Blu-ray Review - A Walk to Remember


1999's "Message in a Bottle" proved there was an audience for an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks's novel, inspiring the producers to try again with 2002's "A Walk to Remember." While "Message in a Bottle" was aimed at adult audiences, the second Sparks production hopes to appeal to a much younger demographic, with screenwriter Karen Janszen delivering an ultra-soft take on a burgeoning relationship between a reckless high school student and a pure-hearted girl dealing with a terminal illness. "A Walk to Remember" is basically a television production that found its way to the big screen, with director Adam Shankman ("The Pacifier") trying to make the most vanilla picture possible, never demanding much of his actors or the material. He's crafting a simple tearjerker, rarely going above and beyond to make something truly meaningful with Sparks's tale of final wishes and transformative encounters. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

4K UHD Review - Road House


In the 1980s, actor Patrick Swayze was climbing the career ladder, enjoying supporting roles in minor hits and misses. When 1987's "Dirty Dancing" became a surprise smash success and cultural phenomenon, Swayze suddenly had career opportunities, presenting Hollywood with a chance to define a new leading man. In 1989, Swayze locked into hero mode, gravitating toward tough guy parts in "Next of Kin" and "Road House," with the latter specifically built to take advantage of his physicality, good looks, and more sensitive screen appeal. And it works, rather wonderfully, finding Swayze in his element as cooler supreme Dalton, a philosophical destroyer of bodies and breaker of hearts who takes on villains with surgical skill, trying to remain "nice, until it's time to not be nice." There's goofiness galore, but director Rowdy Herrington commits to a certain brawler vibe to the picture, giving it a special screen energy, and there's always Swayze, perfectly cast here as a man of action, helping to keep the feature superbly entertaining and different than the competition, making something unique with Dalton. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Creature from Black Lake


1976's "Creature from Black Lake" provides yet another look at the pursuit of a Bigfoot-type monster in the middle of nowhere. It's a popular topic for moviemakers, especially in the 1970s, when tales of sasquatch were all the rage, handed in a boost in popularity with a success of 1972's "The Legend of Boggy Creek." Writer Jim McCullough Jr. goes one step beyond the replication of a hit film, striving to merge two hit films with the work, which also hopes to summon some "Jaws"-style suspense, especially in the final act. Director Joy N. Houck Jr. ("The Night of the Strangler") isn't known for his flashy style, but there's some effort made to keep "Creature from Black Lake" at least reasonably distinct, with a cinematic look to the picture helping the viewing experience immensely. And the screenplay is unusual in the way it pays attention to characters and relationships, generating a firm appreciation of motivation with a first hour that's largely devoted to community exploration and mild detective work. Weirdly, the feature actually becomes less interesting when the monster is around, making the endeavor unusual as drive-in fodder, emerging with decent personality and bonding time. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

4K UHD Review - Freeway


Matthew Bright's career as a writer/director only lasted for four movies, and during this run, the helmer made sure to make his mark by offering askew takes on the human experience, often pumping up the endeavors with shock value to secure viewer attention. His first effort is 1996's "Freeway," with Bright trying to rework the story of "Little Red Riding Hood" into a streetwise tale of survival and revenge, with Reese Witherspoon portraying a particularly nasty fairy tale heroine, while Kiefer Sutherland becomes a perverted, serial killer "wolf." Bright's fondness for extremity is immediately understood, giving "Freeway" a funky sense of threat, but some, including the filmmakers, have identified the picture as a dark comedy, though it's quite difficult to find anything funny about this overview of suffering and mental illness. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Mindfield


