Friday, July 30, 2021

Profile (2018) Universal Studio Blu Ray Review

Profile (2018) Universal Studio 8/10/2021

Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov 

Starring: Valene Kane, Shazad Latif, Morgan Watkins, Christine Adams, Kate Watson  

Disclaimer: Universal Studios 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. 

      Russian born director Timur Bekmambetov has had quite an interesting career, starting out in indie films and working his way up to making the big-budget Ben Hur (2016) which sadly flopped at the box-office. Profile was made on a hugely reduced budget than Ben Hur with a 2.3 million dollar budget (somehow) and only earned 1.8 million. 

     Profile from 2018 obviously wasn't but feels like a movie made during the pandemic as its a 'found footage' using Skype and screen grabs not unlike Unfriended (20014) (also made by Universal). Indeed, its interesting watching it in an era where Zoom and Skype meetings is the new normal and people are still working from home almost two-years later. So this movie has a pretty good story and Bekmambetov does his best to create tension and engagement within the construct of the films central gimmick. To be totally frank sometimes it works well at times and other times the format is very limiting.I was pretty amazed that this movie cost 2.8 million dollars because its largely comprised of screen-shares and not even any big set pieces. I have seen bigger better looking movies made on a fraction of the cost. On a side note I am kind of curious about this production history. In the movie they reference a film called Pride (2014) so I assume 2014 was the year it was filmed and yet the release date was 2018 (assuming the theatrical date) and now finally getting a wide home video release three years later. 

     What is really the glue that holds this somewhat uneven film together is the cast. Valene Kane I think carries the film and I think does an outstanding job, especially given the limitations of acting alone over Skype for almost the entire film. She really does a lot with the role and I really felt like she brought a utterly real and raw performance.  Shazad Latif is equally as good and his charm goes a long way into making it believable that he could entrap women the way he does. But, you still find yourself beguiled by him which is the mark of a truly great performance. 

    Profile is a fairly good thriller that is engaging enough for a watch but nothing that I feel is memorable.  I will say that the performances are top-notch and I did find myself enjoying the gimmick which I admit I am a sucker for. Though, I can understand it not being everybody's cup-of-tea. Would watch again but its frustrating that the thriller aspect was not embraced as much as it could have been. It feels like a solid movie that could have used an additional draft. 

Picture: Profile looks nice and clean on 1080p. The film is of course is entirely comprised of online chats, screenshots and Skype calls so we of course get roughness of this aspect of it. This does have a nice pristine sharp definition nonetheless and a nice uptick in brightness which is good when your looking at screens for the entire movie. 

Sound: Profile for being a non action heavy blockbuster does have some big booming moments and this is why I am happy that we get a nice DTS 5.1 track. Dialogue comes through nicely and the areas where there are some huge bombastic sound really pack a punch here. Nicely done overall. 

Extras: None

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Get Ready To Speed-Watch The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season On Blu-ray & DVD 10/12/21


The CW’s #1 Series

Contains All 18 Electrifying Episodes
From the Seventh Season,
Plus, Never-Before-Seen Bonus Features
Own the Blu-ray™ & DVD October 12, 2021

BURBANK, CA (July 29, 2021) – It’s time to escape the Mirrorverse, resurrect the Speed Force and make every second count! The Flash is back to protect Central City with his lightning-fast reflexes – and fans will be zooming in to pick up the highest-rated series on The CW – as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season on Blu-ray and DVD on October 12, 2021. Speed-watch all 18 riveting episodes from season seven, plus never-before-seen bonus content including deleted scenes and a gag reel. The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season is priced to own at $39.99 SRP for the DVD ($44.98 in Canada) and $44.98 SRP for the Blu-ray ($49.99 in Canada), which includes a Digital Copy (U.S. only). The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season is also available to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers.

After last season’s cliffhanger which saw the brilliant and powerful Eva McCulloch victorious and still-at-large in Central City, Barry Allen/The Flash must regroup in order to stop her and bring back his missing wife. With help from the rest of Team Flash, Barry will ultimately defeat Mirror Monarch and reunite with Iris West-Allen. But in doing so, he’ll unleash two more devastating threats: one that could tear his marriage apart… and another that will lay siege to Central City and change the future forever.

With Blu-ray’s unsurpassed picture and sound, The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray release will include 1080p Full HD Video with DTS-HD Master Audio for English 5.1. Featuring all 18 episodes from the seventh season in high definition, as well as a digital code of the season (available in the U.S. only).
The Flash stars Grant Gustin (ArrowGlee), Candice Patton (The Game), Danielle Panabaker (Sky High, Friday the 13th), Carlos Valdes (ArrowOnce), Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence), Kayla Compton (Making Moves), Brandon McKnight (The Shape of Water) and Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order). Based on the characters from DC, The Flash is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (Arrow, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale)Eric Wallace (Teen Wolf, Z Nation, Eureka), Sarah Schechter (Batwoman, RiverdaleBlack Lightning, Supergirl) and Jonathan Butler & Gabriel Garza (Bella and the Bulldogs).

