Blu-ray Review - Nightkill


Here's one problem with "Nightkill": the first character to die in the film is murdered during the day. It's a small detail, for sure, but an important one that identifies the general lethargy of the event, which isn't even titled correctly. It's meant to be a sinister thriller, a Hitchcockian endeavor with Euro chiller interests, also presenting Jaclyn Smith with a starring role that begins to inch the actress away from her "Charlie's Angels" television success. And yet, while the story details murder, betrayal, and deception, large chunks of the movie are simply devoted to Smith acting agitated and teary, groaning as her character struggles to figure out an impossible situation of guilt and homicide. "Nightkill" is quite dull and somewhat unsatisfying, with director Ted Post fumbling a growing sense of suspense, content to portion out shocks in brief reveals, which does nothing to build the effort's fright factor. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 

Blu-ray Review - Silent Night, Deadly Night


There's a slasher film for every star in the sky, and every now and then, one of these productions manages to upset a lot of people. 1984's "Silent Night, Deadly Night" was intended to become another holiday horror staple, joining the ranks of "Halloween" and "My Bloody Valentine" as a perennial moneymaker. Instead, the Christmas-themed endeavor from director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. was immediately condemned by parents and family organizations, objecting the use of a maniacal, murderous Santa Claus in marketing materials, moving on to destroy the movie itself as protests were assembled during the feature's theatrical run. Even Siskel and Ebert went to town on "Silent Night, Deadly Night," decrying its sleazy content and ill-advised use of an ax-clutching Santa on the poster. The picture didn't have much luck during its initial release, but like everything that's branded taboo and hated by parents, it managed to find a second life on home video, giving horror fans a chance to spy what's actually a fairly clumsy, amateurish, tonal disaster that strives to be cheeky fun, but offers more than enough repellent content to fully stifle whatever yuletide joy ride the producers were intending to make. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 

Blu-ray Review - They Call Me Bruce?


"They Call Me Bruce?" is a difficult film to understand, and perhaps it helps to be reminded that the production is from 1982, where stereotype-based humor was in its waning years, finding audiences growing tired of jokes that reinforced ugly ideas about race and foreign cultures. The screenplay strives to get in a few final hits before the window of opportunity closes, with director Elliot Hung seemingly have a ball staging this action comedy, which emerges as a purely cartoon understanding of East meets West clichés, striving to add a serious dollop of Looney Tunes to an already manic creation. "They Call Me Bruce?" isn't a movie that's ideal for a casual viewing, demanding an understanding of the time and place in which it was created, but for those capable of leaping over the effort's questionable taste in jokes, perhaps there's a wily creation in here somewhere that supplies sufficient entertainment value.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 

Blu-ray Review - Kill and Kill Again


Technically, 1981's "Kill and Kill Again" is a sequel to 1980's "Kill or Be Killed," but the productions have little in common besides star James Ryan, who's not even playing the same character. However, hindsight is apparent throughout the picture, as it takes what worked before and amplifies the actioner attitude of the follow-up, with director Ivan Hall (returning for duty) creating a bigger adventure that's filled with martial arts demonstrations and meaty threats, but escalates the whole thing into a James Bond-style spy extravaganza set in South Africa, only without a grand budget.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 

Blu-ray Review - The Untamed


After exploring a real-world nightmare in "Heli," co-writer/director Amat Escalante returns with something sinister from outer space for "The Untamed," though the effort is far from a traditional alien terror extravaganza. The helmer goes for unease with this study of relationships and profound sexual experiences, with Escalante working a more metaphorical route to disturbing behavior, locating unusual suspense as he achieves a clear view of domestic dysfunction.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 

Blu-ray Review - The Wrong Guy


After achieve fame as part of the sketch comedy group The Kids in the Hall, actor Dave Foley tries on leading man moves with "The Wrong Guy." He's not exactly testing his thespian skills in the 1997 effort, but Foley is permitted a frame all to himself, playing a man on the run in this Hitchcockian comedy, primarily in charge of depicting hysterics and executing straight man reactions to the weirdness and extremity the screenplay (written by Foley, Dave Higgins, and Jay Kogen) has to offer. "The Wrong Guy" is silly endeavor, and a consistent one under the guidance of director David Steinberg, who packs a surprising amount of sight gags and goofiness into the picture, while Foley remains in command of reactions, adding his special sense of humor to the mix while running all over the frame.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - The Woman in Red


