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6 Degrees Entertainment

The Brain From Planet Arous: SE [Blu-ray]
(John Agar, Joyce Meadows, Robert Fuller, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1957) 2022 / The Film Detective - MVD Visual)

Overview: Get ready for planet Earth to be overtaken by a criminal brain from outer space! When Gor, an evil brain from planet Arous, inhabits the body of scientist Steve March, his intention is nothing less than world domination.

Lucky for Earth, another intergalactic brain, Val, offers to assist March’s wife, Sally, in stopping the madness. How does Val intend to help? By inhabiting Sally’s dog!

A great example of cut-rate sci-fi from the 1950s, this independently produced feature stars B movie favorite John Agar (The Mole People, Revenge of the Creature), and was directed by Nathan Juran, a master of the genre who helmed such classics as The Deadly Mantis, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

Blu-ray Verdict: If you watch 1950s sci-fi much, then you’re familiar with John Agar. Using a flashlight, he conquered an entire civilization in The Mole People, he saved a small Arizona town from destruction in Tarantula, but here, he really excels ... for Agar saves the entire universe!

When scientist Steve (Agar) and his assistant Dan (Robert Fuller) notice a blast of radiation from Mystery Mountain, they decide to investigate. In a nearby cave, they’re attacked by a giant floating brain with eyes, which kills Dan with a bright light and then (in a very inept special effect) hides in Agar’s body.

Back at the lab, the brain emerges from Steve, introduces himself as Gor from the Planet Arous, and tells Steve he’d better cooperate or else. Since Gor is so powerful, he can control everything Steve does, and pretty soon Steve starts getting quite lecherous with his fiancée Sally (Joyce Meadows).

This has to be some sort of cinema first re: a sex-starved floating brain! Later, Sally and her dad John (Thomas Browne Henry) are visited by yet another floating brain, this one’s named Vol and is a law-enforcement brain from Arous. Vol announces that he also needs a body to hide out in, and after thinking it over, decides to hide in Agar’s dog, George. Not silly enough yet? Just wait!

When he’s not pawing Sally or tormenting Steve, Gor blows up a passenger plane, kills the local sheriff, burns up an Army colonel, and sets off a nuclear explosion. He then assembles representatives from all the world’s countries and tells them that they must help him construct a fleet of spaceships so he can conquer Arous, then the universe! (At least Gor doesn’t think small!)

Things are looking pretty bleak, so Sally has a chat with Vol. He tells her that Gor could conceivably be killed by a direct blow to the top of his, uh, cerebrum in the area of the Fissure of Rolando. She leaves a note to Steve telling him about Gor’s weakness, so when Gor emerges again, Steve grabs a convenient ax, and beats the offending brain to death in a bravura climax!

Probably the most fascinating thing about this movie is that the cast keeps perfectly straight faces throughout the whole film. Anyway, if you’re in for vintage entertainment with the most outrageously silly sci-fi plot of all time, you should watch this!

Oh, and as we learn from quite brilliant commentary, the special eye effects for Steve March were created by having John Agar wear special black contact lenses that were very thick; although the extreme thickness of the contact made it painful for Agar to wear them, of course.

And one last thing, if any of the scenes feel familiar to you, well that might well be because brief clips from this movie were used in the opening credits on the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Full Color Booklet with original essay by Author/ Historian Tom Weaver
Full commentary track by historians Tom Weaver, David Schecter, Larry Blamire, and PLANET AROUS star, Joyce Meadows
The Man Before the Brain: Director Nathan Juran : an original Ballyhoo Motion Pictures production
The Man Behind the Brain: The World of Nathan Juran : an original Ballyhoo Motion Pictures production
The film will also be included in a full frame format, 1.33:1
Now including a special, all new, introduction by Actor Joyce Meadows!

Giant: 4K UHD [Blu-ray]
(Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, et al / 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray+Digital / NR / (1956) 2022 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Giant, the 1956 classic film starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean in his final role, will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray and Digital on June 21st, 2022 via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean star in a sweeping saga of jealousy, racism and the clash of cultures set in the vast Texas oilfields. Wealthy rancher Bick Benedict (Hudson) and dirt-poor cowboy Jett Rink (Dean) both woo Leslie Lynnton (Taylor) a beautiful young woman from Maryland who is new to Texas.

She marries Benedict, but she is shocked by the racial bigotry of the White Texans against the local people of Mexican descent. Rink discovers oil on a small plot of land, and while he uses his vast, new wealth to buy all the land surrounding the Benedict ranch, the Benedict’s disagreement over prejudice fuels conflict that runs across generations.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Bros. is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the magnificent Giant in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this June 21st, 2022.

For my money, this Giant [4K Ultra HD + Digital] combo pack sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is The Batman presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10 Aspect ratio: 1.66:1, and Original aspect ratio: 1.66:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as one of the most memorable scenes, this one that takes place in the restaurant, where a color clash ensues and Rock Hudson has to step in to deal with it.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material - notably the glorious striking oil scene, which to my mind was Dean’s greatest ever scene (along with the birthday scene from East Of Eden, of course), and which he is most notably remembered for.