  • Deleted Scenes (Exclusive to Blu-ray and DVD)
  • Gag Reel (Exclusive to Blu-ray and DVD)
  • The Journey Ends: Carlos and Tom
  • Never Alone: Heroes and Allies
  • 2020 DC FanDome: The Flash (Watchverse)

  1. All's Wells That Ends Wells
  2. The Speed of Thought
  3. Mother
  4. Central City Strong
  5. Fear Me
  6. The One with the Nineties
  7. Growing Pains
  8. The People vs. Killer Frost
  9. Timeless
  10. Family Matters, Part 1
  11. Family Matters, Part 2
  12. Good-Bye Vibrations
  13. Masquerade
  14. Rayo De Luz
  15. Enemy at the Gates
  16. P.O.W.
  17. Heart of the Matter, Part 1
  18. Heart of the Matter, Part 2

The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season is available to own on Digital. Digital purchase allows consumers to instantly stream and download all episodes to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital movies and TV shows are available from various digital retailers including Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and others.

Street Date: October 12, 2021
Order Due Date: August 31, 2020
BD and DVD Presented in 16x9 widescreen format
Running Time: Feature: Approx 792 min

Price: $39.99 SRP ($44.98 in Canada)
4-Discs (4 DVD-9s)
Audio – English (5.1)
Subtitles – English SDH

Price: $44.98 SRP ($49.99 in Canada)
3-Discs (3 BD-50s)
Audio – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 – English
BD Subtitles – English SDH
About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc. 
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment's physical and digital distribution businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees. 
About DC 
DC, a WarnerMedia Company, creates iconic characters, enduring stories, and immersive experiences that inspire and entertain audiences of every generation around the world and is one of the world’s largest publishers of comics and graphic novels. As a creative division, DC is charged with strategically integrating its stories and characters across film, television, consumer products, home entertainment, interactive games, DC UNIVERSE INFINITE digital subscription service and community engagement portal. For more information visit and

Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation (2020) Kino Lorber DVD Review

Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation (2020) Kino Lorber 8/17/2021

Directed By: Lisa Immordino Vreeland 

Starring: Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Jim Parson (voice of Capote), Zachary Quinto (voice of Tennessee Williams) 

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. 

     If you were to name two of the biggest writers in the latter part of the 20th century Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams would have to be at the very top of the list. Not surprisingly, both gay men became fast friends and friendly rivals. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland takes a deep dive into the lives of both men and their respective works as well as their friendship. Using archival footage from interviews from Capote and Williams along with beautifully done narration (based on writings) provided by Zachary Quinto and Jim Parson. 

     If ever there was a documentary that felt tailor made for me it would be 2020's Truman & Tennessee. Through this documentary Vreeland gives the feeling of magically transports the audience back in time to a smoky party with both Truman and Williams regaling you with stories. And, of course  you cannot help but hang for dear life on their every single word. Vreeland does a fantastic job at laying the groundwork for both writers and also the incredible bond they had with one another. I also have to give HUGE props for casting two openly gay men voicing two openly gay writers. This idea of casting gay actors in gay roles is sadly not the norm like it should be but, I think we are getting to that point. Parson and Quinto completely disappear with their voice roles and they truly make this documentary come to vivid life. 

      The movie features great interview clips, clips from films based Truman/Williams respective film adaptations as well as of course the voice-over narrations. Vreeland also does a great job at counterbalancing perspectives on various subjects like love, work and friendship etc. Of course they also get into the iconic films based on their work. 

If you are already a fan of the two author/playwrights works or just newly discovering them, this is a incredibly worth while documentary to watch-hell, its worth even owning in my opinion.  

Picture/Sound: The majority of the film is clips which is of course in 720p and therefore looks pretty rough. This isn't a movie that really needs to be in HD to be completely honest and looks good enough to serve its purpose. The sound is also good with a 2.0 and a 5.1 track. Dialogue, voice-over and score comes through extremely well. 

Extras: Trailers 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Tailgate (2021) Film Movement DVD Review

Tailgate (US Title)  (2021) Film Movement 8/3/2021

Directed By: Lodewijk Crijins 

Starring: Jeroen Spitzenberger, Anniek Pheifer, Liz Vergeer

Disclaimer: Film Movement 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. 

     2019's Tailgate (which was distributed in 2021) has the kind of cover art that feels like something you would get in a dollar-bin at your local warehouse store. And, its probably something I would have avoided altogether because my pile of movies to watch for review and pleasure purposes feels like a mile high. What peaked my interest is that Film Movement put it out and they rarely do fringe-cinema releases, especially horror. I also learned that despite the American title Tailgate the movie is actually called Bumperkleef and made in the Netherlands. It's worth noting that aside from the re-title this movie is also dubbed-and badly at that. A serial killer is out on the highway targets a family and thats basically it. 

      The movie starts off actually really strong with a cold open that sets a nice tone that is darkly humorous but icy cold. Sadly though, the movie never really lives up to its first few minutes. What the audience gets straddled with is a killer that lacks mystic and its already paper thin premise is stretched thin. The fact that the prime targets is cis-white upper-middle class family is utterly boring and feels like lazy writing shorthand for upping the tension. Moreover, while the acting is solid the characters are annoying and following a fighting middle-aged couple and their whining brats is about as grating as it sounds. I think that the movie could have actually set up this theme of a man who feels trapped, maybe even emasculated and this boils over into road rage might have added depth and layers to the story but this movie doesn't go that deep. 

