Saturday, October 30, 2021

Tex Avery: Screwball Classics Vol 3 Blu Ray Review

Tex Avery: Screwball Classics Vol 3 (1942-1957) Warner Bros. Entertainment  10/5/2021


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. 

Other Reviews:
Universal Monster Collection UHD HERE
Beyond Darkness HERE
Corridor of Mirrors HERE

Warner Bros. Entertainment has been doing an amazing job with taking their vaulted animated films and providing fans with a nice 1080p collection. Here we get over a dozen classic cartoons from the '40s and '50s. Included is: 

BLITZ WOLF

THE EARLY BIRD DOOD IT

ONE HAM'S FAMILY

HAPPY GO NUTTY

JERKY TURKEY


THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGOO

SWING SHIFT CINDERELLA

WILD AND WOLFY

NORTHWEST HOUNDED POLICE

SLAP HAPPY LION

KING SIZE CANARY

WHAT PRICE FLEADOM

LITTLE TINKER

SENOR DROOPY

COCK-A-DOODLE DOG

ROCK-A-BYE BEAR

LITTLE JOHNNY JET

BILLY BOY

DEPUTY DROOPY

CELLBOUND

Picture: Warner Bros. always does a stellar job when it comes to both their live-action and animation restorations. Tex Avery in my humble opinion carries on that tradition of excellence. Colors pop incredibly well and you really start to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into these early animation films. There really wasn't any noise or artifacts from age that I could detect. Probably the one thing that might be be of issue is the at times heavy grain. Though even having said that its really fine and smoothed out and not chunky. 

Sound: Avery's soundtrack is overall incredibly nice with a DTS 2.0 that really packs a huge punch. Sound is at times big and booming and does a lot with a front channel centric audio presentation. 

Extras: Crockpot Quail w/original Audio Soundtrack. 

Friday, October 29, 2021

On Broadway (2019) Kino Lorber DVD Review

On Broadway (2019) Kino Lorber 10/19/2021

Directed By: Oren Jacoby 

Starring:  Helen Miren, Ian McKellen, Alec Baldwin, John Lithgow 


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. 

     I confess I am not a big musical fan. Though, I have been pushing myself to expose myself to more theater music and musical films. However, I think the mystic around theater and Broadway as a history and concept is something I find utterly fascinating. So, when I saw that Kino was distributing a documentary about Broadway I thought, yeah, I wanna check this out. And, I am happy to report that this is a incredibly well made film. Director Oren Jacoby, who is no stranger to documentary subjects both feature and short provides a simple yet thoughtful exploration. 

     From its roots to the many many phases, On Broadway takes you through a rich and interesting history told by those who were present. Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Tommy Tune are just a sample of the incredibly people who are spellbinding in their discourse.  Like any good doc. you follow the intoxicating highs and harrowing and heartbreaking lows. The section about AIDs hitting the community was heavy-hitting yet, something that needs to be discussed. Overall, I thought it was really just a interesting and breezy watch that is a nice introduction to the artform. 


Picture/Sound: On Broadway looks nice even on DVD quality. New interview footage is clearly shot on high def cameras and therefore we get a nice result transferred. Even rough archival clips are decent looking. Sound wise we get a nice big DTS 5.1 tracks  This extra kick helps bring home the musical aspects. 

Extras:  On Broadway has a doc. short Give My Regards to Broadway (8mins) a short but interesting look at how COVID impacted on Broadway. 


Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Arrow UHD Review

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Arrow Video 11/9/2021

Directed By: Wes Craven

Starring: Michael Berryman, Dee Wallace, Robert Houston, Martin Speer 



Disclaimer: Arrow Video  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. 

Deep Red UHD Review HERE

Scream UHD Review HERE

     Wes Craven had always been someone that took risks in films (especially early on in his career). The Last House on the Left for example is a brutal and eye opening look at counter-culture, family and how violence has desensitized us after seeing images of Nam broadcasted on the nightly news. The Hills Have Eyes which came out five years after Last House also examines family (a theme in many of Cravens films) while also acting like a meditation on Vietnam and America's lust for blood gore in our entertainment. 

     So, I have to say that I think the remake of Hills is a better made film in not only polish (Craven still was a bit rough around the edges) and, also I think that the remake takes the themes and uses them more effectively. Still, I do give the movie a lot of props for taking the blue print of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and really doing something that is totally different. Also, much like Last House the movie aims to shock and feels at times dangerous and unforgiving. The families attack at the trailer still holds up as a jarring and nasty bit of '70s cinema. 

The Hills Have Eyes is certainly not Craven's best films, it I think an important '70s horror film which spawned a sequel and countless knock off films. 

Picture: Possibly due to original film material not being the best, Hills Have Eyes is a good but at times flawed looking UHD release. I think the first thing you notice is that the grain level is incredibly high here. It's at times where the image is overwhelmed by it at times. Color tempts at times tend to flux and there is at times a light black lines that roll a crossed the screen. I noticed that some of the artifacts have been cleaned up but there still moments when noise and dirt pop up. Its not all bad and I think the movie does have colors that pop and the outdoor locales truly look stunning. Brightness levels look good overall, and a well balanced color contrast. I hate to bag on this transfer, especially seeing how last months Deep Red (1975) UHD frankly set a high bar for excellent transfers. I dont at all fault Arrow (especially given their amazing track record). As I stated above I think that this is probably the best they could have done with what they were working with. Certainly, I think this is a step up from the 1080p version. 

Sound: The Hills Have Eyes has a DTS 5.1 uncompressed sound track. The audio seems exactly the same as the 2018 release. Dialogue comes through strongly with some depth of field rather than just a front heavy sound experience. No Dolby Atmos track but I think it packs a nice punch nonetheless. 

Extras: Sadly, Hills Have Eyes doesn't include any new features. Ported over from the 2018 release is:


Audio commentary with actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Susan Lanier and Martin Speer, Audio commentary by academic Mikel J. Koven, Audio commentary with Wes Craven and Peter Locke

Looking Back on The Hills Have Eyes – making-of documentary featuring interviews with Craven, Locke, actors Michael Berryman, Janus Blythe, Robert Houston, Susan Lanier, Dee Wallace and director of photography Eric Saarinen

Family Business – an interview with actor Martin Speer

The Desert Sessions – an interview with composer Don Peake

Outtakes

Alternate ending

Trailers and TV Spots

Image gallery

Original screenplay. 


Playing Frisbee in North Korea (2018) Kino Lorber DVD Review

Playing Frisbee in North Korea (2018) Kino Lorber 10/5/2021

Directed By: Savanna Washington 




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. 