As for the audio, well we have a veritable smorgasbord of choice here: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (320 kbps), French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

As for the movie itself, well, no need to recap plot or echo consensus points. Instead I want to briefly examine three significant themes that the movie deals with. These prove especially topical now, even 65+ years after the movie’s release. Many film elements may have dated, but the themes haven’t. First, however, a brief background since I remember the movie’s initial splash with fond memories.

Okay, what does a 1950’s studio do to get people out of their TV chairs and into a cramped theater seat. First, they hire two of the biggest stars of the day (Hudson & Taylor), then the fastest rising star (Dean), and a whole troupe of colorful supporting players, plus an established director (Stevens) with a flair for epics.

Then they send them all down to the great expanse of southwestern Texas to film locations. For a screenplay, they get well-known Edna Ferber’s sprawling account of our then biggest state and adapt it for the Technicolor screen in the brightest hues. Put them together and Warner Bros. has a box office smash that drew folks, especially Dean-soaked teens, into theaters and drive-in’s everywhere.

Sure, much of the novel appeal has faded over time, while the sometimes dawdling 3-hour runtime seems excessive for today’s attention spans. At the same time, the screenplay’s cultural significance can be easily overshadowed by these showier parts. Still, the film’s loaded with visual appeal and ideas that still resonate.

So, will Bick (Hudson) and Leslie (Taylor) overcome their cultural differences and make a married go of it on his sprawling Texas cattle ranch. After all, she’s from the East and clearly of a background that lets her speak her mind. Trouble is, upper class Texas wives are expected to keep their place and hold their tongue.

So when Leslie intrudes on a husbands’ political parley and calls the men Neanderthals for excluding women, we know Bick’s got big adjustments to make. More than that, we’ve got a 50’s foreshadowing of the feminist movement that would gain real momentum in the 1960’s.

But not only is wife Leslie a prophet of feminist ideas, she’s an advocate of racial equality. In Texas, that means putting the repressed Mexican-Americans on an equal footing with whites. And that means confronting a more pointed issue than whether wives should speak up.

Here, I think, the script fudges some. Leslie is quite insistent on integrating her Latina daughter-in-law (Cardenas) into social occasions, thereby breaking the color line in an obvious way. Nor does she oppose son Jordy’s marrying a Mexican-American, unlike Bick and the traditionalists.

Clearly, Leslie’s character is designed as an agent of change, bringing more modern social values to a traditionally male and race dominated Texas culture.

Now, where I think the screenplay fudges, is by not really showing any overt opposition to Leslie’s integrationist ways from Bick’s elitist social class. Of course, blue-collar café owner Sarge (Simpson) decks Bick over the issue, thereby signaling that in the conflict between property and equality, property rights (his café) are the priority.

On the other hand, Bick’s upper class peers are portrayed as going meekly along with Leslie’s (and eventually Bick’s) integrationist efforts, regardless of what they may be thinking. There could be a number of reasons for the script’s finessing this point, but it strikes me as a retreat from an especially significant aspect of a key theme. After all, the elite have all kinds of ways of pressuring Bick besides decking him Sarge-fashion.

The last key theme is not emphasized as much as the other two, but is significantly present, nonetheless. And that is allowing the individual to decide his (or her) own course in life without having it dictated by tradition. Bick would naturally like eldest son Jordy to take over his cattle and oil empire after he passes on. Nothing unusual about that. In fact, the roots go back to that of preserving wealth and power in the middle-ages through inheritance.

But Jordy has other ideas, like being a doctor, instead. Bick’s not happy about his empire not being passed to Benedict the Third, but maybe one of his son-in-laws will be interested. Except that turns out to be a bigger problem than he thought. Anyway, each family member is portrayed as eventually following his or her desires rather than something imposed. Still, the question of life’s chosen path remains an ongoing difficulty regardless of era.

Oddly, the movie’s third main character Jett Rink appears uninvolved in any of these underlying themes. Instead, he’s driven by his unrequited love for the unobtainable Leslie. But since the actor’s the famously eccentric Dean, his movie character can’t be someone too conventional. So Rink follows his own quirky beat.

Anyway, seeing the movie again after 65+ years, and in this magnificent 4K UHD form nonetheless, was still a visual treat. What I guess grabbed me now are the themes that must have slipped by my first viewing. After all, where else at that time could such big stars as Taylor and Hudson and teen idol Dean be seen in the same feature, along with the vast Texas expanse and those opulent mansion interiors.

At the time, these visuals seemed overwhelming and still are entertaining, but then focus does have a way of altering over time, and I guess mine did.

Giant Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special feature:

Commentary by George Stevens Jr., Screen Writer Ivan Moffat and Critic Stephen Farber.

