriel from Stan Helsing, Day to Night, & Anthem) discover a mysterious box hidden away in the attic. Inside are instructions for The Midnight Game, an ancient pagan ritual said to summon the player’s deepest fears. It all seems like harmless fun & games to Alex & Miles until it brought back a monster that’s been locked away for a long time. It puts others in danger after exposing this darkness to the world again. Anna Luster (played by: Lin Shaye from Insidious franchise, Critters 1/2, Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, & Detroit Rock City) has some dark secrets hidden in her past & one includes the deadly The Midnight Man (played by: Kyle Strauts from The Predator, Let’s Play, & iZombie). Dr. Harding (played by: Robert Englund from A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, V, The Phantom of the Opera, & Dance Macabre) has special instructions for Alex when it comes to the care of Anna. Curiosity has created a supernatural problem for the two friends. Why is this game in this house? & What did they just bring back? It’s a night of unholy terror from someone who gets power from the worst & biggest fears inside!!!!
The Midnight Man is very similar to what you have seen in mainstream cinema in recent years for the horror genre but it’s done much better on a lower budget. I was really impressed with the special effects on this feature. It felt like it could have been made in the 80s. Horror fans will be happy with the kills & the amount of gore used in this production. It had a nice little back story to it which instantly drew you into this world. It’s not something new or original to the genre but it was executed well. I enjoy Travis Z’s directing style & I think it adds a little extra to the film. It’s set in one house for most of the feature so it has quality production value for it’s limited locations which works good for this type of film. The two horror veterans really elevated in their supporting roles, both Robert Englund & Lin Shaye made The Midnight Man better with their performances. Horror is obviously my favorite genre, I am not going to lie over the years it’s been full of lame or throwaway villains. The Midnight Man is one of the better ones in recent years. He is BRUTAL plus he actually looks pretty cool. He definitely stands out! I like how he plays on people’s fears & uses it against them. We need more characters like this in the genre. I am glad this is released here now.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer is better than expected for this independent low budget film. It has a nice creepy atmosphere to it. I also like how it’s basically set in one location for most of the production. The set pieces & design look good on the screen. The background is basically another character in this feature. It has two different audio options which include English DTS-HD MA 5.1 & DTS-HD MA 2.0 plus English SDH subtitles. It sounded great on my home system & it had some real intense moments during it which added to the excitement!
Let’s discuss the special features on this disc! This is one of the best extras you can ever get for a blu ray. It’s the original 2013 Midnight Man film written & directed by Rob Kennedy (Trick or Treat, Wheels of Death, Parking Ticket, & In the Night, in the Dark). It runs almost an hour & thirty minutes. The good news is both films had different tones to them so you can easily watch them back to back without feeling you have seen the same twice in a row. It was cool to see where the inspiration & early concepts came from on this. You also get a Theatrical Trailer for the film. It has reversible artwork & a slipcover also. Scream Factory & IFC Midnight continue their creative collaboration with The Midnight Man release that just came out last Tuesday. I always appreciate a cool new villain in the horror genre so that alone makes it worth viewing. I had way more fun than I thought I would with this so i definitely recommend it, check it out!!!!
DEVIL’S GATE BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY / IFC MIDNIGHT)
Devil’s Gate (aKa Abduction) is a 2017 suspense thriller film co-written & directed by Clay Staub (Second Unit Director for Dawn of the Dead 2004, 300, & The Thing 2011). This is Clay Staub’s directorial debut. Devil’s Gate is a made up place & it doesn’t exist in North Dakota. What unholy force lies locked away in a crumbling, booby-trapped, middle-of-nowhere farmhouse? When Maria (played by: Bridget Regan from John Wick, Agent Carter, Legend of the Seeker, & White Collar) & her son Jonah (played by: Spencer Drever from Fargo TV series) mysteriously vanish, FBI agent Daria Francis (played by: Amanda Schull from 12 Monkeys, Suits, I Am Wrath, & J. Edgar) is dispatched to the small town of Devil’s Gate, North Dakota to investigate the number one suspect! A religious fanatic Jackson Pritchard (played by: Milo Ventimiglia from Rocky Balboa, Pathology, Gamer, Heroes, & Cursed) who also happens to be the husband & father of the missing persons. She is assisted by local deputy Conrad ‘Colt’ Salter (played by: Shawn Ashmore from X-men franchise, Frozen, The Following, & Mother’s Day). They are told by Sheriff Gruenwell (played by: Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek franchise, Gargoyles, North and South, & Falcon Crest ) not to question Jackson again & investigate other aspects of the case. They ignore their orders & go to the Pritchard property. Jackson is hiding something but it’s not murder! They discover a bizarre situation in the basement & it ends up becoming more than what they asked for. Can they survive this chaotic night with a man that they can’t even trust?
Devil’s Gate plays out like two different films during it’s original start in the first half & it’s end in the second half. At first, you get a dark cop suspense thriller with the two leads looking into these disappearances. Both have good chemistry & I thought it was a pretty good set up for what’s to come. I was curious what direction it was going into at a first glance because it seemed to be more normal than your usual IFC Midnight release but that changed once they got to Pritchard’s home. I’ve never seen this type of performance from Milo Ventimiglia so that was refreshing to see. He proved that he has more range than he’s usually given with the bigger projects he works on. That’s why I love independent film because it gives everyone a chance to shine on material they typically wouldn’t do. Devil’s Gate completely changes once they get to the main location. It shifts into more horror & science fiction territory. The bad weather added to the crazy atmosphere that it already had. I thought the special (Adrien Morot from Martyrs, Cult of Chucky, 300, Riddick, X-Men: Days of Future Past, & X-Men: Apocalypse) & visual effects (Jean-François Ferland from The Walking Dead, Arrival, & Assassin’s Creed) really stood out for being a low budget feature. It was packed with action & thrills once it switched genres so it had a nice pace to it & it kept me entertained until the very end! Definitely recommended to any horror, sci fi, & independent film fans out there.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks great especially for being a independent low budget project. It’s a very stylish production thanks to Cinematographer Miroslaw Baszak (The Strain, Land of the Dead, Pontypool, & The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day). It features two different audio options English DTS-HD MA 5.1 & DTS-HD MA 2.0 plus English subtitles. The tracks really shine when it the bad weather kicks in! I was very impressed with both the picture & the sound from this new blu ray. It includes a DVD copy of the film. It has reversible artwork & a slipcover also. Scream Factory & IFC Midnight continue their creative collaboration with this Devil’s Gate release that just came out last Tuesday. I had fun with this, check it out!!!!
