Thursday, September 30, 2021

A Night the Opera (1935) Warner Archive Blu Ray Review

A Night at the Opera (1935) Warner Archive 9/28/2021

Directed By: Sam Wood

Starring: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Kitty Carlisle 



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. 

 Please Note: You may be wondering if this version has about three minutes missing -Sadly, this does not. Its the 92 minute version. This scene is thought to be lost for good. 


      Considered by many fans and critics to be among the very best films made by the Marx brothers, A Night at the Opera (1935) makes its long awaited US blu ray debut from Warner Archive. High hilarity and hijinks ensue as a smooth talking business manager named Otis T. Driftwood (Groucho Marx) and his two whacky side kicks navigate the world of the opera all whilst thumbing their noses at the stuffy elite. Screenwriter Morrie Ryskind (My Man Godfrey, Stage Door) and George George S. Kaufman (You Can't Take it With You, Animal Crackers) who were legendary in the Golden Age of Hollywood truly craft a comedy that sizzles with fast paced jokes and truly showcase the talents of the Marx brothers. Not only is the dialogue snappy and rapid fire but the gags are creative and hilarious. And, since A Night at the Opera was made and originally released during the Great Depression so it makes sense that the Marx brothers would want to take a savagely sardonic take on the rich. 

      Night at the Opera has a fantastic cast. Of course the Marx brothers have never been better and the actors truly showcase why they were geniuses in their field. The supporting cast is great as well with Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones etc. I have to admit that while I do enjoy A Night at the Opera I wouldn't say it was my favorite of the classic Marx Bros comedies. 

Picture: A Night at the Opera gets a sending ovation for its amazing transfer. This is sourced from a brand-new 4k scan from the best available material. My goodness, what a stunning looking print. Once again, like the other WA titles this movie is pristine with no artifacts or noise. The black-and-white photography is well balanced and has a nice striking contrast which has nice depth.   

Sound: Opera has a nice DTS 2.0 track. It isn't perfect and does has some unwanted background noise. This is most likely not the fault of WA but rather just the back sourced audio material. Still, the movie has a nice full sound and dialogue and music comes through strongly. 

Extras: A Night at the Opera ports over the extras from the previous release and includes: Commentary by Leonard Maltin, Documentary: Remarks on Marx, Groucho Marx on the The Hy Gardner Show (1961 broadcast), 3 Vintage Shorts, Trailer 

Night of the Animated Dead (2021) Warner Bros. Blu Ray Review

Night of the Animated Dead (2021) Warner Bros. 9/21/2021

Directed By: John Axinn 

Starring: Josh Duhamel, Dule Hill, Katharine Isabelle

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. 


       So, I want to say from the out set that I am a big fan of the recent Warner Bros. direct-to-video animation. I wanted to give this a fair shake even though I think an animated version of Night of the Living Dead (1968) is something nobody asked for. I think a little context is probably in order before I get into this review. Night of the Living Dead infamously is in the public domain after it was not registered properly. This means that TV networks, home video labels and studios can use the film or remake it without paying a cent. Now, some could argue that this over-saturation helped keep the film in the public zeitgeist which lead to Romero making Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985) and Creepshow (1982) among others. An official remake did happen directed by Tom Savini in 1990. This is be generally well received by horror fans. Since then though there has been many attempts to capture the original films atmosphere, dread and social satire.     

      But, okay. I sat down and hoped that director John Axinn make try to do something interesting with Living Dead in the context of a modern lens. After all the original was a movie about deep paranoia, fear and came at a time of great unrest in America. Hmm...That seems like the perfect opportunity to showcase this film for a new generation of horror fans. Sadly though, Axinn just does a totally retread of the original which feels like a shot-for-shot remake. Only now its in color and more graphic. I sucks because I think that this could have been so interesting by taking the template of the original film and with some creativity, could have re-shaped it for a modern post-Trump landscape. But it does nothing of the sort. 

    And, okay if they were going to make a shot-for-shot remake to help sell this movie to a younger audience- why not give it the grit and grime it deserves? Warner Bros animation has what they call a house style. This is done so all the animation stays looking clean and consistent throughout. This works really well with their DC animated films. In fact, I have often praised them for how this works well within their superhero outings. For horror though, it just feels out of place. I kept hoping that the movie would have a animation style that reflected at least the grit and stark nihilism of the '68 film.  

     Here we can bright out of place and frankly not very good looking animation for what is just a totally remake of the original. It being stripped of its black-and-white doesn't help give it its haunting atmosphere of the original. The director has stated that it being in color was to make it feel "modern". Notably the only change is a added scene that is described in the movie but is shown (for a second) and this doesn't add anything new. 

I wanted to love this movie, it has a talented voice cast and I am still a huge fan of Warner Bros animation. I just have to be honest and say I wasn't into this one. I gave it a fair shot and hoped that it would had done something, anything to make it worth praising. 

Picture: Like a lot of WB's animation the 1080p picture is crisp, clean and pristine looking. The colors for better or worse really do pop and look striking. This as always does showcase the nice animation work. 

Sound: Night of the Animated Dead has a nice robust DTS 5.1 track. Dialogue music and design sound comes with a great 3D depth in my opinion. 

Extras: Extras include Making of: Animating the Dead 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Spanish Giallo The Fourth Victim (1971) Severin Blu Ray Review

The Fourth Victim (1971) Severin Films 9/28/2021

Directed By: Eugenio Martin

Starring: Carroll Baker, Michael Craig, Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez 



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. 

