Friday, April 30, 2021

Supernatural Horror Morgue (2019) Well Go USA Blu Ray Review

Morgue (2019) Well Go USA Blu Ray 5/11/2021

Directed By: Hugo Cardoza 

Starring: Pablo Martinez


Disclaimer: Well Go USA has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


   With better and more inexpensive CGI supernatural movies can be made by any budding filmmaker looking to break into the genre. However, the sub-genre is over crowded especially after the Paranormal Activity and Conjuring films were huge hits. Now, it takes a lot of skill, talent and originality to make a memorable supernatural outing. Diego (Pablo Martinez) is working the night shift at a local morgue. And, of course supernatural stuff starts happening. You know the drill. 

    So, when I review any movie I go in wanting it to blow me away but, I also set my expectations, especially with a first time writer, director (and producer it turns out). 2019's Morgue is just as bland and stock as the title suggests. This smacks of a first time director that badly needed input outside of his own. Hugo Cardoza doesn't make the movie richer by developing characters or hell even subverting clich├ęs in any clever or lasting ways. As a viewer its frustrating because these kinds of movies get churned out all the time and they really start to blend together. 

    The 'scares' are of the 'boo' loud noise variety and Cardoza sadly does not know how to really ratchet up tension. There are a few stand out moment with nude zombie like cadavers but again, it feels like a cheap way to get a rise out of the viewer. I will be frank and say I will most likely not remember this movie after the credits roll and I move onto the next film. This is a shame because I hate reviewing a movie this harshly, especially from a first time filmmaker. And, in the off chance Hugo is reading this, I hope he takes this as constructive criticism. The screenplay really needed a outsider to polish and more important punch up the narrative. Making things worse is the "twist" which comes virtually out of nowhere and makes very little sense. 

Morgue had a few creepy moments but overall its weak nearly non-existent screenplay makes this movie D.O.A. 



Picture: Morgue was likely shot on HD and therefore looks really good in 1080p. The entire movie takes place at night and indoor and outdoor scenes have a good amount of depth and clarity. Blacks are deep and the films colors have a nice contrasting look. The movie even has a grainy film-like quality. 

Sound: Morgue comes alive with a DTS MA 5.1 track. Like the picture transfer Well Go has provided the audience with a track that packs a big punch. 

Extras: None 

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) Warner Bros. Blu Ray Review

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) Warner Bros. 5/4/2021

Directed By: Shaka King 

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Deborah Johnson, Jesse Plemons, Darrell Britt-Gibson 


Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Entertainment has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


    Nominated for Six-Oscars and winner of two including Best Actor for Daniel Kaluuya Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) comes to home video. Bill O'Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) becomes a FBI informant at the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther party in the late '60s. Neal is conflicted by his role of being a mole, especially after he gets to know chairmen Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). Shaka King's second feature is as compelling as it is timely and the events depicted in the film and its a somber reflection on how far we have to go in this country to bring racial equality. This biopic is handled with a great amount of skill and nuance that honestly few others can boost. Characters feel real and their environment feel equally brutally honest and heartbreaking. King's opus is an intense and a wholly unforgettable experience. If you don't come out of this movie by the end credits with tears in your eyes, well, there might be something wrong. 

   The other thing is the movie doesn't seem to take a moral stance on Bill O'Neal, but rather takes a step back and lets the audience drew their own conclusions. This is where I think that had this movie been in lesser-hands would have drawn very unwavering morals. And, people are complex and are neither the hero nor the villain.  From a technical standpoint the movie is top-notch with excellent cinematography, music and of course acting. 

     We often debate whether the Academy get it right but there is no doubt that Daniel Kaluuya deserves his Oscar win. Kaluuya completely disappears in the role and delivers a raw powerhouse performance. LaKeith Stanfield has the task of playing the titular "Judas" and does so with a skill and layered take on the material. Not to be outdone by the boys, Deborah Johnson is excellent. Johnson deliver some of the most heartbreaking moments and even thinking about it gives me chills. Honestly, there isn't a pour acting performance to be found here. 

Judas and the Black Messiah rises to instant classic status and ranks among the best recent films. Moreover it reflects a brutally honest truth to moviegoers that is sadly still needed in todays climate. 


Picture: Judas and the Black Messiah comes to us on 1080p and looks great. The transfer has a great deal of detail in locales, costumes and sets. Darker lit scenes really showcase the range of high quality in terms of deep blacks and contrast. 

Sound: Judas has a DTS 5.1 track. The film has a lot of dynamitic sound design and music and this sound transfer matches that perfectly. 

Extras: Fred Hampton for the People (9mins) A new interview with actor Daniel Kaluuya, Deborah Johnson, Keith Lucas, Kenny Lucas etc. 

Unexpected Betrayal (7mins) Actor LaKeith Stanfield takes candidly about playing Bill O'Neal and its a very engaging and interesting interview. 


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Jane Fonda & Donald Sutherland F.T.A (1971) Kino Lorber Blu Ray Review

F.T.A (1971) Kino Lorber 5/4/2021

Directed By: Francine Parker 

Starring: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Peter Boyle, Holly Near 


Disclaimer: Kino Lorber has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

   The FTA or Free The Army tour was a anti-Vietnam tour aimed at active servicemen. This was a direct opposite to Bob Hope's jingoistic shows. Headlined by Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland this film version of the tour was needless to say incredibly controversial. In fact, its believed that the movie was shut down in its theatrical run after just two weeks. According to Fonda's introduction, the government even attempted to destroy all copies of the film. While the nature of the disappearance of the film is up for debate, the movie was pulled and out of circulation for a long time. Thankfully, the film has been restored and widely available. 

