DVD/BLU-RAY

Blu-ray Review - Amityville: A New Generation

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For the seventh entry in the "Amityville Horror" saga, the producers are forced to best previous selections for the central cursed object, trying to top a lamp and a clock with a mirror for 1993's "Amityville: A New Generation." The ways of a reflective nightmare are presented a little slower this time around, as director John Murlowski isn't interested in creating a pulse-pounding descent into madness. He goes for a pokier viewing experience, trying to milk suspense out of mirror-based madness while screenwriters Christopher DeFaria and Antonio Toro make moves to connect the material to "Amityville Horror" origins, restoring some of the family shooting panic that's been lost to supernatural threats. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Amityville 1992: It's About Time

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For the sixth descent into "Amityville Horror" happenings, "Amityville 1992: It's About Time" picks up where 1989's "The Evil Escapes" left off, once again returning to a John G. Jones book to explore the power of a cursed object as it's placed inside a seemingly normal household. This time, it's a clock, and the screenplay strives to play with time and personal issues as it cooks up another round of "Amityville Horror" hauntings, which, for this round, are guided by director Tony Randel, who knows a thing or two about nutso scares after his work on "Hellbound: Hellraiser II." Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes

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After dealing with dwindling theatrical revenues, the saga of "The Amityville Horror" turns to television for "Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes." The 1989 production doesn't have the gory potential of its cinematic predecessors, but writer/director Sandor Stern (who scripted the original 1979 film) supplies an acceptable ride of evil events, electing to transform a haunted house experience into a murderous lamp event, which is as silly as it sounds. Wackiness aside, "The Evil Escapes" is interested in creating some excitement for fans of the franchise, doing relatively well with small-scale frights. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Vice Academy Part 3

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Inching away from the relatively gritty ways of 1989's "Vice Academy," 1993's "Vice Academy Part 3" is basically a Troma Entertainment production, with writer/director Rick Slone preferring more of a schlock approach to his ongoing police series. While broad villainy hasn't been an issue before, Sloane constructs his own ode to comic book cinema with this second sequel, pitting the Joker-style Malathion (a woman sprayed with poisonous chemicals) against Holly (Ginger Lynn) and new addition, Candy (Elizabeth Kaitan). Of course, this is a Sloane production, which doesn't allow for superhero expanse, but he's trying to amuse himself with extremes in antagonism, going cartoon to best support a return trip to this franchise. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Vice Academy Part 2

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Writer/director Rick Sloane doesn't have to go far when dreaming up a premise for 1990's "Vice Academy Part 2," giving lead characters Holly (Ginger Lynn) and Didi (Linnea Quigley) their first assignment, following the "Police Academy" franchise formula. The ladies go up against the evil vision of Spanish Fly (Marina Benvenga), who's threatening to roofie the L.A. water supply, triggering a battle of wits and tight outfits as Sloane ups the titillation factor for this second round, which actually opens with a promise from Lynn to add some va-voom to production. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Vice Academy

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The director of "Hobgoblins" wants to make his own "Police Academy," coming up with "Vice Academy," which also details the misadventures of cops- in-training, only here such antics are handed a significantly reduced budget and customary Rick Sloane stiffness. The helmer certainly tries to be wacky with the endeavor, but he's mindful of exploitation interests. If he can't win over the audience with laughs, he captures attention with tight outfits, bare skin, and assignments to bust prostitutes and infiltrate the adult film industry. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Spookies

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1986's "Spookies" has an incredible production history. It began life as "Twisted Souls," with directors Brendan Faulkner and Thomas Doran setting out to put their own stamp on horror offerings of the decade, loading the picture up with gruesome monsters and lighter, sexless elements of terror. After the movie's completion, production moneyman Michael Lee wanted something different, bringing in a different helmer to create his own footage, with plans to mix the work with footage from "Twisted Souls." The end result is a bewildering endeavor, but cat nip to genre fans, as "Spookies" offers plenty of violent encounters with rubber opponents, showcasing some real low-budget artistry in the midst of a highly confused but awfully determined feature. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Savage Dawn