    If the movie was more interesting or subverted expectations I could easily forgive shallow characters and even a pretty paper thin plot. Tailgate or Bumperkleef doesn't offer anything new or exciting  to the whole 'road-rage' genre. A great example of this is actually 2020's Unhinged which didn't have a lot of depth but was a purely satisfyingly angry and grimy movie that felt like it was partly in on how over-the-top and campy it was. Hell, it felt like it said, "Fuck it, lets embrace it". This movie on the other hand is deadly serious, lacks an interesting hook or story and the things only start to really get going a good hour into the 85min runtime. I will say that what is frustrating is the director clearing is decent, the movie is actually well shot and, as I said the acting is actually good. It's just the movie isn't remarkable, nor is it so over-the-top it crosses into the 'so-bad-its-enjoyable' realm. 

I actually think this would have worked so much better as short film rather than a stretched out feature film.  Just watched Unhinged instead. 

Picture/Sound: One of the shames about this is visually the movie has a lot going for it. Putting it out on 720p (which is a red flag that FM didn't feel like this was worth the 1080p format) does a big disservice. Outdoor scenes are still pretty lush looking but of course doesn't have the sharp definition. Sound fares a bit better with a nice 5.1 track. Sound design is robust and full overall. 

Extras: None 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Smallville: The Complete Series 20th Anniversary Edition - Soaring Onto Blu-ray For The First Time Ever On 10/19/21


Hi! Hope all is well! We just announced the epic news that Smallville: The Complete 

 Featuring All 218 Episodes from the Iconic Series
Flying into Homes on Blu-ray October 19, 2021

BURBANK, CA (July 27, 2021) – It’s been 20 years since Clark Kent first arrived in Kansas, and in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the remarkable series, Smallville: The Complete Series 20th Anniversary Edition will soar onto Blu-ray for the first time ever from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on October 19, 2021. This set for the ultimate fan features all 218 episodes along with over 28 hours of bonus features from all 10 incredible seasons, plus Digital Copy (US Only). Smallville: The Complete Series 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is priced to own at $179.99 SRP ($209.99 in Canada) and will also be available on DVD for $154.99 SRP ($184.99 in Canada).
The groundbreaking, Emmy®-winning 10-season hit that redefined the origins of the world’s greatest super hero is all here – from Krypton refugee Kal-El’s arrival on Earth through his tumultuous teen years to Clark Kent’s final steps toward embracing his destiny as the Man of Steel. Relive a decade’s worth of thrills in fantastic adventures full of action, heart and humor in abundance, all anchored by the marvelous performance of Tom Welling at its center. Savor again the series’ thoughtful and imaginative integration and reinvention of the iconic characters of DC lore. And let your spirits be lifted up, up and away.

Starring Tom Welling as “Clark Kent,” Allison Mack as “Chloe Sullivan,” Kristin Kreuk as “Lana Lang,” Michael Rosenbaum as “Lex Luthor,” John Glover as “Lionel Luthor,” Erica Durance as “Lois Lane,” Annette O’Toole as “Martha Kent,” John Schneider as “Jonathan Kent,” Justin Hartley as “Oliver Queen,” Sam Jones III as “Pete Ross,” Cassidy Freeman as “Tess Mercer,” Aaron Ashmore as “Jimmy Olsen,” Eric Johnson as “Whitney Fordman,” Laura Vandervoort as “Kara,” Callum Blue as “Zod,” Jensen Ackles as “Jason Teague” and Sam Witwer as “Davis Bloome,” Smallville has also featured many notable guest stars including Terence Stamp, James Marsters, Michael McKean, Ian Somerhalder, Jane Seymour, Brian Austin Green, Pam Grier, Helen Slater, Michael Ironside, Julian Sands, Tori Spelling, Rutger Hauer and Christopher Reeve. 
Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Based on DC Comics characters, Smallville was developed for television by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar. Its executive producers have included Michael Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, James Marshall, Brian Peterson, Kelly Souders, Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer, Greg Beeman, Ken Horton and Tom Welling. The series is from Tollin/Robbins Productions, Millar/Gough Ink and Warner Bros. Television.
Smallville: The Complete Series 20th Anniversary Edition includes 2 DVD discs with over 28 hours of bonus features originally released on the Smallville Seasons 1-10 DVD sets. 
  • The Adventures of Superboy – The original 1961 pilot starring John Rockwell.
  • A Retrospective Look at the Series’ 10-Year Journey – An in-depth, season-by-season look at the creation of this landmark television series. Highlights include interviews with Tom Welling, Eric Durance, Michael Rosenbaum, Phil Morris, John Schneider and many more, as well as rare behind-the-scenes footage.
  • A Decade of Comic-Con Featurette
  • Paley Festival Featurette
  • Smallville’s 100th Episode: Making of a Milestone – An extended version of the original featurette included in the Season 5 set.
  • Secret Origin: The American Story of DC Comics – A feature length documentary chronicling DC’s 75 years of challenges, creativity, and triumph.
  • Audio CommentariesDeleted and Extended Scenes, Gag Reels, Behind-the-scenes featurettes and much more from all 10 seasons! 
Smallville: The Complete Series is currently available to own on Digital. Digital purchase allows consumers to instantly stream and download to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital movies and TV shows are available from various digital retailers including Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and others.
Street Date: October 19, 2021
Order Due Date: September 07, 2021
Blu-ray Presented in 16x9 widescreen format
Running time: Approx. 154 Hours
Blu-ray Price: $179.99 SRP ($209.99 in Canada)
42-Discs (40 BD-50s + 2 DVD-9s for the Bonus Features)
About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc. 
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment's physical and digital distribution businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees. 
About DC 
DC, a WarnerMedia Company, creates iconic characters, enduring stories, and immersive experiences that inspire and entertain audiences of every generation around the world and is one of the world’s largest publishers of comics and graphic novels. As a creative division, DC is charged with strategically integrating its stories and characters across film, television, consumer products, home entertainment, interactive games, DC UNIVERSE INFINITE digital subscription service and community engagement portal. For more information visit and
SUPERMAN and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC.