NINJA III COLLECTOR’S EDITION BLU RAY REVIEW (SCREAM FACTORY)
Ninja III: The Domination is a 1984 martial arts horror hybrid film directed by Sam Firstenberg (Revenge of the Ninja, American Ninja 1/2, Avenging Force, & American Samurai). It’s the final film in the Ninja trilogy. It follows 1981’s Enter the Ninja & 1983’s Revenge of the Ninja. It was produced by Yoram Globus & Menahem Golan for Cannon Films. It was shot in 9 weeks. Shô Kosugi came up with the idea for his character to wear an eye patch. Kosugi was the movie’s technical advisor & fight co-choreographer. The Master was on prime time TV during the time. Lucinda Dickey starred in 3 films for Cannon Films in 1984.
The evil Black Ninja (played by: David Chung from Repo Man, Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, Walker, & The Ballad of Little Jo) is caught by the police. He is surrounded & fights them while getting shot up. He manages to escape somehow & runs into Christie (played by: Lucinda Dickey from Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Grease 2, & Cheerleader Camp) during his last breathe. He puts a curse on her & possesses her body without her knowing it at the time. She’s a telephone linewoman by day & an aerobics class instructor by night. She is brought in by law enforcement to answer questions about the unknown assassin. She doesn’t know anything about the stranger but she gets the attention of officer Billy Secord (played by: Jordan Bennett from The Waltons, Emergency!, & Too Close for Comfort) at the station. His persistence finally pays off & they hook up. His co-workers are getting killed off one by one all the sudden. No one understands what’s happening but it seems to be connected to the dead ninja. Christie keeps blacking out & she doesn’t remember where’s she been or what she’s done. The mysterious Yamada (played by: Shô Kosugi from Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja Assassin, & Black Eagle) appears at crime scene. Billy is worried about his new girlfriend so he takes her to Miyashima (played by: James Hong from Big Trouble in Little China, Tango & Cash, Blade Runner, & Missing in Action) to force the spirit out that’s been taking over. After that fails, Ninja Yamada offers to help Christie with her deadly problem. He traveled all the way to America to end his feud with the Black Ninja for good. This leads to a crazy final confrontation! Who will win this battle? Good or Evil?
What happens when you mix the Ninja series with Flashdance with a little touch of Breakin’, & have The Exorcist added in? Ninja III: The Domination is the correct answer to that question. It’s one of the weirdest combinations of genres that I’ve ever seen in cinema. It’s safe to say you don’t have to see the previous two Ninja films to enjoy this one. Shô Kosugi is the glue to the franchise & he elevates this bizarre addition from Cannon Films! It has a little something for everyone when it comes to the 80s. You get to see some dancing, aerobics, & that signature sound during this time. It also has plenty of martial arts, action, & violence that you would expect from this type of film. This is where it fits the horror genre with the possession angle to the story. It has moments of The Exorcist that would fit in with one of their sequels. This evil Ninja is out for blood so it also kinda has a slasher vibe to it also which I really enjoyed. Honestly, it’s a mess but it’s one of the most entertaining productions that you will ever see. It has so much replay value to it. It gets better with each viewing & more need to see this!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. Like everyone else I bought the original blu ray release in 2013. It was very nice at the time & I was happy with it. 5 years lster, Scream Factory has re-issued & upgraded Ninja III: The Domination to a Collector’s Edition release! I am sure most of you readers are thinking the same question while checking this review out, is it worth double dipping? YES!!!! This new 1080p (1:85:1) 4K transfer from the original film elements blows the previous version away! Everything in this feature is elevated & this sequel has never looked this good before. That alone makes this worth trading in your old copy & picking up this new blu ray. It’s a huge improvement & it has me curious what else will Scream/Shout Factory go back to re-master from their back catalog. The English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA track is the same as the older release. I always satisfied with it. It enhanced the action in the film & the music sounds amazing on it. I love the soundtrack & score for this. English SDH subtitles are also included. Ninja III gets proper treatment from Scream Factory & I don’t see anyone topping this one.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release from Scream Factory. Archival Audio Commentary with Director Sam Firstenberg & Stunt Coordinator Steve Lambert moderated by Robert Galluzo. They go into detail about making a low budget action film during the 80s. They talk about working with Cannon Films. Firstenberg says Poltergeist & The Exorcist were inspirations for the horror elements in this. They chat about the fight choreography & Lambert even points out where he broke some bones in this production. They bring up the cast especially Lucinda Dickey. Audio Interviews with co-composer Misha Segal & production designer Elliot Ellentuck moderated by Red Shirt Picture’s Michael Felsher with isolated score selections. I am a big fan of this killer score so it nice to get those isolated music moments on here. This kinda plays out like an Audio Commentary but it goes more into their careers than this actual film. Misha Segal talks about Jazz being his inspiration for getting into music. He brings up working in the music industry mainly in the Jazz genre. He says it was in decline so he moved on to movies. He mentions he didn’t plan on living in Hollywood after moving there but he always kept busy.
He brings up meeting Menahem Golan after auditioning for one of his plays. He talks about back in the day they did the music & turned it in without any approval or notes. That’s why lots of composers got fired & replaced during that time. Elliot Ellentuck talks about how he got started in the movie industry. He chats about how he got jobs. He says the same big camera got used in lots of Arizona productions. He mentions his design work on other films. He goes into his prep work for projects. He discusses in great detail about his experience on this production. It was his only production designer credit. He chats about staying in Arizona & the film community there. “Dancing With Death” is a 18 minute interview with lead actress Lucinda Dickey. She talks about starting out in dance. After seeing how everything went on Grease 2 she decided she wanted to act also. Ninja III was her first real role. She didn’t know what she was doing at the time. She had no clue what a ninja was. She chats about her character & training for the feature. Jordan Bennett took her under his wing & helped her out since it was her first time acting. She talks about the fight scenes. She tried to do all of her own stunts but it wasn’t happening. She jokes about the famous V8 scene.