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"Savage Dawn" is a production from 1985 that surprisingly doesn't get much attention in cult film circles. It's a biker movie mixed with heavy western influences, also granting star Lance Henriksen the rare opportunity to play a heroic role, turning him into an action star for a brief shining moment. That alone is worth a viewing, but director Simon Nuchtern ("Silent Madness," "The Rejuvenator") also packs the effort with a strong collection of supporting actors who love to chew the scenery, including George Kennedy, Richard Lynch, Karen Black, and William Forsythe. There's another reason to take a look at the picture. Also helping "Savage Dawn" is its general nuttiness, with Nuchtern delivering strange violence, broad masculinity, and a cameo by pre-fame Sam Kinison to butter up the exploitation vibe. That should immediately trigger a viewing. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Candy Snatchers

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1973's "The Candy Snatchers" is never really sure what type of viewing experience it wants to provide. While most of the movie remains in an exploitation holding pattern, working up the courage to present awful experiences for most of its characters, director Guerdon Trueblood also makes time for a little comedy, treating certain scenes with "Three Stooges"-like silliness. "The Candy Snatchers" is all over the place, but that's also part of its appeal with cult audiences, as Trueblood endeavors to supply uncomfortable situations of imprisonment, child abuse, and sexual assault, but he's also stretching to make something with a little style and a defined sense of criminal behavior. It's unwieldy, but also modestly engaging, especially when Trueblood follows through on a few of his more outrageous ideas. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll

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Chuck Berry is often referred to as the "Godfather of Rock 'n' Roll," enjoying a major career as singer and guitar player, with his influence reaching across the industry, with The Beatles personally citing Berry as inspiration during their early years. The Chuck Berry on display in 1987's "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll" isn't quite as god-like as some respected musicians suggest, with director Taylor Hackford not exactly filming the legend as he prepares for his 60th birthday concert at the Fox Theater in St. Louis. The helmer is mostly chasing the subject, seemingly one step behind as the man who gave the world songs like "Nadine," "Johnny B. Goode," "Rock and Roll Music," and "Roll Over Beethoven." Berry is a complicated man, as strange as can be, and Hackford uses this bizarre energy for the concert picture, which attempts to blend sections of personal history with rehearsal time, working toward the big Fox Theater show, where Berry is joined by a list of all-stars to help him bang out the hits. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Prophecy

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The intent of 1979's "Prophecy" is to generate awareness of environmental damage, with "The Omen" screenwriter David Seltzer returning to horror to help inspire an understanding of industrial pollution, using the threat of a mutated bear running wild to ease viewers into the writing's message. What director John Frankenheimer ultimately offers with "Prophecy" is a B-movie filled with lackluster special effects and a confused sense of thematic importance. It's not a messy film, more of a non-starter, with Seltzer's ideas hammered into place by Frankenheimer, who brings in a capable cast, an important subject, and gorgeous Canadian locations, only to tank the entire endeavor through editorial inertia and a climatic monster that should inspire a complex range of emotions, but only triggers unintended laughs. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Bunuel and the Labyrinth of the Turtles

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"Bunuel and the Labyrinth of the Turtles" began life as a graphic novel by Fermin Solis, providing inspiration for co-writer/director Salvador Simo to bring this odd story of a filmmaker in crisis to the screen. However, instead of a live-action realization of the tale, Simo retains a certain level of artistic fluidity through animation, giving the tale, which works through heavy doses of reality and the depths of the subconscious, a chance to come alive. While it examines Luis Bunuel and his journey to make his 1933 documentary, "Land Without Bread," there's more to "Labyrinth of the Turtles," exploring the moviemaker's relationships, passions, and drive to develop as a cinematic artist. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Wild Pear Tree

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The director of "Winter Sleep," Nuri Bilge Ceylan returns with another extended look at the personal problems of Turkish characters in "The Wild Pear Tree," this time exploring rising tensions and dashed dreams within a troubled family. With a 188-minute-long run time, Ceylan clears a massive amount of screen space to detail his modest dramatics, with "The Wild Pear Tree" unfolding like a novel, examining various personalities trying to make sense of limitations and especially disappointments, with Ceylan creating a compelling portrait of generational divide and relationship obligations challenged by the realities of life itself. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

