The following Blu-ray was provided to me by Warner Brothers for review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
When Arrow debuted on the CW that became a great moment for comic book fans. A great show. Acting, storylines, score, the works. Even though it was on TV it was still an epic comic book show that brought to life a story that even the big budget films could not do. During the second season Barry Allen was introduced mid-way through setting up not only the origin of the Flash, but setting up his own show as well. We also got to meet Caitlin Snow, and Cisco Ramon during the final episodes as well. The following year The Flash was launched and much like his super power it didn’t take long for the show to speed to the front of the CW pact.
Now that Arrow is sadly gone The Flash is easily the new frontrunner of the Arrowverse, although he has been for quiet sometime now. The Flash has always had a knack for introducing likable characters, adding great villains, always giving up a new Wells, and for a show that almost always have a fairly dark season story it can be not only humorous but very warm as well. Now I have yet to see a bad season of The Flash. This review is for Season 6, and it is still going strong creatively.
Season 6 takes place 4 months after Barry and Iris have lost their daughter Nora during the climax of season 5. Barry and Iris have comes to terms with her passing, or erased from existence if you will, but the rest of the team feels differently. As the first episode is usually a quick throw away the Flash attempts to stop a Black Hole from swallowing Central City. I only mention this because Cisco cues up the old Queen Flash Gordon song while Barry runs into it. Yes he does save the day . Form there the first part of the season deals with Barry trying to stop the impending Crisis that is coming, in which he is scheduled to die. He also during this time frame battles Bloodwork aka Ramsey Rosso a scientist who has injected himself with Dark Matter to possibly stop him from dying of HLH. He becomes able to use his blood, now overtaken with Dark Matter to control people to do his bidding. During this time we are introduced to the new Wells, Harrison “Nash” Wells and Indian Jones type adventurer who has come from Earth 1 to find Eternium to stop the Monitor and the impending Crisis, but more on that later. See Crisis was a giant Crossover that begins during the half way point, which I will cover later.
The second half beginning at episode 10 begins the main story line introducing Joseph Carver and his missing wife Eva who it turns out is alive and well, she’s just trapped in a “Mirror Universe” and thanks to a bungled job of investigating Iris is now not only trapped with her, but a Mirror doppelganger of her is now assuming her identity in the real world. Joseph is a billionaire tech guru but also a madman who has a team of assassin equipped with black hole guns to eliminate his enemies, two of which are Joe and Iris West To make matters worse Barry enhanced his speed during crisis which is killing the speed force, and in turn causing Barry to lose his powers. It all sets up the return to the real world of Eva who is now the famous villain The Mirror Master.
Now The Flash season 6 was good. It was a half and ¼ season. The first half was all about Crisis, which I will cover in a second. The following would have been the Mirror Master Storyline. Unfortunately for the Flash and the rest of the world Covid-19 happened. That caused production to be shut down so this season ends on the 19th episode as opposed to the usual 23rd so the final episode is actually the typical set up episode to the final, hence this season ends on a darker tone. Some people complained about that, but please keep in mind this happened because of pandemic it was no fault of the shows. Unfortunately during this time frame Hartley Sawyer who plays Ralph Dibny aka The Elongated Man was fired from the show after some old “Tweets” came to light. I wont get into that, as you can research that yourself.
Of course we had the villains of the weeks as always. We get old favorites like Grodd, Reverse Flash, Amunet Black, and more. We also get new ones like the Black Hole, Turtle, Goldface, and Sunshine. We deal with Killer Frost getting a great redemption arc, and the adventures of Ralph as he searches for, and finally finds Sue Dearbon. And we of course get the massive Crisis on Infinite Earths Crossover. And fans if you buy the Blu-ray you get all 5 episodes of this massive event, that will never be done again.
Crisis on Infinite earths begins with the Flash, in fact it was already set up during the first episode of the very first season. All of the heroes from all the shows, this year join together to Stop the Anti Monitor from destroying all the earths. This was the most well done crossover event ever, and that’s saying a lot. I would rank this higher than any superhero film in terms of depth and story. Following a set up from the very first episode of the Flash (We see the newspaper saying he will die in Crisis) and culminating from the end of last year’s Elseworlds crossover we are witness to an event that will never happen again. In fact the creators themselves even said they would have to scale back the yearly crossovers as they could not see how to top this. We witness our earths heroes team with the Monitor to try and defeat the Anti Monitor who is going through all the multiverse’s destroying everything in his path in his goal to destroy all of humanity. Arrow, Team Flash, Batwoman, The Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lighting, and Supergirl all come together to travel through the different earths to stop him. Brandon Routh plays the iconic Superman from the movies (Earth 96)we see Burt Ward aka Robin, Kevin Conroy as Earth 99 Batman, and countless others. We even get the DC Streaming shows acknowledged like Titans, Doom Patrol, and Swamp Thing. This was an action packed monumental crossover the likes of which have never been done before. And it all works. It also brings about the death of Oliver Queen putting an end to the Arrow show that started it all.
Warner Brother has done an amazing job in terms of video and audio quality on this release is spot on. It really looks like a comic book come to life in terms of look and feel, The picture is crisp and brings everything to life. The Flash is a colorful show and this really makes everything pop. The audio is fantastic as everything comes blaring out of your surround sound. I love the score on the show it sounds fantastic. You get a nice amount of special features, and yes, you get the crisis crossover as well.