She takes you through her possession experience from the film. She mentions doing re-shoots for this while filming Breakin’. She originally had a 5 picture deal with Cannon Films but things didn’t work out. “Secord’s Struggle” is 10 minute interview with lead actor Jordan Bennett. He talks about funny comedy show incident. He mentions all the different genres mixed into this film. He talks about meeting Menahem Golan. He brings up his ride along experience while doing research for the role. He talks about the stunts. He says he came up with the V8 scene but in the commentary it’s told a different way. That’s very interesting. He chats about the cast. “Birth of the Ninja” is an almost 12 minute interview with stuntman & producer Alan Amiel. He says he originally wanted to be an actor. He talks about how he got into stunts & who helped him out. He chats about getting Enter the Ninja made. He mentions working with Shô Kosugi. He talks about his experience with director Sam Firstenberg on Revenge of the Ninja & this sequel. He brings up stunt coordinator Steve Lambert. He mentions the possession angle a few times on here. “Trailers From Hell With Screenwriter Josh Olson” runs almost 2 minutes. He talks over the trailer & gives you information about the production. You get all kinds of promotional material which include the Theatrical Trailer, 3 minute “Still Photo Gallery”, & 4 minute “Behind-The-Scenes Gallery”. As I was saying earlier, the brand new transfer alone makes it worth buying Ninja III again but the exclusive extras make this disc loaded & full of entertainment. Those are my personal favorite additions & I highly recommend this upgrade from Scream Factory. Check it out!!!!
ABOMINABLE BLU RAY REVIEW (MVD REWIND COLLECTION)
Abominable is a 2006 horror film wirtten & directed by Ryan Schifrin (Tales of Halloween, Evil Hill, No Rest for the Wicked: A Basil & Moebius Adventure, King in the Box, & The Tiffany Problem). It was co-produced by the Sci Fi Channel. It’s considered one of their best original productions. Rex Linn only agreed to act in the movie under the condition that he got to play the monster in one scene. Paul Gleason is seen taking a sip from a mug with the quote “Don’t mess with the bull”. It’s a reference to his most famous character of Principal Richard Vernon from The Breakfast Club. Rex Linn was working on CSI: Miami at the same time as this. It premiered on April 10, 2006 in New York City.
A farmer named Billy Hoss (played by: Rex Linn from CSI: Miami, Cliffhanger, Wyatt Earp, Breakdown, & Better Call Saul) & his wife Ethel (played by: Dee Wallace from E.T., Critters, Cujo, & The Howling) wake up in the middle of night after hearing weird sounds outside. They find a dead horse & their dog vanishes soon after. They see a giant mysterious shadow behind their home. It goes to a man bound in a wheelchair named Preston Rogers (played by: Matt McCoy from Seinfeld, Carnivàle, Police Academy 5/6, & L.A. Confidential) going back to his home. Otis Wilhelm (played by: Special Effects artist Christien Tinsley from American Horror Story, Westworld, American Gods, & No Country for Old Men) is the nurse responsible for watching & taking care of him. He stops by a gas station & gets a warning about Preston by local clerk Buddy (played by: Jeffery Combs from Re-Animator franchise, The Frighteners, From Beyond, & Doctor Mordrid). A group of girls which include Michelle (played by: Natalie Compagno from American Dreams, Paperdolls, & Hollywood), C.J. (played by: Karin Anna Cheung from Better Luck Tomorrow, The People I’ve Slept With, & Rice on White), Tracy (played by: Scream Queen Tiffany Shepis from Tromeo and Juliet, Night of the Demons, Sharknado 2, & Victor Crowley), & Amanda (played by: Haley Joel from Summerland, American Dreams, & Crash Landing) are throwing a bachelorette party for their friend Karen (played by: Ashley Hartman from The O.C.).
Preston sees one of the girls vanish out of no where. He’s worried something is wrong outside the woods. He tries to get help but no one believes him. Later in the night, Three hunters which include Billy, Buddy, & Ziegler Dane (played by: Lance Henriksen from Pumpkinhead, Near Dark, The Terminator, Alien franchise, & Hard Target) are out looking for what they think was a Sasquatch (played by: Michael Deak from Cellar Dweller, Ghoulies II, Arena, & Tales from the Darkside: The Movie) that attacked Billy’s home earlier. They run into a huge surprise & it ends up a mistake trying to follow this creature. Next door, confined in his chair Preston witnesses more mayhem with the unknown monster terrorizing the girls. Sheriff Halderman (played by: Paul Gleason from The Breakfast Club, Trading Places, Die Hard, & Maniac Cop 3) thinks his warnings are false & tells him to stop sending them pranks. One of the girls comes to Preston for help. They all have to find out a way to defeat this murderous monster. The police (played by: Phil Morris from Seinfeld, Chad Smith from Tears of the Sun, Josh Wolfe from Detour & Paul Spadone) finally show up after not believing them originally & it’s a fight for survival!!!!