The new 4K restoration was completed sourcing both the original camera negatives and protection RGB separation master positives for the best possible image, and color corrected in high dynamic range for the latest picture display technology.

The audio was sourced primarily from a 1995 protection copy of the Original Magnetic Mono soundtrack. The picture and audio restoration was completed by Warner Bros. Post Production Creative Services: Motion Picture Imaging and Post Production Sound.

Ultra HD* showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

Giant will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc for $24.99 ERP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Digital download of the film. Fans can also own Giant in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on June 21st, 2022.

George Stevens, Sr. won his second Oscar® for directing the sweeping family saga set in Texas during the days of the oil boom. Based on Edna Ferber’s controversial novel, the movie’s release in 1956 was a massive box office hit and garnered 10 Academy Award® nominations.

Considered by critics as ahead of its time, Giant is admired today for the breadth of its humanity more than its epic scale with its grand themes of generational conflict, racial tolerance, and social change. It exposed the marginalization and segregation of Mexican Americans for the first time on the big screen.

At the center of the film, Elizabeth Taylor, as Leslie Benedict, portrays a strong and progressive woman who acts to stem the patterns of injustice.

In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

Aquaman: King of Atlantis [DVD]
(Cooper Andrews, Gillian Jacobs, Thomas Lennon, Dana Snyder, Andrew Morgado, et al / DVD+Digital / NR / 2022 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Monstrous creatures, devious foes and incredible underwater adventures populate Aquaman: King of Atlantis, an action-packed mini-series now coming to Digital and DVD (USA $14.99 SRP; Canada $19.99 SRP) as a feature-length animated film on June 21, 2022 courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Blu-ray Verdict: Aquaman: King of Atlantis begins with Aquaman starting his first day on the job as king of Atlantis – and he’s got a lot of catching up to do. Luckily, he has his two royal advisors to back him up: the scholar Vulko, and Mera, the water controlling warrior princess.

Between dealing with unscrupulous surface dwellers, elder evils from beyond time and his own half-brother who wants to overthrow him, Aquaman must rise to the challenge and prove to his subjects – and to himself – that he’s the true heir to the throne, and holder of the trident!

The first miniseries produced by Warner Bros. Animation and lead Cooper Andrews’ second DC production - as he previously played Victor, Billy Batson’s foster dad, in the live-action Shazam! movie - let alone having been executive produced by the legendary director of the original Hollywood film, James Wan (and developed by Thundercats Roar veterans Victor Courtright and Marly Halpern-Graser), phew, having now watched the entire series in one long binge sitting, I can honestly say that Aquaman: King of Atlantis is as bright, as funny, and as colorful as you could have ever hoped for, trust me on that!

Now, ok, sure, I say I binge watched this in one long sitting, but as you might well already now, there are only three episodes here, but still, it was a mini-marathon and a highly enjoyable one, to boot.

A sidestepping take on DC’s King of the Seas, the series’ expanded scope and run-time benefit the show’s material here and coupled with a cast that infuses their characters with silly charm along with an animation style that excels at superhero antics, this trio of episodes from the HBO Max mini-series is a DC fan’s blessing!

Basically, for those wishing for a story line that they can grip onto from the off, Aquaman: King of Atlantis effectively picks up in a world not too dissimilar from the ending of James Wan’s Aquaman, where Aquaman (Cooper Andrews) has defeated Ocean Master (Dana Synder) and taken his rightful place atop Atlantis’ throne; along with his trusted advisor Vulko (Thomas Lennon) and battle-ready girlfriend Mera (Gillian Jacobs) by his side.

It opens with Chapter One: Dead Sea, where on his first day as king of Atlantis, Aquaman must prove he’s the right man for the job. Luckily, Vulko is ready with just the right mission: investigating a distant outpost that no one has heard from in years.

In Chapter Two: Primordeus, Aquaman’s reputation is under attack, but no one in Atlantis is taking him seriously. To win his subjects over, he sets out on a journey that leads him straight into a horror-tinged mystery unlike anything he’s ever seen.

And in the final episode, Chapter Three: Tidal Shift, alongside trusted allies Mera and Vulko, King Aquaman faces unscrupulous surface dwellers, ancient evils from beyond time, and his half-brother’s attempts to overthrow him all to prove that he’s the right man for the throne.

In closing, Aquaman: King of Atlantis is highly enthusiastic, brightly colored - and in a way that very few superhero animations are - in a way that brings us the mini-series via a truly simplified animation style (which is very reminiscent of the aforementioned Thundercats Roar veterans Victor Courtright and Marly Halpern-Graser’s earlier work).

Cooper Andrews (The Walking Dead, Shazam!) leads the cast of Aquaman: King of Atlantis as the title character, and he’s joined by Gillian Jacobs (Community, Invincible, Injustice) as Mera, Thomas Lennon (Supergirl, Reno 911!) as Vulko, Dana Snyder (Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Justice League Action) as Ocean Master, Andrew Morgado (Supergirl, Archer) as Mortikov, and Kevin Michael Richardson (The Simpsons, American Dad!) as the Royal Announcer.