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Co-writer/director Terry Gilliam has been dreaming of making "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" for 30 years, craving the chance to bring Miguel de Cervantes's novel to the big screen. Famously, in 2000, Gilliam almost managed to make such a miracle happen, with stars Jean Rochefort and Johnny Depp joining forces to give the helmer's unusual vision dramatic life. However, a disaster ensued, with schedules, location problems, and actor unreliability shutting down the shoot, crushing Gilliam's plans to make one of his weirdest movies to date (the experience was chronicled in the 2002 documentary, "Lost in La Mancha"). The project was left for dead, branded cursed, but such toxicity didn't bother Gilliam, who remained obsessed with the material, emerging in 2019 with a completed interpretation of "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote," finally freeing himself from the burden of having to prove himself. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Nana

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1983's "Nana" tries to class itself up by taking inspiration from Emile Zola's 1880 novel, only to credit itself as "loosely adapted." Indeed, screenwriter Marc Behm and director Dan Wolman aren't trying to craft a cinematic understanding of Zola's work, only taking bits and pieces of salacious material to expand for sexploitation purposes, helping Cannon Films with one of their many subgenre pursuits. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Deep Space

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I'm sure when Ridley Scott directed "Alien," he had no idea what kind of influence his film would have on B-movies from the 1980s. There have been many riffs on the 1979 classic throughout the decade, with co-writer/director Fred Olen Ray trying his luck with 1988's "Deep Space," which merges elements from "Alien" and "Aliens" to help inspire a supercop adventure that involves a monstrous menace. Ray doesn't have much in the way of a budget to bring serious ghoulishness to life, but he does have actor Charles Napier, with the veteran character actor attempting to deliver swagger and cynicism to his role as the detective on the trail of a violent biological weapon. Napier is fun to watch, along with the rest of the cast, but creepiness is certainly not there for Ray, who seems happy just to piece together a coherent picture with multiple creature encounters. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Berserker

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1987's "Berserker" supplies an unusual antagonist in a 10th century Viking who dresses as a bear and devours human prey. Or something like that. The screenplay isn't exactly clear what's going during the run time, but it has a potent visual in the titular menace. Director Jefferson Richard is armed with a small amount of money and the expanse of Utah woods, striving to cook up a reasonable B-movie with recognizable genre ingredients. He's a little cheeky, permissive with actors, and open to whatever ideas are presented to him, but he's not much of a scary movie architect. "Berserker" lacks in the fright department, doing much better with character shenanigans and local color. It's not the way to a sufficiently terrifying viewing experience, but "Berserker" is the rare endeavor that actually loses steam once violence arrives. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Unmasked: Part 25

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1989's "Unmasked: Part 25" carries a title that appears to lampoon the state of horror franchises in the 1980s, where everything was sequelized to a point of audience exhaustion. One might expect a ZAZ-like take on the genre, but writer Mark Cutforth and director Anders Palm pull their punch when it comes to a full pantsing of the film business. Instead of raising hell with a sharp, silly comedy, the men go straight with a semi-dramatic take on boogeyman blues, weirdly trying to be sincere when asking the question, "What if Jason Voorhees was lonely?" Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Green Inferno

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Writer/director Eli Roth adores the cannibal pictures of the 1970s and '80s, and he wants to share that appreciation with his own take on the subgenre, "The Green Inferno." His enthusiasm for this grisly, borderline irresponsible series of movies is understood throughout the endeavor, but his natural instincts toward jocularity and uninspired casting work to dial down the true terror of the feature. It's a blood-soaked ride into the jaws of Hell, but "The Green Inferno" is too frivolous to score as nightmare material, finding Roth displaying habitual timidity when it comes to truly shocking encounters. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Conduct Unbecoming

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1975's "Conduct Unbecoming" is based on a play written by Barry England, and the film version retains much of its theatrical atmosphere. Director Michael Anderson ("Logan's Run") has assembled a magnificent cast to explore the material, hiring the likes of Michael York, Stacy Keach, Richard Attenborough, Trevor Howard, Christopher Plummer, and James Faulkner to help explore what's essentially a courtroom thriller, though it eventually transforms into a whodunit for suspense purposes. "Conduct Unbecoming" is stiffly realized, but it's difficult to deny its thespian power, with wonderful talents permitted room by Anderson to find their unique rhythms and detail the endeavor. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com