    FTA provides a honest, raw and unflinching snap-shot right at the heart of the anti-Vietnam war movement. As Fonda points out in her newly filmed introduction this movie captures the anti-war movement within the military, something that the news and films never showcased. Not only do we get a front row seat in what is described as 'political vaudeville' in the form of satirical skits but the film also highlights the people of these war-thorn places and focuses on them as well. This aspect of the documentary I found to be deeply fascinating and powerful. The candid talks between Fonda and the local people whose lives were thorn apart by this conflict is both interesting and sobering. After all, their points-of-view is one that was often left out, and to get it actually during the conflict is important from a historical viewpoint. FTA also features musical acts which, again, I found very soulful, insightful and engaging. 


    FTA was a movie that scared a lot of political powers at the time but remains a unflinching look at the anti-war movement within the armed forces. Its a piece of history that demands to be watched. 


Picture: Fully restored by IndieCollect in 4k this documentary looks great. There is a noticeable uptick in color and the footage which is over fifty-years old is has been given a cleaned up considerably. The film still has some artifacts, but, honestly that adds to the films atmosphere. 

Sound: FTA comes with a DTS 2.0 track. I have to say this packs a big punch and the music, dialogue comes through nicely with no background hiss or unwanted noise that I could detect. 

Extras: FTA has a brand-new Jane Fonda. A interview with Fonda from 2005. This also includes Sir! No Sir! A 2005 documentary by David Zeiger (83mins), and a trailer. It also includes a nice booklet with essays by historians David Cortright and Mark Shiel. 


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Cool as Ice (1991) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Cool as Ice (1991) Kino Studio Classics 5/4/2021

Directed By: David Kellogg 

Starring: Vanilla Ice, Kristen Minter, Michael Gross, Naomi Campbell, Deezer D  


Disclaimer: Kino Studio Classics  has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

    1991s Cool as Ice a big budget vanity project starring 'flavor' of the moment Vanilla Ice. The movie was made on a six-million dollar budget and only grossed just over one-million. Critics were pretty harsh at the time as well. However, the movie has gone onto gain a cult-following over the decades. The plot, and I use that word very loosely centers around Johnny (Vanilla Ice) and his crew getting stuck in a small town. Johnny falls for a local girl named Kathy (Kristen Minter). 

     When you think of big budget movie projects built around flash-in-the-pan celebrities few come close to infamy of Cool as Ice. The movie is so painfully of its era with a heaping helping of cheese. Everything in this movie feels like a marketing committees made up of out of touch older people throwing in everything they had seen on MTV and put it in a neon-colored blender. The movie is less of a feature film and more one long music video with a very loose narrative thread pulling it together. Not to mention everything smacks of cynically milking cultural touchstones that were lame even back when it first came out. Not to mention the weak storyline and flashy whiplash montages. 

   Still, the movie is just over-the-top and earnest enough to cross into that so-bad-its-enjoyable threshold. The film is actually well acted with Michael Gross giving a performance that is far better than this movie probably deserves.  And, whatever you think about Vanilla Ice, its hard to deny that he has a lot of charm in front of the camera. As I said this movie has a loyal fan base which is must likely fueled by nostalgia of a seemingly simpler time. Cool as Ice is a stinky slice of fried gold and a shrine to the early '90s. 


Picture: This color coated movie certainly pops on 1080p. While not a 2k scan this movie really looks good, probably far better than it deserves. The film retains a lot of clarity in the sets, costumes and locales. I did notice the grain level is heavy at times and there is some minor blurring in places. 

Sound: Cool as Ice has a DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely as does the music and sound design. 

Extras: Cool as Ice includes a very fun and informative commentary track by historian and author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Joshua Nelson. As always Alexandra and Joshua are engaging as hell and its well worth listening to. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Warner Bros. Justice Society World War II (2021) Review

Justice Society: World War II (2021) Warner Bros. Entertainment (Digital) 4/27/2021 

Directed By: Jeff Wamester 

Starring: Matt Bomer, Omid Abtahi, Stana Katic, Liam McIntyre, Geoffrey Arend 


    During a epic battle modern day Flash (Matt Bomer) finds himself back in time during WWII. Set in a alternate timeline the Justice Society is tasked with stopping the Axis of Evil in this exciting entry in the animated DCEU.

      Justice Society had the task of balancing wild-comic book action, pathos and humor all taking place in the backdrop of WWII and, of course Hitler's army. Taking grim material and making it fit into a comic book world is no easy job. And, for the most part I think that the writers do a great job at juggling all the different tones. Its tricky when your dealing with real world atrocities but, in my opinion everything was handled pretty well. And really, how doesn't wanna see Nazi's getting their butts kicked. It was also really impressive how not only every character was well utilized but each character had a nice well realized arch. 



   For the most part the animation is extremely well done and there are plenty of great action-set pieces to keep audiences of all ages engaged.  If I had to raise a criticism its that the movie is certainly on the predictable side. For example, there are characters that you know are doomed right from the start. The movie wants to raise the emotional stakes (which I totally get) but it would have been nice if the writers found a way to subvert or misdirect expectations. Also, while just under ninety minutes the movie starts to lose some steam midway through its second act. It felt like certain plot lines could have used some streamlining to keep the pace moving. 