    Director Eugenio Martin is probably best remembered by horror fans for the incredible Horror Express (1972) starring Christopher Lee (also released by Severin). Here he dips his toes into the hugely popular giallo genre. The Fourth Victim (1971) is certainly one the tamer giallo and lacks the ultra-gore and sleaze that the Italian directors like Sergio Martino or Lucio Fulci provided. Indeed, this movie starts out as a court drama, then slides a mystery thriller. 

    The film may not be as sensational as other giallo however I still think its a damn interesting film. Director Eugenio Martin takes the blue print of other whodunit films and almost lull's you into a false sense of security until cleverly pulling the rug out from under us the audience. I won't spoil it but I will just has Martin has some great twists and turns under his sleeve and some properly surreal moments thrown in for good measure.  It also features a fantastic production design and the use of a spooky mansion further adds to the pieces atmosphere. I also like how this movie takes what we think we know about a standard giallo and uses that against us at every turn. The Fourth Victim features the stunning Carroll Baker who was no stranger to the giallo genre. Michael Craig makes for an excellent lead with his smooth talking charm. 

    Fourth Victim features a wonderfully haunting score by  Piero Umiliani (Baba Yaga, Four Dolls for an August Moon) and DP Guglielmo Mancori (Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man) gives the movie a nice scope and style. 

Sexy, surreal and filled with plenty of twists and turns. The Fourth Victim is fantastic!

Picture: The Fourth Victim is sourced from a brand-new 2k scan. You can certainly tell that this movie has a nice refreshed look with a considerable uptick in brightness with colors really popping. Night scenes especially look clear. Color contrast for the most part is also well maintained throughout. Some artifacts and noise but nothing that I would say is a distraction. Also some slight tempt flickering. Overall, another nicely done transfer from Severin. 

Sound: The Fourth Victim has a really nice DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue and score comes through nicely. No audio distortion or drop out present. 

Extras: The Fourth Victim has includes some nice features including:

Eugenio Martin, Auteur (15mins) A lively new interview with director Eugenio Martin biographer Carlos Aguliar. 

Deleted Scene and Trailer. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Lucky Luciano (1973) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Lucky Luciano (1973) Kino Studio Classics 9/28/2021

Directed By: Francesco Rosi 

Starring: Gian Maria Volonte, Vincent Gardenia, Silverio Blasi 


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. 


     The Godfather (1972) truly sparked the interest back into gangster films which has not really been popular to that degree since the '30s, especially in the Hollywood pre-code era. Coming a year after Coppla's Oscar winning film was Lucky Luciano (1973). The film is as the title suggests a biopic of the famed Lucky Luciano. The movie follows his criminal career from the 20s to the 60s. 

     Credit where credit is due Lucky Luciano is a bio pic that probably better directed and constructed than a typical rushed Godfather knock off. True the movie does try to capture that flavor but it also takes more risks and provides a rawer look at organized crime that Hollywood couldn't really fully get away with. The fact that this movie is Italian further helps give the movie a rich and realistic flare that a lot of the other post-Godfather knock off films don't have. Also, for being a lower budget the movie have a nice production design, costumes and sets that feel period accurate. The movie is also a highly engaging and interesting watch despite some talky-moments. I will say some of the acting is rather flat. 

Lucky Luciano is a highly entertaining gritty, stylish gangster outing that is top notch.  

Picture: Lucky Luciano comes by way of a 4k scan from original film elements. The movie which is almost fifty years old at this point has a nice refreshed look. You can really notice the brightness and a level of clarity. Grain is a bit on the heavy side but not on the chunky side and not distracting to the overall picture presentation. This film has a very muted color palate so whilst colors don't exactly pop here the restoration does feel in line with what the DP and director no doubt had in mind. 

Sound: Lucky has a nice DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely, as does the score and sound design. A really nice overall sound presentation that actually packs a nice little punch in my opinion. 

Extras: Includes a commentary track by Film critic/historian Simon Abrams as well as a trailer. 


Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) Warner Archive Blu Ray Review

Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) Warner Archive 8/17/2021

Directed By: W. S Van Dyke 

Starring: William Powell, Myra Loy, Barry Nelson, Donna Reed




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. 



      Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) is tragically the final Thin Man movie from W.S Van Dyke who directed the entire series up until this point. Still, I think the movie series never fully recovered after the introduction of Nick and Nora's baby boy. This also marks the first Thin Man film without the original screenwriting duo of Albert Hackett and Francis Goodrich. Now, the screenwriters that they did get were no lightweights. Harry Kurnitz co wrote the classic Witness for the Prosecution (1957) and Irving Brecher penned Meet me in St. Louis (1944) among others.  The dialogue still crackles though I feel like it misses the touches that Hackett and Goodrich brought. It also is played for laughs but Nick and Nora's partying days are long gone- even more so than the previous film. 

    Still, I think that the movie does have enough wit, and twists and turns and a engaging mystery which Dyke always brought to the The Thin Man movies. William Powell and Myra Loy as always are the beating heart of this series. This film also marks the first film appearance by Ava Gardner and Barry Nelson. Even cult icon Tor Johnson makes an appearance as a wrestler of course. Even when the series got shall we say questionable, Loy and Powell and their amazing talent and chemistry helped a lot. Two time Oscar winning cinematographer Charles Rosher (The Yearling, Sunrise) gives the film a further polish and scope. The carousal sequence is masterful.  

Shadow of the Thin Man is still a good movie despite not having the flavor of the previous entries. Sadly, I think that the series post Dyke is uneven at best. 

