DVD/BLU-RAY

Blu-ray Review - Hell Riders

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Biker films had their time and place, experiencing a heyday during the 1950s and '60s, with the image of a raging Hell's Angels-type was used to strike fear in the hearts of moviegoers, offering them the exotic threat of menacing types clad in leather riding around on deafening vehicles. In 1984, such acts of intimidation didn't carry the same weight, leaving "Hell Riders" with little to work with while it strives to assemble a terror show featuring particularly inept biker gang members. While it has the star power of Adam West and Tina Louise, "Hell Riders" doesn't offer much more than the occasional bit of amusing oddity, watching director James Bryan struggle with basic acts of storytelling and conflict. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Blind Rage

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1978's "Blind Rage" has a crackerjack premise, pre-mixed for optimum drive-in entertainment. It's a crime/martial arts film about five blind men who are recruited to steal a fortune from a bank, using planning and their remaining senses to pull off a seemingly impossible crime. It's B-movie nonsense of the highest order, and while it has the goods to become something special, or at least deliciously campy, director Efren C. Pinon doesn't push down on the nonsense hard enough, losing interest in developing the effort's natural strangeness. It has its amusing stretches, but "Blind Rage" doesn't explode in the way one might expect from a tale of unusual sensorial ability put to criminal use. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Corporate Animals

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There aren't many comedies made about cannibalism. It takes a special filmmaking touch to blend unimaginable horror with jokes, and director Patrick Brice ("The Overnight," "Creep") gets most of the way there with "Corporate Animals." While there are a few macabre events in the movie, the screenplay by Sam Bain is more of a workplace comedy, tapping into office irritations and resentments as a team-building exercise turns into a lengthy challenge of survival. "Corporate Animals" might be relatable for some, but it really wants to be silly business for all, and while Bain can't dream up interesting setbacks for the cast of characters, he scores more often than not, while Brice manages to transform a static setting into a war of quirks, personal histories, and hunger pains. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Record City

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To best appreciate anything "Record City" has to offer, one has to secure their 1977 glasses on tight. Painfully tight. Everything in the picture comes from a different era of entertainment, when variety shows where common entertainment on television, and jokes weren't concerned with political correctness, embracing all sorts of stereotypes and dismissive attitudes, finding targets instead of punchlines. In the Wild West of the 1970s, director Dennis Steinmetz and writer Ron Friedman hope to tap into the post-"Car Wash" zeitgeist by offering a wacky comedy set inside a record store, where the hits are distributed to the public every single day, and the staff can't seem to stay out of one another's business. "Record City" is as loosely plotted as a movie can get, going episodic as a series of characters spend the day getting into all sorts of shenanigans, dealing with crime and sex as an amateur talent contest happens outside. Friedman serves up the silliness, and Steinmetz tries his best to shape something sellable out of the high jinks, occasionally interrupting a whirlwind of iffy behavior with musical performances and comedy acts. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Bug (1975)

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William Castle enjoyed an incredible career as a filmmaker, producer, and general showman, with his use of gimmicks to sell tickets turning him into an industry legend, creating vivid moviegoing memories for those lucky enough to see titles such as "House on Haunted Hill," "The Tingler," and "13 Ghosts." Castle had a special way of turning subpar cinema into an event, and for his final production, he strives to do something a little different with the insect invasion drama, "Bug." Such a title promises a run time filled with creepy crawlies, screaming co-stars, and some kind of stunt from Castle, but the co-writer/producer calms down for the 1975 feature, which is more of psychological drama than a chiller. In fact, there are barely any scares at all in the effort, as it aims to keep its distance from schlocky highlights. "Bug" prefers to burrow deep inside the main character's mind, going the weird science route with periodic violence and, apparently, use of "Brady Bunch" sets, giving the unfolding freak-out an unexpected familiarity as director Jeannot Szwarc tries to conjure a level of alarm that's not always there for the picture. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Mystify: Michael Hutchence

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It's important to note that Richard Lowenstein's documentary, "Mystify: Michael Hutchence" is almost exclusively about the titular subject. This isn't an overview of hits and misses from Hutchence's band, INXS, as I'm certain some potential viewers would like it to be. The group has a presence in the movie, and their music is sparingly used, but Lowenstein, a frequent INXS collaborator, has elected to concentrate on Hutchence and his turbulent life, tracing his days as a child to his 1997 suicide, exploring all the pain, glory, and confusion the man experienced as one of the biggest music stars on the planet. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Radioflash

