blu-ray review

Blu-ray Review: The Love Witch

While a plethora of nostalgic filmmakers were busy making tired 1980s horror throwbacks, Anna Biller (Viva) crafted a spellbinding tribute to ‘60s cinema we never knew we needed. The Love Witch evokes the spirit of classic Hammer horror films, particularly in its vibrant visuals but also tonally, while telling an original story that addresses contemporary themes.

Biller is essentially a one-person crew. In addition to writing the script and directing the film, she served as producer, editor, composer, production designer, art director, set decorator, and costume designer. Those latter departments rarely get recognition, as they’re typically successful if they go unnoticed, but Biller’s colorful and creative style defines the picture. She worked on the costumes and decor for over a year, and every painstaking second of perfection translates to the screen.

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Blu-ray Review: The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts presents a slight twist on the classic zombie formula. The infection is caused by a fungal disease, so the fast-moving ghouls are engulfed in nasty spores. They primarily track their prey via smell, allowing humans to go undetected when wearing a scent-masking gel. But carnage at the hand of the flesh eaters is the main selling point. Like many of the most effective zombie movies, this one uses the familiar genre set-up to frame a human story.

All Melanie (Sennia Nanua) has ever known is a dank bunker. When confined to wheelchairs in a makeshift classroom, she and the other children are locked in cells. She doesn’t question the odd behavior of the adults, who take a liking to the shrewd girl. The environment might be mistaken for some cruel prison for adolescents at first glance, but it’s apparent that these kids are different. Not until halfway through the movie is their exact affliction revealed, although it’s clearly connected to the recent zombie apocalypse.

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About the Outlaw Star Blu Ray box set (United States - Funimation)

So I thought I’d grab a few snaps and give some details on the new Outlaw Star Blu Ray box set that just released for the U.S. market. This is the “Collector’s Edition” set from the Funimation web site. It contains 4 DVDs and 3 Blu Ray Discs and has all the features you’d expect (Sub and Dub, OPs and EPs, etc).

The cardboard sleeve that holds the package has a bunch of texturing and ‘scars’ on it to simulate the outer hull of the Outlaw Star. The packaging has some bubbling on it, though I’m not sure if it’s intentional weathering.

The disc cases features new artworks that have a more ‘modern’ animation feel to them. To see all 4 sections of the new art, you have to reverse the art sleeves (vs the outside of the sleeve having both sections of art in the Japanese and UK releases).

The art book contains a lot of art previously released in older Outlaw Star art books. This includes concept art on characters, props, as well as some of the painted backgrounds used in the anime. While it isn’t nearly as complete as one of the stand-alone art books, it has a nice selection.

Also included is a cardboard sheet with Melfina printed onto both sides.

I’m a bit disappointed with the quality (The print on the sleeve art seems thin and somewhat cheap, as does the outer cardboard case), but overall the Blu Ray set is worth picking up if you haven’t had the chance to watch Outlaw Star in HD (really, you can see the brush strokes on the cells - its pretty).

Blu-ray Review: Train to Busan

Train to Busan (also known as Busanhaeng) smashed records in its home country of South Korea with over 11 million theatergoers. It also became the highest-grossing Korean film in several other countries, grossing nearly $100 million worldwide. But a movie’s overseas success doesn’t always translate to western viewers. Train to Busan, however, is easily accessible to a worldwide audience, and it does so with great gusto.

Workaholic divorcee Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo) intends to spend his young daughter Su-an’s (Kim Soo-Ahn) birthday with her, but the oft-neglected youth begs to spend it with her mother in Busan instead. Seok-Woo reluctantly agrees to make the hour-long train ride, unaware that a zombie outbreak is on the rise. One of the infected is on board with them, and it’s not long before the majority of the passengers become flesh-hungry maniacs. Because the scheduled stops are infested with the undead, the conductor opts to continue moving.

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Volume 6

So a quick hindsight review.  I enjoyed the series immensely, and don’t regret this purchase for a second.  Despite that, the price is steep even by JP standards as I paid about 8000 yen per volume.  Still the dust covers proved to be an amusing bonus, and each volume has a mini poster inside.  Damn shame there won’t be more.

Blu-ray Review: The Hearse

Like so many other low budget horror movies from the era, 1980′s The Hearse apes on several popular trends of the time. At its core, the movie is a haunted house chiller in the same vein as The Amityville Horror and Burnt Offerings, albeit on a much smaller budget. It also incorporates slasher elements borrowed from Halloween, along with dashes of Gothic horror, satanic panic, and killer car action.

Struggling with personal issues, Jane (Trish Van Devere, The Changeling) is eager to escape to a small town where she has inherited a house from her recently-deceased aunt. The locals are anything but charming; they become instantly cold toward Jane when they learn where she’s staying. The only two people who pay her any mind are Paul (Perry Lang, Jennifer 8), an enthusiastic young handyman, and Tom (David Gautreaux, Star Trek: The Motion Picture), the dark and mysterious type.