Picture: Shadow of the Thin Man is yet another excellent Warner Archive restoration. And, yet another reason why classic film fans will want to upgrade these. The black-and-white photography is pristine, clean and don't have a single dirt, artifact or noise present. Rosher's photography and inventive camera work is showcased to its utmost splendor. The black-and-white is as typical for WA well balanced and honestly its hard to find any real issue with it. Small details like costumes, sets and locales all stand out in striking detail. 

Sound: Shadow as  DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely as does the score and sound design. No audio issues or unwanted background noise that I could detect. 

Extras: Extras include the short The Tell-Tale Heart and classic cartoon short The Goose Goes South and the original trailer. 

Sick and Depraved, Midnight (1982) Severin Films Blu Ray Review

Midnight (1982) Severin Films 9/28/2021

Directed By: John A Russo

Starring: Lawrence Tierney, Melanie Verlin, John Hall 

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. 

     As many horror fans might already know, John A Russo co-wrote the seminal horror film Night of the Living Dead (1968). Since then he has directed a dozen films including this early '80s outing. A young girl hitchhikes to escape sexual abuse from her Bert (Lawrence Tierney). She finds a ride with some guys and they find themselves in the middle of a backwoods Satanic cult and psycho hillbillies. Holy shit- the film opens with the brutal murder of a child caught in a bear trap and only gets more sick and depraved from there. This movie is certainly not for those faint of heart as topics like incest, racism and sexual abuse. 

     Midnight is a movie that for all its flaws does try hard. Russo clearly loves the horror genre but also tries to provide fleshed out characters and harrowing situations. Sure, the writing is overall lackluster but I will say that it feels like at least an attempt was made to say something whilst also delving into the genre's excess. Because, at the end of the day Russo knew that satire aside this movie is a non stop horror show guts, sleaze and Satanic rituals. Special effects maestro Tom Savini provides the special effects. Whilst its far from his best work it's still top notch stuff. Its also fun to see noir legend Lawrence Tierney mumble his way through a sleaze filled performance. 

Utterly sick and depraved- Midnight is a top shelf slasher trash! 

Picture: Wow, is what I have to say about this Severin restoration. Being nearly forty years old at this point, Midnight really looks incredible and is given a brand-new 4k scan. Colors really pop and the clarity looks fantastic with very little to no artifacts or noise present. Color tempt is also well maintained with outdoor scenes looking especially vivid and beautiful. It brings a tear to my eye to see a trashy masterpiece like this getting the A-plus treatment. 

Sound: Midnight is given a really robust DTS 5.1 track. This is a great audio presentation and the extra boost is well utilized in the score and sound design. Dialogue comes through nicely as well. Also includes a 2.0 track.  

Extras: Midnight has a lot of great extras including Making Midnight A new interview with John Russo, Producing Midnight Interview with Samuel M. Sherman , The Midnight Killer John Amplas  Interview, Small Favors Interview with Tom Savini , Isolated Score Selections Featuring Audio Interview with Composer Mike Mazzei, Alternative Title Card For Backwoods Massacre 
And rounding out the features is Original Trailer and Radio Spot 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Underrated Thriller The Window (1949) Warner Archive Blu Ray Review

The Window (1949) Warner Archive 9/21/2021

Directed By: Ted Tetzlaff

Starring: Barbara Hale, Bobby Driscoll, Arthur Kennedy, Ruth Roman


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. 


     A little eight year old boy named Tommy (Bobby Driscoll) is use to telling tall tales to his friends and family. This sometimes gets him into trouble like almost getting evicted from their apartment. To beat the summer heat one night he decides to sleep out on the fire escape. He witnesses a murder but, of course nobody believes him. Now he is in mortal danger in this underrated thriller. I had seen this movie previously on TCM and thought at the time that it was a pretty interesting little thriller that I had never ever heard of. As you may have gathered from the plot summary this movie plays off the "boy who cried wolf" parable. I think this is a pretty interesting framework. It also up's the tension when a young child is in danger.  The screenplay was helmed by Mel Dinelli, though not a household name, Mel had written some excellent noirs like Beware, My Lovely (1952), House by the River (1950) and probably his most well known film The Spiral Staircase (1946). 

       Director Ted Tetzlaff was best known for being a cinematographer on such classics as Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), I Married a Witch (1942) and The Talk of the Town (1942). He also dabbled in directing including this film. The movie is certainly well directed and has a visual flourishes that you would expect from a DP. I also think its a gamble move to have a child carrying a lot of the movie. Luckily, I think Bobby Driscoll (most remembered for being the voice of Disney's Peter Pan) is likeable enough and thankfully not overly annoying. The movie is also nicely paced clocking in at a lean 73 minutes. The plot is a bit overly simplistic but I think it does a lot within it and Ted Tetzlaff manages to ratchet up enough tension and suspense to make it enjoyable and engaging. It also feels like a proto-Rear Window which didn't come out until 1954. Taking this a step further this also seems like the blue print for Home Alone (1990).  There are some harrowing moments that I legit found surprising how it pushed the boundaries of a thriller with a child at the center.  Features a nice pulpy score by the legendary Roy Webb (Notorious, Out of the Past). 

The Window isn't a well known thriller but I think it should be. It's a creepy, tense-filled movie that is dripping with atmosphere and paced extremely well. 