Another great season of the Flash that proves again why it’s the number one show on the CW. Sadly it ends on a weird not due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but its still a great one to sit back and enjoy.
Overall 3.5 out of 5 Stars!
The following Blu-ray was provided to me by Warner Brothers to review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it again, and again. DC knows how to make television shows and animated films. Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Doom Patrol, Titans, all amazing shows. The Arrowverse, as it’s known ushered in an entire universe for DC branded television shows not only on the CW, but thanks to the amazing Crisis on Infinite Earths Crossover all of their other shows as well. Last year fans got a great treat as during the annual crossover event between shows (Last years was Elseworlds) we were introduced to Katie Kane, aka Batwoman. Instantly loved by fans a spinoff show was immediately ordered.
Batwoman of course takes place in Gotham City. It begins three years after Batman has vanished. Also Bruce Wayne has vanished as well, but still no one can put two and two together. To help battle the criminal element Jacob Kane has created a security group called The Crows to protect the city. When we start The Crows, along with Gotham’s Mayor are holding a party and plan on turning off the Batsignal to user in a new era in Gotham. Things go south when the Alice and Wonderland Gang crash the party and kidnap one of the crows. That particular Crow is named Sophie Moore, who was once the lover of Jacob Kane’s daughter Kate who has been living abroad. She has always hated Batman, as she blames him for allowing her sister, and mother to die in a car accident he was unable to save them from. Kate returns to Gotham after being called by her stepsister . She starts digging around (She was training to be a Crow years earlier) she figures out Alice, the leader of the Wonderland gang is targeting her father Jacob. She sets out to stop the gang and begins to search for her cousin Bruce Wayne.
She gets into Wayne Tower easy enough and when looking through Bruce’s office discovers the entrance to the Batcave. During this she meets Luke Fox, the son of Lucius Fox who is employed by Bruce to keep things safe in his absence. Luke modifies the costume and weapons, and Kate becomes the new symbol of hope to Gotham in the form of Batwoman and begins her quest to stop Alice and the Wonderland Gang. Of course we are introduced to many Batman settings and characters. Arkham Asylum, Magpie, Julia Pennyworth, Nocturna, Duela Dent, and more. Like most of these shows there is a villain of the week (for the most part) and the wrap around is Batwoman vs Alice. Unfortunately this show suffered from one major issue. Alice is actually Kate’s long lost thought dead sister. Now that would have made a great cliffhanger, great reveal with 3 episodes left, anything but the way it was done. See we learn of this curve ball in episode 5 (although it was already eluded to in episode 2). Now throw in the fact that Batwoman manages to connect with Alice multiple times during the show knowing she’s her sister and you have a flat season story. The beauty of these other shows is a simple formula. For instance The Flash doesn’t meet, say Zoom until mid-way through the season when he does he takes a beating and now for the remaining half has to find a way to beat him, which he won’t find until the second to last episode. No Batwoman could have ended this mess in episode 6, but instead it just keeps getting dragged out, and doesn’t even end after 20 episodes. Now to be fair the last part is not the shows fault. Covid brought everything to a halt and all shows wrapped early.
To be honest aside from the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover I was not a fan of this series. In fact if it was not for all the Batman references I probably would not have watched it at all after episode 5. Ruby Rose who played Kate actually left the show after this season so she will be written out and new character will be introduced to play Batwoman in season 2. So I will give that a chance. Rose was great in her part, and I don’t put any blame on her for the series being weak, but perhaps a fresh change can bring new life into the show. I mean my personal favorite is Legends of Tomorrow that went from being a Superhero team up to a situation comedy with superheroes.
Now one of the great highlights, for not only Arrowverse fans, but superhero fans around the world was this years crossover, Crisis on Infinite earths. All of the heroes from all the shows, this year join together to Stop the Anti Monitor from destroying all the earths. This was the most well done crossover event ever, and that’s saying a lot. I would rank this higher than any superhero film in terms of depth and story. Following a set up from the very first episode of the Flash (We see the newspaper saying he will die in Crisis) and culminating from the end of last year’s Elseworlds crossover we are witness to an event that will never happen again. In fact the creators themselves even said they would have to scale back the yearly crossovers as they could not see how to top this. We witness our earths heroes team with the Monitor to try and defeat the Anti Monitor who is going through all the multiverse’s destroying everything in his path in his goal to destroy all of humanity. Arrow, Team Flash, Batwoman, The Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lighting, and Supergirl all come together to travel through the different earths to stop him. Brandon Routh plays the iconic Superman from the movies (Earth 96)we see Burt Ward aka Robin, Kevin Conroy as Earth 99 Batman, and countless others. We even get the DC Streaming shows acknowledged like Titans, Doom Patrol, and Swamp Thing. This was an action packed monumental crossover the likes of which have never been done before. And it all works. And if you purchase the Blu-Ray set of Batwoman you get all 5 episodes of this crossover on a bonus disc.
The audio and video are perfect. Batwoman is a very dark show and it looks amazing on this transfer. The visuals for Gotham were done perfectly, doesn’t matter if its day or night. The picture is crisp and vibrant. Never to dark, or to light. The audio is great, and I must say this show does have a great score. Warner did a tremendous job with the transfer on this set. It looks better than the original airings.