Other Documentary Reviews:

The Capote Tapes HERE
All the Streets Are Silent HERE 
Whirlybird HERE

    Typically, I enjoy learning about a subject that I know little to nothing about. North Korea and its politics are something I know only in very broad strokes. Playing Frisbee in North Korea follows a film crew that document the current state of the constrictive country.  Savanna Washington provides a really fascinating look into the goings on in North Korea. The most harrowing parts is of course what the film crew goes through, being threatened and not being allowed to film or indeed even have contact with outside citizens. Not only is this really jarring to see in action but I think it just further highlights just how tight of control the government has on the outside media and information getting out to the people. Washington also makes sure to not lose the human impact and the film takes a intimate 

    Even as someone who isn't that savvy with geo-politics Washington makes what I consider a pretty accessible and highly engaging documentary. The film also makes great use of archival footage as well as new interviews. It really paints a picture that is somber, harrowing and eye opening. If I had to complain I think that there are aspects of North Korea that could have been explored in greater detail. I also think they could have leaned in on the film crews experience more, which again, I thought was a really captivating aspect. 

Playing Frisbee in North Korea might not be a documentary that everything is going to rush out and see. It certainly is a heavy watch. Though I think Savanna Washington provides a really thoughtful and engaging film that isnt dry and is worthwhile. 

Picture/Sound: Playing Frisbee in North Korea looks fairly good on 720p. The new footage isn't as crisp and clean but, since this is a lower budget project the cameras are not super high def like some bigger docs are. Still, it overall looks good and does the trick. Frisbee has a DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely. 

Extras: Trailer 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Amazing Mr. X (1948) Film Detective Blu Ray Review

The Amazing Mr. X (1948) The Film Detective 10/26/2021

Directed By: Bernard Vorhaus 

Starring: Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O'Donnell 

    

Disclaimer: The Film Detective 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 Other Reviews:

Frankenstein's Daughter HERE
Hercules and the Captive Women HERE
Flight to Mars HERE
A Life At Stake HERE
Spanish Giallo The Fourth Victim HERE

     Though he never made a name for himself as a director Bernard Vorhaus makes one of the more stylish and memorable thrillers of the '40s. A window named Christine Faber (Lynn Bari) is trying to move on with a new man named Martin (Richard Carlson) when she meets a mentalist named Alexis (Turhan Bey) who may or may not be the real deal in this stylish thriller. Leave it to the wonderful folks at The Film Detective to unearth a film I had never heard of. Part noir, part drama wrapped in a spooky and slightly surreal coating, The Amazing Mr. X (1948) is a cool little discovery. As I said, the movie is less full on horror and more crime-film noir. Ian McLellan Hunter (co-writer of Roman Holiday) and Muriel Roy Bolton craft a interesting and engaging thriller that plays on misdirection with a nice amount of suspense 

     I will say that the movie could have use a tighter pacing and I think (and being vague for spoilers) there are certain narrative elements that could have used a polish. One of the big selling points of this movie is just how breathtaking it looks. Oscar winning photography John Alton (An American in Paris) truly drenches this movie in haunting atmosphere with creative camera work, soft dream like focus and expressionistic lighting. Visually its right up there with what Val Lewton was doing with use of striking set pieces that give a starkly beautiful yet heartbreaking quality. 

Though not quite a noir, Amazing Mr. X is a dream-like film that doesn't really fit on specific genre and 

Picture: Visually this movie is really 'amazing' therefore I am happy that Film Detective has provided a new 4k scan. And, yes, it is incredible. Amazing Mr. X is pristine looking without noise or artifacts present. Furthermore the black-and-white photography is really nicely balanced and contrasted. Clearly, a lot of work and resources have gone into giving fans a transfer that showcases just how lovely Alton's photography is. I didn't even really notice and blurring with overall sharp and consistent clarity throughout. 

Sound: Amazing Mr. X has a nice DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue and score comes through extremely nicely with no unwanted background noise or hiss. 

Extras: Film Detective provides a commentary by Jason A. Ney,  Mysteries Exposed: Inside The Cinematic World of Spiritualism (20mins) A great documentary produced by Ballyhoo and including great new interviews with Lisa Morton and C. Courtney Joyner.  Rounding out the extras is a nice booklet with an essay by Don Stradley. 


Val Lewton Double Feature! The Ghost Ship/Bedlam! Warner Archive Blu Ray Review

Val Lewton Double Feature (1943-46) 10/12/2021
The Ghost Ship, Bedlam 


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. 

Other Reviews: Frankenstein's Daughter HERE
Deep Red UHD Review HERE
TV Horror The Screaming Woman HERE

The Ghost Ship (1943)

Directed By: Mark Robson 

Starring: Richard Dix, Russell Wade, Ben Bard

      Though a hit for RKO The Ghost Ship (1943) was mixed with critics at the time. Indeed, this seems to sum up my feelings on the film itself: its a mixed bag. Mark Robson certainly viewed this as yet another vehicle for psychological horror that played with producer Val Lewton's signature bag of atmospheric tricks.  Here though, you start to see how this approach can both be extremely interesting but also misused. First what I enjoy about this movie. The film discusses how abuse of power that is left unchecked can lead to very dangerous situations. Its more interesting when you also consider this would have spoken to Americans still in the grip of WWII. Richard Dix with a screen career going all the way back to 1917 gets a really excellent later in life role as Capt. Stone. Dix really seems to have fun playing the role and he handles it I think quite well. 

    The thing is though, the voice over narration is jarring and pretentious and, it doesn't add anything to the overall story. I also think Robson doesn't do a very good job if I'm being honest in crafting tension. Hell, even in The Seventh Victim (1943) you can see Robson is able to ratchet up the suspense.  Here it seems rather tame. Speaking of, I think Russell Wade makes for a bland leading man. 

The Ghost Ship is interesting but flawed. It has a nice haunting atmosphere but not nearly as good as other Lewton films. 

Picture: The Ghost Ship looks great with a pristine looking transfer that, as always is a marvel. Some fog drenched scenes do tend to look a bit heavy grain wise but nothing that is distracting. Otherwise this is a very sharp and refreshed looking picture. Blacks are deep and the black-and-white photography is well balanced and contrasted. 

Sound: The Ghost Ship comes to port with a very nice DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue, sound design and score comes through quite crisp and clear. 