Just imagine Rear Window as a creature feature. I know it sounds like an odd mix but it actually works. Honestly, this is my all time favorite Bigfoot / Sasquatch / Abominable Snowman film ever made! It definitely stands out from all the other ones out there. It mainly uses practical effects so it had a retro vibe to it. It’s a brutal production & it has all kinds of gruesome moments in it. This monster movie doesn’t hold back at all. I love the fact that they tease you with the creature during the whole time. It barely shows him until the end so it adds to the suspense & thrills plus when you do finally get to see him it’s has a much bigger impact. It keeps to a few locations & stays pretty isolated from everything else. I liked how it focused on a few things & didn’t go all over the place. The set pieces & locations were perfect for this. I was very impressed with a few certain things for Abominable. All of the actresses in this feature were drop dead gorgeous especially Scream Queen Tiffany Shepis. That shower scene is great & she was actually pregnant during it but you can’t even tell. The casting for this was top notch with all the familiar faces & cameos for this independent production. This is pure entertainment & it’s so much fun to watch. This new cut has improved my viewing experience & I didn’t think that was possible with this!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer comes from a 2K scan of the original camera negative. This is a completely new version of the film. Files were lost so it had to be re-edited, opening credits updated, & the visual effects were re-done from the previous DVD releases (Anchor Bay & Lions Gate). It also had color timing & correction to enhance the overall production. As far as upgrades go, this is one of the best I’ve ever seen! I can’t believe how much better it looks now. The visuals are elevated in every possible way. The older version CAN’T even compare to this anymore. That’s coming from someone that really enjoyed it! It’s a definitely feels like a whole new experience with this. That’s not the only improvement on this feature. The disc offers two different audio options DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & LPCM 2.0! Before from the previous DVD releases, I thought the sound was decent on this but nothing that really stood out but not on this new release! It sounds amazing in my home system & it adds to the whole atmosphere of the production. It’s on a whole new level.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release from the MVD Rewind Collection. Brand new introduction from Director Ryan Schifrin that runs a little over 8 minutes. He talks about the new transfer & cut of the film. He tells the differences between this & the original version like re-editing, color timing/correction, the opening credits, & updated all the visual effects in this. He says they never made a 35MM print of this before & it wasn’t mastered in high definition at the time since blu ray was still new. He mentions the film was only going to be released as DVD & on television at the moment so that’s why it was put out that way. He thinks the monster looks better in this new version & curious to see what others think about it. Archival Audio Commentary with writer/director Ryan Schifrin, Editor Chris Conlee, Actors Matt McCoy & Jeffrey Combs. Ryan Schifrin talks about all the favors he got while making this feature. He talks about Rear Window being an inspiration for this. He mentions he really wanted to make a horror film so he basically combined the two to make this. He brings up Oscar Winner Christien Tinsley made his acting debut in this. He says he was already a method actor in his first performance. He grew a mustache & shaved the bald spot in the back of his head to add to the character. Jeffrey Combs joined the track around the 9 minute mark. He talks about his look in the film. He says he was inspired by his relatives mainly his uncle for this role. Ryan mentions his actions for certain people in here to move the story in a specific direction. He jokes about a blooper that took place where one of the actors crashed a car while filming. They talk about scenes that were added that weren’t in the original cut. Matt Mccoy discusses the challenges of the lead role. Ryan quotes Hitchcock during a scene. Jeffrey Combs returns to the commentary when his character pops up again.
They bring up Lance Henriksen & his participation in this. They talk about having a delay shooting because of concert near by. They mention a location they used has been seen in many other projects. They talk about Lance wanting to shoot out his gun & the director’s wife had to get a permit the last minute to make it happen. The famous Wilhelm Scream is brought up when it’s used here. They bring up Tiffany Shepis & her popularity in this genre. They discuss the special effects. The director points out his Sam Raimi & George Romero homages in this. Mccoy brings up that he has worked on a few Bigfoot movies. They joke about a possible sequel. They talk about various locations. They mention cast & crew members. This is pretty spot on when it comes to scene specific & they go into detail about what you are watching. It’s mainly between Schifrin & Mccoy but the other two show up every once in awhile. The archival “Back to Genre: Making ABOMINABLE” featurette is a little over 37 minutes. Ryan Schifrin says he came up with the concept of this on his honeymoon. He talks about horror being watered down & too much PG these days. Various cast members talk about the horror genre & the production of this feature. Rex Linn mentions he really wanted to play the monster in this but it was already cast but the director let him do it in one scene. Ryan Schifrin talks about the casting for Abominable. Christien Tinsley chats about his experience on acting for the first time in this. Lots of behind the scenes footage is shown. Ryan Schifrin mentions Duel was a inspiration since this was also his first full length experience & that was a lower budget production. Dee Wallace is actually featured more in this than the actual film. LOL They talk about the special effects in the movie. They go more into detail about the monster.
Christien Tinsley did his fx for own death scene which was cool to see. Ryan Schifrin talks about the weather adding to the production value. He mentions various crew members that worked on the film. He brings up DP Neal Fredericks passing away before it was finished. This making of featurette covers pretty much everything you want to know about the movie. ‘6 minutes of “Deleted and Extended Scenes”. 4 minutes of “Outtakes and Bloopers”. “Shadows” is a 8 minute Black & White USC student film directed by Ryan Schifrin. “Basil & Moebius: No Rest for the Wicked” is a 16 minute short directed by Ryan Schifrin. It stars Zachary Levi (Chuck), Ray Park (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace), Malcolm Mcdowell (A Clockwork Orange), Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank 1/2), Walter Phelan (House of 1000 Corpses), & Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th franchise). I am impressed with all the talent involved for such a little production. It was a fun spy film with lots of action. It actually one of the best shorts that I’ve ever seen. “The original 2005 version of Abominable” really makes you appreciate the the updated version. If you want a more throwback vibe check this out. “Poster & Still Gallery” is almost 4 minutes. “Storyboard Gallery” is almost 3 minutes. You get two trailers for Abominable plus trailers for Return of Swamp Thing, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Savannah Smiles, & Black Eagle from the label. You also get an amazing retro looking slipcover, a DVD copy, & a mini collectible poster. MVD Rewind Collection once again provides top notch quality with this fully loaded release, I highly recommend this!!!!
