Archives for : September2012

Burial Ground: Horror Blu-Ray Review

Shriek Show/Media Blasters
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Writer: Piero Regnoli (screenplay)
Stars: Karin Well, Gianluigi Chirizzi and Simone Mattioli

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What they say: The fun begins when a fatally curious professor
unseals a mysterious crypt and a veritable army
of shambling, rotting, flesh-hungry zombies rises,
marching into the night in search of prey. Nearby,
a hapless group of socialites is enjoying a quiet
weekend retreat. Unfortunately for them, their
lavish rural villa is right in the monsters path!

What I say: In the annals of Italian horror films, there is no film more bizarre than Burial Ground: Nights of Terror. I first witnessed this at a young age and needless to say it scarred me for life. A midget dwarf little person playing a 10 year old boy? Crazy! The ugliest zombies ever committed to film? Horrifying! Bear traps in the garden? Nightmarish!

 

My love of zombie cinema is no secret to anyone I have ever met, and next to

Screepcap from blu-ray.com

Return of the Living Dead, Burial Ground is probably my fave zombie movie. It has everything a zombie fan could want. Good (for the budget) effects, lots of zombies doing crazy stuff, some ample nudity, and our pal the midget dwarf little person biting his mothers nipple off. How can you lose? There’s no frickin way!

On top of all the zombie goodness I remember, the picture quality is beautiful! The colors are a bit washed out but I would imagine that was the fault of the print its self and not the digital conversion. This blows away the previous DVD release and honestly I don’t see any way possible for the film to ever look better!

 

Now Tokyo Shock where the hell is that Black Demons Blu?

Film: 9/10
Blu-Ray Disc: 9/10
MY HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!!!

This review, written by me, also appears at About Heroes.

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Spice and Wolf: The Complete Series: Anime Blu-Ray Review

Funimation
Stars: Jun Fukuyama, Ami Koshimizu and Brina Palencia
(From imdb.com)

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What they say: Lawrence, a traveling merchant searching for profit, finds a naked girl with the ears and tail of a wolf asleep in his cart. Her name is Holo – a harvest goddess with an untamed beast lurking inside who longs to return to her beloved northern home. Armed with his street smarts and her animal instincts, a simple peddler and a forgotten deity begin a journey through the wild countryside. Along their path, the riches of happiness shall be reaped, even as the bankruptcy which dwells in the human heart is exposed.

What I say: Spice and Wolf had a huge following even before it officially hit our shores. The story is about a traveling merchant named Craft Lawrence and his unusual companion, the wolf god Holo. Naturally her human form is that of a cute girl. He first discovers her naked in his cart of apples. They decide to travel together as Holo years to return to her home in the North. She is no longer worshiped by the locals, and is ready to go. Lawrence and she embark on their travels getting involved in Lawrences business and the intrigue that frequently comes along with it.

This set contains both seasons of the show. Each season consists of two story arcs and they can become quite complicated with all the backstabbing, double dealing, and business principals involved. At least once an arc everything comes to a screeching halt as Lawrence has to stop and explain the convoluted principals at play. This hurts the show a bit but it is quite enjoyable when its moving. Among all the dealings there is the budding romance between Lawrence and Holo. It is cute and sweet and makes the show a joy to watch when it takes center stage. Holo is by no means the typical Anime love interest. She is cute, funny, rude, and she is as shrewd as Lawrence in her own way.

All four story arcs are well written and do a fair job of balancing the romance and business plots. The animation companies switched between seasons but it does not affect the quality or flow of the series. The animation remains top notch all the way through and never feels rushed or sloppy. Both casts are amazing and do a great job on their performances. Before this I had never seen Spice and Wolf, but I am glad I got to experience it.

Anime: 8/10
Blu-Ray: 9/10
Highly Recommended!

The Victim: Thriller Blu-Ray Review

Anchor Bay
Director: Michael Biehn
Writers: Michael Biehn (screenplay), Reed Lackey (story)
Stars: Michael Biehn, Jennifer Blanc and Ryan Honey
(From imdb.com)
Purchase on Blu or DVD!

What they say: Annie’s life is in jeopardy after she witnesses the horrific murder of her closest friend. Fleeing from two attackers she stumbles across Kyle, a recluse living in the middle of the woods. Two worlds collide in this grindhouse psychological thriller that will make you question your trust in mankind. Written, directed and starring Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens, Grindhouse: Planet Terror, The Divide.) Also starring Jennifer Blanc (Hatchet III), Danielle Harris (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers) and Tanya Newbould (X-Men: The Last Stand.)

What I say: Psychological thrillers are a dime a dozen and now genre favorite Michael Biehn (He of Terminator and Tombstone fame) has written and directed this thriller starring his wife and production partner Jennifer Blanc. The film starts off with Annie (Blanc) running away from some men who killed her friend. She comes up on the secluded cabin of Kyle (Biehn). Kyle wants nothing to do with the situation but after the men, that turn out to be cops, arrive at his cabin looking for her, Kyle decides to help her.

