DVD/BLU-RAY

Blu-ray Review - Kuffs

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Christian Slater doesn't get enough credit for his professional choices, especially during the heyday of his career. Here's a guy who was a teen heartthrob with a young fanbase, and Slater made "Heathers" and "Pump Up the Volume," while taking supporting parts in "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie," and "Young Guns II." It's not exactly a Tiger Beat-approved filmography. Slater didn't always churn out gold, but his tastes were varied, adding 1992's "Kuffs" to his legacy of oddball parts, fitted for his own action vehicle that's not shy about sharing influence from "Beverly Hills Cop," even recruiting "Axel F." creator Harold Faltermeyer to score the picture. "Kuffs" is an acquired taste, but for those who enjoy their Slater performances breezy and wiseacre-y, it's a tremendous amount of fun, with writers Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon offering idiosyncratic style and some strong violence to accompany their successful silly business. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 


Blu-ray Review - The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

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Never one to turn away from a trend, Hammer Films wanted in on the kung fu cinema craze of the 1970s, teaming with Shaw Brothers Studio for 1974's "The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires." Such a collision of filming styles was meant to shake-up the vampire norm for Hammer, with this the ninth installment of the company's Dracula series, ultimately becoming their final effort to squeeze some cash out of bloodsucker dealings. While not a refined endeavor resembling other gothic chapters in the saga, "7 Golden Vampires" offers something more animated to help energize the production, dealing with martial arts and Asian mysticism to supply a varied adventure for the characters, while horror needs are tended to with zombie hordes and vampiric interests. Perhaps it's not elegant, but the feature is awfully fun to watch. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Black Site

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Writer/director Tom Paton has a vision for genre entertainment, working to give "Black Site" a colossal backstory involving the longstanding presence of alien deities on Earth and the human force assigned to contain and deport them back to an unknown dimension. The helmer strives to create an epic showdown between man and monster, turning to heavy John Carpenter influences to help grease the path to sci-fi/horror glory. There's a lot to take in while watching "Black Site," and while its ambition is engaging, Paton bites off far more than he can chew, fighting to make a cinematic event with a low budget that can't support such lofty filmmaking goals. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Slay Belles

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The Christmas season receives a jolt of the macabre with "Slay Belles." Co-writer/director SpookyDan Walker turns to comedy and horror to spread holiday cheer, reawakening the plague of Krampus, who's become a popular fixture in the genre, becoming the go-to menace for many filmmakers. Walker tends to view the monster in a more lighthearted manner, creating something of a cartoon with "Slay Belles," which delights in being over- the-top, hoping to conquer a limited budget by being as colorful and loud as possible. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Dry Blood

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The horrors of addiction collide with the vastness of mental illness in "Dry Blood," which hopes to communicate the struggle of an individual who's taking on too much, trying to save his life while endangering it. Screenwriter Clint Carney (who also stars) has some extreme ideas when it comes the scenes where self-control is lost, creating a slow-burn endeavor that's not afraid to take this tale of a poisoned mind to its natural conclusion. "Dry Blood" has issues with performances and director Kelton Jones's mishandling of stasis, which he insists is suspense, but for his first feature- length endeavor, the helmer has some strong visual ideas and an encouraging commitment to Carney's illness. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Rust Creek

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"Rust Creek" pulls a bit of a switcheroo on its audience. It's being marketed as a nail-biter, offered up as a chilling tale of survival in the deep woods of the American south. There are sections of the picture devoted to such irresistible thrills, but the endeavor is content to leave the nerve-shredding stuff behind for long stretches of screen time. The screenplay (credited to Julie Lipson and Stu Pollard) is more interested in character-based entanglements than straight scares, which gives "Rust Creek" a more intriguing dramatic pull, juggling the needs of genre entertainment with a deep psychological inspection of the crisis at hand. It's not a tightly constructed endeavor, which hurts it in the long run, but the movie has a vision for something different while still tending to expectations. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 


Blu-ray Review - Between Worlds

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Writer/director Maria Pulera is trying to make a brain-bleeder with "Between Worlds," attempting to blur the line of reality with a spirit-hopping story that, in some ways, looks to emulate a David Lynch film, even bringing in "Twin Peaks" composer Angelo Badalamenti to compose a theme for the endeavor. Pulera has the right idea with the casting of Nicolas Cage, who can turn anything into a mind-scrambler with the sheer force of his acting, but little else comes together in Pulera's feature, which possesses the ambition to bend space and time, but has the production value of a late night Cinemax movie. "Between Worlds" is weird but not polished, which doesn't encourage full immersion into the depths of this oddity. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Paradise Alley

