DVD/BLU-RAY

Blu-ray Review - The Vengeance of She

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Suppose they made a sequel to 1965's "She" and nobody knew? The Ursula Andress-starrer from Hammer Films managed to become a hit, using sex appeal and wild stretches of fantasy, taking inspiration from author H. Rider Haggard. However, Andress didn't want to return to duty, forcing Hammer to rethink the concept of a sequel, using 1968's "The Vengeance of She" as a way to semi-remake their original effort, replacing Andress with Olinka Berova, who certainly has the look for the part, but little thespian skill. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 


Blu-ray Review - Mutant War

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1988's "Mutant War" is generally considered a sequel to 1985's "Battle for the Lost Planet," but writer/director Brett Piper doesn't entirely believe in the potential of a true continuation. While the lead character returns to duty, there's little else that syncs up with the previous endeavor, finding the helmer in rehash mode, only something is weirdly askew with follow-up. Piper has more money and filmmaking technology to give "Mutant War" proper thrust, but he's made a mostly lifeless picture that doesn't possess the same DIY vibe of special effects that kept "Battle for the Lost Planet" vaguely interesting. The fun has been drained out of the endeavor, watching as Piper labors on a needless do-over that plays considerably smaller than its predecessor, while the titular promise for sci-fi chaos isn't kept. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Battle for the Lost Planet

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Paying tribute to the cinema of his youth, writer/director Brett Piper manufactures his own B-movie adventure with 1986's "Battle for the Lost Planet," which pairs sci-fi and post-apocalyptic survival for a low-budget brew of filmmaking achievements. One doesn't come to the feature looking for stunning dramatics, it's a production that's more about appreciating what Piper manages to pull off with limited coin, mounting a tale that travels from Earth to Mercury and back again, ending up with a war between alien invaders and human inhabitants struggling to retain the old way of life. It's not a refined picture, and its run time is downright punishing as the effort continues, but there's helming pluck presented here that's easy to admire, watching Piper try to figure out a vision for intergalactic hostilities and earthbound discoveries, working in monsters and mayhem to boost the bottom-shelf appeal of "Battle for the Lost Planet." Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Mole People

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1956's "The Mole People" is a little hesitant to make a swan dive into sci-fi/horror, opening with expert testimony from a USC English professor who sets the scene by sharing bits of foolish science concerning activity occurring at the center of the Earth. Such mistakes and myth are used to lubricate audience passage into the realm of "The Mole People," which is pure silliness, but the production seems very concerned with establishing some type of archaeological authenticity before it brings out a parade of whip-slinging albinos and the creatures from the depths they've enslaved. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Tinseltown

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It's difficult to believe that co-writer/director Carter Stevens had a precise plan to expose the ugly underbelly of life in Hollywood with 1980's "Tinseltown," but he does a fairly good job summarizing the corruption of the industry. While it remains adult entertainment, the movie tries to capture the cruelties and surprises of the business, essentially calling out the casting system as a form of prostitution, where the willing aren't always rewarded for giving. Exploitation is the premise here, and Stevens manages an effective look at the painful realities of professional acting. While he tries to keep things light, the helmer has a hard time staying away from darkness, giving a minor feature of intended eroticism some archeological value for today's audiences. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Mad Dog and Glory

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A writer specializing in gritty inspections of hollowed out souls, Richard Price looks to lighten things up after spending his early years in the industry crafting pictures such as "The Color of Money" and "Sea of Love." 1993's "Mad Dog and Glory" isn't a knee-slapper in the usual sense, but for Price, who rarely passes on adrenalized masculinity, this endeavor is practically a Billy Wilder film, surveying the accidental collision of crime and justice, and the woman caught up in the war of discomfort. Director John McNaughton ("Wild Things") tries to preserve as much Price as possible, delivering an intermittently calloused tale of romantic awakening dimmed by criminal entanglements, and he has a fine cast to help achieve unsteady tonality, with Robert De Niro and Bill Murray playing against type, trying to manufacture a special dance of intimidation with darkly comic timing. When it connects, "Mad Dog and Glory" is very funny and loose, but McNaughton doesn't always nail the special mood of the endeavor, often in a hurry to wrap up a story that needs more time to marinate. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 


Blu-ray Review - Party Line

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While many pictures date quickly, 1988's "Party Line" will likely befuddle some younger viewers, taking them back to a time when people interested in random sexual experiences picked up a phone to discuss their desires with complete strangers. Perhaps not much has changed in the last 31 years, but there's an amusing retro appeal to the feature, with screenwriter Richard Brandes tapping into a then-current craze of pay-per-minute perversion, using the concept of a party line to fuel a slasher film that's always eager to go above and beyond its basic concept of seduction. "Party Line" has dead bodies and a supercop on the go, but there's plenty of kink and extreme psychological distress to butter up the viewing experience, which is breezier than expected. This is one seriously goofy movie, but director William Webb keeps an eye on pace and behavioral oddity, making sure to keep the low-budget endeavor enjoyable wacky. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Doctor