Picture: Once again Warner Archive delivers the goods when it comes to an excellent picture. Here we get a black-and-white picture that has a nice contrast, is crisp and clear with no artifacts or noise present. Small details like costumes, sets and locales really pop and showcases the highly atmospheric visual style. Grain is present but is thankfully smoothed and not distracting.  I couldn't find out if this was a 4k scan but it certainly looks like it. A sharp and wonderful looking presentation. 

Sound: The Window has a nice DTS 2.0 track. This has a really big powerful sound in my opinion. It showcases Webb's great score and dialogue comes through nice and strong. 

Extras: None

Rare '80's Slasher A Day of Judgement (1981) Severin Blu Ray Review

 A Day of Judgement (1981) Severin Films 9/28/2021

Directed By: Charles Reynolds 

Starring: William T. Hicks, Harris Bloodworth, Susan Bloodworth, Deborah Bloodworth 

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. 


     The slasher horror sub-genre can be traced back to as far as Peeping Tom (1960)/Psycho (1960) (and its roots in Agatha Christine novels) but, in 1980 Friday the 13th exploded onto the scene. Since then there has been a lot of different slashers filling video shelves and movie theaters. Believe it or not, religious themed has been done before. The Redeemer (1978) for example is a properly creepy slasher released the same year as Halloween (1978). Set in the 30s this movie tells of a small town over flowing with sin. A force is taking these sinners right to hell in this early 80s horror outing. 

      I have seen a lot of slashers and whilst Day of Judgement is not the weirdest, it certainly does stand apart from the pack. Here we get the literal wrath of God slicing through sinners. I think that having a small town cesspool of lies, greed, lust and murder makes for a devilishly good backdrop and the movie is dripping with style and atmosphere on a budget. Clearly this movie was made for pennies but I can tell that Reynolds put a lot of blood and sweat into this project and the end result is pretty damn interesting. The entire movie has this really strange vibe that is only further enhanced by its DYI costumes and production values. Not to mention that the film is over-the-top, totally sincere and easily finds itself in that sweet spot of so-bad-its-enjoyable. For hardcore slasher fans the movie isn't that gory but it does have some nasty, fun surprises in store. I will say I just wished there was more killing and less melodrama.

 Pompous in its self righteousness and weird as hell!   A Day of Judgement is a must watch!


Picture: Severin provides a pretty nice looking transfer, especially for what I can only assume was rough original film elements. The film has an overall brightness uptick and the image has a nice amount of depth and clarity. Colors are nicely balanced with skin tones have a remarkably nice look to them. Some artifacts and noise are present but nothing that is distracting to the overall product. 

Sound: Day of Judgement has a nice DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely with no unwanted background noise or audio drop out. 

Extras: Day of Judgement includes The Atheist's Sin: Interview with author Stephen Thrower 

Tales of Judgement: Interview with Filmmaker Worth Keeter and Writer Thom McIntyre 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Dustin Hoffman in Straight Time (1978) Warner Archive Blu Ray Review

Straight Time (1978) Warner Archive 9/21/2021

Directed By: Ulu Grosbard 

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Theresa Russell, Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton 

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. 

      1978's Straight Time is a movie that honestly flew totally under the radar, but, upon this re-release I heard a lot of good things. Plus, you can't really go wrong with a gritty '70s film with Dustin Hoffman. Based on the novel titled No Beast So Fierce, Straight Time tells the story of a down on his luck and newly released convict Max (Dustin Hoffman) must learn to navigate life outside of prison. He meets a lovely young lady named Jenny (Theresa Russell) and tries to live a "straight life". But old habits die hard and Max starts getting back into petty crime which quickly escalates into armed robbery and murder. 

       Whilst researching this review it seems a shame that director Ulu Grosbard only made less than ten movies in his entire career. Though the premise is a bit on the simplistic it has enough grim, grit and engaging plot to keep me glued for all nearly-two hours of the runtime. It also had something interesting to say about the prison system which is just as timely as it was in the late '70s. Grosbard directors some heavy hitting character actors and its incredible that everybody seems to not only mesh well with one another but every actor is on the same page stylistically and tonally. Dustin Hoffman of course makes a meal out of the role and always knows how big to take the character without going hammy. Theresa Russell is also great and, like Hoffman knows when to have peaks and valleys in her performance. This movie is over flowing with excellent supporting actors such as Harry Dean Stanton, Gary Busey, M.Emmet Walsh and an early role for Kathy Bates. 

Giving the movie a polish is five-time Oscar nominated DP Owen Roizman (The French Connection, The Exorcist) who provides a big scope and at times starkly beautiful atmosphere. Oscar winner David Shire provides a very good score. 

Incredibly directed, acted and photographed, Straight Time should be counted among the best of the '70s which is certainly saying a lot. 


Picture: I know I sound like a broken record at this point but, Warner Archive again doesn't disappoint when it comes to high-quality high-def restoration. Straight Time looks like it retains the gritty color palate and whilst the colors pop it doesn't feel over processed or overtly bright and cheery, no doubt what Roizman and Grosbard had in mind. Skin tones have a nice natural look and the overall picture has a fresh, crisp look. Outdoor scenes especially look vivid and sharp. Grain is at times heavy but not enough to be distracting. Another nicely done visual presentation. 

Sound: Straight Time has a DTS 2.0 track dialogue, score and sound design comes through nicely. 