Extras: None 


Bedlam (1946)

Directed By: Mark Robson

Starring: Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, Billy House, Ian Wolfe 

      Bedlam from 1946 was marketed as a horror film yet, its actually a costume drama with psychological overtones. Where The Ghost Ship lacks tension and a stellar cast this movie thrives. Boris Karloff gives a career best as the stern Master Sims. His wry-delivery is exactly what the role calls for and adds a kind of sardonic humor.  Robson and Lewton's script crackles with black comedy that nicely balances out the serious subjects such as patient abuse, murder and mental health issues. The fact that this movie tackles such things and in a fairly thoughtful way is quite remarkable. The movie still has some dread-filled and haunting moments all shot beautifully. The Oscar nominated Nicholas Musuraca really gives this movie a polish, scale and scope that helps further elevate this to top-trier. The costume design Edward Stevenson (Citizen Kane, Out of the Past, Suspicion) does a fantastic job at crafting some really nice looking clothes.  

Bedlam has been a favorite of mine even though its not in my opinion the best of the Lewton produced cycle. Its a haunting and engaging 

Picture: I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record but, Warner Archive once again does this back catalogue movie justice. As always the film is totally free from noise, artifacts and scratches. There is an overall incredible pristine look with sharp details in the films lavish costumes, sets and locales. You can see the textures on the costumes which is just mind boggling for a movie that is over 70 years old at this point.  Having seen this movie previously on home video I can safely say this is the BEST it's ever looked. The black-and-white is as always well maintained both in balance and contrast. 

Sound: Bedlam has a nice DTS 2.0 track. The dialogue and Roy Webb's score is nicely showcased. 

Extras: Bedlam has a commentary by Tom Weaver that has been ported over from the previous home video release. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

'50s Z-Grade Horror Frankenstein's Daughter (1958) Film Detective Blu Ray Review

Frankenstein's Daughter (1958) The Film Detective 10/26/2021

Directed By: Richard E. Cunha 

Starring: John Ashley, Sandra Knight, Donald Murphy, Robert Dix


Disclaimer: The Film Detective 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 Horror Titles: 
Scream UHD HERE
Beyond Darkness HERE
Mad Love HERE



     Coming just a year after the smash hit that was The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) from Britain's famed Hammer Studio, B-programmers were hot to cash in. Frankenstein's Daughter (1958) see's the infamous grandson of Frankenstein, Oliver Frankenstein (Donald Murphy) who just goes by Frank making monsters with the aid of an assistant. Meanwhile Frankenstein targets Trudy (Sandra Knight) the daughter of a scientist colleague. 

     Yeah...Frankenstein's Daughter is a pretty bad film. The writing sways from aimless to bafflingly brainless. However, I think the movie actually hits that sweet spot of  a so-bad-its-enjoyable. The outrageously bad makeup, the bad acting, editing and photography all make for a cheesy fun time. 


Picture: Film Detective never ceases to amaze me when it comes to their film restorations. I actually would even go as far as to say they are almost up there with Warner Archive in terms of incredible home video transfers. Frankenstein's Daughter looks like maybe a 2 or 4k scan though I was unable to confirm this. The film looks refreshed with a nicely with the black-and-white photography well balanced and contrasted. There is a stunning field of depth and sharpness that allows for details in sets, costumes and locales to shine. Of course it also doesn't hide the bad makeup but, as I said in my review I think thats where the film finds its charm. Now, there are a little bit of noise but its so faint that you`d have to be actively looking for it (like this nit-picky reviewer) to spot it. Grain is for the most part not an issue at all. In fact, there was only maybe one or two scenes where it looked heavy (but again not distracting). Overall, this is really impressive. 

Sound: Frankenstein's Daughter has a DTS 2.0 track. The dialogue, score and sound design comes through quite nicely here. No unwanted background hiss or audio drop outs to be had. 

Extras: As always, The Film Detective provides a really nice array of extras. Included is: A commentary track by historian 

Richard E. Cunha Filmmaker of the Unknown (36smin) A little backstory. Historian/author Tom Weaver wrote to Richard Cunha asking for an interview and sent off questions. What he got back to his surprise was a video taped interview with Cunha. This is that rare footage. The audio/video is spliced with archival footage. A stellar Bollyhoo presentation! 

John Ashley: Man from the B's (10mins) A fun Bollyhoo produced featurette featuring excellent interviews with C. Courtney Joyner about John Ashley.  A really enjoyable supplement. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Sheer Insanity of Beyond Darkness (1990) Severin Films Blu Ray Review

Beyond Darkness (1990) Severin Films 10/26/2021

Directed By: Claudio Fragasso 

Starring: Gene LeBrock, David Brandon, Barbara Bingham 





    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. 


        Claudio Fragasso is the mad genius behind many strange genre outings, most infamously Troll 2 (1990). Not only is Beyond Darkness released the same year as Troll 2 but it also stars Michael Paul Stephenson. Beyond Darkness tells of a minister and his family who move into a house haunted by a Satan worshiping woman who was released executed for killing and eating children. So, how to describe Beyond Darkness. If you ever wanted to see a lower-budget 1982's Poltergeist but wished it was bat-shit insane. In a way Beyond Darkness has shades of Troll 2 in that you have a typical American family (as filtered through Fragasso's interesting lens) moving into a strange place and crazy shit goes down. 

       Whatever you may think about Fragasso in terms of directing and writing, you cannot deny that the man rarely if ever produced something that was safe and dull. Beyond Darkness's first 30 minutes has more atmosphere and weirdness than most people have in their entire films. And you know I have to say for all its awkward plotting and um..interesting at times dialogue I was engaged and totally entertained time. It also has some really cool set pieces that again give this movie a nice Gothic mood and tone. 

Part The Exorcist, part Poltergeist all completely raving mad. A cheesy, bloody good time. 

Picture: Severin once again does a pretty excellent job with this film transfer. The overall film has really nice vibrant look to it. I was most impressed by not only how vivid the colors were but how the film is completely free of noise or artifacts. There is a ever so slight blurring at times but nothing that is very noticeable unless you are really looking for it. Severin really does a fantastic job and Beyond Darkness looks impressive especially for a movie thats over thirty years old at this point. 

Sound: Beyond Darkness equally impresses with a nice hearty DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue score and sound design comes through nicely and though its front channel it packs a nice punch in my opinion. 

Extras: Severin as always does a nice job at providing fans with some fun supplements. Included is: Beyond Possession Interview with Claudio Fragasso. 

The Devil in Mrs Drudi Interview with Rossella Drudi

Sign of the Cross Interview with actor David Brandon 

Also includes trailer and bonus CD soundtrack

Excellent Horror Mad Love (1935) Warner Archive Blu Ray Review!

Mad Love (1935) Warner Archive 10/19/2021

Directed By: Karl Freund 

Starring: Peter Lorre, Colin Clive, Frances Drake 


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. 