Project MKUltra provides the inspiration for 1989's "Mindfield," which explores secret government efforts to control test subjects with "induced amnesia," with plans to utilize such chemical experimentation to best strengthen interrogations and inspire violence. The screenplay by Tom Berry, George Mihalka, and William Deverell (who adapts his own novel) is careful not to get too close to the source of such corruption, creating a dramatic path for the picture, which follows a Montreal cop struggling with his past as he hunts for killers across the city. It's chilly work from director Jean- Claude Lord, who's not committed to making a procedural thriller or explore the scientific manipulation in full, ending up somewhere in the middle, trying to make sense of character connections and motivations. "Mindfield" is well-acted and select scenes of hostility work as intended, but the overall endeavor is a bit scattered, with many ideas and characters competing for screen time, coming up short as a conspiracy thriller. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

4K UHD Review - Used Cars


1980's "Used Cars" represents a "strike three" of sorts for co-writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis (who also directs). The pair were hot stuff in Hollywood for a short time, managing to befriend Steven Spielberg, using such partnership to make movies. However, nobody was particularly responsive to those movies, with Gale and Zemeckis's careers hit with the failure of their first endeavor, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (a sublime comedy), and they accepted part of the blame for the underperformance of Spielberg's "1941" (an underappreciated film), handling scripting duties. "Used Cars" was meant to build the boys back up (with assistance from Spielberg, here as an executive producer), handling a slapstick comedy about used car salesmen and their love of unscrupulous business practices, and while they provide a wild ride of one-upmanship and crazed antics, the feature's dismal box office performance kept Gale and Zemeckis out of work for years, finally claiming industry success together in a major way with 1985's "Back to the Future." The fourth at-bat changed everything. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Mind, Body & Soul


1992's "Mind, Body & Soul" isn't deeply considered work from writer/director Rick Sloane, though he's not a filmmaker all that interested in creating refined entertainment. He's a B-movie slinger, responsible for two "Hobgoblins" features and six installments of the "Vice Academy" series. It's during the production of "Vice Academy: Part 3" where Sloane hatched a plan to make a second picture during the shooting of the first, quickly hammering out a script for "Mind, Body & Soul," which definitely plays like a production that was pieced together in a hurry. A fuzzy take on Satanic cults and witness intimidation, the endeavor is perhaps unsurprisingly sloppy, providing more of a random journey of screen events, while performances are stuck with Sloane's undercooked screenwriting and static staging. It's a low-budget journey into the black heart of crime and sacrifice, but the helmer pays no attention to pace or genre impact. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - The Sporting Club


Even by "New Hollywood" standards, 1971's "The Sporting Club" is an incredibly bizarre feature. An adaptation of a Thomas McGuane novel, the material has been realized for the screen by Lorenzo Semple Jr., best known for his campy interests, helping to shape 1966's "Batman" and 1976's "King Kong." The writer's impishness is in full display with the picture, which examines the panic of WASP-y types dealing with counterculture hellraisers and the true influence of their found fathers, inspiring a war of violence and psychological breakdowns. "The Sporting Club" isn't an easy movie to appreciate, with choppy editing and limited storytelling restraining the dramatic potential of the endeavor. However, the overall vibe of madness is something to behold at times, giving the effort some surges of wild behavior and dark encounters, making the film more of a curiosity than a stunning summation of insane white people and their invented problems. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Moonage Daydream


"Moonage Daydream" is not a documentary about David Bowie. It's a love letter to the musician, with director Brett Morgen ("Crossfire Hurricane," "Cobain: Montage of Heck") working to create a celebration of artistic impulses and philosophy, occasionally breaking up interview audio with songs from the iconic musician. Morgen builds a ride through the cosmos, spending time with the subject at various points during his career, but it's also attentive to his love of creation and analysis. "Moonage Daydream" isn't an education, it's an experience, and one specifically built for Bowie fans longing for another trip around the sun with a man of mystery and music, pursuing his elusive nature for 135 minutes of screen time, and often in the trippiest manner imaginable. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Cutter's Way