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1978 was a critical year in the career of Sylvester Stallone. In 1976, Stallone became a major Hollywood player with "Rocky," which he scripted, finding himself a primary participant in the highest-grossing film of year, which would go on to collect a Best Picture Oscar in 1977. Previously dealing with poverty and powerlessness in the business, Stallone could suddenly call his own shots, allowed to take his future wherever he wanted it to go. Two years after "Rocky," Stallone tried to tighten his dramatic chops in Norman Jewison's "F.I.S.T." -- a pairing that didn't win over audiences. And then there was "Paradise Alley," which gifted the star a chance to command his own vision, making his directorial debut with the effort. Stallone's intent with the movie isn't difficult to decode, setting out to replicate a melodrama from the 1950s, but the shadow of "Rocky" remains on the endeavor, which labors to find a comfortable middle ground between underdog cinema manipulation and a gritty, unsentimental study of broken people and shattered dreams in the harsh reality of life in the big city. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Brain

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A 1988 production from Canada, "The Brain" depicts a fantasy world where the population is controlled by a dangerous con man on television who wants to control the world via mental manipulation. Okay, maybe the premise isn't sci-fi at all, especially with today's glut of television programming, but "The Brain" does have a horror angle as it transforms into a monster movie, with the titular creature making multiple appearances to give the endeavor jolts of the macabre to keep it alert. Screenwriter Barry Pearson is on a mission to supply commentary on trash T.V., while director Ed Hunt labors to make the picture exciting, collaborating on a diverting B-movie that's competently assembled, finely shaded with humor, and gung-ho with creature feature exploitation. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Vanishing

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Gerard Butler hasn't enjoyed the most artistically satisfying career in recent years. In fact, he's toplined a lot of garbage, with such titles as "Gods of Egypt," "Geostorm," and "Hunter Killer" tarnishing what remains of his star power. He's never had the best taste in screenplays, but Butler finally locates material that fits him well in "The Vanishing," a Scottish dramatization of the Flannan Isles Mystery, where three lighthouse keepers vanished in 1900 during their six-week stint on the island. While Butler is asked to play up his natural burliness, there's also emotional darkness to manage, becoming part of a hauntingly performed psychological study. It's some of his best work, finally focusing on something more than Hollywood domination. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Backtrace

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We've already dealt with the VOD filmmaking stylings of director Brian A. Miller this past year. His last picture, "Reprisal," was released back in August, adding another dud to his growing filmography of forgettable cinema, which includes "Vice," "The Outsider," and "The Prince." Keeping up his interests in B-movies with nondescript titles, Miller issues "Backtrace," which doesn't deviate at all from his formula of limited locations, amateur supporting actors, and enough money in the budget to entice one big star. Bruce Willis slept through "Reprisal," and now it's Sylvester Stallone's turn to pick up a paycheck, giving a few days out of his busy schedule to pretend to act interested in a dreary thriller concerning soggy memories and a stashed bag of cash. "Backtrace" has no creative fingerprints, with Miller rehashing all his low-budget helming tricks to arrange yet another tedious rodeo of cliches. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Prospect

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Looking to make their mark on the sci-fi genre, writer/directors Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl merge their original vision for "Prospect" with tributes to the features they admire. It's a striking endeavor finding ways to work with a low budget but not be restrained by one, delivering a futureworld vision for space travel and alien landscapes. The seams are difficult to find here, with the helmers paying close attention to frame details and design elements, working to make sure the film is as distinct as possible with the money available. Such a technical accomplishment is worthy of celebration. It's the rest of "Prospect" that's difficult to digest, as Caldwell and Zeek are often so wrapped up in positioning creative achievements, they forget to construct a more involving screenplay, which works very hard to create a language of professional and personal experience that's difficult to appreciate. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Jungle Holocaust

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In 1980, director Ruggero Deodato created "Cannibal Holocaust," perhaps the most notorious offering in the cannibal subgenre, where real-world legal proceedings were summoned to deal with a highly fictitious film. However, before he took command of the cult classic, Deodato went through a rehearsal of sorts with 1977's "Jungle Holocaust" (titled "Last Cannibal World" on the Blu-ray), constructing a familiar descent into the unclaimed world, where the tribal locals don't take kindly to strangers, and Italian producers get off on animal cruelty. Art wasn't the primary focus of "Cannibal Holocaust," and it's even less of a concern for "Jungle Holocaust," which isn't burdened by the demands of storytelling, instead moving ahead as a grindhouse carnival ride of lurid scenes and bodily harm, tossing whatever it can at the screen to inspire a horrified reaction from the viewer. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 