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Director Randa Haines earned accolades and awards for her sensitive treatment of sexual abuse and incest in the 1984 television film, "Something About Amelia." But her career truly took off with 1986's "Children of a Lesser God," which managed to collect a Best Actress Oscar for actress Marlee Matlin, while her co-star, William Hurt, enjoyed a nomination for his work in the lauded feature. It took some time for Haines to return to the screen, but in 1991, she delivered "The Doctor," reuniting with Hurt for a semi-charged look at the inner workings of health care in America, taking inspiration from the book "A Taste of My Own Medicine," written by Dr. Edward Rosenbaum. The topic of finding compassion in an inherently cold, unwelcoming medical system is a bit of gimme, but "The Doctor" finds a direct way to address the inadequacies of the system, following and tweaking Rosenbaum's odyssey as a surgeon forced to experience the trial of treatment once he's confronted with a cancer diagnosis. Haines can't completely get her hands around every subplot in the movie, but her dedication to the humanity of the piece is remarkable, crafting something approachable for the mass audience that still retains emotional nuance and provides a careful challenge of hospital practices. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Wacko

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Joining the early '80s craze to pants horror entertainment is director Greydon Clark, who gifts the world "Wacko," his version of a slasher parody. Perhaps slightly miffed to watch as a bunch of no-budget scary movies conquer the box office, Clark elects to take down the absurdities of the genre, arriving with screenplay credited to four people and a cast that's loaded with noted character actors, blended with younger talent from the day. The 1982 endeavor has no shortage of jokes, with Clark particularly attentive to the speed of the film, which carries on with rat-tat-tat timing, always on the hunt for cliches to spank and characters to mock. This is Clark competing in a post-"Airplane!" world, and it's a big swing and a miss for the man behind "Joysticks," "The Return," and "Uninvited." Instead of triggering laughs, "Wacko" mostly demands bewilderment, often coming at the audience with complete enthusiasm but no refinement or even simple punchline taste. It's a scattergun of lame gags and clownish performances that's periodically hard to watch, with Clark so caught up in the production effort, he misses a prime chance to dig into the goofy idiosyncrasies of slasher cinema. And yes, pies are flung during the run time. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Real McCoy

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It's easy why 1993's "The Real McCoy" was made. It's based on a novel Desmond Lowden and offers actors meaty parts concerning the anxieties of economic and criminal entanglements, unfolding with Georgian thickness as a battle of wits plays out during the preparation and execution of a bank robbery. It's also a heist movie, which are traditionally easy sells, gifting audiences a chance to spend time with master thieves as they figure out ways to separate piles of cash from their vault home. However, "The Real McCoy" doesn't have much in the way of dramatic firepower, handing the lead role to Kim Basinger, who's never been one to project on-screen authority, and the director is Russell Mulcahy, then a mere two years past his nearly career-ending work on "Highlander II: The Quickening." The puzzle makes sense, but the pieces don't fit in the picture, which spends more time laboring through tedious confrontations than it does with snappy acts of thievery. It's clear the feature is trying to do something with its collection of irritable characters and personal connections, but Mulcahy doesn't get the effort out of first gear, settling on flatness when the material deserves more excitement. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Four Weddings and a Funeral

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In 1994, "Four Weddings and a Funeral" wasn't meant to be much. It was a low-budget British production with a largely unknown cast, with Andie MacDowell offered up as the most defined star of the group, bringing a little bit of Hollywood to the effort. It was the second produced screenplay from Richard Curtis, who wasn't a brand name just yet, also providing work for director Mike Newell, who watched his 1992 feature, "Into the West," bomb at the box office. There wasn't a single distinguishing mark on the picture, and yet, through the miracle of word-of-mouth, the film managed to become one of the biggest sleeper hits of the 1990s, charming audiences with its offering of silliness and sincerity. Taking a long look at the rituals and camaraderie of social gatherings, Curtis strives to blend character-based shenanigans and longing with more chipper romantic comedy happenings, while Newell brings in Hugh Grant as his secret weapon, with the actor's charisma leading the charge, stammering his way into the hearts of millions. It's impossible to deny the hold "Four Weddings and a Funeral" had on audiences back in the day, managing to marinate in pop culture attention over the last 25 years. Is it a good movie? Yes and no, but in 2019, the endeavor's magic hasn't dissipated for many. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Rituals

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"Rituals" aims to be a Canadian version of "Deliverance," only with a bit more emphasis on a malevolent force from the shadows shorting the lives of regular men embarking on an adventure in the deep woods. The screenplay by Ian Sutherland has an idea, moving away from typical terror to something character-based, with the players making trouble for themselves while being stalked by a mysterious stranger. "Rituals" has the direction but no real feeling of movement, with argumentative behavior often dominating the feature, making the central crisis more about bickering than heated situations of survival. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Queen of the Stardust Ballroom

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Originally broadcast on CBS in 1975, "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom" is unlike many television movies. It certainly has the outside appearance of familiarity, with a plot that concerns a widow trying to figure out the next chapter of her life. However, writer Jerome Kass takes the material down some unusual avenues of self-expression, joining director Sam O'Steen as they mount what becomes a musical in the most casual manner, with characters not breaking out in song, but slipping into it, finding matters of the heart best expressed through lyrics and, as the title suggests, plenty of dancing. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Poison Ivy: The Secret Society