1981's "Cutter's Way" is an adaptation of a novel by Newton Thornburg, which uses the lure of mystery and murder to offer a highly detailed character study and commentary on the eroding American Way. It's a post-Vietnam War study of broken men lost to cynicism and disappointment, handed to director Ivan Passer ("Born to Win") and screenwriter Jeffrey Alan Fiskin ("Revenge"), who examine behaviors and relationships, with the story almost secondary to the endeavor. "Cutter's Way" has crunchy personalities and fine performances, but it's a little unsteady when it comes to finding its way around the tale, which begins with a defined place of unrest and gradually loses focus on much of anything. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Don't Open Till Christmas


1984 was a big year for films featuring horrific acts of violence involving people dressed as Santa Claus. America had "Silent Night, Deadly Night" in November, and the United Kingdom unleashed "Don't Open Till Christmas" in December, contributing to an unusually hostile visit to the multiplex. Holiday horror is always strange, but "Don't Open Till Christmas" is downright bizarre, presenting a serial killer story that's been stitched together from two different production periods, endeavoring to transform an early version of the movie (directed by actor Edmund Purdom) into a coherent version of the movie (directed by Alan Birkinshaw). The quest to make something special out of "Don't Open Till Christmas" isn't fully achieved, but slasher fans might find plenty to enjoy with this semi-random merging of a detective story and murderous plans. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

4K UHD Review - The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Woman


Paul Naschy had a dream, questing to share his love of genre entertainment with the world, making it his duty to help create pictures highlighting the struggles of monsters and madmen. For 1971's "The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Woman," Naschy (who stars and co-scripts with Hans Munkel) returns to play Waldemar Daninsky, offering his fifth take on the character and his struggles with lycanthropy, newly positioned in an old monastery that also houses the remains of an ancient vampiric witch who's ready to conquer the world. Naschy loves to put on a creepy show, and "The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Woman" is suitably atmospheric and happy to showcase some graphic encounters. Like most Naschy productions, there's not a rip-roaring level of suspense, but his dedication to reviving the Universal Horror and Hammer Films experience is interesting to watch, showing impressive commitment to slow-burn terror and exploitation. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

4K UHD Review - Rollerball


1975's "Rollerball" presents a future where corporations control the world, using their power to keep the public subservient through the use of propaganda and violent entertainment, often going to extremes to maintain authority. The feature is set in the year 2018, and it's really not far off from the real 2018, with screenwriter William Harrison (adapting his own short story) managing quite an impressive feat of prescient thinking, providing a vision of horror that's been somewhat realized in the decades since the picture's initial release. That's part of the appeal of "Rollerball," which digs into the terror of conformity and the liberation of awareness, tracking the lead character's awakening as a life of fame and fortune provided by corporate overlords is gradually revealed to be a prison, and one he's looking to escape. Harrison has a vivid imagination to offer, and director Norman Jewison provides passionate leadership with this Kubrick-ian take on a strange dystopia, generating an intriguing sense of intimidation and frustration as he carefully realizes a mental breakthrough. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Blood Delirium


Writer/director Sergio Bergonzelli attempts to go gothic with 1988's "Blood Delirium," and he has a peculiar way of reaching into nightmare realms. The first scene of the film follows a young woman who returns home from work, undresses and begins to prepare an evening meal for her boyfriend, as one does while nearly nude. She receives a message on an answering machine from her future self, warning that trouble is coming for her, leaving her in a state of confusion. Viewers too, and the picture somehow gets stranger than its opening moments, with Bergonzelli playing with supernatural elements and graphic violence to detail a descent into madness. "Blood Delirium" isn't something to enjoy as a suspenseful clash of realities. Instead, it's a hoot, going hog-wild with odd events and cinematic excesses, with the feature trying to overwhelm viewers with shock, hoping to generate a fear factor as Bergonzelli works through his fetishes. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Night Visitor


1989's "Night Visitor" attempts to merge the high jinks of teen cinema with Alfred Hitchcock-style ideas for suspense. It's not the best mix of moods, but that's not going to stop director Rupert Hitzig, who's interested in creating a thrill ride with the endeavor, only he's missing some crucial components necessary to launch a truly gripping viewing experience. "Night Visitor" offers sexploitation without sex and horror without frights, emerging as a PG-13-style take on hard R-rated events, always pulling punches in a weird quest to remain approachable to a wide audience. It's a misguided film and also a questionably scripted one by Randal Viscovich, who punctures the tires of the movie too soon, trying to be cheeky with his identification of evil, only to have the whole effort lose tension immediately. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Moon of the Wolf


