DVD/BLU-RAY

Blu-ray Review - Omega Syndrome

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1986's "Omega Syndrome" tries to keep actor Ken Wahl viable as an action star. While not without charm and leading man looks, Wahl is the reluctant hero in the picture, which is scripted by John Sharkey and transformed into something sellable by director Joseph Manduke, tasked with becoming an authoritative bruiser in a film that's not entirely interested in providing a violent thrill ride. "Omega Syndrome" has the "Taken" formula, with a father losing his daughter to kidnappers, forced for fight for her return, and there's a certain entertainment value in the clash between Wahl's hesitant force for justice and the neo-Nazi scum who make the mistake of taking his character's only child. It's a blunt feature, but certain elements of the writing hint at a more detailed assessment of good and evil, giving the endeavor interesting moments of psychological clarity and idiosyncrasy before it plunges back into the escapism of an Italian-produced B-movie unleashed on the back alleys and parking garages of Los Angeles. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Opposing Force

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While 1997's "G.I. Jane" nabbed all the headlines for its then-provocative story about a female struggling to make her mark in the male-dominated military, it's interesting to see 1986's "Opposing Force," which basically explores the same story. Granted, it's a less evolved saga of empowerment and pain, but screenwriter Linda J. Cowgill makes a valiant attempt to address the gender experience in the armed forces, creating a tale of a woman who wants to serve her country singled out by dismissive and predatory men. Because it was created in the 1980s, there's a defined vibe of exploitation to "Opposing Force," which isn't exactly taking a jeweler's loop to the equality issue, with director Eric Karson more interested in suffering and action as he tries to make B-movie with slightly elevated world awareness. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Justine

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Virginal corruption is the primary goal of 1980's "Justine," with director Roberta Findlay creating an interesting mix of perversion and desire for the picture. Detailing the experiences of the titular teen orphan (Hillary Summers) as she's sent to live with her Uncle Steven (Ashley Moore), "Justine" uses the guise of dreamlike innocence to explore some kinky behaviors, with Findlay weaving something of a soft nightmare as Justine finds her way to satisfaction while enduring all sorts of aggressive situations. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - The Beast with a Million Eyes

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1955's "The Beast with a Million Eyes" presents itself as a monster movie, only without a significant budget to do something more graphic in terms of creature creation, aiming to set a mysterious mood of unknown aggression. The Roger Corman production is actually more of an Animals Attack endeavor, examining alien manipulation on a remote California farm that weaponizes local wildlife. Keeping with Corman traditions, there isn't much action, but the general vibe of "The Beast with a Million Eyes" is just odd enough to hold attention, as limited resources encourage some enjoyably creative filmmaking. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Brewster's Millions (1985)

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While not known for his interest in comedies, director Walter Hill aims for a little more marketplace visibility with 1985's "Brewster's Millions." Many have been here before, as the original 1903 novel by George Barr McCutcheon has been turned into various plays and movies, with many drawn to the premise of a month-long secretive spending spree, offering a direct level of wish fulfillment and dramatic panic. For his take on the source material, Hill brings in Richard Pryor, and while the actor was in the midst of his take-all-jobs career craze during the 1980s, he makes for an appealing Montgomery Brewster, delivering one of his most assured performances as the titular man-with-millions, offered ideal support from John Candy, who provides his own nervous energy to keep the picture buzzing along. "Brewster's Millions" isn't broad or manic, as Hill finds a way to capture monetary excitement without slipping into excess, creating an entertaining endeavor that delivers pure charm, not necessarily huge laughs. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Stand Alone

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Movie productions in the 1980s were filled with crazy ideas. Someone, somewhere saw sixtysomething Charles Bronson taking on bad guys and thought, "Maybe we can get Charles Durning to do the same thing!" 1985's "Stand Alone" doesn't replicate the stone-faced approach of a typical Bronson endeavor, but it does have Durning in American hero mode, battling members of a Mexican cartel who've invaded a Californian suburb. Durning as a gun-toting man of action isn't the easiest buy in terms of screen fantasy, but he's a terrific actor, and that's what really counts here. "Stand Alone" isn't big on brawling, but it does offer plenty of opportunities for the cast to showcase their skills, with Durning doing what he can to transform himself into a semi-credible mean machine. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Feast of the Seven Fishes