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After three "Poison Ivy" adventures that tried to, in some small way, connect the films in one big erotic thriller saga, 2008's "Poison Ivy: The Secret Society" elects to break from the team, taking on its own vision for lusty young things causing all types of trouble for horndog men. However, instead of a passably cinematic touch, the franchise is turned into a Lifetime production, and one with tacked on sex scenes to give the product an afterlife on home video. It's all very sketchy (Catherine Hicks is the biggest name here, and I'm sure she had no idea what type of movie she was making), poorly acted, absurdly plotted, and randomly sexualized, with the end result landing somewhere between a WB pilot and a lukewarm parody of the "Poison Ivy" pictures. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 


Blu-ray Review - Poison Ivy: The New Seduction

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Trying to keep a profitable business motoring along, New Line Cinema returns to an unlikely franchise with 1997's "Poison Ivy: The New Seduction." There's actually an effort made to connect the sequel to the series, but the third installment of the franchise is mostly interested in doing its own thing, with director Kurt Voss realizing that aiming for any sort of realism when it comes to an assessment of trauma is pointless at this point, moving ahead with a fairly basic revenge movie that fulfills most erotic thriller needs. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Poison Ivy 2: Lily

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Much like Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano was hunting for a different image during the 1990s, working to lose the brightness of her "Who's the Boss?" years, entering the seemly world of B-movie entertainment to redirect her career. 1996's "Poison Ivy II: Lily" wasn't offering an acting challenge, but it did gift Milano an opportunity to continue her work in seductive endeavors, picking up the "Poison Ivy" brand for a spiritual sequel that attempts to be a little more sympathetic to the ways of sexual gamesmanship and the creation of identity. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Poison Ivy

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Trying to shed her image of youthful innocence shaped in films such as "E.T." and "Babes in Toyland," Drew Barrymore entered the 1990s on a personal crusade to show Hollywood just how much she's aged. For 1992's "Poison Ivy," Barrymore tries jailbait seductress on for size, participating in a sensual chiller from the helmer of "Stripped to Kill." Mercifully, there's more going on in "Poison Ivy" than simple acts of thrusting, with co- writer/director Katt Shea fighting the potential salaciousness of the plot, trying to dig deeper into character psychology and moody gamesmanship. Shea almost gets there with her noticeable effort, but the feature's Skinemax absurdities tend to overwhelm whatever grit manages to find its way to the screen. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Untamed Heart

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Director Tony Bill started his career making gentle pictures about human concerns. He dealt with friendship in 1980's "My Bodyguard," and finality in 1982's "Six Weeks," returning to the land of tearjerker entertainment with 1993's "Untamed Heart." Working from a screenplay by Tom Sierchio, Bill aims to create an unabashedly earnest film about love and devotion, pulling the characters away from gritty authenticity for 100 minutes of sweetened romance, inching toward a fairy tale with this story of two sensitive people finding each other in an unusual way. "Untamed Heart" isn't for cynics, as Bill doesn't weigh the feature down with too much of the hard stuff, preferring to remain in a glow of attraction and protection, touching on mild fantasy overtones that probably wouldn't hold up in the cold light of day, but connect beautifully in the seasonal light. Performances from Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei secure Sierchio's aim to create a something of a cosmic connection between lost souls, while Bill stays in touch with the fragile atmosphere of the movie, which is captured in a deeply heartfelt way. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com 


Blu-ray Review - Murder Rock

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"Murder Rock" is the result of a filmmaker who wanted to craft a murder mystery and producers who craved a "Flashdance" knockoff. The genres are smashed together in this 1984 release, and the results are expectedly odd. "Murder Rock" comes from director Lucio Fulci, who assembles a proper giallo, unleashing chaos inside a troubled dance academy, offering familiar sights of black-gloved killers and dreamscape visits, keeping on track with this whodunit. The feature also pays close attention to trends of the day, offering breakdancing and gyrations to go with all the gore (the production could use an anatomy lesson, but it's bloody), providing a dance marathon for a helmer who isn't quite as taken with physical movement as he is with physical pain. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Valentine

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After the 1996 release of "Scream," horror suddenly found itself popular again, engaging with a new generation by mixing old tricks with new commentary, giving rise to the popularity of self-aware productions stacked with a roster of pretty people. Director Jamie Blanks participated in the movement with 1998's "Urban Legend," emerging with a modest hit, but one that kept the trend alive, paving the way for more similarly themed endeavors to follow. With 2001's "Valentine," Blanks makes a choice to move away from the growing routine, looking to craft throwback entertainment with the effort, which takes its inspiration from early '80s slasher films. Blanks isn't completely successful with "Valentine," which is weighed down by numerous problems, but in the midst of familiarity, Blanks chose to go retro, doing so with hopes to achieve frights from direct shots of stalking and stabbing. His attempt is admirable, but can't quite get the feature to the point of hysteria it needs to reach. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com