     Hardcore fans may look down on the animated DC films and, while yes, they are far from perfect I always go into them with an open mind. Justice Society for all its shagginess does manage to tonally balance whilst giving every team-member a well structured and organic story-arch. This may seem easy but that certainly takes a skill set to pull off correctly. Bottom line: I found this to be a fun outing and worth checking out. 

G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and G.I. JOE: RETALIATION arrive on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray July 20th

 The Worldwide Smash Hits Arrive July 20, 2021, in Advance of the Highly Anticipated Theatrical Premiere of Snake Eyes: G.I. JOE Origins



 

 

When all else fails…these guys don’t!  Based on Hasbro’s wildly popular action figures, Paramount Pictures’ big screen global blockbusters G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and G.I. JOE: RETALIATION make their long-awaited U.S. 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debuts on July 20, 2021 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

 

For the first time, both G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and G.I. JOE: RETALIATION will be available on disc in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision® and HDR-10 for ultra-vivid picture quality.*

 

Starring Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rachel Nichols and Ray Park, as well as veteran actors Dennis Quaid and Christopher Eccleston, G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA follows a top-secret elite strike force featuring the best operatives from around the globe.  After a high-tech secret weapon is stolen by a mysterious and evil organization known as COBRA, it’s a race against time for the G.I. JOE team to avoid their enemy from plunging the world into chaos.

 

Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum and Bruce Willis star in the explosive global hit G.I. JOE: RETALIATION.  The G.I. JOE team has been set up to take the fall for a terrible crime they didn’t commit.  Now, ROADBLOCK, DUKE, and the rest of the team must once again face their mortal enemy COBRA, as well as dangerous new threats operating within the government. When all else fails, one option remains —RETALIATION.

 

The G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set includes access to a digital copy of the film along with previously released bonus content:

              4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

·       Feature film in 4K Ultra HD

·       Commentary by director Stephen Sommers and producer Bob Ducsay

Blu-ray

·       Feature film in HD

·       Commentary by director Stephen Sommers and producer Bob Ducsay

 

The G.I. JOE: RETALIATION two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set includes access to a digital copy of the film along with previously released bonus content:

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

·       Feature film in 4K Ultra HD

·       Commentary by director Jon M. Chu and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura

Blu-ray

·       Feature film in HD

·       Commentary by director Jon M. Chu and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura

·       G.I. JOE: Declassified

o   Mission Briefing

o   Deployment

o   Two Ninjas

o   The Desert Attack

o   COBRA Strikes

o   The Lone Soldiers

o   The Monastery

o   Fort Sumter

·       Deleted Scenes

 

Bill Murray and Randy Quaid Quick Change (1990) Warner Archive Blu Ray Review

Quick Change (1990) Warner Archive 4/27/2021

Directed By: Howard Franklin, Bill Murray

Starring: Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Randy Quaid, Phil Hartman 


Disclaimer: Warner Archive  has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


    1990's Quick Change marks the only film funny man Bill Murray ever directed. It's a early '90s oddity that, thanks to Warner Archive is getting re-released for a new audience. Murray has as recently as 2010 mentioned the film in high regards. Three hapless thieves rob a bank in New York but they find escaping the city harder than the robber itself. The best way to describe this movie is Dog Day Afternoon (1975) meets After Hours (1985) but with a decidedly lighter tone. 

     Quick Change was a box office dud but received mostly positive reviews from critics at the time. Weirdly, it never became a cult-classic like What About Bob? (1991) another Murray vehicle released around the same time. Quick Change relishes in its wonderfully odd sense of humor which I think is the most engaging part of this movie. For the most part the jokes fly fast with delivery from its stellar cast. And, speaking of, this movie truly has some great comedic actors. 

    Bill Murray is of course great and his signature dry wit and pin-point comic timing is worth the price of admission alone. Randy Quaid who turned out to be a character in real life meshes extremely well with Murray and thankfully brings his own style and energy to the film. Geena Davis adds talent and dazzling charm and acts as a perfect counterbalance to Murray and Quaid energy. Out of the trio it never feels like one actor is trying to one up one another yet, they feel like a cohesive unit. This movie has one of the most amazing supporting cast as well with the likes of Phil Hartman, Stanley Tucci, Victor Argo, Barton Heyman and Tony Shalhoub.

    I think this movie never really took off in a cult classic sense because it lacks a beating heart and charm that other beloved Murray movies from the '80s and '90s had. The overall movie is well directed but feels rough around the edges in the story department. Howard Franklin's screenplay feels like a solid first draft but lacks the polish needed to bring it to the finish line. Its not that it lacks compelling characters or even arch's but its just missing that special ingredient that makes me memorable.

   For a first film Murray and Franklin do a really good job here. They maintain a conversive tone and fun characters but the muddled screenplay tends to drag it down. Still, the cast is amazing with Murray in top form and Quaid and Davis blending and bouncing off him whilst also adding their own magic to the project.  A mixed bag but, I can certainly say I had a good time watching it despite its shortcomings. 