The killing is seen through flashbacks as the action unfolds. I kept expecting some kind of twist but that never happened as the film is pretty straight forward. Acting is fine for this type of story and Biehn does pretty well for his directorial debut. Blanc does what she does best; get naked. Ryan Honey is suitably menacing as the killer cop, and Danielle Harris is cute as always as the murdered friend. So it’s all good right?

Like I said earlier the story is pretty straight forward and it would have been nice for something new or original to happen, but the film is a ok watch and you could certainly do worse. I think Biehn could continue to grow into a decent director but he needs to hire a writer. The only real downer of the film to me was the herky-jerky editing in some spots.

Picture quality is excellent and the sound design is engaging as well. Special features include a commentary from Biehn and Black and a behind the scenes featurette.

Film: 7/10
Blu-Ray: 9/10

The Color Out of Space: Horror DVD Review

Brink/MVD
Director: Huan Vu
Writers: H.P. Lovecraft (short story), Huan Vu (screenplay)
Stars: Paul Dorsch, Jürgen Heimüller and Ingo Heise
(From imdb.com)
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What they say: Arkham, 1975: Jonathan Davis’ father has disappeared. His tracks lead to Germany, to the Swabian-Franconian Forest where he was stationed after the Second World War. Jonathan sets out to find him and bring him home, but deep in the woods he discovers a dark mystery from the past. Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short novel “”The Color Out of Space””.

What I say: The work of H.P. Lovecraft has been adapted quite a bit over the years. Stuart Gordon has practically made a career out of it. Lately though we have been seeing more amateur productions come along, and several of them have been quite good. This version of The Color Out of Space was produced in Germany in 2010 and it finally sees its US debut.

Filmed in black & white, the film is set in 1975 and details the story of Jonathan Davis’ search for his missing father. The film does a pretty good job of adapting the short story and the few minor changes shouldn’t annoy Lovecraft fans too much. The film does a fairly good job of maintaining that Lovecraft tone but the caliber of acting does drag things down a bit. I realize this is low budget but why do producers of these films settle for such lackluster actors? Despite this, the film is worth a watch and the story makes the whole thing worth it.

The video quality is fine, but the sound comes off as tinny at times. The disc comes with a reproduction of a newspaper clipping, a “lost” scene and a couple of featurettes.

Film: 7/10
DVD: 7/10

Horrors of Malformed Men: Horror DVD Review

Synapse Films
Director: Teruo Ishii
Writers: Teruo Ishii (screenplay), Masahiro Kakefuda(screenplay)
Stars: Teruo Yoshida, Yukie Kagawa and Teruko Yumi
(From imdb.com)

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What they say: Cult film fans around the world can finally rejoice, for the greatest hidden treasure of cult cinema is coming in a fully uncut, completely remastered edition. Director Teruo Ishii s astonishing Horrors of Malformed Men, long suppressed in its home country, is making its worldwide home video debut in a supplement-laden DVD from Synapse Films.
After escaping from an asylum, young medical student Hirosuke assumes the identity of a dead man in order to solve the mystery of a weird doppleganger whose picture he sees in the newspaper. Traveling to faraway Panorama Island, he discovers a mad scientist surgically remaking normal human beings into misshapen monsters but that is only the beginning. Hirosuke soon learns the horrible truth about the island and his own family s shameful past, and finds himself plunged into the depths of incest, murder, and madness.

What I say: Horrors of Malformed Men has an interesting history attached to it. Having been banned in Japan for over 40 years, Synapse has brought to market the first ever home video release for this controversial and until now rare film. I can truly see why this film was so shocking when it was dropped onto the Japanese public Halloween 1969. This is truly some bizarre stuff. This was some El Topo level stuff years before El Topo came along. Deformed men! Violence! Murder! Incest! The craziness knows no bounds. What starts out as a seemingly generic drama explodes into a cool little mystery with all the weird trimmings you can ask for. Even today, the events depicted could shatter a weak mans soul.

To have a lost film like this is great enough, but it’s even better when it has such a nice presentation. The picture quality is great and the sound is excellent as well. It’s not often such a reviled film gets such phenomenal treatment so please continue to support releases like this! Not to mention it has the coolest reversible cover art ever featuring the original Japanese movie poster.

Extras include…
* New, fully restored, anamorphic widescreen transfer mastered in high-definition from Toei’s original vault elements
* Japanese language with newly-translated, removable English subtitles
* Audio commentary by film critic Mark Schilling
* MALFORMED MEMORIES, an all-new, half-hour documentary featuring interviews with cult film directors and Ishii fans Shinya Tsukamoto (TETSUO THE IRON MAN) and Minoru Kawasaki (THE CALAMARI WRESTLER), plus comments from Teruo Ishii himself
* ISHII IN ITALIA, the director’s 2003 visit to the Far East Film Festival
* Original Japanese theatrical trailer
* Teruo Ishii poster gallery
* Director and writer biographies
* Liner notes by Japanese film writers Patrick Macias, Tomo Machiyama and Jasper Sharp
* Reversible cover with original Japanese poster artwork

Film: 9/10
Blu-Ray: 9/10
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!