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 Creeps

Having run both Empire Pictures and Full Moon Features, Charles Band has produced, directed, written, and/or distributed over 200 B-movies, almost exclusively in the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genres. An inordinate amount of those titles involves little creatures. Puppet Master, Ghoulies, Dolls, Troll, Subspecies, Demonic Toys, Blood Dolls, Gingerdead Man, and Evil Bong are just some examples that showcase the filmmaker’s curious fascination.

It should come as no surprise that when Band had the opportunity to put his own spin on the most iconic of literary and cinematic monsters - namely: Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the mummy, and the werewolf - he decided to make pint-sized versions. That’s the premise of 1997’s The Creeps (also known as Deformed Monsters), which Band directed and produced.

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Blu-ray Review: Solace

Anthony Hopkins is, of course, best known for his Academy Award-winning role in The Silence of the Lambs. He portrays Hannibal Lecter, a serial killer who assists the FBI in catching another serial killer. The esteemed actor returns to familiar territory in Solace, playing a man with psychic abilities who helps the FBI track down a psychic serial killer.

While The Silence of the Lambs is quick to come to mind when watching Solace, it’s not the main point of reference; that would be Seven. Although not discussed in any official publicity materials for the film, a little bit of research confirms that Solace was at one point conceived as a sequel to Seven. The idea was ultimately dropped, which is for the best; there’s no way it could live up to David Fincher’s masterpiece. It fares better, albeit still flawed, as a standalone film.

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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.

8.9

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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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