Extras: Straight Time ports over the Hoffman/Grosbard commentary track as well as the original trailer. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Lady of the Manor (2021) Lionsgate Blu Ray Review

Lady of the Manor (2021) Lionsgate Films 9/21/2021

Directed By: Christian Long, Justin Long 

Starring: Judy Greer, Melanie Lynskey, Justin Long, Ryan Phillippe, Patrick Duffy 


Disclaimer: Lionsgate 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. 

     Lady of the Manor (2021) somehow fell totally off my radar and-it turns out there is a good reason for that. A stoner slacker (Melanie Lynskey) finds herself living in a mansion and haunted by a Southern belle (Judy Greer) who must coach her on being a better person in this utterly strange and baffling "comedy". 


     Lady is a prime example of how a incredibly talented cast, and even a decent premise can be tanked so hard so quickly. Justin Long and Christian Long both serve as writer director and producer in what can be generously called a comedy. As I said, the set-up has a lot of promise but frankly, incredibly bafflingly bad writing truly sinks this film. Gross-out humor isn't a deal breaker for me per se but this movie feels like it was written by a 12 year old who giggles every time a naughty word is uttered. Furthermore, the script feels like first draft material at best. Its painfully to watch excellent actors try to salvage this mediocre film.  This movie clearly had a hard time getting funded with a list of producers a mile long and seems like a passion project for Long brothers. I just wish they would have brought on a 'ghostwriter' (oh the irony!) to really give this screenplay a overhaul. What we get is a frustrating film that isn't saying anything, isn't funny and wastes so many talented actors. And, I could even see some decent chemistry between Greer and Lynskey (who again are fantastic). 

    I think I tend to be harsh on movies that feel like they have potential but Justin Long and his brother Christine seemed to dominate the every aspect of the production which feels like they didn't allow for any other creative input. Just watch the Brit series Ghosts for how supernatural hijinks/fish out of water premise is handled hilariously. 


Picture: Quality of the film aside, Lady of the Manor looks great on 1080p. Thanks in large to high-def cameras that allow for a higher res upconvert. The overall image looks crisp, clean and showcases what is a decent production design. 

Sound: Lady of the Manor has an equally good DTS 5.1 track which packs a bigger big punch in terms of offering a big sound. Dialogue, score and sound design come through well. 

Extras: Lady of the Manor includes a nice array of features including a commentary by the Long brothers, A Fart Warming Tale of Friendship and Vengeance: Making of Lady of the Manor, Outtakes and Deleted Scenes.  

Thursday, September 23, 2021

13 Washington Square (1928) Kino Classic Blu Ray Review

13 Washington Square (1928) Kino Classics 9/28/2021

Directed By: Melville W. Brown 

Starring: Jean Hersholt, Alice Joyce 




Disclaimer: Kino 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. 


     Though not a household name, director Melville Brown was considered a pioneer in silent cinema. 13 Washington Square (1928) comes at the tail end of the silent film era when talkies came and became the mainstay. Based on the play of the same name, the movie follows a headstrong snobbish mother named Mrs. De Peyster (Alice Joyce) who will stop at nothing to keep her son from marrying a "common woman". To this end she cooks up a scheme to keep this from happening. 

        I have to say that this was a pretty fun little movie. The comedy is very board here but everything was in the silent era. Things were played big because thats what people were use to for plays. There is also a faux-haunted house vibe that also makes for some fun gags. I'm also down for some in a creaky old haunted house hijinks which this movie provides plenty 

     It also has something to say about elitist's and class-divide, something that would be more relevant the following year with the Great Depression hitting America. It's also interesting to see this is a proto-Universal horror (though its pure comedy) as it makes a meal out of its spooky setting and is chocked full of atmosphere. As for the plot, its very fast moving and at only 70 minutes the movie wastes no time in getting into the thick of things. 

Though with a lot of movies from this era you have to suspend a lot of disbelief in order to embrace the narrative. And, you know what? I'm okay with that. 13 Washington Square is a lean little movie with some nice twists and turns. Certainly worth checking out. 


Picture: Sporting a brand-new 4k transfer 13 Washington Square is another marvelous restoration from Universal pictures. The nearly one-hundred year old movie is staggering in just how sharp and crisp it looks. Though some slight noise and artifacts are to be expected even in the best of clean up for the most part this is a nearly pristine looking film. Grain is present but smoothed and you can tell that  alot of care went into the original film elements. You can also see a lot of details in locales, sets and costumes. 

Sound: Includes a score by Tom Howe. 

Extras: Extras for 13 Washington Square includes a commentary by film historian Nora Fiore. Fiore provides a insightful and highly engaging track which I quite enjoyed. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Warner Bros DC R-Rated Injustice: Gods Among Us Trailer is Here!

Warner Bros DC R-Rated Injustice: Gods Among Us Trailer is Here! 


 Inspired by Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios’ popular video game, and the best-selling DC graphic novel based on the video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor, the animated film Injustice stars Justin Hartley (This is Us, Smallville) and Anson Mount (Star Trek Discovery, Hell on Wheels) as Superman and Batman, respectively. 



Please note: this trailer is R-rated and meant for a mature audience. 