For the most part this show was not my cup of tea. I liked all the little nods it had to the comics, and I enjoyed the character, it was just the pacing and the reveal in episode 5 that slowed it down to a crawl for me. If you’re a collector of the shows you will want to pick this up. If your on the fence about it, its worth watching. It just was not my thing.
Overall 2.5 out of 5 Stars!
I love anthology films. What’s not to love? Three (sometimes 4) short stories all linked together by a narrator if you will that opens and ends the film. There awesome. I mean I love the old horror tv shows so these are a natural fit. Body Bags, Trick r Treat, Creepshow, so many good ones out there. Well my personal favorite has always been Tales From The Darkside The Movie. It says movie because Tales From The Darkside was a horror anthology show that ran from 1983 until 1989. The success of the show lead to the birth of the film in 1990. The film boast an all star cast to say the least. Christian Slater, James Remar, Rae Dawn Chong, Steve Buscemi, Debbi Harry, and more. The film itself is broken into three sperate tales of horror. The wrap around is Debbie Harry and Mathew Lawrence. Harry is a witch who has kidnaped a little boy named Timmy. She has him tied up and is getting ready to cook him for a dinner party she is throwing. He manages to stall her by reading her three stories from a fairy tale book she has entitled Tales From The Darkside.
The first tale is Lot 249 starring Christian Slater as Andy, and Steve Buscemi as Edward. They are college students in the beginning who live in the same dorm. Edward, in the beginning has received a crate entitled Lot 249. Its an actual mummy, complete with a scroll with a reanimation spell. Andy sister (played by Julian Moore) manages to frame Edward for cheating not only costing him his place in the university but assuring that her boyfriend, Andy’s brother will get the scholarship they were after. Edward doesn’t take kindly to that and proceeds to reanimate the mummy and use it to murder those who have wronged him. Brains pulled out of the head through the nose, body crushing, and amazing overacting (in a good way) from Slater make this one of the best horror tales on film.
The second tale little Timmy tells is The Cat From Hell. Willan Hickey gives an amazing performance as Drogan. An old wealthy man who is confined to a wheelchair. Turns out he used to live with his sister, her best friend, and his butler. His sister began caring for a cat that Drogan is convinced is not only evil but out for revenge, as the Pharmacy company Drogan owned used to experiment on cats. Killing over a thousand during testing. He appears to be correct as one by one all three of his friends are killed by the cat. His solution, hire a hitman (David Johansen) to kill the cat. You get a lot of great gore, and some amazing POV shots from the cat hunting Johansen. I enjoyed this story as well, finding it very comical in parts.
The final tale is Lovers Vow, which is not only the most popular, but to this day is one of the most beloved stories amongst horror fans. James Remar (Who steals the entire film) is Preston. He’s a down on his luck artist, broke and alone. None of his art is selling so he goes to wash his sorrows at the local bar. When he is leaving his friend is ripped to shreds and beheaded by a gargoyle. Preston runs but is caught by the monster who tells him it will spare his life as long as he never tells this story to anyone. It even says “Cross Your Heart” before scarring Preston’s chest and disappearing. As he is running away he bumps into a young woman named Carola (Rae Dawn Chong) who helps him back to her place, and even treats his gash from the monster, that he does not tell her about. They fall in love, his career takes off, they marry and even have kids. Everything is fantastic, that is until he decides to tell her about the gargoyle attack on their 10th anniversary. This truly is one of the best horror stories ever. Great acting, tone, special effects, and a twist ending from out of nowhere. Its easy to see why this is the most popular of the three.
I saw this movie in the theater on opening night and fell in love with it. TO me this is not only the best anthology film out there, but one of the greatest horror films out there as well. Everything is top notch. Acting, effects, score, you name it. Every story is not only crafter perfectly, but the order in which they appear only help but to keep the pacing going, never letting you rest for even a second. I have owned the DVD for years, but now the amazing folks at Scream Factory have released this in an amazing Blu-ray collectors set. And I must say this is the best its ever looked. The picture is amazing. Especially in Lovers Vow as the film is very dark yet never suffers from the evil blue tint, or even grain like many transfers do. Not only does this look and sound amazing but Scream Factory has loaded this up with special features.
· NEW Audio Commentary With Co-Producer David R. Kappes
· NEW Tales Behind The Darkside: The Making Of Four Ghoulish Fables – A Six-Chapter, Feature-Length Documentary Featuring Director John Harrison, Producer Mitchell Galin, Director Of Photography Robert Draper, Production Designer Ruth Ammon, Special Make-Up & Creature Effects Artists Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, And Howard Berger, Creature Performer Michael Deak, Actors James Remar And Rae Dawn Chong And Editor Harry B. Miller
· Audio Commentary With Director John Harrison And Co-Screenwriter George A. Romero
· Theatrical Trailer
· TV Spots
· Radio Spots
· Stills Gallery
· Behind-The-Scenes Gallery
· Behind-The-Scenes Footage Compilation
Top to bottom this is a great release and a must have for any horror or film collector. As I stated this, in my opinion is the best anthology film out there, and this transfer only makes it better. Pick this one up right away. If you have never seen it your in for a hell of a treat.
Overall 4.5 out of 5 Stars!