EVIL BONG 777 BLU RAY REVIEW (FULL MOON FEATURES)
Evil Bong 777 is a 2018 horror comedy produced & directed by Charles Band (Evil Bong, Evil Bong 2: King Bong, Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong, Gingerdead Man Vs. Evil Bong, Evil Bong 420, Evil Bong: High 5, & Evil Bong 666). As you can see, Evil Bong has become Full Moon Features most popular new franchise. It has spawned 7 films & 1 spin off since 2006. It raised $25,557 on Indiegogo to produce this sequel. 777 made it’s video on demand debut on 4/20 to celebrate it’s favorite day for the stoner friendly series. Evil Bong 777 follows the events of the previous 666. Lucy Furr (played by: Mindy Robinson from CSI, V/H/S/2, Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens, & Check Point) is trying to return from Sexy Hell but her portal is too weak at the moment. Eebee (played by: Michelle Mais from Evil Bong series, Trading Places, & Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead) takes a trip & hits the Las Vegas Strip to cause a little mayhem. She is joined by her friends Rabbit (played by: Sonny Carl Davis from the Evil Bong series, TerrorVision, Trancers II, Seedpeople, & Butcher Boys), Faux Batty (played by: Robin Sydney from The Gingerdead Man, The Lost, Big Bad Wolf, Wicked Lake , & American Muscle), Misty (played by: Jessica Morris from Role Models, Bloody Murder, The Haunted Casino, & Venom), & The Gingerweed Man (played by: Brooks Davis from Evil Bong 666) to enjoy the entertainment of Sin City. They are all stunned by the performance of the puppet known as Hellvis. They decide to stay the night at a haunted hotel. The Gingerweed Man gets some “room service” from a prostitute (played by: Porn Star Leya Falcon) & ends up messing around with Faux Batty after that. Misty turns goth & Rabbit has a weird experience that he never wants to remember. Lucy Furr takes over Sexy Hell & returns to earth to get her revenge on all her enemies with some new friends. Can they stop this evil before it spreads?
Let’s start out with the positives for this. Evil Bong 777 was much better than High 5 & 666 in every possible way so it’s going in the right direction. The cinematography by DP Howard Wexler was impressive for it’s budget & the special effects by Tom Devlin’s 1313FX were pretty good also. It’s cool to see so many characters return after all these films. It had some nice sleazy moments in it. All of the women were beautiful in the feature. My favorite scenes where the ones in the Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum. It was a great background & it added to the action featured in it. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun with this. I was surprised how short this was, at 59 minutes it’s a easy watch so that’s one advantage of that but it felt more like a teaser than a full length feature. This film really didn’t go anywhere & the time it was about to get somewhere it was over already. The build up was there, I was ready to see them battle it out finally after all the hype but it went to the “to be continued” territory right away. I understand what Charles Band was doing, it’s a smart business move & it will easily lead to 888 soon. Honestly, I prefer Eebee as a villain compared to being the hero in this & some other sequels. I want to see that role go back to it’s roots sometime. If you are a fan of Full Moon, the Evil Bong franchise, & stoner comedies then you will probably enjoy this. I know this is a random thought but it’s Full Moon related. I am hoping to see more Gingerdead films get made in the future because I think they are under-rated & I really enjoy them!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer looks way than you would expect from a low budget crowdfunded film. Charles Band is a mad scientist when it comes to picking out a crew & getting every cent used on the screen. The English: Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is very solid & it really kicks in during some of the action scenes. As always, Full Moon is always good about music selection & picking the right composer. It’s elevated by it’s addition.
Let’s discuss the special features on this disc from Full Moon Features. “What happens in Vegas” is almost 25 minutes. It shows behind the scenes footage of Charles Band directing. You get to experience the film making of Full Moon & it’s definitely worth checking out. It features interviews with various cast & crew members. “The Devlin made us do It” is a little over 24 minutes. Special effects artist Tom Devlin takes you on a tour in his Monster Museum. If you are into classic monsters you will love this extra. It also shows up some iconic characters & actors created by him. This place looks amazing, if I am ever in Vegas I want to visit it sometime. He talks about working on Full Moon projects while showing his work. “When Bongs meets Babes” is almost 13 minutes. It’s a spotlight on the Porn Stars featured in the film. It shows all kinds of behind the scenes footage with them. It also interviews them about their experience with Full Moon. “Hellvis Unchained” is a little over 4 minutes. It gives the hardcore & uncut version of his performance in the production. This is one of the better releases when it comes to extras from Full Moon Features recently. It’s available direct from their official store & many other retailers, get high & have fun with this one!!!!
THE LODGERS BLU RAY REVIEW (EPIC PICTURES / DREAD CENTRAL PRESENTS)
The Lodgers is a 2017 Gothic horror film directed by Brian O’Malley (Let Us Prey, Screwback, & Crossing Salween). Screenwriter David Turpin also did music for the feature. Filmed in one of Ireland’s most infamous haunted houses known as Loftus Hall. The Lodgers won for Best Actress & Best Special Effects at the Fancine Festival de Cine. The film won Best Visual Effects at the 15th Irish Film & Television Awards. It won the Jury Prize for Best Film at the Molins de Rei Horror Film Festival. It’s been nominated for Best International Film at the 2018 Saturn Awards. Set in 1920, Irish twins Rachel (played by: Charlotte Vega from American Assassin, [REC] 3: Genesis, The Refugees, & Provenance) & Edward (played by: Bill Milner from Son of Rambow, Is Anybody There?, Locke, & Dunkirk) share their big family estate that’s falling apart. They stay isolated from everyone else & only keep each other company. Their parents warned them about the 3 rules from The Lodgers before they died leaving the two kids alone at the cursed location. They must be in bed by midnight.
They may not permit an outsider past the threshold. If one attempts to escape, the life of the other is placed in jeopardy. On their birthday the twins find out that their trust fund has ran out. Troubled war veteran Sean (played by: Eugene Simon from Game of Thrones, House of Anubis, & Eden) returns home after being handicapped & instantly notices Rachel at his family store. Bermingham (played by: David Bradley from Game of Thrones, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, The Strain, & Harry Potter series) warns them about their money problems in a letter & he soon arrives to collect the property. They try to give him jewelry to delay the foreclosure but he tells them without hesitation it won’t be enough. He is persistent to take over the estate & keeps harassing the twins. Rachel stressed at the situation leaves the house & runs into Sean. She starts to break the rules of The Lodgers as her connection with him gets deeper. Edward pays the price for her betrayal & it leads to a dangerous confrontation between the siblings!!!!