Link HERE

About the Movie: 

Justin Hartley (This is Us, Smallville) and Anson Mount (Star Trek Discovery, Hell on Wheels) lead the Injustice all-star cast as Superman and Batman, respectively. The massive cast also includes Janet Varney (The Legend of Korra, You’re The Worst) as Wonder Woman, Brandon Micheal Hall (God Friended Me) as Cyborg, Kevin Pollak (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) as Joker & Jonathan Kent, Anika Noni Rose (The Princess and the Frog, The Good Wife, Dreamgirls) as Catwoman, Reid Scott (Veep, Venom) as Green Arrow & Victor Zsasz, Edwin Hodge (The Tomorrow War, Mayans M.C.) as Mr. Terrific & Killer Croc, Gillian Jacobs (Community, Invincible) as Harley Quinn, Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement, Nashville) as Plastic Man, Laura Bailey (Critical Role, Avengers Assemble) as Lois Lane & Rama Kushna, Faran Tahir (Iron Man, Star Trek) as Ra’s al Ghul, Derek Phillips (Friday Night Lights, 42) as Nightwing & Aquaman, Yuri Lowenthal (Ben 10 franchise, Young Justice, RWBY) as Mirror Master, Flash & Shazam, Zach Callison (Steven Universe, The Goldbergs) as Damian & Jimmy Olsen, Brian T. Delaney (Fortnite, Batman Unlimited) as Green Lantern, Fred Tatasciore (Family Guy, American Dad!) as Captain Atom, and Andrew Morgado (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) as Mirror Master Soldier.


Matt Peters (Justice League Dark: Apokolips War) directs Injustice from a screenplay by Ernie Altbacker (Batman: Hush). Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) is Producer and Alyessa Ornelas (Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge) is Associate Producer. Producer is Rick Morales (Mortal Kombat Legends franchise). Sam Register is Executive Producer.

The Injustice 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc featuring the film in hi-definition, and a digital version of the movie. The Blu-ray features a Blu-ray disc with the film in hi-definition and a digital version of the movie.


Catch a sneak peek at Injustice when DC FanDome, the ultimate global fan experience, returns on Saturday, October 16 at 10 a.m. PDT, with an all-new, epic streaming event. The free virtual event will once again welcome fans from around the world to immerse themselves in the DC Multiverse at DCFanDome.com and celebrate the stars and creators of their favorite feature films, live-action and animated television series, games, comics, home entertainment releases and more. DC FanDome 2021 will also be available on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, giving fans more ways to watch the events unfolding in DC FanDome’s Hall of Heroes. 



InjusticeSpecial Features

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital

  

Adventures in Storytelling – Injustice: Crisis and Conflict (New Featurette) – The storytellers behind the new Injustice animated film discuss how all the intense drama and unabashed action was brought to life.


  • DC Universe Movies Flashback

  • The Death of Superman

  • Reign of the Supermen


  • From the DC Vault

    • Justice League – Injustice For All, Part I

    • Justice League – Injustice For All, Part II


Looking for a refresher course on animated Super Hero entertainment before seeing Injustice? HBO Max has a rich catalog of DC Universe Movies and DC-centric films and series.


Injustice will also be available on Movies Anywhere. Using the free Movies Anywhere app and website, consumers can access all their eligible movies by connecting their Movies Anywhere account with their participating digital retailer accounts.


Basil Dearden's Masquerade (1965) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Masquerade (1965) Kino Studio Classics 9/28/2021

Directed By: Basil Dearden  

Starring: Cliff Robertson, Jack Hawkins, Marisa Mell, Charles Gray



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. 


      Basil Dearden is by no means a household name, especially in the US but has some pretty interesting films to his credit including a segment for the amazing Brit. horror anthology Dead of Night (1945) and the incredibly daring film Victim (1961) which was an early movie to deal with LGBTQ subject matter in a positive light. The British government sends an American war hero to kidnap and hid a child Prince in this farce. Masquerade is very much a swinging '60s Bond proof decades before Austin Power's came onto the pop-culture scene. 

    Dearden and some incredibly top notch screenwriters Michael Relph (The Man Who Haunted Himself) and two time Oscar winning writer William Goldman (The Princess Bride, All the Presidents Men) pen a comedy that is properly dry and sardonic. I love how this movie is a spoof is more nuanced and subtle in its parody. Indeed, it has a very tight plot filled with twists and turns that feel like they could perfectly live in a real Bond film from the era. But, of course Dearden provides plenty of cheeky humor at the expensive of both the British and American government. It also VERY '60s and fans of kitsch and the movie does camp it up at times. I also loved the moments of surrealism thrown in for good measure. Visually, the film is also really interesting and DP Otto Heller (who shot many excellent movies including 1960's Peeping Tom and The Lady Killers 1955) gives this film a further polish. 

The cast is also great with Cliff Roberston, Jack Hawkins and Marisa Mell all giving great performances. Also includes a fantastic supporting cast including cult icon Charles Gray (Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Devil Rides Out), Michel Piccoli (Contempt, Belle de Jour) giving this their all.  

A fast paced, dry humored send up of spy-thrillers that delivers on plot and performance not to mention visually interesting. A under loved movie that deserves to be re-discovered. 


Picture: Masquerade is sporting a new 2k scan and wow, this movie looks fantastic! Colors truly pop and are incredibly well balanced. There is an overall sharpness and retains a lot of detail in costumes, sets, locales. Artifacts have been cleaned up leaving a nearly pristine looking picture. Skin tones have a nice nature look. Really impressive and if you are a fan of this film (or a newcomer) I dont think this has ever looked this good on a home video format. This is great because, as I said in my review this movie is well shot, being handled by one of the best British cinematographers. 

Sound: Masquerade has a DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue, score and sound design comes through quite nicely without any unwanted drop out issues or unwanted background noise. 