It's easy to root for 1984's "The Woman in Red." It's written and directed by Gene Wilder, who also takes the starring role in this remake of the French comedy, "Pardon Mon Affaire." Wilder has increased the odds of laughter by securing such a fine supporting cast, including Charles Grodin, Joseph Bologna, and Gilda Radner. He's gifted the world the sight of Kelly LeBrock, who makes her acting debut as the titular object of desire. There are San Francisco locations to enjoy, and a lively soundtrack is largely supported by Stevie Wonder songs, including the once omnipresent smash hit, "I Just Called to Say I Love You." There's so much to enjoy here that it hurts the heart to realize the feature doesn't quite come together as substantially as Wilder envisions. He's got the tone and the cast, but "The Woman in Red" is something of a mess, with aborted subplots, random encounters, and strange technical choices conspiring to wear down the natural rhythms of the effort. It's easy to see what Wilder had in mind for the semi-farce, but it's difficult to watch him fumble scenes and lose concentration on connective tissue.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - The Sect


After achieving success with 1989’s “The Church,” co-writer/director Michele Soavi (best known for 1994’s “Cemetery Man”) takes on a smaller enemy for 1991’s “The Sect,” retreating the wilds of the mind for this horror endeavor. Strange water and nightmare realms define the slow-burn shocker, with Soavi taking his time building trouble for his lead character, asking the audience to sit patiently while the material works around some narrative dead ends and lengthy scenes of investigation. “The Sect” isn’t pulse-pounding entertainment, in dire need of another editorial pass, but the helmer scores with certain macabre visuals, offering wild, invasive camerawork and a game cast to conjure a cult disturbance.

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Blu-ray Review - The Man Who Died Twice


There's nothing particularly special about 1958's "The Man Who Died Twice," but it delivers a meat-and-potatoes crime story with relative ease. Directed by Joseph Kane ("The Yellow Rose of Texas"), the picture offers viewers time with very bad people and a mystery involving murder, drugs, and deception. And there's a little feline torment in there as well. "The Man Who Died Twice" is pulpy entertainment with a limited scope, but Kane understands what's expected of him, handling the screenplay's acts of intimidation and burgeoning violence well. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Brothers of the Night


"Brothers of the Night" is often classified as a documentary, but it's difficult to understand where the line between fiction and non-fiction remains. The picture tells the story of young Bulgarian men who've come to Vienna to establish a new life and make money, with some of them ending up as "gay for pay" prostitutes, collecting cash to send back home to family and spouses. Director Patric Chiha has an unusual topic to explore with his feature, but the blend of interview footage and nightlife recreation takes some time to get used to, with "Brothers of the Night" often resembling a reality show, not a deep dive into the wilds of identity. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 

Blu-ray Review - Junior Bonner


After sending viewers through a traumatic ride in the provocative 1971 film, "Straw Dogs," director Sam Peckinpah settles downs for 1972's "Junior Bonner," which plays unnervingly peaceful, offering a helmer known for his violent cinema a rare shot at emotional excavation with defined characters. Peckinpah's gone soft before, but the change in attitude works especially well here, as "Junior Bonner" offers a story that's open for community spirit and self-inspection, while utilizing colorful Prescott, Arizona locations to support this saga of a rodeo hero facing the twilight of his career. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 

Blu-ray Review - Young Doctors in Love


After a highly successful producing career in television (responsible for such shows as "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley," and "Mork & Mindy"), Garry Marshall made the leap to feature filmmaking with 1982's "Young Doctors in Love." It's material that plays to his sensibilities, offering character- based comedy that's silly, but just misses the mark in terms of a snowballing madness. The picture is often labeled an "Airplane"-style farce that lampoons daytime soap operas, and while "Young Doctors in Love" has that intention, Marshall can't quite wind the effort up correctly, content to pepper the movie with throwaway gags and limp one-liners. In the grand scheme of things, Marshall's done worse, a lot worse, but his helming debut, while brightly made, lacks snap and edge, displaying some of the cuddliness he'd come to rely on. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Lurkers


For her second directorial effort from 1988, Robert Findlay returns to the comfort of horror to inspire the extremes of "Lurkers." It's a ghost story that's primarily fueled by paranoia, again keeping the helmer busy with a vision of Hell on Earth that doesn't require much in the way of locations and story. It's a simplistic nightmare, and one that's not particularly tasteful, but it has closure, giving it the appearance of a "Tales from the Crypt" episode, only with slightly more feminine hygiene-inspired sexuality. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Prime Evil