Flula Borg (The Suicide Squad, Pitch Perfect 2) also stars as Mantis, and Kimberly Brooks (DC Super Hero Girls, Batwheels) as Hammer. Also providing voices is Chris Jai Alex, Trevor Devall, Armen Taylor, Kaitlyn Robrock, Regi Davis, Ludi Lin, Robbie Daymond, Erica Lindbeck, Laila Berzins and Erica Ash.

Victor Courtright (ThunderCats Roar!) and Marly Halpern-Graser (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) served as showrunners and co-executive producers. Courtright and Marly Halpern-Graser conceived the story for the mini-series/film, and Halpern-Graser, Bryan Condon (Right Now Kapow) and Laura Sreebny (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power) co-wrote the teleplay.

The mini-series was executive produced by James Wan (Aquaman), Atomic Monster’s Michael Clear (Annabelle Comes Home), Rob Hackett (Swamp Thing), and Sam Register (Teen Titans Go!). Keith Pakiz (ThunderCats Roar) served as director on all three episodes of the mini-series.

Official Trailer

The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue [BR]
(Ray Lovelock, Christine Galbo, Arthur Kennedy, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1974) 2022 / Synapse Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: A strange twist of fate brings two young travelers, George (Ray Lovelock, The Cassandra Crossing) and Edna (Christine Galbo, The House That Screamed), to a small town where an experimental agricultural machine may be bringing the dead back to life!

As zombies infest the area and attack the living, a bullheaded detective (Academy Award® nominee Arthur Kennedy, Peyton Place) thinks the couple are Satanists responsible for the local killings. George and Edna have to fight for their lives, and prove their innocence, as they try and stop the impending zombie apocalypse!

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (aka Let Sleeping Corpses Lie and Don’t Open the Window) is a gory horror tale from Spanish director Jorge Grau and widely considered to be one of the best zombie films ever made.

Beautifully restored in 4K from the original camera negative, Synapse Films presents the film with the true original English theatrical mono mix and the real opening and closing credit sequences intact.

Blu-ray Verdict: Ray Lovelock stars as George, a hippy antiques dealer from London who encounters trouble whilst on his way to Windermere for the weekend: first, his motorbike is trashed by pretty redhead Edna (Cristina Galbó), who doesn’t know her reverse from her first gear; next, he is taken out of his way by the troublesome woman, who convinces him to accompany her to her sister’s house; and then he runs into the living dead, who have been reanimated by a piece of experimental agricultural machinery designed to kill insects!

Oh, and to make matters even worse, George is constantly harassed by a right-wing, hippy-hating police inspector who believes that the bearded biker may be a satanist involved in the murder of Edna’s brother-in-law!

Extremely atmospheric (thanks to great use of remote locales) and often pretty clever (its opening sequence takes a wry swipe at the zombie-like state of city commuters, beating Shaun of the Dead to the joke by 30 years), The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue aka it’s original, and far better title Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is a very effective example of the Euro-zombie sub-genre.

It is also a rather fascinating film: a Spanish/Italian co-production shot in England’s beautiful Lake District, featuring unusual zombies that can bring other corpses to life by anointing the eyelids with blood, and which predates George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (and its many subsequent imitators) by several years.

Unlike the non-stop gore-fests that followed in the wake of Romero’s classic, Grau’s movie takes a much more considered approach, carefully and gradually building the tension, saving most of the graphic gore (by Italian FX expert Gianetto de Rossi) for its exciting finalé.

This leisurely pace, far from being boring, not only allows the viewer to appreciate the subtleties of the script (the humor, the ecological message), but also makes the carnage all the more horrifying when it finally arrives (with a moment when a nurse is bloodily torn apart being the gory highlight of the film).

Woefully neglected for many years, it’s great to see this film finally getting some love by Synapse Films/MVD Visual here on a beautiful 4K restoration Blu-ray for all my fellow zombie fans looking for a little more than just splatter from their Euro-horror. It deserves it. Thank you. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Exclusive new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
New 5.1 English stereo surround remix made exclusively for the Synapse Films release
Restoration of the true original English language theatrical mono mix
Two audio commentaries featuring authors and film scholars Troy Howarth, Nathaniel Thompson and Bruce Holecheck
Jorge Grau - Catalonia’s Cult Film King (89 mins.) – This extensive feature-length documentary explores the life and films of director Jorge Grau
The Scene of the Crime - Giannetto De Rossi in Discussion from Manchester (16 Mins.) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE)
Giannetto De Rossi - Q&A at the Festival of Fantastic Films, UK (43 Mins)
Theatrical trailer, TV spots and radio spots
Newly translated removable English SDH subtitles

Flatliners (Special Edition) [4K Ultra HD]
(Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Hope Davis, William Baldwin, Kimberly Scott, et al / 4K UHD Blu-ray / R / (1990) 2022 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Known for his impressively eclectic filmography and for helping to launch the careers of several young Hollywood stars of the 80s and 90s, Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys, St. Elmo’s Fire) tackles the existential question that, at one time or another, haunts us all: what awaits us after we die?