Picture: As always Warner Archive delivers a well done picture transfer. This movie, which is over thirty years old retains a nice pop in color and showcases its locales to the upmost. Of course, artifacts, and scratches have been scrubbed clean leaving a pristine looking print. Grain levels are smoothed out nicely as well and the end result is a picture with depth and substance. 

Sound: Quick Change sports a very strong 2.0 track. The soundtrack, dialogue and sound design comes through in an incredibly robust way. 

Extras: None. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Stana Katic discusses Wonder Woman in "Justice Society: World War II"

Stana Katic discusses Wonder Woman in "Justice Society: World War II"


Stana Katic returns to the DC Universe Movies as the voice of Wonder Woman in Justice Society: World War II – which arrives tomorrow, April 27, on Digital.



 


Katic is best known for her lead roles on CastleAbsentia and A Call To Spy. She made her DC Universe Movies debut in 2013 as Lois Lane in Superman: Unbound (2013). She also was featured as the voice of Talia al Ghul in the 2011 videogame, Batman: Arkham City.

 

Click HERE for the Interview on YouTube 

The Link will open in a new browser. 

Dennis Hopper's The Hot Spot Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

The Hot Spot (1990) Kino Studio Classics 5/4/2021

Directed By: Dennis Hopper 

Starring: Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Connelly, Charles Martin Smith, William Sadler


Disclaimer: Kino Studio Classics  has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


    Legendary Hollywood Hell-raiser Dennis Hopper directed seven feature films in addition to his acting career. In fact, Hopper's debut Easy Rider (1969) is considered a classic and a vital piece of counter-culture cinema. Hopper's second to last feature (not including his two short films) is 1990's The Hot Spot. Harry Madox (Don Johnson) a world-weary drifter blows into a small town and sets up as a car salesmen upon he meets Gloria (Jennifer Connelly). One day he gets an idea to rob a bank, setting off a chain of events in this Neo-noir. 

     The Hot Spot is obviously a smoky, summer sun drenched love letter to classic noir-outings like The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)  (and remade in 81) and, the granddaddy of them all, Billy Wilders seminal Double Indemnity (1944). Though, the movie for me is a mixed bag. First what I enjoyed about the movie. The cast is excellent with Don Johnson doing a nice balancing act of charming and a self-serving prick. Virginia Madsen seems to be relishing her role as the slightly-over-the-top Southern femme fatale. Your mileage for Madsen's accent may vary but I think she's great in the role and, though she may get close, she never skirts the line into hammy territory. Jennifer Connelly plays the 'good-girl' which is the opposite to the femme fatal and is a tradition in classic Noir fare. Connelly is, as always great in the way she can so easily project a innocent charm but underneath brewing raw sexuality. 

    The movie has a great deal in the way of mood thanks to Ueli Steiger's cinematography (Austin Powers) and Cary White's excellent production design. Garish Bava-like blues and reds drench scenes giving them a nice hyper-real touch. Furthermore, weird and off-beat characters help give the movie a Lynch feel to it. And, the soundtrack is excellent with hot summer-baked jazz that perfectly elevates the film. The style, moody and effortlessly cool soundtrack bucks up against the films lumbering pace and sometimes aimless plot. Hot Spot suffers from a bloated plot that seems like it would have been perfect had it been streamlined. 

The Hot Spot is a movie that is horribly paced but has enough style and strangeness to keep it engaging. 


Picture: The Hot Spot is a darkly lit film. Even in sunny scenes the film has a harsh palate to reflect the hot summer. The movie retains that warm color palate and I was thankful that it seems to conform to the directors vision and the visuals arent washed out, overly brightened or over-processed. Sporting a new 2k scan the movies colors pops, as does small details and clarity in sets, locales costumes etc. There really wasn't much to fault with this print.

Sound: Kino has a DTS 5.1 track and I have to say this packs a big punch in its sound presentation. The dialogue, music and sound design comes through nicely. 

Extras: Previously released (and now out-of-print) was bare-bones but now, we have some nice new features including: New Interviews with stars Virginia Madsen and Willian Sandler. Both interviews are wildly entertaining and end engaging. This release also includes a commentary by journalist and author Bryan Reeseman. 



Newly Remastered Eddie Murphy Classics 48 Hours and Another 48 Hours Arrive on Blu-ray July 6th

Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte push the limits of both action and comedy in the acclaimed classics 48 HRSand ANOTHER 48 HRS., arriving separately on Blu-ray in the Paramount Presents line July 6, 2021 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

 




Both films have been newly remastered from 4K film transfers and are presented with new bonus content featuring insight from director Walter Hill along with vintage behind-the-scenes footage to look back at the making of his high-octane classics.  This is the Blu-ray debut of ANOTHER 48 HRSThe limited-edition Paramount Presents Blu-ray Discs come in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of each film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.  The discs also include access to a digital copy of the film along with the theatrical trailer.  Special features on each disc are detailed below:

 

48 HRS.

·       Filmmaker Focus: Director Walter Hill on 48 HRS.

·       Theatrical Trailer

·       Space Kid—original 1966 animated short, which makes an appearance in the film

 

ANOTHER 48 HRS.

·       Filmmaker Focus: Director Walter Hill on ANOTHER 48 HRS.

·       Theatrical Trailer

 

 

48 HRS. Synopsis

Nick Nolte is unforgettable as Jack Cates, a rough-edged Inspector on the hunt for two vicious cop-killers. Unlikely ride-along con Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), is given 48-hour leave from prison to help Cates on the case. The laughs fly almost as much as the punches, as both men pursue two very different goals in a short amount of time.