Universal Pictures for horror fans may be famous for the Universal Monsters. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Creature from The Black Lagoon, etc. Well guess what, they made lots and lots of other horror films as well. From Serial Killers, Mad Scientists, Zombies, Ghouls, Monsters, there were quite a few put out by the studio. Well not nearly as well-known as our Famous Monsters these films were all well regarded by not only horror fans but critics alike. Luckily for us Scream Factory has been releasing sets of these films on their Universal Classics Collection. Volume 6 is the next set to come out and let me tell you it’s a fantastic collection to say the least. This collection once again features 4 classic movies from the Universal Vault.
The Black Castle: Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr are billed in this one, but they only have small roles. But don’t let that bother you as this is a great film. Ronald Burton is on a quest for revenge. He’s looking for Count Karl Von Bruno, an evil man who was the last person to see some of his acquaintances alive. See the Count was doing some evil stuff when he resided in Africa, and Burton and his friends were able to stop him. He is able to infiltrate the counts castle (under the name Richard Beckett) which is located in the Black Forest. Hence the name Black Castle. The castle is surrounded by an alligator pit which means you know its bad news. Unfortunately for Burton his investigation get a wrench thrown in it when he falls for the Counts wife, who he learns is essentially a prisoner herself. Luckily the Counts physician (Karloff in a great role) is their to help, or is he? This one features lots of old fashion “Swashbuckling” to say the least. Traps, mazes, wolves, storms, it a great looking film. Richard Greene is fantastic as Burton. This one has a real action feel to it. Plus you get to see people buried alive. Great long lost film.
Cult of the Cobra: My favorite of the four films. When Nick Hommel and his buddies from the Air Force go out on the town one night overseas they encounter a snake charmer who tells them he can take them to the Cult of Lamia to witness a snake ritual, for a price of course. The group are caught when Nick takes a phot while he is drunk and gets bit by a snake. The Cult places a curse on all the men as they escape, but the next day Nick dies from his bite. Once back in America, one of the men, Tom, meets a young woman named Lisa. She is immediately drawn to a picture of him and the rest of his friends who are cursed. One by one these men start dying, and to add to the fact, Lisa is visible at the scenes. Not only that but when we see her, the shadow she cast is in the form of a snake. Is she a Cobra Woman sent from the cult to kill these men? Yes, yes she is. This features a great plot, good acting, and a really cool (for its time) human turning to cobra scene.
The Thing That Couldn’t Die: This film has a lot going on. Jessica Burns is staying with her aunt Flavia. We see her searching for water with an old school forked stick. If anyone can find it though it Jessica as she possess psychic powers. She does hit paydirt, or water I should say but when her aunts workers start to dig a well in the spot Jessica freaks out saying to not touch the ground as its an evil location. No one takes her seriously though and they proceed to dig away. During the digging they uncover an old chest with an inscription warning them to not touch it or it will damn their eternal souls. It is of course eventually opened and inside is a head, a head that is still alive and that possesses psychic powers. Its able to start controlling people to kill. Come to find out the head is still alive due to a pact with Satan. Luckily Jessica has her own powers to deal with the head. This is a very well done film. You have Satanism, psychic powers, talking heads, mind control, everything. What make that so impressive is that this film was made in 1958, when most films were simple and dealt with only one evil topic. This is definitely a must see.
The Shadow of the Cat: This is one weird film to say the least. Ella Venable is a very rich woman. So rich that her Husband Walter has her killed for her money. Don’t worry before he has her murdered by the butler he makes sure she changes he will so he gets everything. He has the butler kill her, but he has two problem. One her original will left him nothing and that will is hidden somewhere in the house. He needs to find it before he is found out by the cops when they come to investigate. Second, Ella cat Tabitha watched the murder happen and Walter is convinced it can do his plan in, so now he must find and kill it. Luckily the cat really knows what its doing and not only manages to kill some of the bad guys, but also assist the police in the investigation. I promise this is not a corny film like it sounds. Very suspenseful and ahead of its time. Its one of the most well crafted film in this series.
Scream Factory has once again done an amazing job with these transfers. The video quality is amazing as is the audio. Crisp and clear. Sure these are old black and white films but they look bright and vibrant, especially for their age. The audio is great and everything sounds fantastic coming from your speakers. They even added special features to them.
DISC ONE: THE BLACK CASTLE (1952)
· NEW 2K Scan From A Fine Grain Film Element
· NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Tom Weaver
· NEW Universal Horror Strikes Back! – A Look At Universal Horror In The 40s
· Still Gallery
DISC TWO: CULT OF THE COBRA (1955)
· NEW 2K Scan From A Fine Grain Film Element
· NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historians Tom Weaver, Steve Kronenberg, David Schecter, And Robert J. Kiss
· Theatrical Trailer
· TV Spots For The Double Feature Of REVENGE OF THE CREATURE/CULT OF THE COBRA
· Still Gallery
DISC THREE: THE THING THAT COULDN’T DIE (1958)
· NEW 2K Scan From A Fine Grain Film Element
· NEW Audio Commentary By Authors/Film historians Tom Weaver And C. Courtney Joyner
· Theatrical Trailer
DISC FOUR: THE SHADOW OF THE CAT (1961)
· NEW 2K Scan From A Fine Grain Film Element
· NEW Audio Commentary By Author/Film Historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck
· NEW In The Shadow Of Shelley – An Interview With Barbara Shelley
· TV Spot For The Double Feature Of THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF/THE SHADOW OF THE CAT
· Still Gallery
Yet another must have set for classic horror fans. Four great films that will no doubt give you a great evening of viewing. Order this one today and add it to your collection.