At the University Hospital School of Medicine, five ambitious students subject themselves to a daring experiment: to temporarily induce their own deaths, hoping to glimpse the afterlife before being brought back to life.

But as competition within the group intensifies and their visions of the world beyond increasingly bleed into their waking lives, they’re about to learn that the greatest threat comes not from the spirit world but from the long-suppressed secrets of their own pasts.

Stylishly photographed by Jan de Bont (Basic Instinct) and featuring a cast of Hollywood’s hottest talent – including Kiefer Sutherland (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me), Julia Roberts (Secret in their Eyes) and Kevin Bacon (Wild Things) – Flatliners is the ultimate life-and-death thrill ride.

Blu-ray Verdict: Nostalgia isn’t always the best reason to watch a movie. More often than not, the movies you loved as a kid will disappoint you as an adult. While there are exceptions to this rule, it’s hard to justify owning a DVD of Krull, regardless of how many insightful the director’s commentary may be!

But stay sharp Gen X/Y’ers, because the dozens of disappointments dominating your trip down memory lane, might stop you from stumbling across one worth revisiting.

One surprise film worth another look is Joel Schumacher’s Flatliners (now out via Arrow Films/MVD Visual as a wondrous 4K UHD), the supernatural thriller starring 80’s popcorn heavyweights Keifer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts and Billy Baldwin.

You would think that a stew comprised of this cast, the flamboyant flair of Schumacher and the über slick eye of cinematographer Jan De Bont would result in something sickeningly stodgy, but calories aside, Flatliners ain’t half bad.

Sure, even though it’s production design is admittedly, and inexplicably over-the-top and the photography is achingly over-stylized (replete with neon soaked streets spewing endless billows of steam), Flatliners still manages to be an effectively dark and compelling thriller.

If there’s an explanation why Flatliners was forgotten, it might be because 1990 saw the release of another, far superior, supernatural thriller: Jacob’s Ladder.

Had Flatliners been released a year or two after Jacob’s Ladder, it’s likely Schumacher’s flashy thriller would have been dismissed as a toned down, commercialized rip-off of Adrian Lyne’s nightmarish masterpiece. But with these films being released in the same year, Flatliners enjoyed a different fate, tripling JL’s take at the box office despite being a watered down version of a similar premise.

The passage of time hasn’t been as kind to Flatliners, it has been lost atop a dated heap of throwaway 80’s Brat Pack dreck, while JL has cemented its reputation as a timeless classic. Fates aside, JL is seamlessly terrifying and it manages to keep audiences guessing right up until the last frame, whereas Flatliners falls victim to over-simplification and Hollywood conveniences that drag down the final act into a predictably tidy denouement.

Comparisons between the two movies is unfair, and ultimately overlooks Flatliners ability to represent the 80’s at its quintessential best. Released at the end of a decade of shallow excess, Flatliners will always be dated by its hairstyles and clothing styles, but in fairness, it should also be remembered as a well executed movie at (or at least near) the top of its particular heap of dreck.

Thus, and for intents and purposes, it’s an entertaining walk down memory lane and one made all the more crisply enjoyable by this wondrous 4K UHD presentation. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the special features of:

Brand new 4K restoration from the original negative, approved by director of photography Jan de Bont
4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
Lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 surround soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary by critics Bryan Reesman and Max Evry
The Conquest of our Generation, a brand new video interview with screenwriter Peter Filardi
Visions of Light, a brand new video interview with director of photography Jan de Bont and chief lighting technician Edward Ayer
Hereafter, a brand new video interview with first assistant director John Kretchmer
Restoration, a brand new video interview with production designer Eugenio Zanetti and art director Larry Lundy
Atonement, a brand new video interview with composer James Newton Howard and orchestrator Chris Boardman
Dressing for Character, a brand new interview with costume designer Susan Becker
Theatrical trailer
Image gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

Hell High: Special Edition [Blu-ray]
(Maureen Mooney, Christopher Stryker, Christopher Cousins, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1989) 2022 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Teenage kicks take a decidedly dark turn in director Douglas Grossman’s Hell High – a twisted tale of delinquency pushed to its horrifying extreme, where Class of 1984 meets I Spit on Your Grave!

When high school football hero Jon-Jon (Breaking Bad’s Christopher Cousins) quits the team, he winds up falling in with a group of outcasts led by the sadistic Dickens (played to unhinged perfection by the late Christopher Stryker).