The Mind Bending Lucky RLJE DVD Review

 Lucky (2020) RLJ Entertainment 8/3/2021

Directed By: Natasha Kermani 

Starring: Brea Grant, Hunter C. Smith, Dhruv Uday Singh, Yasmine Al-Bustami 

Disclaimer: RLJ 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. 

My Interview with Director Natasha Kermani HERE

Other RLJE Reviews: Séance HERE

Jakob's Wife HERE 

Plot Summary: In LUCKY, life takes a sudden turn for May (Grant), a popular self-help book author, when she finds herself the target of a mysterious man with murderous intentions. Every night without fail, he comes after her, and every day the people around her barely seem to notice. With no one to turn to, May is pushed to her limits and must take matters into her own hands to survive and to regain control of her life.

     Natasha Kermani and Brea Grant are not house hold names....yet! But mark my words, they will be a force in horror or indeed any genre they choose. Lucky (2020) is a film that has gotten both negative and positive reviews. And yes, I think either you are down to fully immerse yourself in Kermani and Grant's strange world they crafted or your not. If it's the latter I feel sorry that you have boring tastes in movies.  For me I was totally on board with diving head first into Natasha's wholly unique brand of horror. Lucky is powerful in that it is fearless in how it expertly weaves themes of gaslighting, the MeToo movement and the silencing of women. When I interviewed Natasha she also confirmed that this movie also talks marketable feminism, a subject that rarely gets discussed or satirized in cinema period, let alone a horror film. 

    On a very surface level the horror comes from the nightly attacks YET for me thats not what's really so horrifying is the why nobody in May's life believes her. Even her fellow female friends cannot or will not do anything to make the situation any better. As you can tell that films message is not at all subtle but I am perfectly fine with that because it's a message that is still timely and sadly, still very much needs telling. Regardless of where you fall on the gender-spectrum this movie will and should make you feel just as angry and frustrated and frankly as terrorized as the lead actor. Grant's script is also darkly funny and there is a real dry-sardonic humor which elevates the material further. 

    On a technical level Natasha Kermani directs this film with the confidence of a seasoned director but also with the kind of love and energy from a newcomer.  The film was made on a budget but has a clean, polished look thanks to a good production design by Lindsay Minnich (Every Secret Thing) and interesting cinematography by Julia Swain (Speed of Life) and great editing.  I would also be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to the perfectly bizarre score by Jeremy Zuckerman (Horse Girl). 

Brea Grant who also wrote the film does a fantastic job as May. Grant not only created this brilliant allegory but embodies the the lead with real pathos. Also features a great supporting cast including Hunter C. Smith, Dhruv Uday Singh, Yasmine Al-Bustami. 

Lucky feels like a modern day Twilight Zone episode and has the kind of creeping existential dread that stuck with me long after the credits rolled. A-Must-Watch!

Picture/Sound: As always 720p has its limitations but I think Lucky is actually fairly good looking on a lower-def format.  Its never going to be as sharp and detailed as 1080p but its still a very solid looking film even the upconvert from what I assume is digital camera. Sound wise is also good and as always RLJE provides a nice robust DTS 5.1 track. This movie has a lot of great action as well as score so its nice to see this extra boost in sound. Well done. 

Extras: Extras include a Filmmakers commentary and Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

The Ultra-Sleazy Born for Hell (1976) Severin Film Blu Ray Review

Born for Hell (1978) Severin Film 7/20/2021 

Directed By: Denis Héroux

Starring: Mathieu Carriere, Debra Berger, Christine Boisson 

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. 

    Denis Héroux isn't exactly subtle when it comes to this movie having a lot to say about politics and the state of the world, specially in Belfast Ireland and the IRA. In fact, it drives this point home from the very title card and pretty overtly from there, depicting a bombing at a church. And it doesn't get any subtler from here on out. The film not only has these over-tones of Irish politics but also US ones as the movie features a character that is a Vietnam vet. Couple this with obvious references to real-life murderer Richard Speck and you have a pretty strange sleazy flick. 

      I was prepared for a pretty brutal film ala The Last House on the Beach (1978) (a obscure sicko movie not to be confused with the similar Craven titled film) which has a pretty similar set-up (though this came out first). I will say that the movie does have a really grimy, unnerving, almost documentary like approach and Denis's film has a coldness to it. The movie isn't as outrageous in its gore but when the murders do take place they have a raw and disturbing quality that I think gives the movie its impact. Moreover the movie is relentless in its savageness towards women which I found incredibly hard to watch at times. If I had to lobby a complaint I think the movie does some heavy-lifting that it doesn't need to. What I mean is, the entire political landscape of the film doesn't really add much if anything to the narrative. Also, I think it would have been much creepier if we gave almost no backstory of motivation for the killer. They also weirdly introduce characters that feel important but are dropped. 