 

ANOTHER 48 HRS. Synopsis

Eight years after the first 48 hours of mayhem, Reggie (Murphy) is about to be released from the pen.  But, after the bus transporting him flips over (17 times), Inspector Jack Cates (Nolte) enlists the ex-con for another seemingly impossible two-day task to nail an elusive drug lord with a price on Reggie’s head.

 

About Paramount Presents

This collectible line spans celebrated classics to film-lover favorites, each from the studio’s renowned library.  Every Paramount Presents release features never-before-seen bonus content and exclusive collectible packaging.  Additional titles available in the Paramount Presents collection on Blu-ray include: Fatal AttractionKing CreoleTo Catch a ThiefFlashdanceDays of ThunderPretty In PinkAirplane!, Ghost, Roman Holiday, The Haunting, The Golden ChildTrading Places, The Court Jester, Love Story, Elizabethtown, The Greatest Show on Earth, Mommie Dearest, and Last Train From Gun Hill.


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Rare Noir The Web Starring Edmund O'Brien and Vincent Price Coming Soon from Kino Studio Classics!

 The Web (1947) Coming Soon from Kino Studio Classics! 



The rare noir film stars Edmund O'Brien and screen iconic Vincent Price! 

Details: Release Date July 13th

Specs: New 4K Scan

Supplements: Audio commentary by historian/film scholar Jason A.Ney, Theatrical Trailer 

Battle Hymn (1957) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Battle Hymn (1957) Kino Studio Classics 4/27/2021

Directed By: Douglas Sirk

Starring: Rock Hudson, Martha Hyer, Don Duryea, Don DeFore 



Disclaimer: Kino Studio Classics has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

    Based on the real life of Col Dean Hess (Rock Hudson) a WWII a bomber pilot who is haunted by the fact that during a bombing raid he killed a lot of people including thirty-seven children. Now a preacher, Hess returns to the Korean war and must face his past. Tough-guy Robert Mitchum had lobbied hard for the role of Col. Dean Hess but, it seems the real life Hess did not want Mitchum as he had a criminal record (on a trumped up drug charge). Ironically, Hess hand picked Hudson who, as we later found out was deep in the closet. Later he came out when the actor sadly was diagnosed with HIV. 

    Released just two years into Vietnam war, Battle Hymn like a lot of movies from this period it tries to not glorify battle yet it also wants to have its cake and eat it too  by showcases the US war-force as a necessary tool for peace and freedom. This movie in a lot of ways reminds me of Sergeant York released in 1940. The movie also tries to condemn aspects of war while at the same time beating the drum of red-blooded Americans doing what is right. I find these movies inherently hypocritical in this regard. But, putting that aside the movie is well made on a technical level.  

    Douglas Sirk who made a name for his melodrama's does a fine job with the tricky balancing act of showcasing both the action of war and also the high-drama. And, for as jaded as these war movies have me, I will give Sirk credit for giving Hymn some raw, powerful moments. The Oscar winning cinematographer Russell Metty (Spartacus, Bringing Up Baby) really gives this movie a dazzling look and huge scope. Actor Rock Hudson, best known for his rom-coms really gets to flex his acting ability whilst also using his natural ease and charm.  Hymn in my opinion is a stand out performance in his career. Noir bad-guy regular Don Duryea gets to also stretch himself as a wise-cracking good guy. And, Don DeFore who often played good guys gets to be a bit of a heel (but ultimately a good guy). DeFore like Hudson gives a top-notch performance. 

    As much as these movies tend to be a bit on the jingoistic side, Battle Hymn is a movie I just couldn't outright dislike. What saves this movie from being just patriotic propaganda is thanks to some well realized characters and a good emotional center. It features fantastic direction from Sirk, actors at the top of their game and stunning photography by Russell Metty. 


Picture: Battle Hymn is presented in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio. Overall, this movie looks great in 1080p. The image has a nice uptick in color without looking overly processed. Also, for the most part the movie is free of any scratches or artifacts. I only noticed a little bit at the start of the film but the bulk is a crisp clean visual presentation. If I had to lobby a minor complaint the movie has some blur and a few spots were it seems overly bright. Very minor and honestly it doesn't detract from the solid restoration work. 

Sound: Battle Hymn has a 2.0 soundtrack. The front heavy sound is well done and, in my opinion packs a big punch for a limited audio track. 

Extras: Battle Hymn includes commentary by historian Nick Pinkerton. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Joe D'Amato's Jaws-Rip Off Deep Blood (1990) Severin Films Blu Ray Review

Deep Blood (1990) Severin Films 4/27/2021

Directed By: Joe D'Amato 

Starring: Frank Baroni, Cort McCown, Keith Kelsch 

Disclaimer: Severin Films has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


    We all love blockbuster rip-off movies. I mean, we should all love them anyways. And, the amazing folks at Severin has re-released 1990'S Deep Blood by genre favorite Joe D'Amato. A group of friends make a pack to stick together one summer. Flashforward, the now adult crew must once again band together after a possessed shark eats one of them.  