With a willing new recruit in tow, the gang’s youthful hi jinks soon spiral into a night of abject horror when they decide to play a cruel prank on the home of their teacher Miss Storm – who, unbeknownst to the youngsters, harbors a dark and tormented past. Hell High – which was released in some international territories as Raging Fury – is a singular entry in the late ’80s horror canon, melding elements of the revenge movie with the trappings of the slasher genre to delirious effect. School’s out… forever!

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, I had no expectations of what this movie would be like when it was kindly sent to us for review and I sat down, late one night to review it thereafter.

I figured that it would be about a high school class menaced by some sort of slasher villain, but I had no way to prepare for the gritty and just plain weird film that I would be confronted with!

Unlike the typical slasher, this film finds itself spending time with the victim - high-school science teacher Ms. Brook Storm (Maureen Mooney), who is barely keeping it together after some repressed childhood trauma.

It’s also about a former quarterback named Jon-Jon who grows sick of the game and his sinister teammates, so he falls in with the delinquents like Dickens, Queenie and Smiler.

Speaking of that childhood trauma, it opens the film for in a swamp, a man and a woman are making love when he decides to start beating her with a doll that belongs to a little girl.

The little girl watches and grabs some mud, waiting for the two to leave the swamp. As they do, she throws it in the man’s eyes and he crashes, sending the man and woman into poles which impale them as the little girl stares at the accident she’s caused.

Yes, of course, that is Ms. Storm and this murder has now become an urban legend as some believe a swamp monster is the real cause of these two killings.

As Jon-Jon becomes part of this new gang, they decide to ruin the football game by driving on the field in the middle of a play and stealing the game ball. It might seem like this movie has become a teen sex comedy at this point, but don’t worry. Soon, it will stop meandering and get even stranger!

The gang now puts on Halloween masks and pelts Ms. Storm’s home with swamp mud before the shenanigans turn into full-blown sexual assault on her. You’d think that Queenie, the lone girl in the gang, would be against this, but even she joins in, subverting the very slasher nature that you expect from this film.

Hey, but don’t take it from me how weird this movie is. Joe Bob Briggs himself did the intro to the DVD release of this film back in the day and he even featured it on his old Drive-In Theater show, too!

In fact, as both that and Joe Bobs’ commentary are included here on this Blu-ray release, I agree with everything he says about the film, for this is an amazingly original slasher that more people need to see! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the special features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative approved by cinematographer Steven Fierberg
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed stereo audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman and cinematographer Steven Fierberg
Archival audio commentary with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman
Archival introduction and audio commentary with film critic Joe Bob Briggs
School’s Out! – a newly-filmed interview with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman
A Beautiful Nightmare – a newly-filmed interview with cinematographer Steven Fierberg
Jon-Jon’s Journey – a newly-filmed interview with actor Christopher Cousins
The More the Better – a newly-filmed interview with actress Maureen Mooney
Music is Not Sound – a newly-filmed interview with composers Rich Macar and Christopher Hyams-Hart
Back to Schools: The Locations of Hell High – a tour of the original Hell High filming sites with author/filmmaker Michael Gingold
Archival video interviews with director/producer/co-writer Douglas Grossman and co-writer Leo Evans
Deleted Scene
Alternate Opening Titles
Trailers and TV Spots
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Ralf Krause

The Righteous: Special Edition (Blu-ray)
(Henry Czerny, Mark O’Brien, Mayko Nguyen, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2022 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: A brooding occult horror with echoes of Bergman and Pasolini, The Righteous insinuates its way beneath the skin by way of an intelligent script, taut direction, and strong performances.

Writer and actor Mark O’Brien (Ready or Not) pulls no punches as he confronts grief, guilt, faith and atonement in his remarkable directorial debut.

A former priest, Frederic Mason (Henry Czerny), anguished by the tragic death of his young daughter, finds himself wrestling with his religious convictions when a mysterious young man (Mark O’Brien) appears wounded on his doorstop in need of assistance.

After he and his wife Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk) welcome him across the threshold and into their household, Frederic sees an opportunity for redemption in this mysterious and troubled lost soul, who might just be an emissary from God, or maybe the Devil.

Set amongst the bleak and forbidding landscapes of Newfoundland, crisply captured in tenebrous monochrome by cinematographer Scott McClellan, and featuring robust performances from all its cast members, The Righteous is a sombre supernatural chiller that builds to a memorable crescendo, and signals the emergence of a major new filmmaking talent.

Blu-ray Verdict: This first feature from director-actor-writer Mark O’Brien (Ready or Not) is about Frederic (Henry Czerny) a grieving man already struggling with his faith who decides to help an injured Aaron Smith (O’Brien) when the man knocks on his door and claims to be lost in the woods.

Frederic and his wife Ethel (Mimi Kuzyk) invite the man to stay, but Frederic soon begins to doubt why the man is there and the stories he tells. In fact, he could be there to test everything that Frederic - a one-time priest before he got married - knows. He’s already endured the tragic loss of his daughter. What can be next?