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars!
The following Blu-ray was provided to me by Warner Brothers for review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
Stephen King writes long books. I’m sorry but minus a few exceptions they are like reading encyclopedias, the big kind, collected volume kind. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem can sometimes occur when you translate them to films. The new It did very well by splitting it into 2 films. Another great realm is the television mini series which King has had done before. Only issue there is that they were for network television so they had to be highly edited. Well now something new has come out. The Outsider. This time HBO has given the book a mini series treatment. Which for me was the way to go. A deep story that needed to be long and have the necessary amount of adult situation that television could not do.
Ralph Anderson is a detective in Cherokee City Georgia. When the story, or should I say episode begins he is investigating the murder of a young boy. The body itself has been chewed up with what looks to be human teeth. He doesn’t need long to complete an investigation and pin it all on the local Little League coach Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman). DNA evidence, fingerprints, open and shut case. In fact they arrest Terry in the middle of a game in front of his friends and family. Problem here is the family has evidence Terry was not even around when the murder happened. They call their lawyer who hires a PI to help Terry. They soon find out that Terry was not only out of town during the killing, but he was on a TV newscast as well. Terry unfortunately has to wait in jail until the trail can begin. Which may be better as it spares him from seeing how the town as turned on his family with a vengeance. Now Trust me when I say this isn’t a spoiler but Terry is soon shot a killed by the victim’s brother when he is being taken to the courthouse for trail, swearing innocents all the way to his death.
Now as this is a Stephen King story, we know its not just a simple murder. In fact this does the old bait and switch. See the first several episodes play out like a detective show. In fact it reminds me a bit of True Detective, another fantastic HBO show. See Ralph knows something isn’t right and upon further digging enlists the help of Holly Gibney, a savant investigator who has dealt with similar cases in the past. In fact she believes it’s the same killer committing this murders. Not only that but she believes the killer is an El Cuco, a shapeshifter from Spanish folklore, and I’ll be honest, she is correct.
This is a great show. I can honestly say it’s one of the best Stephen King adaptations I have ever seen. I love how it was a long slow burn just like the novel. Sure a few things were altered for television but nothing drastic. The overall tone and feeling were fantastic. The acting and in the case of the first few episodes directing by Jason Bateman were outstanding. In fact all the acting was top notch. Ben Mendelsohn as Ralph and Cynthia Erivo as Holly really bring everything together. The score, effects, hell even the general tone and setting all blend together to create a show that changes gears halfway through from Crime Drama to Supernatural horror without you ever questioning it. Its amazing to say the least.
Warner Brothers has just released all 10 episodes on Blu-ray and they look amazing. Nothing against watching anything on television or streaming but for me physical media is the way to go. The pictures is crisp the audio is fantastic, and I don’t have to wait a week to see what happens next. In fact I knocked these out in just 2 days. Warner does and amazing job with their transfers, which is probably easy as HBO does an amazing job with their shows.
If you’re a Stephen King fan, pick this up. If you like supernatural horror, pick this up. If you like crime dramas, pick this up. I guess what I’m saying is that you should definitely pick this one up. It’s a great show from top to bottom, and like I said watching it this way you can finish it up quick, because once you start you will want to see how it ends.
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars!
Hammer Films, a name synonymous with horror. If you want to watch good horror, you watch Hammer. For those unfamiliar Hammer is a British film studio that became famous for the horror films they made in the 60’s and 70’s. They often used the classic Universal Monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and more. Their films differed from the American counterparts as they featured not only more violence and blood, but more sexuality as well. In 1962 the came out with their version of Phantom of the Opera.
Phantom of the Opera is the story of a young woman named Christine Charles. She was a chorus girl in the new opera being performed at the London Opera House. Now it turns out the theater itself never sells out as there is rumored to be a haunted section in the balcony that no one will sit in. The original lead is Maria who we meet in the beginning. She is apprehensive about performing out of fear the place is haunted. The show goes off well until the end when a curtain rips and a deadly body is found hanging from the rafters. Maria is freaked out and refuses to perform their again. SO as luck would have it for Christine she is chosen to be the new lead.
Things aren’t exactly easy though, as the creator of the opera, Lord Ambrose Darcy takes a shine to Christine during her audition and invites her to his home that night. As she is about to leave her dressing room she hears a menacing voice telling her to stay away from Lord Ambrose. She leaves quickly and heads to meet him. The voice was right as he is a lecherous sort but before anything can happen the Opera producer Harry Hunter arrives and manages to escort her away. She tells him about the voice so they head back to her dressing room to investigate. Its there that Harry hears the same voice telling him to stay away from Christine.
Things keep getting worse as one of the cleaners is murdered. Christine, who is still inside the theater is approached by the Phantom. He maintains the classic look as well. All black with the mask with only one eye exposed. He tells her she must leave with him but she panics causing him to run away. It turns out the opera being performed was actually written by a man named Petrie. His body was burned with acid when he was trying to put out a fire at the print shop who was making his music sheets. He dove into the town river and was never seen again. Could he be the mysterious Phantom haunting the Opera House. Yes of course he is.