     Joe D'Amato is pretty much known for wonderfully grimy, sleazy films like the 1981 Halloween rip-off Absurd, and hardcore horrors like the subtly named Porno Holocaust (1981)  (a riff on Cannibal Holocaust) and of course directing some of the Emmanuelle series. Deep Blood it seems was Joe's attempt at doing something that had a more wider commercial appeal. While not my favorite of the Jaws knock-off's (that would probably be Cruel Jaws), Deep Blood has some really interesting stuff going on. Clearly the film is trying to hook its audience with characters that have pathos and dimension. It doesn't work but hell, I will give the filmmakers credit for the attempt. I also liked how the shark is driven by an evil presents. Sure, the scariest thing about Jaws is the sudden and randomness but this supernatural element at least mixes things up abit. 

    For as much as the movie attempts to be a good film it still suffers from a meandering plot, gaps in logic and flatly written characters. It sadly also is never over-the-top enough to cross that sweet sweet threshold of 'so-bad-its-enjoyable'. Still, it has enough cheesy moments and absurdly written dialogue to make it engaging enough. 

A cheap-cheesy Jaws rip-off that seems best suited to a crowd of like-minded midnight fans cheering and jeering all the way through. 


Picture: Right from the very first frame you can tell Severin has done a nice job at restoring this now thirty-year old movie. There is a noticeable brightness uptick and and clarity. I was really impressed by how the film has very little to no artifacts and even grain is smoothed out nicely. Furthermore, the movie doesn't look overly processed either. For fans of Joe D'Amato, which I very much include myself, this is a true treat! 

Sound: Deep Blood has a nice clear 2.0 track. Dialogue and sound design come through with a nice clarity and complaints the great film transfer. 

Extras: Extras include a trailer. 


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Matthew Mercer chats about Hourman & Justice Society: World War II - new interview clip, image

Matthew Mercer chats about Hourman & Justice Society: World War II - new interview clip, image



 A highly-regarded voice actor for the better part of three decades, Mercer is known for his work across anime, videogames and traditional animation. While his fans have gravitated to his recent success as the Dungeon Master in the phenomenon that is Critical Role, Mercer’s resume includes such performances as Tygra in Thundercats, Leon S. Kennedy in the Resident Evil franchise, Superman in DC Super Friends (2015) and Jotaro Kujo in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. After supporting roles in Justice League: War and Batman: Bad Blood, Mercer elevates to a DC Universe Movies featured voice as Hourman in Justice Society: World War II.

 

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated Justice Society: World War II will be distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting April 27, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021. 

 

The three interview bites (tied together) feature Mercer chatting about Hourman’s unique powers, his place within the dynamic of the Justice Society of America and within the plot itself, and his personal appreciation for Hourman’s specific characteristics and background.


Click HERE for the new Interview from Matthew Mercer on YouTube

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Heartworn Highways (1976) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Heartworn Highways (1976) Kino Studio Classics 4/27/2021

Directed By: James Szalapski 

Starring: David Allen Coe, Guy Clark, Peggy Brooks, Rodney Crowell 

Disclaimer: Kino Studio Classics  has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

   I admit that I may be writing this review with misty-eyes seeing how my late-grandfather played country music and, in his own way had a big local following where I grew up. Now, I confess that country music is not a genre that I find myself ever listening to but, just like movie-musicals I didn't turn my nose up when it came to choosing this country-music documentary to review. Because I think its always interesting to explore a subject, especially when its something I know very little about. The film follows country musicians in their highs and lows in the industry. 

    Heartworn Highways is a big chunk of unfiltered Americana the good, and the not so-good. We get a rare glimpse into the music scene at a very specific point in time. The movie is a mostly somber, soulful reflection of the heart of the music being expressed by these artists. Footage of rural America in all its raw un-glamor give the movie a punch. Highways is a slow paced but methodical exploration. I think my major complaint with the film is its rather unfocused and there doesn't seem to be a specific figure and or conflict at the center. I think its a missed opportunity to interview older people from generations past to reflect the modern (then the '70s) style and how the two are similar and different. 

   In my opinion the most interesting part was the part of the documentary where they play at a men's prison. Is  this the greatest music documentary? No. Is this a vital piece of Americana captured and perfectly preserved in moonshine? Hell yes! I wish the film had a tighter focus but, I still found it fascinating none the less. 

Picture: From the first few minutes you can really see a noticeable uptick in color and brightness. You can really see, especially after watching the unrestored trailer that the film probably hasn't looked this good since its the print was struck. Darker lit scenes really offer a glimpse into how nice this new transfer looks. Obviously the original material has probably seen better days and we still get some snow and artifacts. Honestly though, its nothing that I feel distracts from the overall presentation. In fact, I would argue you wouldn't want a pristine looking '70s documentary and its rough feel gives it part of its charm. 

Sound: Heartworn Highways has a DTS 2.0 track. The 2.0 track actually packs a pretty big punch which is what you want from a music documentary. Dialogue comes through nicely without any hiss or unwanted background noise that I could detect. Overall, a really nice sound presentation. 

Extras: Extras include Bonus Footage from Heartworn Highways and a trailer for both Heartworn Highways and Heartworn Highways Revisited. This also includes a feature length commentary by Producer Graham Leader and editor/AD Philip Schopper. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Omid Abtahi discusses Hawkman & "Justice Society: World War II" - Interview clips & new image

 Omid Abtahi discusses Hawkman & "Justice Society: World War II" - Interview clips & new image

Abtahi is currently commanding the fanboy scene with featured roles in The Mandalorian and American Gods, complementing his notable past roles in ArgoBetter Call Saul and Damien, as well as voice performances in the World of Warcraft and Call of Duty videogame franchises. Justice Society: World War II represents his DC Universe Movies debut.