Extras: Extras include a commentary by Howard S. Berger and Chris Poggiali and a trailer for this film and others from Kino. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Paramount Presents #26 Breakdown (1997) Starring Kurt Russell Blu Ray Review

Breakdown (1997) Paramount Pictures 9/21/2021 

Directed By: Jonathan Mostow 

Starring: Kurt Russell, J.T Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan, M.C Gainey

Disclaimer: Paramount Pictures 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. 



Other Previous Paramount Presents Reviews HERE:

Nashville HERE
Mommie Dearest HERE
48 Hrs.  HERE
Another 48 Hrs. HERE
Last Train from Gun Hill HERE

      Breakdown (1997) is a movie that seems to be a fan favorite from the mid-to-late '90s but one I had never seen until now. I also can't help but love Kurt Russell and bonus points for a movie with some nice wordplay. Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) 'breakdown' on the side of the road. When Amy goes off to find help, and Jeff stays with the truck she never returns. What ensues is a twists and turns thriller as Jeff searches for his missing wife. 

     When researching for this review it seems that director Jonathan Mostow only notable pop-culture contribution to cinema was helm the dreadful Terminator 3 (2003) and, after that his work has been nothing that noteworthy. He seems to be a gun-for-hire working in different genres. But after seeing Breakdown it makes me bummed he didn't do more thrillers. Breakdown is a lean, mean little suspense outing that reminded me of Road Games (1981) meets The Lady Vanishes (1938). Indeed, it has a lot of Hitchcock in its themes and style. The overall film is incredibly paced with almost no filler, and everything is working to thrust the plot forward. DP Douglas Milsome (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves) gives Breakdown a polished look with interesting camera angles and further give this movie presence. 

    And, damned if you don't love a movie with Kurt Russell being a total badass. Russell has a charm that seems so perfect for the screen it almost feels lab-grown. His roguishly good looks and star power makes him a lot of fun to watch, especially when given material like this. J.T Walsh is a pretty chilling bad guy without ever over playing things. I also like how his character is showed having a wife and child, highlighting how seemingly "family men" can blend in. Character actors M.C Gainey and Jack Noseworthy are excellent as always. Kathleen Quinlan is good with what's a pretty thankless role. 

Breakdown is a '90s thriller that seems to have earned a cult status especially with a re-release from Imprint and now Paramount. If you, like me have slept on this movie, don't. It's not perfect but its a well oiled little thriller that delivers the goods. 

Picture: Paramount has been really crushing it with their back catalogue releases. Breakdown is presented in a stunning 4k transfer which was approved by director Jonathan Mostow. For fans of this film I cant imagine this ever looking this good. The movie has an overall clean, crisp look, especially with outdoor locales. Colors are also incredibly well balanced are has an good contrast. Paramount transfers also never look overly processed and, I can see why the director was pleased with this presentation. Grain is present but looks well managed as well. Darker lit scenes also highlight just how refreshed this new transfer is.  

Sound: Paramount also springs for a nice Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. This is a action thriller so your going to want a big bombastic sound presentation and this re-release does deliver the goods. The spacing for sound I thought was well done and it overall had a robust presence highlighted the more intense scenes, especially the films pulse pounding finale. 

Extras: Breakdown has a ton of new extras!

Filmmaker Focus: A New Interview with Director Jonathan Mostow 

Commentary by Jonathan Mostow and Kurt Russell

Victory is Hers: Kathleen Quinlan on Breakdown

A Brilliant Partnership - Martha De Laurentiis on Breakdown

Alternate Opening

Alternate Opening With Commentary By Director Jonathan Mostow

 Isolated Score

Trailer 


The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) Review

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

Directed By: Michael Showalter 

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D'Onfrio, 


Plot Summary: THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE is an intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. Tammy Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. However, it wasn’t long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire.

 

      Looking back, Tammy Faye was probably one of the stranger icons of the ‘80s and’90s. Director Michael Showalter is tasked with peeling back the layers of makeup and the press driven caricature to showcase an in-depth character study. But did he succeed in telling a richly drawn bio-pic? For the most part, yes.  Interestingly, Showalter follows a music-bio-pic framework (though Faye was a singer with albums, so maybe that’s not a huge stretch). It starts in the present (which is 1994), before going before the public, then it flashes back to her childhood in the fifties which sets up her troubled history with her mother. Then we move forward to her meeting Jim Bakker, their break in television, etc. This framework is frankly kind of tiring, but it’s an easy and firmly established way to tell a person’s life story. The highs and lows are, again, probably pretty predictable: drug abuse, traumatic family issues, the intoxicating raise and utterly heartbreaking fall. Though I will say that it has some above-avenge writing to help keep it from becoming a snore-fest. 

      I actually felt like the more interesting aspect is how the film paints Jim Bakker. I assumed he was going to be the movies defacto-bad guy, a shady con man that believed in money over everything else. Rather, it paints Jim as a complicated man that was ultimately a good person who just made some very bad choices. Jerry Falwell Sr on the other hand (played with a nice subtly by Vincent D’Onofrio) is the real villain who is petty, jealous and ultimately vengeful of the Bakkers. Caught in the center is Tammy who is shown as an innocent girl from very humble roots that is literally thrust into the public and given it all just to have it taken away seemingly just as quickly. Even the unsupportive mother seems to have somewhat of a redemptive arc. Again, even if it never strays far from its biopic format, I couldn’t help but feel it told an engaging story that was paced well. Tammy Faye herself is such a fascinating and engaging figure that you cannot help but be transfixed for the 120 minutes of runtime. In fact, I thought we could have used a better epilogue to her story post-Bakker breakup. I also love how the movie doesn’t shy away from Tammy Faye and her activism and icon status within the LGBTQ+ community. In a very moving scene, we see her interview an AIDS patient (which has a payoff that will make you emotional if you have any kind of feelings). Its also heavily implied that Jim himself was a deeply closeted man. I’m glad that they realized that the LGBTQ+ community was and remains an important part of Tammy’s story and lasting legacy in pop culture.