This in my opinion is a fantastic take on the Phantom of the Opera. Is very different from the American film, in fact its different from any version we have seen in film, or play. Its not even close to the novel. It’s a very different take, painting the Phantom in a very different light. I wont say more as I don’t want to spoil it. And yes for you Hammer Fans its classic Hammer, sort of. Not near the amount of blood and nudity we are used to seeing. No this one is much more a tragic love story with the Phantom taking the role of almost a tragic hero of sorts. It still has that amazing Hammer look and feel. Deep blues and reds for the color, a gothic style and a moody score that they were known for. It runs very short, especially for a Hammer production. So short that additional scenes and a subplot were filmed and edited in for the television release. Don’t worry you get that on this set as well.
Scream Factory has been putting out countless amazing Hammer titles and this is no exception. Crisp and clear in every sense of the word. The colors look fantastic. Fresh but not to bright to take away from that murky hammer look. Everything is smooth though and looks amazing. The score, which is breathtaking sounds fantastic through your surround sound. Scream Factory is impressive as always, and I really hope they keep these Hammer films coming. And because its Scream Factory you even get a ton of special features.
· NEW 2K Scan From The Interpositive – Two Aspect Ratios 1.85:1 And 1.66:1
· NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historians Troy Howarth And Nathaniel Thompson (1.85:1 Version)
· NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Steve Haberman And Filmmaker/Film Historian Constantine Nasr (1.66:1 Version)
· NEW The Men Who Made Hammer: Anthony Hinds
· NEW Phantom Triumphant: Edwin Astley And Hammer's Horror Opera – An Interview With Author David Huckvale
· NEW Herbert Lom: The Soul Behind The Mask – An Interview With Film Historian/Screenwriter/Novelist C. Courtney Joyner
· NEW Interview With Special Effects Artist Brian Johnson
· "The Making Of Phantom Of The Opera" – Narrated By Edward De Souza Plus Interviews With Richard Golen, Alan Lavender, And Edward De Souza
· The Longer TV Version (In Standard Definition)
· Theatrical Trailer
· Still Gallery
A fantastic film which gives us a new take on a classic story. This is a must watch for everyone. Horror fans, Phantom of the Opera fans, even people who have only watched the play will enjoy this. It’s a great movie that scream factory has done a great job on. Pic this one up right away to add to your collection.
Overall 4out of 5 Stars!
Giallo, the word means “yellow” in Italian. The term comes from paperback mystery novels published in 1929. The trademark of these was the yellow background on the cover. They became so popular over the years that Giallo became a synonym for mystery. In the 60’s Giallo films became more and more popular, but it wasn’t until 1970 that they exploded onto the scene with Dario Argento’s film The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. With that film an entire subgenre of Giallo films came out, even making there way to America. The films most always feature a killer, but you only see his hands, usually wearing black gloves, that is not revealed until the end. Unlike an average mystery film in America these films featured nudity, sex, violence, and ample amounts of gore. They influenced and entire generation of filmmakers.
Two of those filmmakers are the Onetti brothers, Luciano and Nicolas. Fans of the films they began making their own Giallo films back in 2013. Starting with Sonno Profondo, and Francesca (great film) they are completing their own Giallo trilogy with their newest film titled Abrakadabra. And yes it does center on a magician.
Abrakadabra is the tale of Lorenzo, the son of the famous magician Dante The Great. Dante dies on stage during a trick that went wrong, and Lorenzo was there to witness it all. That left him not only scared but also gambling alcoholic who decided to follow in his fathers footsteps and become a magician as well. He’s about 3 steps below being washed up when we meet him but he decides to return to the town, as well as the theater that his father performed the fatal stunt in. Lorenzo and his assistant Antonella have everything ready for what seems to not only be a comeback, but a redemption arc as well when a body turns up amongst his magical equipment.
Soon after that more and more bodies start piling up, all with a tie to Lorenzo. It does not take the local police long to target him as their prime suspect. Lorenzo must work to find out who the real killer is and save himself. To make matters worse as these murders not only tie to Lorenzo, they tie to his late father as well, which means his accident may have been murder.
I loved this film, and that’s saying something as the average Giallo usually puts me to sleep. The Onetti brothers have crafted this film to make it leaner than the original films of the 70’s. Running just a little over an hour this film moves a quick pace, never leaving your mind wander. A complaint I have always had is the runtime in Giallo film, in fact in mystery films in general. If they are too long you lose interest. By having this one run short you stay more vested in the plot and characters. Abrakadabra opens fast and the pace never slows down.
Another thing that I must point out, is this is much more than a throwback film. Sure its set in the 70’s but it doesn’t look like a modern film trying to look old. What this is is a beautiful homage to the old Giallo films. The Onetti brothers filmed this perfectly. It captures the look and feel perfectly, in some cases better than the classic source material they drew inspiration from. Beautiful colors. I say that because Giallo films have always had a very distinctive red, and blue look about them, a tint if you will. This looks and feels like a 70’s film. Its almost breathtaking. The score is amazing as well. If you have watched the old films you know Goblin composed amazing scores. In fact in most cases the scores were what made the movies flow. Well the score on this one is definitely Goblin inspired and really does propel everything along. Its haunting to say the least. I can only hope that it gets a vinyl soundtrack release.