Blu-ray Review - Permanent Green Light

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On the cover of "Permanent Green Light" is press quote that claims the movie is "One of John Waters' Top Films of 2018." That's a fine stamp of approval from a cultured film scholar, but also acts as a bit of a warning to those coming in cold to the picture. Writer/directors Dennis Cooper and Zac Farley try to tap into teen angst with the material, taking such concern to France, following the journey of a boy who wants to die via a large explosion. "Permanent Green Light" plays fairly seriously, but there's evidence that perhaps it's meant to be taken as darkly comedic. Either way, the feature isn't something that necessarily commands attention, happy to exist in its own little realm of self-analysis and secret pain. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Day After

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Writer/director Hong Sang-soo returns to the world of infidelity for 2017's "The Day After," which is a common topic for his movies. He has considerable interest in the subject matter, and cuts a little deeper with the picture, endeavoring to make sense of a domestic mess and personal needs of the heart. The material is sold with his traditional dryness and low-tech beauty, giving the endeavor over to his actors, who are tasked with mastering balance on emotional waves as private desires and concerns are suddenly exposed to the light. 
Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Darkroom

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After tackling the nightmare of murder in a small-town house located near an orange grove in 1988's "Grandmother's House," producer Nico Mastorakis returns in 1989 with "Darkroom," which presents the horror of…murder in a small-town house located near an orange grove. I'll give Mastorakis this much: the man isn't afraid of repeating himself. Changing speeds from grandparent fears to photographic menace, Mastorakis and director Terrence O'Hara strive to make a proper slasher event with "Darkroom," unleashing various red herrings and exploring unusual personalities as they showcase a simple tale of serial killing, trying to remain with the basics to best survive the low-budget endeavor. There's blood and lust, death and betrayal, and if you happen to be a fan of California agriculture, the production has premiere orange grove action for all. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Corruption of Chris Miller

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1973's "The Corruption of Chris Miller" is filled with illness, representing director Juan Antonio Bardem's creative odyssey into the world of giallo, cooking up (with screenwriter Santiago Moncada) a murder mystery where everyone could conceivably commit crimes. While it's positioned as a whodunit, "The Corruption of Chris Miller" is more satisfying as a study of moral disintegration and isolation, with Bardem pulling terrific performances out of his cast while bathing the production in style and unease, getting the project to the right level of distress. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Grandmother's House

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Peter Rader is best known as one of the screenwriters of "Waterworld," imagining a futureworld of aquatic misery, where a man with gills saves the planet from grimy, smoking baddies tearing around on jet skis. His directorial debut is 1988's "Grandmother's House," introducing himself with a much smaller endeavor, keeping action confined to the limits of a rural Californian orange grove. Rader's just getting started with "Grandmother's House," joining screenwriter Peter Jensen for a horror show concerning the troubles with senior citizens, a mystery woman, and the courtship rituals of oversexed teenagers. Apocalyptic visions of melting polar ice caps and drinkable urine will come later, but for this effort, Rader sticks to the basics of genre moviemaking. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 


Blu-ray Review - The Golem

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Directors Doron and Yaov Paz set out to create a slightly different haunting with "The Golem." Working through the history of Jewish mysticism, the siblings (along with screenwriter Ariel Cohen) come up with a different take on the average bloodbath, traveling back 400 years to make a period piece about revenge and empowerment. "The Golem" boasts some fine tech credits and a wonderful lead performance from Hani Furstenberg, who delivers powerful work for the helmers, who are always better with defined acts of frustration and rage, searching for subtle ways to provide agitation before the whole picture ends up in a mess of gore and fire. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 


Blu-ray Review - Book of Monsters

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Director Stewart Sparke and writer Paul Butler love horror movies from the 1980s. Such fandom inspires every frame of "Book of Monsters," which plays like a blend of John Carpenter and "Evil Dead," with the production attempting to whip up a genre mess that's wet with blood, littered with demons, and propelled by act of self-defense. Sparke doesn't have much money to realize his vision, so he keeps things scrappy, endeavoring to pay tribute to the helming gods and define his own sense of anarchy, which gets the picture on its feet, but doesn't take it far enough. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com