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Blu-ray Review: Blind Fury / Silent Rage / White Line Fever

Mill Creek Entertainment has given three cult action flicks their Blu-ray debut: 1989’s Blind Fury, 1982’s Silent Rage, and 1975’s White Line Fever. The triple feature is billed under the “Payback Time” moniker, as all three films deal with revenge in some form. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, making for an interesting and entertaining triple bill.

Blind Fury is a loose remake of 1967’s Zatoichi Challenged, the 17th film in the classic Zatoichi franchise of Japanese films about a blind swordsman. The story has been modernized and Americanized courtesy of writer Charles Robert Carner (Gymkata) and director Phillip Noyce (Salt). Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner) takes on the starring role.

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Ex Machina (2015) - dir. Alex Garland

A highly-intelligent sci-fi thriller and an overall breathtaking debut from Alex Garland. Garland is no stranger to the genre, having penned Sunshine and 28 Days Later, but Ex Machina shows a maturity and sophisticated level of filmmaking not found in his previous films. The script is tight, the effects are dynamic, and the performances from the three leads are outstanding. I don’t have a negative thing to say about this film, it’s a beautiful morality play, and if you could rig the costume correctly this would also make a brilliant stageplay.

Perhaps I’m a little biased since I love Domnhall Gleeson (but here he’s a blonde!) and Oscar Isaac (who perfectly acts as both the smartest and toughest person in the room), but I’m really floored by this film. I’ll need to see it again to know exactly where to place it, but know that it’s among the finest science fiction films I’ve ever seen.



The Fifth Element (1997) - dir. Luc Besson

If you made this film a hundred times, it would almost always be terrible. Somehow, someway, Luc Besson manages to juggle the saturated future, the laughably corny plot, and the over-use of props into a science fiction film that will probably only get better over the ages. There’s nothing overwhelmingly original about the Fifth Element, but that’s the beauty of it. The film plays to the strengths of its genre, actors, and to its crew.

From a purely aesthetic level, the film should astound you. And though the writing is chockfull of cliches, you have to respect the storytelling. It’s an ambitious film that set impossibly high standards for itself, and goes about achieving them in a myriad of palate-cleansing colors, characters and special effects. Bravo Mr. Besson, for successfully creating your own universe on screen. As I watch this film, I can’t help but think that if Besson had been the man behind the Hunger Games franchise… oh man.



Stu review: Cannibal Holocaust Blu ray.
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Released by: Shameless screen entertainment.

Stu kicks off Horror film month with the notorious Cannibal Holocaust -now on Blu ray with the new directors cut. Do you have the stomach for it - or indeed, the silverware? 

Who has a previously cut version of CH? Anyone? That 2 disc version with ‘House by the edge of the park’ released by VIPCO? Well that was my introduction to CH all those years ago - and it was a raw clever movie - one of the much better inductees into the 'British banned list’ -it has the power to shock, its handheld camera parts took away the safety net of conventional filming methods when the world had yet to deal with the true horror of reality tv and brought up the message that maybe we, the 'civilised’ people, can be just as barbaric. And I felt that way about the cut version, imagine my surprise at seeing the blu ray with Deodato’s new edit.

Cannibal Holocaust is the tale of a professor (Robert Kerman) who goes in search of a missing film crew who went into the Amazon jungle to film a documentary. Halfway through, the professor discovers the missing cans of film and sees just what really happened to the crew. So its a film of two halves, the trek to find them, and the watching of the film footage of Alan Yates (Carl Gabriel Yorke) and co.

So how does that re-edit sit? Well, for all the director’s claims that he’s toned down the animal violence, there is still alot of animal violence shown, so animal lovers be warned - its not pretty and part of why this movie stayed so heavily cut/ reviled for years. Deodato himself regrets the animal scenes as no animals should suffer for just a movie (He was given a suspended sentence and fined - all of which is explained in the special features.). If you’ve only viewed a heavily cut version of the movie previously (as had I with that VIPCO version) you’ll be in for a surprise. It was resubmitted to the bbfc in May 2011 and passed with even less cuts. I felt like i’d fallen asleep on previous watching of CH, wondering why I’d missed out on so much of the movie, (before brain kicked in and I realised the version I had before was cut- i’m clever like that) which shows that CH can still shock and is as powerful and full-on an experience than it ever was, which might be the best compliment to give any horror film. Its certainly not an easy film to watch by any means. 

So the Blu ray specs - yup, its a decent transfer, i’m not going to worry about picture too much unless it really is that awful that I cant see what’s happening and the sound is still there (always a bonus) - Riz Ortoland’s score still able to switch from beautiful to haunting at a moments notice.

Then there is the extras? The features 'long road back from hell’ and 'film and be damned’ give us insight into the filming of CH, to which the back story to the movie’s filming is just as interesting as the movie. Introductions by Deodato to both versions (his re-edit and the original) included on the disc appear before either movie starts, but dont add a huge amount.

Would I recommend? Depends on who to. Definitely to horror fans - like it or not it had an impact not only on films (Blair witch, Cloverfield, reality tv even?) but on the UK’s video viewing laws and has a message - not many films can boast doing all three. To those who’re curious? You’ve been warned, its not for the screamish. To my vet or local MP? Probably not.

4 organs out of 5. Its still one of the films ill pull out at Halloween.