 

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated Justice Society: World War II will be distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting April 27, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021. 

 

The three interview bites (tied together) feature Abtahi discussing the opportunity to play a super hero of Middle Eastern descent, his appreciation for the depth of the characterizations in Justice Society: World War II’s script, and his need for performing in productions appropriate for his young son to experience.

 

Click HERE for the Interview on YouTube 

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90's Horror Cheese Last Gasp (1995) Vinegar Syndrome Blu Ray Review

Last Gasp (1995) Vinegar Syndrome 4/27/2021 

Directed By: Scott McGinnis 

Starring: Robert Patrick, Joanna Pacula, Nan Martin, Don Edmonds, Mimi Craven 

Disclaimer: Vinegar Syndrome  has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


     Robert Patrick had only been working for not even half a decade when he landed a breakout role as the T-1000 in the seminal action classic Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991).  A real estate agent named Leslie Chase (Robert Patrick) will stop at anything to make his huge land deal happen, even if it means arranging a massacre of a Native Mexican tribe. Now, the spirit of the vengeful chief has possessed Leslies body in order to get his revenge. Meanwhile a private eye is hired to find one of the victims is on the trail of Leslie. 

    Last Gasp starts off promising enough with a rather fast pace and striking images, such as the death of the first victim. However, things only got worse from there. Sadly, Last Gasp has a silted, confused and at times cringe-worthy plot that is rather dull somehow. It doesn't help the poor pacing when bad soft-rock sex scenes further grinding the film to a halt. Director Scott McGinnis sets this serious tone right away with zero in the way of self-awareness and this would be fine however the movie is just far too goofy to take as seriously as the filmmakers are. Patrick's running around in tribal paint and a loincloth is both cringe-worthy and really amusing.  

    The acting is mostly wooden though I will say that leads Robert Patrick and Joanna Pacula do the best with what they had to work with. Patrick I will say is probably the best thing about this movie and is always great as a bad guy. Nan Martin who horror fans will best remember from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (1987) has a small but memorable role. 

Last Gasp isn't the worst movie I've ever seen and, I think that it having the stinky allure of '90s cheese helped me engage even on a so-bad-its-enjoyable level.  But, its probably a movie I wouldn't re-visit any time soon. 

Picture: You can breath a sigh of relief because Last Gasp looks frankly looks way better than it probably deserves to. All jokes aside this looks fantastic in 4k with an overall uptick in color and clarity. This was from what I could see free of any scratches or artifacts. Even the grain has been smoothed out without looking overly processed. There was some ever so slight blurring in one scene but, very minor and does not detract from the presentation. 

Sound: Like the visuals Last Gasp has a very solid 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely, as does the music and sound design. 

Extras: Last Gasp has a few extras including Outtakes and an original trailer. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Rare Film Noir They Won't Believe Me (1947) Coming to Warner Archive w/Added Footage!

Rare Film Noir They Won't Believe Me (1947) Coming to Warner Archive w/Added Footage! 

Film Noir lovers will be excited to learn that Warner Archive is re-releasing the 1947 film They Won't Believe Me May 11th. 



The below info is from Warner Archive's Facebook page: 

THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME (1947) NEW 2021 1080p HD Master Sourced from 4k scan of Nitrate Preservation Elements of Original 95 Minute Release Version!
Run Time 95:00
Subtitles English SDH
Audio Specs DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 - English, MONO - English
Aspect Ratio 1.37:1, 4x3 FULL FRAME
Product Color BLACK & WHITE
Disc Configuration BD 50
Special Feature: Introduction by Film Noir Historian/TCM Host Eddie Muller.

Robert Young stars in They Won’t Believe Me, an absorbing film noir melodrama. The original RKO publicity tells the story: “When a man goes to the devil he usually takes a woman with him...this man took THREE!” Young plays a dirty rotten scoundrel who sponges off his wealthy wife (Rita Johnson), seduces and abandons another woman (Jane Greer) and runs off with a third (Susan Hayward). Returning home, Young plots to murder his wife and get away with her money, but a series of ironic plot twists leaves him battling for his life. The role of faithless cad was a startling change of pace for Young, and he pulls it off brilliantly. Irving Pichel directed Jonathan Latimer’s uncompromising script.

Annie Get Your Gun (1950) Warner Archive Blu Ray Review

Annie Get Your Gun (1950) Warner Archive 4/20/2021

Directed By: George Sidney 

Starring: Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Louis Calhern, Keenan Wynn 


Disclaimer: Warner Archive  has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

    Based on the 1946 stage musical, Annie Get Your Gun (1950) is a big budget re-telling (loosely) of the life of Annie Oakley. The film was made on a over three-million dollar budget and went onto be the highest grossing film of that year for MGM and was nominated for three Oscars and won one (for best cinematography for Charles Rosher). Sadly, due to a lawsuit between Irvin Berlin and MGM over the music rights the film never had a legit home video release until 2000. The film tells of the poor Annie Oakey who rises to fame as a sharp shooter. She joins the traveling Buffalo Bills Wild West Show with her love interest and revival Frank Butler. 