The plot of "Prime Evil" would find a more suitable home as a short story, or possibly as part of a horror anthology film, but director Roberta Findlay isn't about to give up on her moviemaking mission, laboring to stretch the 1988 effort without completely breaking it. It's a Satanic Panic endeavor, and one that's fairly light on thrills, often falling back on traditional exploitation moves to keep viewers interested in the feature. Findlay's working hard to make something threatening out of very little, and while she comes up short, "Prime Evil" is not completely devoid of entertainment value.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Driftwood


1947's "Driftwood" is aimed at a family audience, making its general weirdness a bit more understandable as the production goes big to appeal to all ages. After all, this is a movie that features on dog on trial and a young Natalie Wood trying on her best Shirley Temple impression, so any expectations for subtlety and depth are generally punted out the nearest window five minutes into this endeavor.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - The Corpse Grinders


Some people will go a long way to make a buck. The premise of 1971's "The Corpse Grinders" is a hoot, detailing the struggle of two men using dead bodies to manufacture cat food, hoping to make a fortune by feeding felines rotting human meat. Certainly there are more efficient, less disgusting ways to pay the rent, but lunacy is part of the film's charm. There's no logic here, no moment of thought to consider alternate vocational routes. There are only cadavers and cat food, with director Ted V. Mikels making sure to keep the macabre study of food processing at least passably revolting. While "The Corpse Grinders" is ultimately more of a detective story than a gross-out extravaganza, there's still plenty of ghoulish fun to be had with the feature's low-wattage charms and strange misadventures with kitties. Sure, it could be more, but this is Mikels, and he rarely goes above and beyond what's necessary to sell a picture. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 

Blu-ray Review - A Woman's Torment


1977's "A Woman's Torment" is an adult movie made by a writer/director who simply didn't care to add any eroticism to the effort. Roberta Findlay has different ideas for this horror/sex picture, and I'm not sure any of them are translated to film properly, with the helmer striving to create a cold- blooded feature that's covered in blood and other bodily fluids, making strange points about sexual anxiety and resentment while teasing titillating visuals. "A Woman's Torment" is an odd endeavor, caught somewhere between a need to thrill and repulse, resulting in exploitation that's interesting to analyze but difficult to endure.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Rolling Vengeance


According to "Rolling Vengeance," when life gives you lemons, you retreat to your farm and build a fire-belching monster truck capable of killing anything in its path. The 1987 revenge picture has a special way of doing business, trying to sell the specialty of a monster truck used as a lethal weapon, and why not? It gets the job done, with as much property damage as possible. It's an amusing premise, but screenwriter Michael Thomas Montgomery doesn't know the fine line between manipulation and punishment, keeping the feature on the nasty side when all it truly takes to inspire pushback is a lot of attitude and some mild maiming. The movie could do with less child murder and rape, but for those capable of absorbing overkill, "Rolling Vengeance" eventually becomes the film the marketing promises, pitting dim-wits against the might of an enormous truck stocked with weapons.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Avanti


Nearing the end of his illustrious filmmaking career, Billy Wilder attempts one from the heart with 1972's "Avanti," which still rings loudly with his particular sense of timing and silliness, but strives to be more than just a series of jokes. Wilder's had greater success with this type of tone before, but all is not lost with the painfully overlong "Avanti" (which runs 144 minutes), which offers pronounced charm from leads Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills, while the screenplay by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond (adapting a Samuel Taylor play) remains interested in twists and turns, working to keep the audience engaged as the pair refuse to trim any tangents and bad ideas.  Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Blood Beat


Most low-budget horror pictures tend to play it safe with narrative construction, keeping things simple to appeal to a wide audience, trusting in frights to define the viewing experience. 1983's "Blood Beat" does away with story altogether, submitting what should be an abstract extravaganza where anything goes because it simply can. It's filmmaking without rules, but something tells me the pronounced confusion of "Blood Beat" wasn't intentional. Writer/director Fabrice Zaphiratos has ideas but no real clue as how to implement them into a dramatic saga of psychic forces, deer hunting, and samurai armor. Instead of giving it all some thought, he makes a mad dash through nonsensical scenes and empty characterizations, almost relishing how little clarity the endeavor has to offer its audience. Perhaps some viewers will get off on the confusion, but to reach a point of comfort with Zaphiratos's randomness takes a substantial amount of patience I doubt few are willing to give. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com