"Moon of the Wolf" is a 1972 made-for-television production for ABC looking to give viewers a modest hit of growing terror for the spooky season. This is no gore-a-thon, but a small mystery concerning the possible appearance of a wolfman in Louisiana, with star David Janssen portraying a local sheriff on the case. Thrills are in short supply, but the endeavor has a commitment to character that's interesting, with screenwriter Alvin Sapinsley (adapting a book by Les Whitten) striving to balance personal concerns with dangerous secrets, also massaging in moments of the unreal with a monster on the loose. There's a firm dramatic foundation for "Moon of the Wolf," which makes a difference here, as it takes nearly an hour for some type of violent activity to emerge, giving viewers a chance to understand personalities before danger arrives. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - White Reindeer


The holiday season receives a dose of troubling behavior in "White Reindeer," a darkly comic tale of mourning from writer/director Zach Clark. Working with a limited budget, the helmer brings to the screen an unusual tale of mourning, employing persistent Christmas cheer as a mocking reminder of false sincerity while we watch a woman's life fall to pieces. Sounds like a treat, right? Well, in many ways "White Reindeer" is a delight, with a sharp script of surprises and an impressively bewildered lead performance from Anna Margaret Hollyman contributing to an amusing, vaguely horrifying journey into psychological paralysis, soaked in eggnog and scored to the repetitive sounds of seasonal hits. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Devil Rider


1991's "Devil Rider" endeavors to blend genres, pairing a western with a horror film, using unknown black magic to put a demonic cowboy on the hunt for characters just trying to get their '90s on. It's an odd concept from writer Bud Fleisher and director Vic Alexander, who attempt something semi- epic with a severely limited budget, hoping to catch a ride on waning trends in slasher cinema with this offering of violence and survivor panic. It's not a slickly made picture, which might keep it enticing for some viewers, but execution is lacking, with Alexander struggling to craft a consistent chiller, while Fleisher has limited command of character and incident. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - In the Soup


The Sundance Film Festival was once a place where idiosyncratic moviemakers could share their visions with a sophisticated audience capable of understanding the quirks and horrors contained in these features. In the early 1990s, the Festival offered a special magic, with 1992 the year of "Reservoir Dogs," "Brother's Keeper," "Johnny Suede," "Mississippi Masala," and "The Living End." Emerging as one of the more popular Sundance titles of this year was "In the Soup," with writer/director Alexandre Rockwell offering a dark comedy about the frustrations of ambition, the realities of unrequited love, and the determination of opportunists. A black and white ode to French cinema, John Cassavetes, and New York City atmosphere, the endeavor gave Rockwell a career, establishing his unusual sense of humor and love of actors, with stars Steve Buscemi and Seymour Cassell often the only reason to stay invested in this semi-meandering offering of indie storytelling. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - The Amityville Curse


1990's "The Amityville Curse" is generally regarded as the fifth installment of "The Amityville Horror" franchise, but it remains loosely connected to previous chapters in the saga. It's a brand name cash-in offering from the producers, who hope to lure viewers into yet another round of domestic terror with a deadly house, with the series embracing its turn into a cursed object genre experience. For this round, a nightmare for new homeowners emerges from a confessional booth in a basement, with the screenwriters trying to stay connected to the Catholicism of the original endeavor while inching the picture into a psychological freak-out situation. "The Amityville Curse" (based on a book by Hans Holzer, who spent most of his latter years profiting from the "Amityville" experience) is silly, very silly, and perhaps that's the main reason to stick with the effort, which doesn't have any scares, just campy offerings of behavioral meltdowns and dimwit characters who fail to recognize trouble when it first visits them. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com