      Before I get into this review I wanna say: I am a huge fan of 1935's bold and pretty weird Mad Love. I first discovered the film in the Legends of Horror Warner Bros. Collection released in 2006. It was a blind buy, but I loved exploring '30s and '40s era horror so it seemed like a safe bet. I am really glad I did because in that set was such gems as Doctor X (1932) and The Devil-Doll (1936). But, the movie in that set that I re-watched the most had to be Mad Love. 

     The story tells of a piano player named Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive) whose wife is a actor named Yvonne (Frances Drake) who stars in a local Grand G theater. Meanwhile, a wealthy doctor named Gogol (Peter Lorre) is obsessed with watching Yvonne in mock torture scenes. As fate would have it Stephen is traveling on a train along with a knife throwing murderer being transported for hanging. The train wrecks causing the pianists hands to become useless. In order to save his hands Yvonne talks the Doctor into re-attaching the hands of the recently beheaded knife thrower-insanity and murder ensues. 

     The legendary Oscar winning Karl Freund who acted as DP on such Dracula (1931), Metropolis (1927) and the entire run of I Love Lucy (1951-1955) directed only a handful of films including The Mummy (1932) and, his last job as director Mad Love. Freund being a visual man really presses upon the haunting atmosphere and Gregg Toland (whose credits include Citizen Kane (1941), Wuthering Heights (1946), The Grapes of Wrath (1940) just to name a few) gives the movie a huge scope and feel, pioneering shots like shooting high ceilings that would be a signature of Kane six years later. 

Mad Love not only has moments that are deeply unsettling but a wry and sardonic sense of humor that feels like something Whale was injecting in his films at the time. This movie also has a fun nod to Karloff's The Mummy. This is also a very early film of a obsession with a actor/actress that turns toxic. I have to say, despite a cheesy title this is a really interesting and well made chiller. 

Picture: As I said, I have seen this movie probably a dozen or more times over the years so I am very familiar with how the 2006 edition looks. Warner Archive truly smashes this restoration out of the water. Having been a fan seeing one of my favorite horror films look this pristine frankly moves me. WA is really great as scrubbing their films clean of noise, scratches and other flaws. Its incredible to think a movie that is nearly one-hundred yeas old looks this stunning. Toland's DP work is showcases beautifully with a nicely balanced and contrasted black-and-white image. 

Sound: Mad Love had a fairly perfect 2.0 track. There is some slight unwanted background noise at times but overall its a hearty track. Dialogue, score and sound design comes through nicely. 

Extras: Ported over from the DVD, Mad Love  has an excellent commentary by historian Steve Haberman. Haberman whose done many other tracks provides a lively, engaging and well researched exploration of this film. 

Scream (1996) Paramount Pictures UHD Review! Best Its Ever Looked?

Scream (1996) Paramount Pictures 10/19/2021

Directed By: Wes Craven 

Starring: Neve Campbell, Sketch Ulrich, Jamie Kennedy, Rose McGowan, David Arquette 


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. 




Please Note: It has been confirmed that this re-release is NOT the uncut edition. 

Brief Review:

      To say that 1996's Scream was a game changer is putting it mildly. Master of horror Wes Craven and a relatively newcomer Kevin Williamson took the slasher genre (which never truly died out completely) off of life support and ushered in a new wave of what I dub milleni-slashers (slashers from late '90s-00's). While this is far from the first meta-horror or even meta-slasher it's self-aware quality would often be copied but never quite as successfully. Its Craven's polish and pulse on the horror genre blended with Williamson's razor sharp wit and attention to detail that helped this movie thrive. To celebrate the films 25th anniversary and riding the hype surrounding the fifth installment, Paramount has re-released the film for the first film in UHD in the US.  



Picture: Scream is a really beautiful looking movie which is something that seems to get lost in the discourse around this film. Mark Irwin who shot such classics as The Fly '86, The Blob '88 and New Nightmare (1994) etc really knows how to use the camera to ratchet up the tension but also give things a eerily stunning vibe. I'm happy to say that the Scream UHD really I think honors Irwin and Craven's vision color palate with vivid and vibrant colors that feel fresh but not overly processed or overtly bright. Its a great balance because this UHD transfer doesn't look lifeless and colors do pop. Grain is completely non-existent  and darkly lit scenes really showcase just how impressive this new transfer is. This is certainly a leap forward from the 1080p. Bar none I have to say this makes my list of must-own UHD releases of the year. 

Sound: Just like the film transfer, Paramount has crushed it with this Dolby Atmos track. The pule pounding score and sound design is enhanced with a 3D-like sound. Seriously, watching this movie alone in the dark with a good surround system truly makes for a chilling, thrilling evening.  

Extras:  Scream 25th edition has a new featurette A Bloody Legacy (7mins) This short retrospective talks to the cast of Scream (on the set of 2022 Scream film) as well as the new filmmakers of Scream aka Scream 5. It gets very heartfelt when the veteran cast talk about the late great Wes Craven 

Also ports over audio commentary track with Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson. Also includes Production featurette, Behind the Scenes and Cast/Crew Q&A. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Prisoners of the Ghostland to Stream on Shudder!

            PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND STARRING NICOLAS CAGE

TO STREAM EXCLUSIVELY ON AMC+ AND SHUDDER 

NOVEMBER 19

 


 

NEW YORK – October, 25, 2021 – The premium streaming bundle AMC+ and Shudder, the premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural, announced that PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND will stream exclusively on both platforms in the U.S. starting on November 19. The film, starring  Nicolas Cage (Mandy), made its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

 

Directed by the acclaimed Japanese director Sion Sono (Why Don’t You Play in Hell), the film was written by Aaron Hendry and Rexa Sixo Safai (Western Wonderland).  In addition to Cage, the film stars Sofia Boutella (The Mummy), Nick Cassavetes (Face/Off), Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Franchise), Tak Sakaguchi (Tokyo Tribe) and Yuzuka Nakaya (The Forest of Love). Joseph Trapanese (Tron: Legacy, The Raid: Redemption, The Greatest Showman) composed the original score. 

 

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND is set in the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town where a ruthless bank robber (Cage) is sprung from jail by wealthy warlord The Governor (Moseley), whose adopted granddaughter Bernice (Boutella) has gone missing. The Governor offers the prisoner his freedom in exchange for retrieving the runaway. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within three days, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman—and his own path to redemption.

Thriller The Mad Doctor (1940) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

The Mad Doctor (1933) Kino Studio Classics 11/2/2021

Directed By: Tim Whelan 

Starring: Basil Rathbone, Ellen Drew, John Howard



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. 