      The glue or rather Aqua Net that holds this movie together is of course the cast. Holy crap! Jessica Chastain gives what is easily an Oscar worthy performance. These days, it is considered the norm for an actor to completely disappear into a role when playing a famous or historical person. Some work, but in a lot of cases, it just doesn’t. However, I totally lost the actor Chastain and I believed that Tammy was right up there on the silver screen in all her vivacious glory. It is at times damned uncanny to the point its almost eerie. I also respect the fact that the Chastain found a perfectly comfortable spot in terms of how big to take her. The end result is a nuanced performance that is filled with range, and thankfully is never a cheap SNL parody. The same can be said for Andrew Garfield. Whilst I feel like Garfield’s aged up makeup is, shall we say less convincing at times, his fantastic performance shines through. Though obviously not as splashy as Chastain’s role Garfield takes moments and makes them his own. The film also has a fantastic supporting cast including Cherry Jones, Vincent DOnofrio and Gabriel Olds.

     The Eyes of Tammy Faye is frankly a pretty standard bio-pic in terms of structure and plot beats. But it’s writing is solid enough to make for an engaging two-hour film rollercoaster of emotions. Not to mention being utterly spellbound by its lead performers. It might just lead to some mascara running by its finale.

My Original Review Posted HERE for Geek Vibes Nation 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Four NEW Horrifying Night of the Animated Dead Images! Comes to Home Video from Warner Bros. Oct 5th

 Four newly released images give greater insight into the mounting tension within Night of the Animated Dead, an animated remake of George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic coming to Digital tomorrow – Tuesday, September 21 – and to Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on October 5. 





 



The four new images spotlight nearly all of the key characters in the film: Ben (voiced by DulĂ© Hill), Barbara (Katharine Isabelle), Harry (Josh Duhamel), Helen (Nancy Travis), Tom (James Roday Rodriguez), Johnny (Jimmi Simpson) and Sheriff McClelland (Will Sasso).

VIOLATION on Blu Ray Sept 21st!

                                                    RLJE FILMS PRESENTS

 

VIOLATION

 

Available on Digital HD and Blu-ray on September 21, 2021




 

LOS ANGELES, (Aug. 23, 2021) – RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, has picked up select rights to the horror film, VIOLATION from Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural. RLJE Films will release VIOLATION on Digital HD and Blu-ray on September 21, 2021.


The feature screenwriting and directorial debut of Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty MancinelliVIOLATION stars Sims-Fewer along with Anna Maguire (Ever After: A Cinderella Story), Jesse LaVercombe (“Murdoch Mysteries”), and Obi Abili (21 Bridges, “Billions”). VIOLATION had its World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival, International Premiere at Sundance Film Festival and screened at SXSW. Sims-Fewer received a TIFF Rising Star award for her performance. RLJE Films will release VIOLATION on Blu-ray for an SRP of $28.96.

 

In VIOLATION, with her marriage about to implode, Miriam (Sims-Fewer) returns to her hometown to seek solace in the comfort of her younger sister and brother-in-law. But one evening, a tiny slip in judgement leads to a catastrophic betrayal, leaving Miriam shocked, reeling, and furious. Believing her only recourse is to exact revenge, Miriam takes extreme action, but the price of retribution is high, and she is not prepared for the toll it takes as she begins to emotionally and psychologically unravel. 

 

Check out the trailer: https://youtu.be/Dx9Ok16g6aM

 

Bonus features on the DVD include:

      Meet the Filmmakers

      Toronto International Film Festival Introduction

 

Publicity Materials: 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/exey2jgncvyndhr/AAB2XquXsUEpBZqE-Wkbu-Qna?dl=0

 

We DO NOT have copies of VIOLATION available for review. We would appreciate inclusion of the title in your Digital HD and Blu-ray listings for September 21, 2021.

 

ABOUT RLJE FILMS

RLJE Films’ recent features include Color Out of Space starring Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson and written and directed by Richard Stanley; the critically acclaimed horror film The Dark And The Wicked from director Bryan Bertino; Steve Byrne’s The Opening Act from producers Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley; David Ayer’s The Tax Collector and Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Archenemy. Upcoming films include Sion Sono’s 2021 Sundance Film Festival premiere Prisoners of the Ghostland starring Nicolas Cage and Sofia Boutella; and David Oyelowo’s directorial debut The Water Man starring Oyelowo, Rosario Dawson and Lonnie Chavis.  us.rljentertainment.com.

 

ABOUT SHUDDER

AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. To experience Shudder commitment-free for 7 days, visit www.shudder.com

 

ABOUT AMC NETWORKS

AMC Networks is a global entertainment company known for its popular and critically-acclaimed content. Its portfolio of brands includes AMC, BBC AMERICA (operated through a joint venture with BBC Studios), IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, IFC Films, and a number of fast-growing streaming services, including the AMC+ premium streaming bundle, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK. AMC Studios, the Company’s in-house studio, production and distribution operation, is behind award-winning owned series and franchises, including The Walking Dead, the highest-rated series in cable history. The Company also operates AMC Networks International, its international programming business, and 25/7 Media, its production services business.