The wonder folks at Cauldron Films have just released this film with a beautiful transfer. The video and audio are immaculate in every sense of the word. This is a great film that looks and sound amazing. I cant stress enough how well the score bellows out of your surround sound. This film may look like a 70’s throwback but the transfer really help make it its own picture. On top of the transfer Cauldron even included special features, the best of which is the inclusion of the CD Soundtrack.
· CD soundtrack with music by Luciano Onetti
· Behind the Scenes
· Italian 5.1, Italian 2.0, and English 2.0 audio options
· English & Spanish subtitles
· Inserts with promotional artwork
· Limited Edition high quality slipcase with original poster art
· Limited to 1000 copies
Overall this is a great film, much more than a simple throwback. This is an entirely new version of a Giallo that captures the old classic quality and adds new twists and turns. Blood, gore, a fantastic twist ending, this has it all. Pick it up today.
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars!
Every once and a great while (especially lately) you get a movie that is a true on of a kind. Its unlike anything out there. Not a combination of films blended together, not influenced by other films, just a totally unique concept. In 1989 Sergio Martino directed such a film. Featuring the late Donald Pleasance that film was titled American Rickshaw. The film has been unheard of for many years and only existed in a really crummy transfer. Well that’s about to change thanks to a new company called Caldron Films.
American Rickshaw is the story of a young college student named Scott. He earns his cash by hauling people around in Rickshaw’s. He’s a good looking guy that’s quiet popular with his female passengers. One day he gets a fair from a young woman who offers to take him abord her yacht for a night of fun. The woman is beautiful so Scott takes her up on the offer. As he is preparing to have sex with her he notices a creepy looking guy in the closet video taping the entire thing. When he is caught he even offers Scott money to forget he’s there and keep going. Scott obviously is not into this and proceeds to beat the guy senseless. He grabs the tape and heads home. Problem is he grabbed the wrong tape.
So Scott decides to go back and get the correct tape, problem is someone was there while he was gone. Not only is the boat trashed, but the closet filming pervert is dead. Suddenly the boat ignites in flames and Scott jumps into the water. When a crowd and cops gather he decides to just swim home figuring all traces of evidence he was even their would be burned. Only problem is the next day we learn the dead pervert is actually the son of a Televangelist named Samuel Mortom (Donald Pleasence) and that this was no accident. It was, as we later find out the work of a hitman named Frances who knows Scott was there, so he needs to take him out as well.
Now not to give too much away from here on out but I assume you are wondering why this is considered a horror film. Well it’s because in the beginning Scott gave a ride to an elderly lady, who we find out is actually a witch who uses her pet cat, and a cobra to watch Scott as these events unfold. It turns out she used to date Samuel Mortom many years ago and he stole an idol of a bore from her that was used to keep her young and powerful. He has no doubt ben using this to gain success in life. Turns out The pervert that was murdered is actually Jason Mortom, Samuels son. He stole that idol from his father and hid it, hence why he was murdered. Scott must team with this witch to not only clear his name but save his life and in the process stop Samuel Mortom and retrieve the idol .
This is without a doubt the most original film I have ever seen, and that’s saying something. A combination of horror, exploitation, erotic, and action American Rickshaw blends all of these together. As I stated earlier it only existed in muddy watered down prints. But a new company, Cauldron Films has acquired the rights to this and are releasing it fully uncut (It has nudity, blood, the usual) on Blu-ray with special features. The transfer looks fantastic. All the colors are crisp, and the night scenes never suffer from the dreaded blue tint that ruins transfer after transfer. The audio is great. The dialogue is clear, and the score sounds great coming out of your speakers. This is a fantastic looking print, and I cant wait to see what else Cauldron has planned. Oh and in case you are wondering here are the special features included in this release.
· 2K restoration from the original camera negative
· On camera interviews with director Sergio Martino and production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng
· Then and now location footage
· The Projection Booth Podcast discuss AMERICAN RICKSHAW
· Commentary with Samm Deighan & Kat Ellinger
· Image Gallery
· Booklet with writing by grindhouse comics writer and Tough to Kill co-author, David Zuzelo
· Reversible cover featuring Italian artwork
· Limited Edition high quality slipcase with new artwork by Mattias Frisk
· Limited to 1500 copies
This is one weird and cool film that should be required viewing for horror and action fans. Like I said you have never seen anything like this one. It’s a great film with a great transfer. I highly recommend picking on up asap.
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars!
Mondo Movie: a type of exploitation film done in documentary style that usually covers topics like sex, death, and other taboo subjects. Inserted with “Real” footage, actually a lot of it is fake to be honest, these films were embraced by the exploitation crowd. Some of the most well known are the Faces of Death series. To sum it up these are simple Shockumentary viewed for entertainment value. You wont really learn much from them, but for the most part you sure will have fun watching one.
Jayne Mansfield: A Hollywood sex symbol in the 50’s and 60’s as well as one of the first Playboy Playmates. A respected theater actress she became the new Marilyn Monroe in 1956 starring in films like The Girl Cant Help It, Wayward Bus, and Promises! Promises! Where she became the first mainstream actress to appear nude in a film. The true definition of a “Blond Bombshell” Mansfield was never one to shy away from the camera, many times she had the infamous “Wardrobe Slip Up” when cameras were around. And would at times wear bikinis to award shows and junket’s. She sadly passed away in 1967 after a tragic car accident.