Its pretty wild to think that Denis Héroux gone onto be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture for Atlantic City (1980) just four years after Born for Hell was released. The movie does aim high with social and political pinning's but honestly I think that its window dressing for a solid, grimy and mean little film.  

 A sleazy, unflinching film that will make you want to take a shower afterwards. 

Picture: Once again Severin does a fantastic job at providing fans with a pretty stellar looking picture. The movie is a noticeable brightness yet doesn't look overly processed or washed out. For the most part the print is sharp looking with only some minor artifacts present. Overall, a really nice looking presentation. 

Sound: Born for Hell has a DTS 2.0 track. The film has a really nice clean track and dialogue, sound design and music comes through quite strong. 

Extras: Born for Hell is loaded with some great extras. Included is: The Other Side of the Mirror (14mins) a New interview with lead actor Mathieu Carriere. A really engaging interview that is well worth checking out. Also included is: Nightmare in Chicago: Remembering the Richard Speck Murders w/Filmmakers John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) and Gary Sherman (Vice Squad)  (12mins) A fascinating look at Speck from two vet. Grindhouse filmmakers. Both filmmakers lived in Chicago in the same stomping ground as the infamous Speck, A New Kind of Crime: The Richard Speck Story w/Once Upon a Crime Podcaster Ester Ludlow (38mins) A second feature which gets in more detail with Speck and his ghastly crimes, Bombing here, shooting there: A Video Essay on Born for Hell by Filmmaker Chris O' Neill (17mins), Artist Joe Coleman on Speck (14mins), Inside the Odditorium with Joe Cole (9mins) Naked Massacre US Video Release Cut (85min)  and rounding out the features is a rare Italian Trailer. 

Video Attic Exclusive: Interview with Lucky (2020) Director Natasha Kermani

Interview with Lucky (2020) Director Natasha Kermani 

Writer, director Natasha Kermani is not a household name yet, but, has been working in cinema for since the late '00's.  2020's Lucky is her third feature film which I enjoyed a lot. My Review for Lucky HERE 

The extremely talented Kermani took time out of her business schedule to talk about her latest film. 

TVA: I read in an interview that you originally were drawn to the script that was sent to you. How much, if any did you change from that initial draft?

NK: Not much really. The script was almost exactly as it came to me. When definitely made a few small tweaks. The biggest thing I would thing that changed was the main character a young child, a son in that initial draft and we chose to take him out. We did this for a variety of reasons but mostly because I felt like he wasn't necessary. He was just there to make the main character more sympatric, but also logistically it helped us a lot. (laughs) Not only is it more difficult having a young actor on set with us on our very fast shoot schedule but I think beyond that its a little more interesting to let this character sort of be an unusual lead and to sort of just be who she is fighting for herself. I think that ended up being a really good adjustment that we made. Other than that really its all just in the script and we just sort of took what was in there and then built on it and made it crazier (laughs), and more expressionistic with a lot of the production design and the props. I would say overall its pretty much exactly like the version that I read. 

TVA: Now, there is a scene in the movie which deals with the character May's book publisher where he basically tells her to basically lean into the woman issues for sales. So, I was wondering if it's fair to say this movie examines marketable feminism? 

NK: Absolutely. I mean, Brea even speaks about why she decided to make her a self-help author. It's sort of that idea of what she calls, "business-lady-feminism"  

(both laughs)

which is sort of this like '90s era sort of feminism that we grew up with which is this idea of, "you can have it all, you can have a business and you can do whatever you want and you can go it alone, all you need is yourself." And, I think what gets lost in that message is the idea of community and communication. A lot of the weaknesses that May has as a character is tied into that idea of, I think you said it in a great way, marketable feminism (laughs). Rather than really going down to the root of what she needs which is to connect with other women and herself in order to escape this nightmare. So yes, its absolutely all tied together and I think its Brea's initial intention with the character. 

TVA: What I love about Lucky is it feels like the kind of high concept genre you would see presented in the classic Twilight Zone series. 

NK: Exactly! That's what we kept saying, that it should feel like a Twilight Zone episode. Like your going into the Twilight Zone (laughs). I love that you got that, that was exactly the intention. 

TVA: What has the audiences response been since the film's release?

NK: Yeah its been really interesting. I think the number one thing for us that's been great has just been really hearing people, mostly women say, "Yes, this is my experience reflected on screen". I think there are...not grateful but excited to see representation of not just, "Oh this horrible traumatic experience happened" which is I think what a lot of horror films delve into but here its a more nuanced side of it that gets into the absurdity of what it is to be a woman (laughs) in this world. It can be really ridiculous and absurd and so I think that has been probably the number one response and we love hearing from peoples perspective on it. Also just, if that person is with a partner that is a man and being able to have a conversation with their partner and maybe they didn't realize that that was something they had experienced which reflected as aspect of their own lives. And of course there is some resistance to the material. I think that just goes hand-in-hand when you have a movie like this with a very strong point of view (laughs) but we welcome it. 

TVA: The movie kind of reminded me a little vibe wise of She Dies Tomorrow. 

NK: Yes. Both apart of the disastrous South by Southwest but absolutely, same vibe. 