The Lodgers had a great atmosphere & haunting visuals. It reminded me of something that Hammer would do so it definitely had that vibe to it. It’s a very isolated feature besides a few characters showing up every once in awhile. I am not going to lie, you are going to have to be a very patient person to finish this all the way through. This is the definition of the slow burn. If you ever heard or used that term then you know exactly what you are getting into with this film. The character development & build up is excellent. Besides a few very small flashes of creepiness & what’s to come that’s all you get in the first 60 minutes. Some of you reading this right now are probably already thinking this one isn’t for me without even giving it a chance. I know these days more of the audience expects non stop action, thrills, & entertainment but sometimes it’s worth the wait. I am telling you right now that The Lodgers is one of those exceptions. It’s a very mysterious production that keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next & what exactly is wrong with this house? The last 30 minutes in this makes up for your patience. It rewards you for taking in the story & learning about the main characters plus their history. Instantly I want to watch it again, the 3rd act is really strong & it doesn’t hold back at all. Everything about The Lodgers is quality, it takes me back to the older days of horror with it’s Gothic surroundings.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Dread Central Presents & Epic Pictures. This 1080p (2.39:1) looks beautiful! It’s main location is the house & the inside really stands out. It’s shot really stylish through out the entire feature especially outside. 6 different audio options are provided for this disc which include English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English: Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, German: Dolby Digital 5.1, & Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1! It roared through my home system speakers & it sounds impressive! It really kicks in at the right moments in this. It also has various subtitle options like English SDH, French, German, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Romanian, & Swedish.
Let’s discuss the special features on this Dread Central Presents & Epic Pictures release. “Behind the Scenes” is 22 minutes & it shows you the making of this production. It has interviews with the cast & crew from the set. It covers the the origins, the story, locations, characters, & various other subjects concerning the film. Besides all of that it offers a decent amount of behind the scene footage hence the name of the actual featurette. “Deleted Scenes” is about 2 minutes. The two scenes featured are “Bathroom Scene” & “Bermingham Shop”. Last but not least, a T.V. spot & a Theatrical Trailer are included. It comes with a DVD copy of the release. If you are into Ghost story & haunted type of films then you are going to love this! I highly recommend this release from Dread Central Presents & Epic Pictures. The Lodgers is something that you are going to want to watch over & over just to catch something else that you didn’t notice the first time.
THE VIOLENCE MOVIE DVD REVIEW (MVD ENTERTAINMENT)
The Violence Movie is a 1988 S.O.V horror short written, special effects, shot, & directed by Eric D. Wilkinson (MVD Rewind creator, Producer of The Man from Earth, The Man from Earth: Holocene, Mischief Night, The Quiet Ones, Sparks, Subterranea, Midnight Show, & The Eyes). He also pulled the same duties for the 1990 sequel The Violence Movie 2 which is also included on here. His brother David Wilkinson (Art department for The Man from Earth & And Then Came Love) played the lead, produced, & edited the films. The estimated budget for this was $100! Yes, you read that last sentence right. This was originally a passion project by the Wilkinson brothers just to make a fun horror parody on VHS for friends & family to enjoy. They put their money together & rented a VHS video camera from Erol’s for 24 hours. They filmed it after working at their 9 to 5 jobs that earned money to finance this little underground production. It was edited on Sony Betamax. The original music was from Eric’s own personal record collection & he used the Friday the 13th soundtrack to add to the atmosphere. They thought they lost the original tapes & material until they were rediscovered in 2003. The Wilkinson brothers decided to go back their roots & shoot some additional footage to complete the project after all these years. Sundance Now executive George Schmalz wanted to add the film to his subscription streaming service. They reached out to the composer Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th series, House franchise, Swamp Thing, Wishmaster, Slaughter High, & DeepStar Six) that they originally “borrowed” his music from to use in their production to create a brand new score for this re-release that would finally be seen by the public. It premiered at the New Jersey Horrorcon & Film Festival!!!!
A psychotic killer (played by: David E. Wilkinson) escapes from prison & he out for blood! The warnings of the lunatic on the loose plays on the radio. The murderer ends up invading the first home he comes across. The unexpected Joey Hammond (played by: Joseph Shaugnessy) is having some bad lucky because he ended up living at this random house picked by the real life monster. He’s looking to test his old brutal skills after being trapped inside. Joey has to do everything to survive & get away from this professional death dealer that’s been dreaming of taking lives again! His best friend (played by: Eric D. Wilkinson) shows up & the battle takes a completely different turn. Can these two take out this unstoppable killing machine before he causes more chaos?
Joey Hammond (played by: Joseph Shaugnessy) is having nightmares from the traumatizing event that changed his life forever. A news anchor (played by: Eric D. Wilkinson) that looks exactly like his best friend reports that the same psychotic killer (played by: David E. Wilkinson) has escaped again! At first, Joey doesn’t know what’s real anymore. Is this a dream? or Is it reality? This time the victim is ready for the deadly intruder. Can he survive death twice? or Has his luck ran out? The slasher is determined to end this battle with his rival. No one can live to tell the stories of this demented madman looking for his own legacy in horror!!!!
Have you ever wanted to make your own film with some friends after being inspired by some horror classics? It would probably end up something like this. This was made with no money & on limited time at home. It pays homage to many slashers from before especially A Nightmare on Elm Street & Friday the 13th. I liked how the killer changed up masks in the first film. I also enjoyed all the cool movie posters in the background during some scenes. You can tell this was done for the love of the genre & just for fun between a group of people. How many fans can say the legendary composer Harry Manfredini created a brand new score for their horror short? No one except except for the Wilkinson brothers. In the first film, you can tell they were still learning & testing out the waters on many things. I thought a few things were unintentionally hilarious like director Eric D. Wilkinson can be seen in the background filming in many shots plus other people, the killer wearing a Wilkinson shirt, Joey’s car is already there before he actually arrives, & the fight scenes with the awesome sound effects! It all just added to the retro feel of this production. I thought Part 2 was much better & everyone seemed more prepared for this follow up. I thought it was cool that the killer represented Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, & Leatherface in this. You can see the influence with the mask, outfit, & his choice of weapon. This sequel also had much more action in it compared to the original. You can tell everyone had fun making this & put whatever they could into the project. Shot on Video was pretty big at the time so a decent amount of films were getting distribution based off their artwork, concept, & just to fill the shelf at the local rental store. It was a great time to be a independent & low budget film maker. Harry Manfredini’s score was the true highlight from both of these films. It was good to hear somewhat newer music from the legendary composer which is sad to say rare these days atleast when it comes stuff getting a proper release that he worked on. Thanks to MVD Entertainment you are able to relive some of your earlier childhood memories as a horror fan with this entertaining tribute to the genre in the 80s.