Other Horror/Thriller Reviews:

The Spider Woman Strikes Back HERE

The Secret of the Blue Room HERE

Theater of Blood HERE

     In chiller, Dr. George Sebastien (Basil Rathbone) is a insane physician who marries wealthy women and kills them for the money. The Mad Doctor (1933) is interesting as its an early thriller that deals with psychiatry as a main focus. This pre-dates movies like Hitchcock's  Spellbound (1945) and The Snake Pit (1948) which also dealt with the subject (although in greater depth). Director Tim Whelan directs the movie in a very matter-of-fact workmen like manner, which is solid though doesn't allow for any creative flourishes. Indeed, this seems very like (and most likely is) a Paramount B-programmer. 

     Still, the movies simple premise never feels the need to do any needless heavy lifting. And though the movie lacks some creativity there is some nice black humor and bitter irony that keeps things enjoyable. Basil Rathbone truly makes this B-material into something totally watchable. Rathbone, probably best known for playing Sherlock Holmes and in 1939's The Son of Frankenstein (as the titular offspring) is, in my opinion at his best when he's playing these villainous roles. Amazingly, even for the early '30s Basil has a cool, stoic dry wit lens itself to a fine performance. 

The Mad Doctor isn't one of the more daring '30s films, in fact I think it plays it rather safe sadly. Basil Rathbone is great and makes this somewhat plodding thrilling worth watching. 

Picture: The Mad Doctor comes to 1080p and considering it's over eighty-years old it looks pretty solid. The overall film seems to have been brightened with some sharpness to locales, sets and costumes. For the most part the black-and-white photography is nicely balanced. The film does have a great deal of noise, artifacts and scratches. This is no doubt due to not being able to do a new scan in 2 or 4k due to the films age/original material and frankly, restorations of films this age costs a lot of money. 

Sound: The Mad Doctor has a healthy DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely, as does the sound design and minimalist score. No unwanted background noise that I could detect. 

Extras: The Mad Doctor has a great brand-new commentary by David Del Valle. As always Valle provides a extremely lively, interesting and well researched track. Certainly a worth while listen. Also includes trailers. 


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Eye of the Devil (1966) Warner Archive Blu Ray Review

Eye of the Devil (1966) Warner Archive 10/26/2021

Directed By: J. Lee Thompson 

Starring: Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Donald Pleasence, Sharon Tate, David Hemmings 

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. 




     Director J.Lee Thompson has had one hell of an interesting career directing everything from The Guns of Navarone (for which he received an Oscar nom), the original Cape Fear (1962) as well as cult classics like Happy Birthday to Me (1981) and 10 to Midnight (1983) and so on. He also directed a interesting little horror movie called Eye of the Devil which is making its 1080p US debut. This is actually the second time watching this movie, having seen it a few years back (in Oct) on Turner Classic Movies. I was underwhelmed but curious to give it another shot. 

      I still think the movie is something of a mixed bag, however I think my second viewing helped me appreciate it a bit more. First off, I have to say this movie feels troupey but, when you consider this movie pre-dates both the book and the movie Rosemary's Baby (1968) but also The Wicker Man (1973). The latter involving a paranoid isolated community of religious zealots sacrificing in order to ensure a hearty crop is uncanny. Eye of the Devil also is interesting in that it features some very pro-active and interesting female characters. In fact, I would even say the women have the more complex roles. 

     The cast is also top notch with Kerr at her best. She is pretty much playing a similar character from The Innocents (1961), however she always brings a warmth and relatability. David Niven, Donald Pleasence and David Hemmings rounds of a excellent supporting cast.  This movie is also note worthy for being the first film of Sharon Tate. Given what actual happened to Tate, her being in a movie about a deadly cult gives the entire movie a creepy feeling. I also cannot over state just how beautiful this movie looks. Erwin Hillier uses a pulpy neo-Gothic look with German expressionist lighting and strange and calculating camera shots. The film really makes the most out of the atmosphere, haunting locales and sets.  

     My biggest issue with this film is the narrative that is interesting but fundamentally flawed.  I think that the filmmakers show their hand way too early. Its only 30 minutes until we know strange stuff is going down. Had the filmmakers toyed with the paranoia of what if anything is going on I believe the film would have been more tense and interesting. This is something where The Innocents  thrives. But, since from moment one we know crazy stuff is going on, the movie feels like there is no where to go. 

Eye of the Devil is a stunning and chilling little film that is well made but lacks in a compelling narrative. 

Picture: Once again, Warner Archive really does a stunning job with their restoration. I said in my review that this is a really great looking film. The film is totally free of noise, artifacts leaving a pristine looking transfer. Small details in sets, costumes and locales really stick out in the sharpness. As always, WA does a really fine job at providing a nicely balanced and contrasted black-and-white picture. Blacks are deep and great looking. I didn't even notice any soft/blurring which can sometimes happen even with the best of transfers. 

Sound: Eye of the Devil also has a nice crisp DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue, score and sound design comes through nicely. A front heavy channel. 

Extras: Trailer 

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946) Kino Studio Classics 11/2/2021

Directed By: Arthur Lubin 

Starring: Gale Sondergarrd, Rondo Hatton, Brenda Joyce, Kirby Grant

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. 

More Reviews:
Vincent Price in Tomb of Ligeia  HERE
Devil and the Deep HERE 
Vera Cruz HERE

Before I dive into this review (and boy, oh boy, is this a wild film) I think some context is in order. The Spider Woman (1943) is the fifth Universal Sherlock Holmes film. Though, Spider Woman Strikes Back is a in-name-only sequel. A young woman take a job as a companion to a pretty but odd blind woman named Zenobia Dollard (Gale  Sondergarrd). Meanwhile, the townsfolks crops are being destroyed in this '40s B-Universal programmer.  Yeah...Spider Woman Strikes Back is a pretty strange movie. Not only is it weird to have a unrelated sequel (that has nothing to do with Holmes) but the movie has a uncanny valley narrative that involves blood drinking plants. 

     The film tries to be scary but frankly it isn't. This rather bland Universal thriller is only noteworthy for the plots wonderfully batty scheme and of course the legendary Rondo Hatton. Hatton lived to be only 51 years old but made a lasting impact on Universal horror. The movie really holds back on the frights and doesn't even lean into its own wonderful bizarre premise. As it stands, the movie for all its muddling and lackluster story is mildly enjoyable in a cheesy spook-programmer. 



Picture: I am happy to report that The Spider Woman Strikes Back is really nice looking! The overall image has a nice level of brightness and clarity. The black-and-white contrast is balanced quite nicely and it showcases the decent re-used Universal sets and locales. The film does have artifacts and noise but it doesn't look bad especially considering this isn't even a 2k scan. Not perfect but really a nice looking presentation in my opinion. 