    As I expressed in my other musical reviews I am fairly new to film-musicals, which has, for the most part, been a genre I have neglected. With Warner Archive re-releasing a lot of musicals in the last few years I decided I would give them a earnest chance. Annie Get Your Gun is an impressive and, for the most part wildly entertaining musical. Sidney Sheldon pens larger-than-life characters that are engaging and easy to fall in love with. The musical numbers based on the musical book of Dorothy and Herbert Fields are great, many of which are iconic even outside of the Annie Get Your Gun. They are not all winners but for the most part they are fantastic. More importantly the narrative moves at a fast pace and it never feels like filler material. 

    Betty Hutton is fantastic as Annie Oakley and its a tragedy that she was not even nominated for her performance. Hutton brings dazzle, brightness and a childlike innocents to Oakley and she is effortless in the role. Howard Keel is also great and the pair play off each other wonderfully. Louis Calhern is the rare gem in a supporting role as Buffalo Bill Cody. Calhern brings energy, warmth and pathos to the role. Keenan Wynn is, as always a stellar actor. The musical features Native Americans and the stereotypical portrayal is pretty cringe-worthy. All I can say is its misguided but I don't think it was meant in a mean-spirited way. Certainly, when you consider this was seventy-years old (this year) you can tell times have changed. 

   Overall, this is a fast paced, high-spirited and toe-tapping musical that has a top-notch cast, brilliant photography, and impressive choreography and screenplay. Its a movie that just comes together like lightening in a bottle. 


Picture: Two time Oscar winner cinematographer Charles Rosher (The Yearlings) paints Annie Get Your Gun is a big bold cavalcade of bright colors and, this brand-new 4k scan is stunning! The picture is pristine, having been scrubbed of any scratches, dirt and artifacts. As I said this film is a big lavish and colorful outing and this new transfer truly pops. The film retains a lot of detail in costumes, sets and locales. If you are a fan of Annie Get Your Gun and have only seen it on VHS or DVD this new HD version is well worth the upgrade. 

Sound: Like the transfer, the sound offers a big punch. The songs, dialogue and sound design is fantastic on a DTS 2.0 track. There is no unwanted hiss and background noise .Overall, just a fantastic sound presentation that matches the picture transfer. 

Extras: This release has ported over all the extras on the 2000 DVD and doesn't look like there is any new features included in this release. The extras include: Introduction by Susan Lucci, Outtake Musical Numbers "Doin' What Comes Natur'illy' and "I'm an Indian Too" Sung by Judy Garland and "Colonel Buffalo Bill" and "Lets Go West Again" Sung by Betty Hutton. Audio Outtakes in Stereo "Colonel Buffalo Bill" and "Lets Go West Again" Betty Hutton Vocals, "There's No Business Like Show Business (Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Howard Keel and Keenan Wynn Vocal and Errors) Theatrical Trailer. 



Monday, April 19, 2021

70s Kung Fu Flick Death Promise (1977) Vinegar Syndrome Blu Ray Review

Death Promise (1977) Vinegar Syndrome 4/27/2021

Directed By: Robert Warmflash 

Starring: Charles Bonet, Speedy Leacock, Thompson Kao Kang 


Disclaimer: Vinegar Syndrome  has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

    Released at the height of the Grindhouse kung-fu explosion, 1977's Death Promise marks the one and only film directed by Robert Warmflash. The tenants of a New York buildings are being pushed out by their awful slumlord. Charlie (Charles Bonet) must take his revenge after his father is killed after he fought back against the corruption. 

     Death Promise was made during what I consider the golden age of not only exploitation but high-flying ass kicking kung-fu. This movie like a lot of Grindhouse films spoke about social and economical unrest and injustice. What works in the films favor is the relatable and timely plot and the character motivations are uncomplicated. It's a simple revenge film that most likely spoke to a lot of disenfranchised people. The biggest issue is this movie is   surprisingly dull in places. The movie doesn't really get going until almost an hour into its ninety minute runtime. What we get is filler material a overly long training montage and scenes that are repetitive and don't move the story forward. 

    However, once things do get going the action never lets up. There are even some pretty stand-out moments like the wonderfully effective death by rats in a sack. Though the movie is light on plot I will say that Warmflash gives the audience plenty of great action-set pieces, cheesy dialogue and a nice retro soundtrack. I will also give the movie a lot of credit for trying for some kind of emotional arch. Though the movie isn't gory there is a nice amount of blood.

A cheesy, ultra '70s kung-fu outing that is mindless good fun. 

Picture: Death Promise sports a new 2k scan from the original 35mm negatives. You cannot help but be struck by the vivid colors from this new transfer. You can also tell that a lot of clean up has gone into scrubbing most of the artifacts and scratches. The end result is a stellar visual presentation that has a lot of depth of image and clarity.  Its even more impressive when you consider not only the age of the film but the low-budget it was made on. 

Sound: Like the transfer, the audio is out-of-sight with a 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely as does the sound design. Its a really strong audio presentation on a small track. 

Extras: Death Promise includes 9,000 feet in 90 minutes an interview with editor Jim Markovic. (16mins) An overall really interesting interview. Jim talks candidly about filming in NY as well as the writer Norbert Albertson and director Robert Warmflash. 

Original theatrical trailer (3mins) Still Gallery