Filmed in striking black and white by cinematographer Scott McClellan, this movie is either a man of lapsed faith against the very human past sins made flesh or a home invasion movie. It could be both.

As Aaron starts putting his feet up on the table, reading the brochure on the dead child’s funeral expenses, asking some very personal questions and perhaps getting too close to Ethel, this film proves itself to be a long simmering and suspenseful effort that isn’t afraid to its time, nor worried about a small cast. After all, there’s just so much incredible talent on show here.

In closing, and without giving anything away, I will say that the film’s climax left me with more questions than answers. Indeed, I compare this ending to that of Donnie Darko where I think the intention was to let the audience interpret what the biblical ending means. [BSAM] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the special features of:

High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary by writer, director and actor Mark O’Brien and editor Spencer Jones
Cast and crew interviews with writer/director/actor Mark O’Brien, producer Mark O’Neill, actors Henry Czerny, Mimi Kuzyk, and Kate Corbett, editor Spencer Jones, cinematographer Scott McClellan, and production designer Jason Clarke
Roundtable discussion with Mark O’Brien and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett and Chad Villella of Radio Silence
Stage Presentation and Q&A with Mark O’Brien and Henry Czerny from the World Premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival 2021
Grimmfest 2021 live-streamed Q&A with Mark O’Brien
Original soundtrack
Image gallery, accompanied by the film’s original score by Andrew Staniland
Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Grant Boland and Oink Creative

Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: Seasons 1 & 2
(Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Nelson, Ricky Nelson, David Nelson, et al / DVD / NR / (2022 / MPI Home Entertainment)

Overview: One of the most popular series in television history will return fully restored to entertain old fans and new viewers when THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET: SEASONS 1 AND 2 arrive on four-DVD sets from MPI Media Group on June 21st, 2022.

The two sets contain 39 episodes each, representing the complete first two seasons (78 episodes) of the long-running sitcom ranked number 6 on Vulture’s list of “The 50 Most Definitive Family TV Shows.”

The entire library of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet has been restored by MPI Media Group from the original 35mm picture and sound elements in association with the UCLA Film & Television Archive, which preserves the elements on behalf of the Nelson family.

DVD Verdict: For a record-breaking 14 seasons and 435 episodes, THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET aired on ABC-TV from 1952 through 1966, becoming one of the most cherished cultural touchstones of the 20th century.

The positive, wholesome series epitomized an idyllic American 1950s lifestyle, its gentle humor brought to the screen by the real-life Nelson family: Ozzie and wife Harriet with their sons, David and Rick, all portraying themselves in a trend-setting blend of fact-meets-fiction comedy decades before Seinfeld and other semi-reality-based shows.

The series humorously chronicled the daily lives of the Nelsons as David and Ricky grew up before millions of weekly viewers. While Ozzie Nelson had been a real-life bandleader and Harriet Nelson a singer, the series would help launch the musical career of their younger son, Ricky, who would become a teen idol with such enduring hits as “Travelin’ Man” and “Hello Mary Lou.”

For me, and I would imagine millions of others that grew up watching this wondrous show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was for it’s time simply groundbreaking and cutting edge; which for a family oriented show that first premiered on radio in 1944 and then made the transition to television in 1952, was virtually unheard of before.

As aforementioned, this was also the show that brought Ricky Nelson into America’s living rooms and made it acceptable not only for it’s standards but kept it’s morals in check too. This was the sitcom where the husband never worked while the wife stayed home with the well-behaved kids (albeit sometimes with hilarious and unpredictable results, thus making it one of the funniest shows ever conceived for television).

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet premiered on ABC-TV on October 3rd, 1952 and ran for an astounding fourteen seasons on the air until April 23rd, 1966 and starred the entire real life Nelson family which included Ozzie Nelson his wife Harriet Nelson and sons David and Ricky Nelson.

The series produced an astounding 435 episodes with seasons 1 through 13 telecast and filmed in black and white with the 14th and final season of the series produced in color. Out of the 435 episodes that it produced a total of 409 episodes were in black and white from October 3rd, 1952 until March 17th, 1965.

The 14th and final season produced 26 episodes in color from September 18th, 1965 until April 23rd, 1966 and once culminated Ozzie and Harriet became the second longest running family sitcom in television history behind My Three Sons.

For those inquiring minds, the sponsors were The American Gas Company, Proctor and Gamble, The Eastman Kodak Company, Quaker Oats Company, The Chrysler Corporation, Heinz Ketchup, and The Colgate-Palmotive Company throughout the series entire 14 season run.

Ozzie Nelson was actually not just the creator-writer and executive producer of the series, but also the director of several episodes as well. Ozzie directed a total of 358 episodes between 1952-1966 whilst David Nelson directed 8 episodes of the series between 1963-1965.