TVA: What do you want audience members to leave Lucky with after the credits roll?

NK: I hope its an overall different experience for them. I hope that it's slightly to the left maybe of what they were expecting or if they weren't expecting anything (laughs) then maybe it gave them something different. I think that we were really interested in, like a Twilight Zone in the way it would tackle things from an interesting point of view. That was definitely important for us so I hope people enjoy it on that level but more importantly they are ab;le to open up deeper and more nuanced conversations about the experience of women in this world, but also how it might change and should change. Sort of this larger conversation you can have over serval glasses of wine (laughs) after seeing the movie, thats intention.  

For More Interviews: Josh Ruben Click HERE

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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Marlene Dietrich in Desire (1936) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Desire (1936) Kino Studio Classics 8/10/2021

Directed By: Frank Borzage 

Starring: Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, John Halliday, William Frawley, Ernest Cossart

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. 

My Review for another Frank Borzage film The Mortal Storm HERE

My Review for another Marlene Dietrich movie The Woman One Longs For HERE

My Review for Love Me Tonight HERE

       A remake of the German film Happy Days in Aranjuez (1933), Desire (1936)  is an important film as it marked Dietrich coming off a very successful with her collaboration with von Sternberg (making six films together). It also comes at what is often considered the hay-day of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Madeleine de Beaupre (Marlene Dietrich) is a beautiful jewel thief who make off with some pearls worth over two million dollars. Meanwhile a over worked automotive engineer taking a vacation crosses paths with the femme-fatale with explosive results. 

     Desire was produced by the legendary Ernst Lubitsch who, as you might know was a titan in cinema and known for his very unique style. In fact, the term 'The Lubitsch touch' was coined to describe a very certain feeling his films produced. To give you an idea of how respected Ernst was, Billy Wilder was a big admirer. The movie over-flows wit and sophistication like fine champagne mixed with shades of Hitchcock (who Dietrich worked with on Stage Fright) and some subtle screwball comedy of the era. Surprisingly though the movie has some darker elements that flies in the face of more breezy fare. 

     On a technical level this movie really shines among the best of the '30s. Two time Oscar winner Frank Borzage (Bad Girl, 7th Heaven) does a fantastic job at not only directing but balancing what could be a tricky tone. Iconic screenwriters Edwin Justus Mayer (To Be or Not to Be), Waldemar Young (Love Me Tonight) and Samuel Hoffenstein (Laura, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde '31) crafts dialogue that sizzles and a narrative that is a lean and perfectly paced. There is also an under-current of the impending war between the US and Germany that gives this movie an interesting aura about it. 

Charles Lang (Some Like it Hot) gives the film further polish with his amazing photography and Travis Banton made jaw-dropping dresses. On a side note to give you an idea how amazing Banton was, the great Edith Head studied under him. 

    Add the beautiful and talented Marlene Dietrich and the handsome Gary Cooper and you have the makings of a movie that is powerful, engrossing and magic to watch. The amount of talent behind and in front of the camera is staggering. A Must-Watch! 

Picture: Desire boosts a new-2k scan and, in my opinion is a very nicely done restoration. The overall image has a uptick in clarity and brightness but, thankfully it's not overly processed or washed out. Black-and-white has a nicely balanced contrast which really is impressive. Grain is present of course but is smoothed out and not chunky. The movie is not without some flaws and there are some very minor artifacts but nothing that I feel like distracts from the product. 

Sound: Desire has a DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through incredibly well as does the score and sound design. No unwanted background hiss that can be a issue with some older films. 

Extras: Desire comes with new brand-new commentary tracks! 

The first is from author/historian David Del Valle and Nathaniel Bell. As always David provides a wealth of knowledge on the subject as well as firsthand information from those connected with the film. Bell also does a nice job and together they provide a highly enjoyable, informative and engaging commentary track. 

Film historian Samm Deighan also does a great job and offers a well researched track. Like David and Bell, Deighan brings something different to the track but also it is a wealth of information on different aspects of the production. Very engaging. 

Rounding out the features is a series of trailers. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Video Attic Presents: Class Rewind: Shadow Play (1986) Kino Lorber/Scorpion Releasing Blu Ray Review

The Video Attic Presents: Class Rewind: Older Titles/Fresh Reviews

Shadow Play (1986) Kino Lorber/Scorpion Releasing: Original Release Date 5/12/2020

Directed By: Susan Shadburne 

Starring: Dee Wallace, Cloris Leachman, Barry Laws, Ron Kuhlman 

       Writer/Director Susan Shadburne never became a household name, mostly working in direct-to-video children's romps. Shadow Play (1986) also known as Ghostwriter seems to be an outliner in her short career. A playwright named Morgan Hanna (Dee Wallace) is still dealing with the death of her fiancé Jeremy (Barry Laws) whilst also trying to get past her writers block. To unblock she decides to get away and stay at his fiancé's mother Millies (Cloris Leachman) beautiful sea side homestead. Soon she starts to get a feeling that Jeremy is still with her-in spirit anyways. 