Ok History lesson over. Now lets get down to business. Guess what happens when you cross a Mondo Movie, with Jayne Mansfield? You get The Wild Wild World of Jayne Mansfield. A shock value documentary filmed mostly in 1964, but not released until after her death, and after some footage was shot to include that. Rated X for nudity and adult content it’s become one of the most sought after Mondo Films of all time. It follows Mansfield around not only the United States but Europe as well, culminating in her tragic car accident. Which is basically stopping the scene splicing in audio of a car crash sound and show news headlines about it. Because that’s how these films progress.
What you will witness during this film is Jayne, who was a very intelligent woman, “bimbo” it up for the camera. She goes to Cannes where she is clad the entire time in a bikini that is about 4 sizes to small while men all around are basically just ogling at her. When she’s done there she decides to head on down to a local nudist colony where she states “I hope no one is watching” obviously the must think the camera crew are keeping their eyes closed and not filming. But the fun doesn’t stop there. We get to see Jayne judge a transvestite beauty pageant, hang out with topless dancers, party with hookers, getting oil massages, and more. She even stops by the Eiffel Tower where she hopes that “Its never torn down to become a parking lot”
Clearly a lot of footage used is not her, in fact there is a good chuck filmed after she passed. I love the mondo style where you can tell its not even her voice doing most of the narration. I’m not pointing this out to make it sound bad keep in mind. In fact this type of style only makes these films more fun to watch. Jayne was truly a captivating woman and its easy to see why she was the subject of this film.
Beloved by the exploitation crowd The Wild Wild World of Jayne Mansfield is one of the most beloved Mondo films of all time. Its been circulating for a long time, but now thanks to Severin its now available uncut with a marvelous transfer. In fact I doubt this film looked this crisp when it was originally filmed. Severin once again proves they are the company to watch with this transfer. It looks and sounds great, and all the narration comes across perfectly. Nothing muttered or fuzzed out, which you can get in a lot of these films. Its even got a few special features
SD Video Master Version of Feature.
The Devil & Jayne – Interview with Anton LaVey Biographer Blanche Barton.
Wild, Weird, Wonderful Italians – 1966 Italian Mondo, scanned from 35mm print from the Something Weird archives.
I’ve seen about 20 Mondo films in my life and this one is my favorite. Although the film gets a bit dark at the end discussing the tragic way she passed you get the feeling that Jayne was simple a woman who not only loved the spotlight, but life as well. This is just a fun little romp back in time that you should watch even if you are not familiar with Jayne Mansfield. Pick this one up today.
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars!
In the 70’s and 80’s horror films had a much more adult tone about them. Some of them blurred the line between horror and in some cases pornography. Sleaze films as they were called were all the rage amongst hard core horror and exploitation fans. Generally these consisted of ample amounts of nudity with buckets of gore. Much more so than the standard slasher. These films were generally made overseas and found their way to the states either via bootleg, or a seriously cut version you could pick up at a local video store. One of these films is called La Revanche Des Mortes Vivantes aka Revenge of the Living Dead Girls. A splatter film from French that was made back in 1987.
Revenge of the Living Dead Girls is a trash fest that runs shy of 75min. And that’s not a bad thing as you cant draw a film like this out. It’s a two part story, sort of. A milk delivery man stops to have some sex with a hitchhiker. As this is going on his cargo of milk becomes tainted when a mysterious individual tampers with the cargo. It get distributed fine, it just causes some people to die. Well three people at least. Three lovely ladies to be exact. They get buried in the local cemetery and you think everything will be ok. Problem is on the other side of town the same chemical company decides why dispose of waste properly when you can just dump it illegally for free. As luck would have it they start dumping it into the local cemetery thus causing the three victims of the tainted milk deaths to rise from the grave as zombies.
Of curse even though they are zombies they have enough recollection to get revenge on the illegal chemical dumping milk training corporation that murdered them. They them proceed to wander around and do the things zombie woman seeking revenge do. Rip of some penises. A few dismembering’s, a good old fashioned spear in the groin, eye gouged out with high heel shoes, you name it. These half dead half naked, sometimes fully naked girls are out for blood. And believe me you will see lots of it. This is the true definition of a classic splatterfest. Combining the nudity with the practical gore special affects you get a film that definitely would not come out today.
Directed by adult filmmaker Pierre Reinhard this film combines all the elements of both the adult industry and horror industry with ample amounts of gore as well. It’s a very cool film to say the least and its not only fairly unheard of to mainstream audiences, but finding a nice print has been all but impossible. But now thanks to the fine folks at Severin you can see it uncut and on Blu-ray the way it was meant to be seen. A stunning transfer that looks amazing on the big screen, they have outdone themselves with this one. The score is very cool in fact it really helps make everything flow perfectly. And it sounds amazing coming from your surround sound. Severin was not only able to track down the negative to restore this but they also included special features as well
Revisiting the Revenge – Interview with Special Effects Artist Benoit Lestang and Writer Jean-Claude Roy.
The Revenge – Interview with Director Pierre B. Reinhard.
Inside Studio Lestang – Interview with Special Effects Artist Benoit Lestang.
Although not a film for everyone, if you enjoy nudity, blood, someone being pleasured with a zombie hand, then this is for you. Its definitely a one of a kind film that you will never forget. Pick one up right away.
Overall 3.5 out of 5 Stars!