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Family is the theme of "Feast of the Seven Fishes," and it's a shame writer/director Robert Tinnell ("Kids of the Round Table," "Frankenstein and Me") doesn't focus enough on domestic interactions. While primed for holiday viewings, the picture doesn't always embrace its festive mood, striving to attach a romantic element featuring younger characters to material that connects best as a study of older people working to keep traditions alive. Tinnell seems a little too concerned with the marketplace appeal of "Feast of the Seven Fishes," taking time away from the core vibe of the movie to deal with uninteresting characters and their problems. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Funan

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Denis Do makes his directorial debut with "Funan," an animated picture about the innocent lives caught up in the Khmer Rouge revolution during the 1970s. Do doesn't play it safe for his first offering as a helmer, delivering a profoundly unsettling study of survival and anguish during a time of absolute horror, using animation as a way to provide a distinct understanding of emotion, yet he still respects the scale of atrocities going on. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Hotel by the River

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Keeping up with his interest in the strangeness of relationships, writer/director Hong Sang-soo delves into slightly darker emotional territory with "Hotel by the River." It's more of an exploration of family issues and friendships, but, in keeping with the helmer's creative ways, it remains largely meditative, with stretches of poeticism and tourism breaking up the potential for heated encounters. Hong creates very specific movies for a specific audience, and "Hotel by the River" is no different, only this time he's ready to probe a little deeper into the disappointments of life, coming up with a denser feature than what he's typically interested in creating. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Inside Moves

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Director Richard Donner was in an incredible professional position in 1979. In 1976, he helmed "The Omen," giving Donner his first major box office and creative success. In 1978, he guided "Superman" to pop culture dominance, emerging with another monster moneymaker and one of the few masterpieces found in comic book cinema. Donner was riding high, electing to cash in some of his power to make 1980's "Inside Moves," which is as far away from Satan and Krypton as possible. Dialing down blockbuster sensibilities, Donner aims for a decidedly human story about friendship and community support, taking inspiration from Todd Walton's novel, adapted here by Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson. "Inside Moves" is a frustratingly disjointed endeavor, but there's real passion to the filmmaking, with Donner working hard to share his love for the material and the participants, giving the effort a spiritual boost when basic storytelling is often ignored. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Automation

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While the world faces a future of increasing workplace automation, removing humans from jobs, the film "Automation" is here to…not really comment on any of that. Instead of sinking his teeth into the juicy politics and fear factor of robotic replacement, co-writer/director Garo Setian makes a horror/comedy with "Automation," wasting a wonderful idea on limp B-movie production achievements and a story that falls far short of its potential. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Red Letter Day

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While it gives off "Purge" fumes, there's potential in the premise of "Red Letter Day." It's a story about a suburban community infiltrated by a digital terrorist group working to arrange a special day where residents are forced to kill their neighbors. Clocking in at 76 minutes, one would expect writer/director Cameron Macgowan to establish his characters and go full speed ahead into excessive violence and mild social commentary, managing B-movie expectations. Unfortunately, Macgowan wants to sit awhile before the bloodshed begins. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Blinded by the Light

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In a year that's already celebrated the music of The Beatles through fantasy (in June's "Yesterday"), it seems only natural to make way for Bruce Springsteen and his working class perspective for "Blinded by the Light," a tale of fandom in the 1980s and something of a bio-pic for writer Sarfraz Manzoor, whose book, "Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N' Roll," has inspired the screenplay. The film isn't explicitly a jukebox musical working through Springsteen's ample discography, but it certainly threatens to become one. Co-writer/director Gurinder Chadha ("Bend It Like Beckham") is making a coming-of-age drama, but guitar spirit often takes command of the feature, which is even more of an audience-pleaser than "Yesterday," even while working with far more sobering tunes. "Blinded by the Light" doesn't know when to quit, but it's loaded with charm and always attentive to heart, offering viewers the ride of life in motion, backed by the rock poetry of The Boss. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Silver Bullet