      So...I really love the set-up of Shadow Play. Being a writer (and we all get writers block) I found it pretty instantly relatable plus writers going a little bonkers makes for time tested but true horror fodder. Just ask Jack Torrance. Sadly though the movie plays less like The Shining (1980) and more like a ultra-cheesy Lifetime movie. The film lumbers along and is pretty uneventful for most of its scant 97-mintue runtime. You can certainly see how Shadburne is out of her element as the movie is frankly dull with what feels like strong emotional cores but the writing and acting isn't nearly effective enough to drive it home. I honestly knew I was suppose to feel emotionally invested in the characters best I wasn't and I chock that up to a failing by the filmmakers. And as much as I love Dee Wallace she gives a uneven performance. I don't completely fault her because she is good in other films so again, I think it was a combo of a unexperienced director and clunky dialogue. Even Oscar winning actor Cloris Leachman is not bad but not nearly as good as she has been in other films. 

    It's a shame because this a great cast that is utterly wasted on what feels like a made-for-tv melodrama. Shadow Play tries its hardest to be moody but again, this just comes off silly and like the worst kind of soap-opera offering.  I think there is roots of a good story here but its sunk by a screenplay that is watered down, cliched and cheesy and not in a fun way. 

Picture: Shadow Play has a new 2k transfer. The movie looks overall pretty good with a nice uptick in clarity and brightness. Grain is smoothed out and not chunky which is always welcomed, especially for transfers of titles thirty-plus years old. There are some artifacts and scratches but this is only noticeable in a few scenes. 

Sound: Shadow Play has a DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue, score and sound design come through strongly. I will say that there is some unwanted background noise present but nothing that is distracting. 

Extras: Includes a new Interview with Dee Wallace (22mins), Trailers and Photo Gallery

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Skinned Deep (2004) Severin Blu Ray Review

Skinned Deep (2004) Severin Films 7/20/2021

Directed By: Gabe Bartalos 

Starring: Karoline Brandt, Jay Dugre, Warwick Davis, Liz Little, Les Pollock 

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. 

     Skinned Deep (2004) is a movie that was memorable for its wonderfully lured cover but I actually never got around to watching. Now, thanks to Severin this early '00s oddity is now available for the first time on HD in the US and restored (more on that later of course). A family is traveling on vacation when they are attacked by a inbred redneck family of murderers. No, this isnt The Hills Have Eyes (1977) or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).  Gabe Bartalos is maybe not a household name but to genre fans his work ranges from Spookies (1986), Brain Damage (1988), Leprechaun (1993) (probably his most iconic work) and still works today on huge budget productions. He has directed two films to date this and 2013's Saint Bernard (also available from Severin).   

     This movie had a shall we say interesting reputation during its release onto the home video market. The reviews were mostly bad but the movie has found a diehard fanbase over the years. After finally laying two bloody-eye balls on this film I have to say it really is a work of surreal Dadaist lunacy. Skinned Deep feels like a live-action cartoon version of Tobe Hooper's sundrenched summer slaughter-house classic but this time the black comedy is even more of the bloody-tongue crammed in cheek variety.  Deep is bad there is no getting around it. The plot is aimless, the cinematography baffling at times and the acting is...really something. But, guess what? I freakin loved it! What saves the film is that clearly Gabe and the crew are in on the joke and isn't aiming for anything more than a absurd gore-fest. It also feelings like a loving homage to the wild weird works of Frank Henenlotter. This isnt a shocker considered the two have worked and known each other for so long. In fact, Gabe even worked on what is maybe Frank's most famous film outside of Basket Case (1982), 1990's Frankenhooker. Also its not lost on me that they have a big-brained character named Brian (a pretty on the nose, or rather head) nod to Brain Damage (a movie Gabe worked on). Also, holy shit this movie has a cameo by the one and only Forrest J. Ackerman. 

     The movie also pays homage to other films like House of 1,000 Corpses (2003) and a very direct reference to the down-under cult classic Fair Game (1986) (ala the scene where Tina is taken for a ride on top of the car). And of course this movie allows Warwick Davis to go absolutely stark raving mad as a character called plates (his murder weapon of choice). Seriously, it is so much fun watching the respected British actor to make a ham-dinner out of the role. He's having a good time with it and so am I. Being helmed by a iconic practical effects you would hope that the SFX would be on point. And yes, they totally are. Gross-out and actually really well done, the effects kick so much ass in this movie! 

Skinned Deep is a wonderfully bizarre over-the-top gore-fest that kicks so much ass your Blu Ray player my explode! Consider it a must-watch!  

Picture: There isn't any information on this restoration but I have heard that the new transfer was something of a labor of love. I haven't seen the old DVD of Skinned Deep but one only has to watch the original trailer to see the vast improvement here. The clarity is really stunning and you can see right away there is a nice uptick in the overall brightness (like the opening nighttime scene) and colors have been well balanced. Nothing looks overly processed either which is always nice to see. I also noticed a lot of sharpness and depth in things like costumes, sets and locales. Nicely done work from Severin. 

Sound: Skinned Deep has a DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue and music comes through very clear and the overall sound experience is robust and healthy. 

Extras:  Deep Cuts: A Look Back at Skinned Deep (14mins) A really fun back at Skinned Deep with brand-new interviews with director Gabe Bartalos, actors Karoline Brandt, Jay Dugre, Jake Lee (weapons machinist). Severin always does a excellent job with not only their picture/sound but with providing some great supplemental material.  Also includes a really fun commentary with the cast and crew and, archival making of featurette (22mins) with some great behind the scenes footage and interviews! 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Séance (2021) RLJE Blu Ray Review

Séance (2021) RLJ Entertainment 8/3/2021

Directed By: Simon Barrett 

Starring: Suko Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith, Inanna Sarkis 

Disclaimer: RLJ 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. 