Sound: The Spider Woman Strikes Back has a DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue, sound design and score comes through quite nicely. No unwanted noise or crackling that I could detect. 

Extras: The Spider Woman Strikes Back has a commentary track by Tom Weaver and David Schecter.  

Mistress of Menace and Murder: The Making of The Spider Woman Strikes Back (10mins) This Bollyhoo produced featurette is a lot of fun and includes great interviews with C. Courtney Joyner, Bob Burns, Fred Olsen Ray, Rick Baker etc. 

Also includes a serial of trailers (including one for Spider Woman Strikes Back).


Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

 The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) Kino Studio Classics 11/2/2021

Directed By: Stuart Walker 

Starring: Claude Rains, Heather Angel, David Manners, Douglas Montgomery 


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



     Based on the unfinished serial novel from Charles Dickens, the film tells of a addict named John Jasper (Claude Rains) who will stop at nothing to marry a young woman named Rosa (Heather Angel). The Mystery of Edwin Drood has been adapted in film and television as early as the 1900's and as recent as 2012. Since Dickens died before he could finish the series (and no plans to the ending was ever recovered) it allows each writer to come up with their own solution. Universal no doubt saw protentional in this film as it was over two-hundred thousand dollars and starred Claude Rains coming off the huge hit of The Invisible Man (1933). 

      The movie is interesting as its not really atmospheric and spooky enough to really be considered a Universal horror film- yet its more of a light mystery, costume drama with some slightly morbid flourishes and a mystery element. I have to say that I have never seen any adaptation of Edwin Drood so this was a real treat. Stuart Walker who directed the Werewolf of London (1935) gives this movie a lot of charm and flare. Its a shame that Walker died six years later because I think he has a interesting style that would have been interesting to seen being honed. As I mentioned, Universal gave this movie a decent budget and thus we get a pretty nice scope and scale and some very nicely done costumes. Claude Rains is, as always a wonderful actor and gives a commanding and delightfully sinister. David Manners gives a breezy and unencumbered performance and it probably his best of his short but impactful career. 

I have to say this movie is engaging and it has some nice bitter ironies that almost feels darkly comic. 


Picture: The Mystery of Edwin Drood is, like Blue Room a fairly nice transfers. There is a noticeably brighter and clearer sheen to this film presentation. Costumes, sets and locales have a more refreshed looked. Now, I will say that the movie is plagued with some issues. Mostly this comes from the scratches, noise and some artifacts. Considering this is a '30s era film a 2k scan probably was not possible either for budget or original elements that were available or maybe a combo of both.  Bottom line: Its a good transfer but isn't pristine, certainly I think its possibly the best its ever looked on home video. 

Sound: Mystery of Edwin Drood has a DTS 2.0 track. Drood has a rather clear sounding audio track. Dialogue comes through nicely as does the score and sound design. 

Extras: Historian and author David Del Valle as always treats film buffs to a lively and informative commentary track. Valle not only is extremely well researched but recounts actual meetings with Manner's late in his life. It's incredibly easy to get swept away by his charm and scholarly knowledge. 


Corridor of Mirrors (1948) Kino Lorber Blu Ray Review

Corridor of Mirrors (1948) Kino Lorber 10/19/2021

Directed By: Terrence Young 

Starring: Edana Romney, Eric Portman, Hugh Sinclair, Barbara Mullen 




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


     The term, dreamlike is probably over used but, honestly, I cannot think of a better way to describe Terrence Young's 48' film Corridor of Mirrors. A woman falls for a odd art lover who believes she is reincarnation of a former lover. The back cover for this movie states this is the most unusual British film of the 1940's, and you know what? I couldn't agree more. Young, best known for his later works like Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963) and Wait Until Dark (1967) starts off his film career with a daring, dreamy and utterly beautiful English melodrama. 

     Mirrors certainly taps into this almost Victorian like sexual repression of the era whilst also bubbling underneath with a kind of raw sexuality that is understated but certainly present. Sure the movie is most certainly strange as hell but its mediations on love, art, sex and gender roles. DP Andre Thomas makes a absolute feast out of this film with his expressive sweeping shots and inventive camera work.  This is also helped by top notch production design and art direction. The movie has a haunting fairy-tale style that feels like neo-Gothic horror wrapped inside a costume potboiler. The movie is also nicely paced and for such a simple narrative the movie is completely engrossing. 

British melodrama is enjoyable but can be somewhat predictable yet, Corridor of Mirrors is a richly layered, weird and breathtakingly stunning film. I hope this re-release brings the movie a wider audience because it deserves it. It also marks the feature film debut of Christopher Lee. 


Picture: Corridor of Mirrors is a movie that I praised a lot for its visuals. I am over joyed to report that Kino/Cohen Films has provided an amazing looking 1080p. The picture is almost totally free of dirt, scratches and artifacts. The overall image quality is also very sharp with a lot of clarity in locales, costumes and set designs.  Grain is a bit heavy at times but honestly its not distracting in my opinion and this kind of standard especially with a movie that is over seventy-years old. Black-and-white image is contrasted and balanced expertly. 

Sound: Mirrors has a DTS 2.0 track. Things arent quite as good when it comes to the audio presentation. There are moments when you get some unwanted background noise and some dialogue comes off slightly distorted. Overall though, dialogue does come through quite clear as does the score and sound design. 

Extras: Trailer 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dario Argentos Deep Red (1975) Arrow Video UHD Review

Deep Red (1975) Arrow Video 10/26/2021

Directed By: Dario Argento 

Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicoldoi, Gabriele Lavia 


Disclaimer: Arrow Video 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. 


Picture: Wow! Deep Red on UHD certainly does not disappoint! Right out of the gate you cannot help but overwhelmed by just how pristine and incredibly lifelike and detailed the image is. 
One of the scenes that really struck me as incredible looking was the scene with the physic at the beginning. The image is so detailed that you can see the texture of the blood red stage curtain. Skin tones have a very natural and at times very warm look to them. Grain is present but extremely faint and barely noticeable. What we are left with is a image with colors that pop, a beautiful looking contrast and a sharpness that is at times jaw-dropping. I certainly don't mean to over hype this release but I think it has to stated that I've seen this movie on various formats from VHS, DVD, Blu Ray and now UHD and, I think I can say without fear of hyperbole that this is the best this film has ever looked on a home video format. 


Sound: Like the image the sound presentation is great. It includes a Italian uncompressed DTS 5.1 track. 

Extras: Disc One) UHD Deep Red Original Version. 