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Writer/director Ben McPherson is trying to put his own stamp on the end of the world, with "Radioflash" examining the power of analog life when the digital universe ceases to exist. It's not really a horror movie, but the helmer does try to inject some fright into the endeavor. It's not exactly a thriller, but a few chases and heated showdowns remain. As a relationship picture, McPherson has something compelling with his overview of a family fighting to stay together during a troubling time. "Radioflash" wants to be a lot of things, but never really comes together, with McPherson overwhelmed by his subplots, struggling to find a story here worth following from start to finish. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Standing Up, Falling Down

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Screenwriter Peter Hoare isn't trying to move the world with "Standing Up, Falling Down." Instead, he offers a small-scale relationship drama about an unlikely friendship developing between two aimless men struggling with private issues, bonding over a shared sense of humor. The material has very little wow factor, but it's sincere, and that's most important with a picture like this, which tends to do its best when aiming to be meaningful instead of volcanically dramatic. "Standing Up, Falling Down" has its humor, and it's very funny at times, but director Matt Ratner (making his debut) is more attentive to chemistry, letting his actors interpret Hoare's vision for camaraderie and personal inventory, resulting in a mild but effective dramedy. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Munster, Go Home!

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In 1966, the powers that be were ready to say goodbye to "The Munsters" on television, with the popular series coming to a close after 70 episodes. Needing a big splash to help send the series off to syndication, a feature was ordered up, put right into production to capitalize on the show's dissipating position in pop culture, and there was hope that such a leap from the small screen to movie theaters might trigger a second wind for the brand name, leading to various sequels for the residents of 1313 Mockingbird Lane. "Munster, Go Home!" is the strange title for the initial cinematic endeavor, but the production itself remains faithful to the blend of broad antics and sly comedy that made "The Munsters" such a hit, only here the scope of such mischief is widened for a potentially fresh audience. And there's the addition of color, giving fans a chance to see the clan go about their wacky business in bright, deep hues, creating an ideal hook for the faithful, presenting The Munsters with their intended green skin and Technicolor shenanigans. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Bones

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There was a point in the year 2000 where someone, somewhere wanted to turn rapper Snoop Dogg into a horror icon, delivering a new Freddy for fatigued genre fans, freshening up the roster of screen villains. 2001's "Bones" was meant to be the first of many movies starring Snoop Dogg as the undead pimp Jimmy Bones, but the feature failed to do any business during its initial theatrical run, condemning the endeavor to a life of cult appreciation. What was underwhelming two decades ago remains so today, with director Ernest Dickerson trying to work up a Euro-style nightmare with a screenplay by Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe, and he makes a pretty picture, but not an appealing effort, losing "Bones" to noise and narrative disjointedness as he struggles to conjure an expressionistic viewing experience while managing decidedly literal material that doesn't have enough ferocity or imagination. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Frankenstein: The True Story

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The title "Frankenstein: The True Story" promises something more biographical about original author Mary Shelley. The picture doesn't bother with the writer, instead using the titular promise as a way to revisit the central tale of man and monster, with the screenplay (by Don Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood) looking for a fresh way to approach old business, dialing back the Victor Frankenstein character, turning him into a driven man dealing with special influences that lead him to bad decisions concerning the ways of creation. A two-part television movie directed by Jack Smight, "Frankenstein: The True Story" is a lavish take on the core tale of danger, and while it's a relentlessly talky endeavor, it remains engrossing thanks to a large cast of acting greats, who do amazing work breathing life into a production that's very careful not to push too hard on horror. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Kill Team

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"The Kill Team" was originally a 2013 documentary from director Dan Krauss, looking into the madness of the military in Afghanistan, singling out the story of Private Adam Winfield, who witnessed his fellow soldiers commit murder, taking down civilians, and felt powerless to stop it. After creating other documentaries, Krauss returns to the Winfield saga with "The Kill Team," this time dramatizing the events, giving real world agony to actors for interpretation. In a marketplace overwhelmed by tales of Middle East war and agony, Krauss brings intimacy to the screen, examining the moral ungluing of boy who wanted to become a man while in service, only to face his future as a monster. While there's little reason to revisit the story, Krauss makes his points vividly, finding an effective thriller this time around. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Masked and Anonymous

