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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Thoughts on the American Garo Blu-Ray

Got my copy yesterday.

  • No menu options or features, kind of a letdown. Just a very bare bones menu screen that lets you select the episodes. It’s almost bootleg levels of simplicity.
  • HD remaster from last year is the transfer you get, so the CG graphics are a bit prettier than the original broadcast. NICE!
  • I can’t believe they chose the “split into volumes” route. It’s 26 episodes for crying out loud! I think paying $80 for 2 volumes is highway robbery, even $50 is a bit much. Wait for a sale on Amazon if you want both Vol. 1 and the upcoming Vol. 2 for Christmas. $80 is more justified for a 40-50 episode show.
  • Some purists are going to be mad about Kouga being labeled as “Saejima”, Remember “J” and “Z” are the mortal enemies of the Japanese language translation  XD.
  • There are a second set of credits at the end of each episode giving the english list of who’s who on the production, which is cool because it gives fans like me more data to work with. Though I do admit I did shed a few tears seeing Mr. Nirasawa’s name….he would have been so happy had he lived to see this day.
  • MORE PLEASE! I want the Beast of the Midnight Sun and Makai Senki!

Aside from that, please buy these video sets to support Mr. Amemiya’s work. We have come a long way from the dark ages of 2005 when this first aired and the fandom was small and encased in the darkness of the web’s underbelly. Now we have hope, a chance to break through and truly make our era shine as toku fans! Don’t let that slip away by torrenting the original show and thus robbing us of a future of more Garo, be a good fan and shill a bit of your money for it to show your love!

Blu-ray Review: Cult of Chucky

Child’s Play is a rare horror franchise that has maintained its original continuity. Over the course of seven movies and thirty years, Don Mancini has been the heart of Chucky; he has written every installment, in addition to directing the latter three entries. Despite the singular voice, however, the tones vary wildly between films. Each one offers a refreshing change of pace without sacrificing the integrity of the one that came before it.

After the misstep of going pure camp with Seed of Chucky, 2013’s Curse of Chucky brought the killer doll back to his darker roots. Cult of Chucky is a direct sequel to Curse, but it brings together the franchise’s three distinct story lines - Nica from Curse, Andy Barclay from Child’s Play 1-3, and Tiffany from Bride/Seed of Chucky. It also balances the more serious nature of the original Child’s Play and Curse of Chucky with the lighthearted fun found in Child’s Play 2 and Bride of Chucky. The result is as close as you can get to pleasing fans of all eras of Chucky.

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8

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.

8.9

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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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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Blu-ray Review: The Creep Behind the Camera

The Creep Behind the Camera tells the creepy story of the making of a not-so-creepy movie, The Creeping Terror. The 1964 sci-fi/horror film is commonly considered one of the worst films ever made, best remembered for being skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000. But, as evidenced by The Creep Behind the Camera, the events that occurred behind the camera are far more interesting than anything that made it on the screen.

The Creep Behind the Camera is part biopic, part documentary. The fascinating true story is largely told through reenactments, but it occasionally cuts to interviews with those involved in the original production to share their firsthand accounts. It can be equated to Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, if its subject were a bona fide psychopath. Not only that, Plan 9 from Outer Space may as well be Citizen Kane next to The Creeping Terror.

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8

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.

8.3

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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.

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