Includes a new commentary by critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson, Archival audio commentary by Argento expert Thomas Rostock, Nearly three hours of interview interviews with the cast and crew including co-writer/director Dario Argento, actors Macha Méril, Gabriele Lavia, Jacopo Mariani and Lino Capolicchio (Argento's original choice for the role of Marcus Daly), production manager Angelo Iacono, composer Claudio Simonetti, and archival footage of actress Daria Nicolodi

also includes: Italian trailer, Arrow Video 2018 trailer

Disc 2:  Deep Red Export Version

Archival  introduction to the film by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin
Profondo Giallo – an archival visual essay by Michael Mackenzie featuring an in-depth appreciation of Deep Red, its themes and its legacy
Archival interviews with Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi, Claudio Simonetti and long-time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Rare Pre-Code Thriller The Secret of the Blue Room (1933) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

 The Secret of the Blue Room (1933) Kino Studio Classics 11/2/2021

Directed By: Kurt Neumann 

Starring: Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, Paul Lukas 

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. 



Vincent Price in Theater of Blood HERE
13 Washington Square Review HERE
Slasher Film A Day of Judgement HERE

      This fall Kino has released a handful of lesser-known Universal thrillers from their pre-Code era. One of these is 1933's The Secret of the Blue Room starring the OG scream queen Gloria Stuart. A group of suitors has gathered a mansion to usher in Irene's (Gloria Stuart) twenty-first birthday. It seems that the house has "the blue room" or ghost room in which mysterious deaths have taken place. In jest the men dare one another to take turns spending the night in the infamous bedroom in this pre-code thriller from Universal Studios. The Secret of the Blue Room is probably what you would consider a B-programmer, a movie that clocks in at typically about 60-70 minutes and was meant to be paired with another film for double features. This is where B-movie gets its meaning. Despite having some negative condensations, B-movies can certainly be fun, if not down right brilliant. For example the entire gritty, stylish noir movement came largely from hands-off B-pictures made on modest budgets.  

    The Secret of the Blue Room is certainly would fall into what's called an "old dark house" picture, which refers to the 1932 James Whale horror film The Old Dark House (which also starred Gloria Stuart). This basically means you have a limited locale (a spooky mansion) with a cast of people stuck in said locale (again typically a spooky mansion) and, usually a murder takes place which sets off a mystery. This is a lot like what is also called a cozy mystery. I have to say I really like films with this set up. While not nearly as bold and creepy as Whale's '32 film, Blue Room is a hoot. At a lean 65 minutes the pace is nearly break neck and the plot has a nice clever twists and misdirects to keep in engaging. 

   I was so pleasantly surprised by how, even for a lower budget outing Blue Room is well shot with heaps of atmosphere. Movies of this area tend to be stagey but DP Charles Stumar is quite expressive and inventive his camera. The legendary Vera West did the films costumes. Gloria Stuart is of course dazzling and, though she is severely underwritten she adds something truly special. Horror mainstay Lionel Atwill is always great and, like Stuart he adds a level of polish and pomp to the film. Paul Lukas and Edward Arnold are fantastic in supporting roles. As much as I enjoyed the movie I will say that whilst I was never bored with the narrative I feel like the mystery aspect could have been more developed. 

While not the most memorable '30s thriller, Secret of the Blue Room is enjoyable and as an excellent cast.  

Picture: The Secret of the Blue Room is a fine transfer with the consideration that the movie is nearly one-hundred years old. The film has an overall bright and clear presentation with sharp details in costumes, sets and locales. The black-and-white has a fairly nice depth and contrast but there is some room for improvement. So, its kind of a shame this didn't get a 2k scan but considering its age and what if any original film elements available this may not have been possible. Though I think the movie looks fine it does have noise and artifacts. Some blurring also keeps the movie from being as sharp as it could be. I believe that this is certainly a step up from the previous DVD version. Its not perfect but its a very serviceable transfer, especially considering its age. 

Sound: Blue Room has a DTS 2.0 track. Like the picture transfer this is serviceable with dialogue and sound design coming through nice and strong. However, there are some slight crackle here and there but thankfully not a lot. No audio drop out, tin sounds or other issues detected. 

Extras: Blue Room has a nicely researched audio commentary by historian Michael Schlesinger. Also includes trailers for similar films. 



Monday, October 18, 2021

Hollywood Pre-Code Hot Saturday (1932) with Cary Grand & Nancy Carroll Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Hot Saturday (1932) Kino Studio Classics 10/26/2021

Directed By: William A. Seiter 

Starring: Nancy Carroll, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, Edward Woods


Other Pre-Code Reviews:

Devil and the Deep HERE
Supernatural HERE
Love Me Tonight HERE
The Sin of Nora Moran HERE
The Kiss Before the Mirror HERE
Doctor X HERE
She Done Him Wrong HERE

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. 


      Hot Saturday (1932) is an interesting Pre-code movie as it examines how gossip can ruin a person's life. It doesn't seem like a mind blowing premise but I think its one that you didn't really see much in Hollywood films of the era. It delightfully thumbs its noses at the blue haired busy-bodies an it almost feels apt being a pre-code film talking about "moral panic" over nothing. Of course if there is any subtext about morals in cinema its buried between the lines. The film plays out like a mortality play but does still manage to sizzle and have some scandalous moments. For example a playful scene where a woman takes underwear off another woman would never have flown in the Hays enforced era. 


     Its worth talking about Grant in this movie. Even the most generous film scholars will tell you that early Cary Grant was rather awkward and not really the charming leading man that Hitchcock loved working with. Though, I think this came down to Grant having small bit parts with not much personality. Here however we get the Grant that classic film fans most remember. This is thanks to Oscar winning screenwriter Seton I. Miller who penned classics like The Adventure of Robin Hood (1938), Scarface (1932)  and 1941's Here Comes Mr. Jordan (which he won his Oscar for) crafts and tailor's Grants Romer as a smooth upper class loveable rouge. You could say that movies like Hot Saturday was in my opinion the blue print for future Grant personas. Nancy Carroll, who is probably best remembered for the pre-code James Whale film A Kiss Before the Mirror (my review for that can be found above) is also really good in this movie. In fact, I think its a shame she never became a bigger star. 

Hot Saturday isn't what I would call the most deep movie, but it is well directed, well acted and I found engaging throughout its lean 73 minute runtime. 

Picture: Hot Saturday I have to say is a damn impressive looking transfer. It looks like a 2k scan but I don't believe it is. Still for a movie that was made nearly 90+ years the movie has a nice look to it. The usual noise and artifacts are present (because come on its a movie that is nearly 100yrs old) but honestly this is kept to a minimum and I have to wonder if some good original film materials aided in this clean looking print. The black-and-white contrast is balanced extremely well and though grain is on the heavy side it does have a smoothed out quality. 