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The musical legacy and poetry of Bob Dylan tries to find any source of oxygen in 2003's "Masked and Anonymous." It's a dystopian western with periodic concert performances from Dylan, who also accepts a starring role in the picture, returning to dramatic interests after a long break from the movies. Co-writer/director Larry Charles (who collaborates with Dylan under pseudonyms for some reason) has the unenviable task of translating Dylan's thinking into a feature, and there's some sense of adventure with "Masked and Anonymous," which puts in a game effort to protect the beloved musician's head space. However, four minutes of Dylan is one thing, but Charles has to tap dance for 107 minutes here, and his fatigue is impossible to miss. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Primal

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In this installment of "Nicolas Cage Doesn't Say No to Anything," attention turns to the arrival of "Primal," which, from the film's marketing efforts, appears to concern Cage's character as he does battle with a cargo ship full of wild animals secretly released from their cages by a very bad man. Oh, dear readers, if that were the actual picture, what a state of B-movie bliss we'd all be in. The screenplay by Richard Leder ("Christmas on Chestnut Street," "A Thousand Men and a Baby") isn't that bonkers, not even close. Instead of pure exhilaration as the hero(?) is forced to fight for his life against the animal kingdom, the production offers a prisoner escape feature instead, spending more time with a human protagonist. There's no zoo- gone-mad aspect to "Primal," but, as always, there's Cage, and he's in peak Cage-osity here, trying to give the blandness that surrounds him some much needed thespian spice. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Angel of Mine

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Noomi Rapace is an intense actress. She rarely plays light roles that offer a peek at the sunnier side of cinematic fantasy. Instead, she takes on the gut-rot parts that have her screaming in pain or suppressing emotion to such a degree, she risks implosion. Rapace has been on a tear with darker material in recent years, acting herself into a frenzy in "Close," "What Happened to Monday," and "Rupture." She continues her career riot with "Angel of Mine," which asks the talented thespian to portray possible madness in escalating offerings of distress. Screenwriters Luke Davies and David Regal have plenty of agony for Rapace to work her hands through, and she's a magnetic lead for the picture, which has some issues with pace and the potency of reveals, but rarely falters when it comes to the primal scream Rapace provides without hesitation. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - House of Horrors

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A poor sculptor with limited professional prospects, Marcel (Martin Kosleck) is ready to end it all when he happens to spot The Creeper (Rondo Hatton) drowning in a lake. Saving the man's life, Marcel hopes to use The Creeper's distorted facial features to inspire new work. However, when he learns of the stranger's propensity for violence, he decides to use The Creeper to murder art critics around town. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Climax

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A doctor employed by the Vienna Royal Theater, Hohner (Boris Karloff) is in possession of a horrible secret. Some time ago, the man of medicine murdered his prima donna fiancée in a rage, trying to bottle his emotions ever since. A decade later, Angela (Susanna Foster) is the new singer on the scene, prepared to dominate audiences with her extraordinary vocal gifts. However, Angela sounds just like Hohner's dead lover, putting him in a troubling position as old obsessions return to view, keeping him close to the new hire and her protective fiancé, Franz (Turhan Bay). Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Night Monster

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A man ruined by medical care, Ingston (Ralph Morgan) has elected to invite his doctors to his remote home for a gathering, joined by various employees and authorities, and there's Agar (Nils Asther), an Eastern mystic. Eager to showcase Agar's gifts with materialization, Ingston welcomes confusion from his guests, but when murder enters the picture, the push to locate the culprit proves more difficult than imagined, with evidence not matching to a possible suspect. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Night Key

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Ranger Security offers its clients a revolutionary way to protect their businesses, using an electrical system to defend stores from thieves. Inventor David (Boris Karloff) has an upgrade for owner Stephen (Samuel S. Hinds), but the moneyman desires to screw the nearly blind genius out of a fortune. Upset with his treatment, David teams with lowlife Petty Louie (Alan Baxter) to showcase his ability to crack Ranger Security systems. However, what was once envisioned as protest turns into trouble for David when local gangsters try to take command of the technology. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Wizard

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Dismissed as a 100-minute-long commercial for Nintendo during its initial 1989 theatrical release, "The Wizard" has managed to shed such contempt over the last three decades of cult appreciation. Make no mistake, the feature is one big plug for the video game company, with the production making sure to highlight new games and controllers, while nearly every character has a fever for the NES and all the video adventure it provides. However, there's a bit more to "The Wizard" than promotion, with screenwriter David Chisholm and director Todd Holland making an effort to get the picture to a point of emotional connection, trying to stuff as much family business as possible into the corners of the endeavor. It's up to the viewer to decide how successful the creative vision is, as the movie isn't the sturdiest dramatic offering, often struggling with tonal extremes as the sugar rush of gaming meets the sobering reality of death and familial denial. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com