        Before I dive into this review I think some context is important. Simon Barrett has always been a  interesting figure emerging alongside people like Ti West, Adam Wingard and Eli Roth. These were young horror fans and film students that wanted to take the mantle from previous horror icons like Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter. While Roth and Wingard would find success, the latter now working on big tent pole films, Ti West hasn't made a feature film since 2013 and, largely just works in television. Barrett seems to be another success story having written indie hits like You're Next (2011)  and The Guest (2014). Clearly this brought him a lot of attention and he was given the chance to write the big budget reboot/sequel Blair Witch (2016).  Though BW technically did turn a profit it was not the big money maker the studio had hoped for. Critics were unkind as well and the movie sits at a dismal 37% rating on RT. On a side note I had a very brief encounter with Barrett who properly shut down my request for an interview stating that he no longer handled that himself. It partly stung because I had hustled and been successful with big name interviews in the past without going through PR but also, he never suggested whom to contact for official channels. 

      I didn't hold a grudge and I have followed his career with interest none the less. 2021's Séance marks an interesting step in his career as its his first feature film where he's in the directors chair. The films set up is surface level pretty simple: a group of mean-girls from a posh boarding school pull a prank on a fellow "friend" that leads to her death. A new student fills her slot named Camille (Suko Waterhouse) and the group decide to "for reasons" pull another prank on Camille involving guessed it séance which of course has bad results.  So, I wanted to really enjoy this movie. It started strong with a healthy amount of atmosphere and a kind of "cozy mystery" type setting ala the isolated boarding school. Séance is sadly a mish-mash of horror clichés, plot holes and clear inspirations to other better films. I use to love how Barrett could take simple premises and spin genre gold  with his earlier screenwriting. This on the other hand takes a fairly straight forward plot and gets increasingly convoluted. Character motivations are absurd even by horror logic and a honestly think the movie runs out of steam after its set-up.  

    On the bright side the movie does have a healthy amount of mood and though its screenplay is a mixed bag at best, the mystery it weaves is engaging enough to help you get slog through. Though the twist does do a decent job at subverting expectations. I also think that visually the movie is great and is probably one of the better aspects of this aimless outing. 

Séance is most certainly a low point for Barrett who shined bright but lately has yet to return to his former gory-glory. It offers nothing new to the genre nor does it try to have any fun with it. Bland and honestly, kind of dull in places. I hope that we once again get a run of movies from Barrett like V/H/S, You're Next and The Guest. 

Picture: RLJE has a pretty great track record when it comes to providing really stellar looking 1080p transfers. As for a lot of movies shot on digital, Séance has a crisp clean look with a nice depth in colors and blacks are deep. There is even a nice grainy film like look which is really nice to see. There is a real warmth to certain scenes that help enhance the visuals (which is top-notch). 

Sound: Séance has a robust and healthy DTS 5.1 track. Dialogue comes in clear though not as hearty as I would have liked. Though, the 5.1 does make good use in terms of the sound design and effects. Overall, flawed but really well done. 

Extras: Extras include: Directors commentary, Behind the Scenes, Outtakes, Deleted Scenes, Decpitation Pre-Viz, Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery. 

True Crime Documentary The Phantom (2021) Kino Lorber DVD Review

The Phantom (2021) Kino Lorber 7/2/2021

Directed By: Patrick Forbes 

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. 

      In this Southern fried-true crime outing filmmaker Patrick Forbes examines the brutal murder of a store clerk named Wanda Lopez who is killed whilst on the phone with 9-11. What seems like a pretty cut and dry case of murder leans to questions, possible corruption and plenty of twists and turns in this highly engrossing documentary. 

    So, I am a huge fan of true crime documentaries, especially ones that don't get covered. Such is the case with The Phantom, which has plenty of strange aspects to it. I will want to warn viewers from the outset that if you are easily upset or disturbed you may want to opt out of this one. I say this because The Phantom plays portions of the infamous 9-11 call which has the final cries and agony of the victim Wanda Lopez.  If I'm being honest its upsetting but they wisely don't linger on it but its worth mentioning. 

    Forbes does a fairly good job at laying out the story and slowly unfolding how the case was shoddy at best and how a shadow of doubt on Carolos DeLuna starts creeping in. The director tries to weave into the narrative a bigger thread about the Texas court system but thankfully this doesn't over take or de-rail the overall story which is interesting enough on its own.  I will say as good as the documentary is it takes a little while before I was fully gripped and engaged. When it does though I think that Forbes presents things in a very clear way and the interview subjects along with the editing does a great job telling the overall narrative. There are aspects of the case that I think could have been presented in more detail and I think it would have been nice if they focused a little more on the victim Wanda Lopez. 

The Phantom is a flawed but pretty fascinating true crime documentary which is worth checking out! 

Picture/Sound: The Phantom was shot on digital and therefore looks pretty decent even on a low-def. There are of course some shots that clearly show the kind of limitations even with using higher quality cameras as it looks blurry and not well defined. Overall though its actually pretty good looking. Sound wise its the same, with dialogue coming through nice and clear. 

Extras: None