Let’s talk about the presentation & special features on this release. The (1:33:1) transfers are slightly better than you would expect for something made for $100 & being shot on video in the late 80s. If you are into S.O.V stuff then you know what to expect with these. Which actually adds to the atmosphere & it works with it’s already retro vibe. The 2.0 stereo track is pretty impressive considering it’s age & budget restraints. The music of Harry Manfredini sounds good on it & that definitely elevates everything. Let’s discuss the extras on this provided by MVD Entertainment. Audio commentary from the Wilkinson brothers with Michael Kahn for both films. For the original, it’s a MST3K style track. They joke about themselves & point out the many mistakes in the film. They admit to still learning everything at the time so some goofs just slipped by without any notice. They also discuss how it was made & tell some stories about the production. It’s a very fun commentary & it has a nice flow to it. For the sequel commentary, they talk about padding & extending material to make it feel more complete. They bring up other goofs that made it past final cut & problems they had during the film. They point out the new scenes they added to this. They joke about Joey upgrading his car from the last one. They mention that this follow up has much more action compared to the original.
Michael gets called out for being too silent on here. Eric still seems disappointed with how the 2nd half in this turned out. This was a entertaining track & it’s definitely worth checking out. “Deleted Scenes & Outtakes” from both films. It’s a little bit over 13 minutes between the two segments. “Violence in 03” features the the Wilkinson brothers re-visiting the scene of the crime for re-shoots 15 years later from the original production. It’s almost 6 minutes of the brothers putting together new material for the films. They joke around & have fun recreating their childhood in this. “The Scrapped Violence Movie” which also comes with an optional audio commentary with the same 3 as before. It’s a little over 9 minutes of footage from an unreleased project that never went anywhere. They actually had a girl in this one. On the audio track for this short, they pretty much make fun of it the whole time. Eric said this Violence Movie went into a completely different direction & when he tried editing it he just wasn’t feeling it. He says he still thinks it’s hilarious. “The Original Opening Credit Sequences” for both films. You also get promotional materials like the Trailer & a 45 seconds Photo Gallery. It comes with reversible artwork for the sequel. This comes recommended for S.O.V fans, Horror tributes, & admirers of projects that turn something into nothing with some hard work. Both films are short so it’s a easy release to get through. You can re-watch them many times with no hassle. It’s awesome to see something like this get a great release from MVD Entertainment!
SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG BLU RAY REVIEW (VINEGAR SYNDROME)
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is a 1971 blaxploitation written, produced, composed, edited, acted, & directed by Melvin Van Peebles (The Story of a Three-Day Pass, Watermelon Man, Don’t Play Us Cheap, Gang in Blue, & Tales of Erotica). It’s considered the original blaxploitation film, it preceded Shaft by a few months. It’s the first film that created & inspired the classic sub genre. After Watermelon Man was a financial success, Columbia Pictures offered Van Peebles a 3 picture deal. They weren’t willing to back something so different from everything else. As a matter of fact, no studio or producer was interested in taking a risk for this project. Van Peebles put all of his own money into the production & he shot it independently. He got a $50,000 loan from Bill Cosby to finish the film. Melvin Van Peebles tried his best to cast the lead in this after looking all over for the perfect actor. No one really wanted to do the role unless the dialogue was increased & Van Peebles didn’t want to change the script. So he decided to add one more job to his already busy schedule for the film.
This production was full of crazy incidents. He ended getting gonorrhea from a sex scene in this so he applied for compensation from the Directors Guild because he technically got hurt while working on the project & he used the money to buy more film. His real gun somehow ended up in the prop box. He was one of the first to release the soundtrack before the actual film was released. Van Peebles paid Earth, Wind, & Fire with a bad check for this production. They have never been compensated for their work on this project. Originally, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song only played in two theaters in America. It had so much success in Atlanta & Detroit that it got a bigger release which helped it earn $15,000,000+ at the box office after all it’s years. It was the top grossing independent movie of 1972. The final budget of the film was only $150,000!!!! It was the film debut for Mario Van Peebles. In 2004, Mario Van Peebles directed & starred as his father in Baadasssss! A biopic about the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.