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1985's "Silver Bullet" is an adaptation of 1983's "Cycle of the Werewolf," a "novelette" from Stephen King, who tried to do something with the slight idea of a monster on a monthly prowl, terrorizing a small town. And who better to pull together the screenplay than King himself, working to make something substantial for the screen, mixing traditional stabs of horror with observant scenes of family life, creating an unusual genre effort. Directed by Dan Attias, "Silver Bullet" closely follows the King template, paying reverence to the author, trusting him to deliver something spooky and strange. The movie gets most of the way there, benefiting from King's contributions, which preserve his idiosyncratic vision for a literary-minded creature feature. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Tammy and the T-Rex

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With B-movie buffs on a never-ending quest to get ahead of potential cult craziness, their latest discovery is 1994's "Tammy and the T-Rex," celebrating the wonders of a film that dares to mix the adolescent pains of a T-NBC sitcom and the unleashed gore of a Herschell Gordon Lewis production. While it's a stretch to claim the feature as any sort of professional accomplishment, it's certainly Crazy Times, U.S.A., with co- writer/director Stuart Raffill protecting his vision for a campy, bloody adventure that's big on weird science and light on laughs. Considering Raffill's previous helming endeavors (the troubling "Mac and Me" and "Mannequin Two: On the Move"), the directness of "Tammy and the T-Rex" is welcome, giving fans of schlock a heaping helping of over-the-top performances, limited production means, and a big mechanical dinosaur who lives to tear its enemies apart. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Candy

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For 2006's "Candy," director Neil Armfield delivers an adaptation of a novel by Luke Davies, who collaborates on the production's screenplay, which details the life of two heroin junkies trying to remain in a functional relationship during the extremes of their self-harm. There's nothing about Davies's story that's pleasant, giving Armfield a particularly difficult creative challenge, asking viewers to remain with two highly damaged people who often find themselves out of control. The movie's solution is to identify and amplify the love story between Candy (Abbie Cornish) and Dan (Heath Ledger), adding a certain level of dewy poeticism before dropping the hammer of reality on the twentysomethings repeatedly throughout the effort. The attempt is laudable, but "Candy" isn't always as interesting as Armfield believes it to be, giving himself an excessive runtime to oversee the cycle of addiction while trying to transform the picture into a Malickian viewing experience of beauty and wonder while descending into the pits of Hell. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Skin

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"Skin" has the benefit of timing, put into production during a hectic time in American history, with the country experiencing an uptick in exposure to hate groups and crimes, with near daily reminders of unrest brewing across the U.S. Writer/director Guy Nattiv doesn't shy away from the plain danger of such an uprising, but he's interested in drilling to the core of the neo-Nazi issue, finding the true story of Bryon Widner to dramatize, giving an impressive tale of evolution a semi-suspenseful approach. "Skin" is frightening, especially when examining how organized hate is managed and unleashed, but the picture isn't offering an overview of a movement. It's much more intimate, with Widner's tale working through tight situations of survival, emerging as an understanding of awareness expanding under impossible living conditions. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Satanic Panic

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"Satanic Panic" is a film that's all over the place when it really doesn't have to be. Screenwriter Grady Hendrix attempts to blend extreme horror with silly comedy, aiming for a darkly hilarious take on black magic, offering bits of shock and slapstick to help swat down expectations for a simple genre ride. Trouble is, the picture is certainly gross at times, but never funny, flailing whenever it feels the need to be wacky to help settle an audience that might not be so welcoming to a feature that's solely interested in horror. "Satanic Panic" isn't a mess, but it's mostly uninspired, and from casting to one-liners, it falls short of its potential to be a brutal B-movie that's willing to go to some strange places when detailing the ways of a coven on the prowl for their virginal sacrifice. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Delivery Boys

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Sold as a breakdance movie in 1985, "Delivery Boys" isn't exactly the next cinematic step after the two "Breakin'" features from 1984. It's a much weirder concoction from writer/director Ken Handler, who's best known as the inspiration for the Ken doll. Perhaps out to make a breezy good time with slick moves and hot music from the era, Handler ends up with something far more laborious instead, joining forces with co-producer Chuck Vincent, an adult film helmer. Merging the electricity of youth and the production vibe of pornography, Handler gets awfully confused with "Delivery Boys," ending up with a sluggish non-comedy filled with amateur actors doing their best to generate a homoerotic vibe for the primarily heterosexual teen horndog subgenre. Where's Turbo and Ozone when you need them? Read the rest at Blu-ray.com