Sound: Hot Saturday has a really nice DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely and doesn't have any unwanted background noise. Overall, like the picture, this is a clean presentation. 

Extras: Hot Saturday has a nice commentary track from historian Lee Gambin. Gambin is, as always extremely well researched and very informative. Also includes a trailer. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Hollywood Pre-Code Devil and the Deep (1932) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Devil and the Deep (1932) Kino Studio Classics 10/26/2021

Directed By: Marion Gering 

Starring: Tallulah Bankhead, Cary Grant, Charles Laughton, Gary Cooper

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. 

     Kino Studio Classics is showcasing two Hollywood Pre-Code films which also happen to feature a young Cary Grant. Devil in the Deep (1932) tells the story of a Naval Commander named Charles Sturm (Charles Laughton) who is insanely jealous of his wife Diana (seeing Lt. Jaeckel (Cary Grant). After discovering this love affair he ruins Jaeckel's career. Meanwhile, he drives her into the arms Lt. Sempter (Gary Cooper). Charles soon seeks revenge in this spicy drama. 

     I haven't actually heard of this movie prior to this KL release and I have to say its a nice little gem of a movie. Screenwriter Benn W. Levy who also wrote the fantastic Universal horror film The Old Dark House (1932) which also stars Laughton crafts a a nice and at times very bleak romance. Despite a paper thin premise the movie has engaging plot elements that keeps the movie clipping along nicely. It also helps that the movie is a lean, mean 76 minutes. While the movie is a fairly standard love-triangle Levy adds a depth that can be seen in his other works. Though, I can admit that the film does suffer from plot holes and could have used a re-write. 

     What truly makes this movie dazzle is of course the actors. Cary Grant has a small but impactful role. Though not totally in his element yet, Grant is still handsome and charming. Tallulah Bankhead of course commands the screen and is beautiful and has talent. Its a shame she didn't have a bigger career. Gary Cooper is the main love interest and while its not Cooper's best work he is dashing, handsome and does a solid job. However, Charles Laughton camps it up and he makes a wonderful ham dinner out of his performance. With his impish smile and over-the-top acting you cannot help but be enthralled. 

Devil and the Deep is not the best movie but I thought it was interesting enough to keep me glued and of course the actors truly are the glue that hold this movie together. 

Picture: Devil and the Deep is almost one-hundred years old. I stress this because the movie isn't going to look completely pristine. The movie does have some noise and artifacts. Some of it can be a bit heavy at times. However, you can tell that the movie has been given some cleaning and and brightening up. Its a pity this didn't get a 2k scan but I think this might have to do with the original film elements or maybe lack thereof. 

Sound: Devil and the Deep has a robust and clean DTS 2.0 track. Very little unwanted background noise and no audio drop outs. Dialogue comes through clearly. 

Extras: Devil and the Deep has a wonderful commentary by historian David Del Valle. Valle as always does a wonderful job at providing a well researched and wholly engaging track. David always comes to these tracks with a lot of great stories including personal stories from his years of interviewing classic stars. He truly knows of what he speaks and its a treat to have him share his wealth of knowledge with fans and scholars alike. 


Thursday, October 14, 2021

70's Made-for-TV Horror The Screaming Woman (1972) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

 The Screaming Woman (1972) Kino Studio Classics 10/5/2021

Directed By: Jack Smight 

Starring: Olivia de Haviland, Ed Nelson, Laraine Stephens, Joseph Cotton 



Other Kino Reviews: 
The Victim HERE
Scream, Pretty Peggy HERE
Trilogy of Terror II HERE
Theater of Blood HERE

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. 


      After Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) it spawned what is known as Hagsploitation -which typically Golden Age Hollywood Actresses (and some actors) in horror. This seems demeaning but these movies helped older actors get paid and the movies went onto gain loyal cult followings. The Screaming Woman (1972) tells of a wealthy woman comes home from a stay at a mental healthy facility. Whilst outside she hears a screaming woman buried underneath the remains of an old smokehouse. Nobody believes her in this little '70s thriller. Director Jack Smight (who helmed one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes Night of the Meek) takes a pretty simple premise and does a fine job at providing plenty of thrills, chills and misdirection. The finale is truly a tense and hugely satisfying. 

    Like a lot of TV movies the locales are limited yet the production design is top notch and with a lot of talent behind the camera Screaming Woman has a slick big budget look. Also, if you enjoy a greedy scheming family members ala Knives Out (2019), Screaming Woman has plenty of it. Olivia de Haviland brings class and polish to this lower-budget genre programmer. Sure, the movie has its issues and the narrative can be a bit plodding. Still, its a enjoyable, campy '70s outing with a fantastic cast. 



Picture: The Screaming Woman really looks fantastic on 1080p. The movie has an overall crisp and clear look, especially in outdoor scenes. Colors really pop and artifacts and noise are kept to a bare minimum. Not to mention a general sharpness. I could even notice textures on costumes which speaks to the great restoration. 

Sound: The Screaming Woman has a nice DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue, sound design and score comes through quite clear. 

Extras: The Screaming Woman includes a great historical commentary by Gary Gernai. Trailers are also included. 

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND - Available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD/Blu-ray SteelBook on November 16, 2021

                                                    RLJE FILMS PRESENTS

 

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND

 

Available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD/Blu-ray SteelBook on

November 16, 2021





 

LOS ANGELES, (October 14, 2021) – RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks,  will release the action-adventure thriller PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD/Blu-ray SteelBook on November 16, 2021. The film made its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.


Directed by the acclaimed Japanese director, Sion Sono (Why Don’t You Play in Hell), the film was written by Aaron Hendry and Rexa Sixo Safai (Western Wonderland).  The film stars Nicolas Cage (Mandy), Sofia Boutella (The Mummy), Nick Cassavetes (Face/Off), Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Franchise), Tak Sakaguchi (Tokyo Tribe) and Yuzuka Nakaya (The Forest of Love). Joseph Trapanese (Tron: Legacy, The Raid: Redemption, The Greatest Showman) composed the original score. The DVD will be available for an SRP of $29.96, the Blu-ray for an SRP of $29.97 and the 4K UHD/Blu-ray SteelBook for an SRP of $35.97.

 

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND is set in the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town where a ruthless bank robber (Cage) is sprung from jail by wealthy warlord The Governor (Moseley), whose adopted granddaughter Bernice (Boutella) has gone missing. The Governor offers the prisoner his freedom in exchange for retrieving the runaway. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within three days, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman—and his own path to redemption.