A orphan (played by: Mario Van Peebles from Baadasssss!, New Jack City, Posse, Exterminator 2, & Full Eclipse) is taken in by a Los Angeles brothel. He is given the job of towel boy at the business. He is raped by a prostitute. The prostitutes give him the nickname of Sweet Sweetback. When he gets older, Sweetback (played by: Melvin Van Peebles from Last Action Hero, Terminal Velocity, The Shining, & Jaws: The Revenge) works in a whorehouse. Two LAPD officers come in to speak to Beetle (played by: Simon Chuckster) about a murder. They are under pressure to find the killer by the community. They are desperate to find a suspect so they arrest Sweetback to try to end this controversial case. They are forced to release him due to lack of evidence. He witnesses Police Officers beating Mu-Mu (played by: Hubert Scales from The Story Behind Baadasssss!: The Birth of Black Cinema) & he retaliates against them. He flees to Mexico to avoid being arrested & facing revenge for his brutal act towards the LAPD. He is captured by law enforcement but ends up escaping after a riot breaks loose! He uses sex to help from various females while on the run. This leads him to the Hells Angels includes an ambitious Biker (played by: John Amos from Coming to America, Die Hard 2, Lock Up, Two Evil Eyes, & Good Times). This leads to chase & final confrontation with the police. Can Sweetback survive these men that can legally kill him without any worries? It’s him against the world until the very end!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation on this release. This 1080p (1.85:1) 4K transfer is from it’s original 35 MM camera negative. Before the film starts you get a warning from Vinegar Syndrome which states “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss song was photographed in a variety of formats. While just over half the film was shot on 35mm negative, roughly 40% was shot on 16mm color reversal & was blown up to 35mm to be edited into the negative, at which point the 16mm footage was discarded. Due to the variety of visual effects used throughout the film, the blow up process was performed in different ways & on different stocks. Some of these blow-up stocks were, unfortunately, very unstable & have severely faded over the past 45+ years. The affected sections only make up a few minutes of run time & have taken on a slightly solarized look. While every effort was made to minimize this effect, it could not be fully removed.” Luckily, there’s no real major issues on this scan. It has print damage every once in awhile & some of the night scenes look okay. It’s still superior to any other previous home video release! Fans of this film & the sub genre will be pleased with this. The 1.0 DTS-HD MA track is impressive for being an older low budget production. I loved how the score & soundtrack sounded on it. It definitely adds to the atmosphere of this. English SDH subtitles are also included.
How many films can say they created a sub genre? Not many, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song definitely set the tone for blaxploitation. It’s very stylish especially for it’s time. It’s edited very smart also to extend the running time at some moments. It has a little bit of everything in this. It had some nice action scenes. Lots of sex to keep any fan of sleaze happy. The characters all had their own unique vibe to them. It’s funny how all the stories say Melvin Van Peebles couldn’t find a lead actor so he did the role himself. I don’t believe that at all, I think he always wanted to play this part & specifically wrote it for himself. Most directors that put themselves in the lead in their own film really suffer because they either can’t handle both responsibilities at the same time or just suck at acting. Van Peebles was way better than expected in the title role & he carried the production. You have to remember, he did more than directing & acting for this. He pretty much did everything when it came to this project. I am sure most of that was motivated because he financed almost all of this & wearing that many hats saved him so much money in the long tun but he honestly pulled it off in every single category. This has influenced so many other projects & film makers over the years. It’s one of those moments in cinema you have to atleast check out once no matter what. Vinegar Syndrome has restored an important production in film history with this!
Let’s discuss the special features on this Vinegar Syndrome release! Audio Commentary with film historian & radio host Sergio Mims. He talks about his personal connection & experience to the film. He mentions the Ratings back then when this was released. He goes into detail about the MPAA. X Rated basically meant Porn no matter what it was to theaters. He talks about Van Peebles struggling to make it in Hollywood. He mentions the controversy of the film. He brings up how important this was to Independent Black Cinema. He chats about films from around that time. He goes into how it made a good amount of money at the box office. He says his high school teacher inspired him to go see this in theaters. They still let him see it despite it’s X rating. He talks about meeting the director. He’s bring his son Mario & the films he made including the one based off this. He chats about interviewing them & Melvin just rambled on rather than answering a single question. He discusses the music & how Van Peebles met the performers for it. Lots of information & stories are provided on this track. “Career Interview” is a 23 minute interview with writer, actor, editor, composer, producer, & director Melvin Van Peebles. He chats about his first few features & how they got him a chance with Hollywood. He chats about getting an X Rating & Columbia Pictures pulling out of their original deal before this. He goes into detail about this film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. He chats about other blaxploitation films. He talks about his son making a film based off this & himself. “Interview” is an almost 32 minute discussion with actress Niva Rochelle. She talks about what inspired her about cinema & why she got into acting. She chats about being extra. She said called blaxploitation Black Hollywood at the time. She goes into how she finally got her chance. She talks about meeting Van Peebles & working with him.
She mentions the controversy of it. She chats about Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song & brings up her name was misspelled. She goes into other work that she did like commercials & television. She brings up her film Tongue & chats about it for a little bit. 36 minute “Q&A” with writer, actor, editor, composer, producer, & director Melvin Van Peebles at 2013 Black Panther Film Festival. You can tell he loves talking about this production. He mentions Shaft changed it’s whole film after seeing his. He mentions the studio deal he was offered. He brings up how it was only in a few theaters at first but it got major support. He answers questions from the crowd. He rambles on when he responds to them. “The Real Deal” is a 22 minute interview with writer, actor, editor, composer, producer, & director Melvin Van Peebles. It’s a making of documentary with the man who had many jobs on this production. He goes over old locations. He brings up the struggles of making this low budget film. He says he couldn’t afford a stunt man so he did it himself. The DP made it him jump & do a dangerous shot 9 times just to get it right. He mentions his influences. He shares some funny & interesting stories from the film. He mentions this was supposed to be a trilogy. Promotional materials include an almost 5 minute “Still Gallery” & the Theatrical Trailer. It also comes with a 10 page book with an essay by Travis Crawford, DVD copy, & reversible artwork! A limited edition version with a slipcover is available direct from Vinegar Syndrome. This release is top notch & it comes highly recommended from me! Looking forward to more stuff like this in the future!
BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE BLU RAY REVIEW (VINEGAR SYNDROME)
Bloodsuckers from Outer Space is a 1984 horror comedy written & directed by Glen Coburn (Tabloid & Hollywood Deadbeat). It premiered at Joe Bob Briggs’ Drive-In Movie Festival in October 1984. This low budget film made in Texas is considered a cult classic by genre fans. This was Dennis Letts feature film debut. Karl-Lorimar Home Video gave the film it’s first home video release on VHS in 1986. Shriek Show & Media Blasters released it on DVD in 2008. Then it got a limited 30th Anniversary Edition from Whacked Movies & MVD. Vinegar Syndrome has given B.F.O.S it’s definitive home video release in 2018 on both Blu Ray & DVD, you can now give away or throw out those old versions because they can’t compare to Vinegar Syndrome’s extensive & upgraded restoration. They are the BEST at that! That’s not even all of it, they also provided some KILLER extras on this!