The writers included Dick Bensfield, Bill Davenport, Ben Gershman, Perry Grant, Don Nelson, and Jay Sommers. Ozzie Nelson along with Harriet Nelson, David Nelson, and Rick Nelson appeared in all 435 episodes of the series with the supporting cast members Don De Fore, Parley Baer, Lyle Talbot, Mary Jane Croft, Connie Harper, James Stacy, Joe Flynn, Kent McCord, and Frank Cady.

The show had a low key style to it, but when the boys got married the show had seemingly outlived its appeal and so when the show went into it’s fourteenth and final season in color in the fall of 1965, ABC actually moved it to an earlier time slot (on Saturday nights) which led to it’s cancellation in the spring of 1966 (when the series was moved in favor of Batman).

One reason for this is that by 1966, the youth counter culture was changing and so was the television landscape as well, but for a series that was family friendly and which also had great appeal, the times were changing and so Ozzie and Harriet ended it’s long run on television and took it’s place in cultural history.

The OFFICIAL COMPLETE SEASON ONE contains all 39 full, fun-filled episodes on four DVDs, starting with the premiere show and other rare adventures not seen on television in decades. Don DeFore (Hazel) appears as Ozzie’s neighbor pal Thorny along with guest stars from classic television and films, including Hal Smith (The Andy Griffith Show), Ellen Corby (The Waltons), Janet Waldo (The Jetsons), Joseph Kearns (Dennis the Menace), Frank Nelson (I Love Lucy) and other familiar faces.

The OFFICIAL COMPLETE SEASON TWO also contains 39 episodes – with more lost moments appearing for the first time since originally broadcast – on four discs and features such guest stars as Frank Cady (Petticoat Junction), John Carradine (The Munsters) and Lurene Tuttle (Psycho).

In closing, most all of us of a certain age remember this series from our childhood, with those memories still able to flood our heart and souls with genuine warmth, love and heartfelt thanks for a show filled with genuine family endeavors and sprinkled throughout with dulcet humor. This series was all about a real family, not actors, but real people with real family values (something that is sadly missing in today’s society).

And now, for the very first time, in association with the Nelson family, the entire series has been digitally restored for its 70th Anniversary with complete episodes from the original film negatives for superior picture quality. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official Purchase Link

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore [4K]
(Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, et al / 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2022 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers.

But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Bros. is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the highly-anticipated Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this June 28th, 2022.

For my money, this Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore [4K Ultra HD + Digital] combo pack sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10 and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as one of the most memorable scenes, when Jacob gets pranked by the Slytherins!

Mr. Kowalski may be the only Muggle in history to ever step foot inside Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. According to Hermione in Goblet of Fire (the book, not the movie), any Muggle who approaches the school will see a crumbling old ruin and a danger sign. How can Jacob see it? The only explanation that makes sense is that Dumbledore lifted the enchantment for him and him alone.

He eats breakfast in the Great Hall, hangs out with the students, shows off the wand he got “for Christmas,” and happily talks about how a group of Slytherin students gave him a bag of candy. Newt bursts his bubble by informing Jacob that he’s actually eating one of the most unappealing confections known to wizarding kind: Cockroach Clusters.

Jacob’s look of disgust and fury is priceless, though based on what we know about Slytherin attitudes toward non-magical peoples, the prank could have been much worse.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material; notably the scene - which also recalls to mind the Mirror Dimension antics of Doctor Strange over in the MCU - the battle between Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Credence Barebone/Aurelius Dumbledore (Ezra Miller), which is one of the biggest action set pieces in this movie!

Played out on the streets of 1930s Berlin (the location and time period carry a lot of thematic weight here), the duel finds Albus relying on a device that Harry Potter fans know well: the Deluminator.

Most likely applying the same principles that allowed Ron to find Harry and Hermione in Deathly Hallows, the magical artifact — which Dumbledore invented himself — seems to transport the two fighters into a reflective universe that can be destroyed without harm or exposure to the surrounding Muggles.

As for the audio, well we have a veritable smorgasbord of choice here: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (320 kbps), French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

As for the movie itself, well, the third installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise was eagerly awaited not just for Jude Law’s first full-length portrayal of the beloved character, but since the world wanted to see whether Mads Mikkelsen would rise to the challenge, having been called up to replace Johnny Depp in the role of Gellert Grindelwald.

After having been embroiled in a barrage of scandals over allegations of marital abuse by his ex-wife and actress Amber Heard, Warner Brothers were forced to replace Depp with the accomplished Danish actor, who, thankfully, delivers a rousing performance, laced with more stoicism and emotion than the more naturally eccentric and vivacious Depp.

We join our beloved magizoologist Newt Scamander (played by Oscar-winner Eddy Redmayne) and friends as they look to stop the rampage of the evil Grindelwald across Europe and put together the original Dumbledore’s Army, immortalized by the Harry Potter film and book series.

Having put in place a blood pact with his former lover Grindelwald, Dumbledore is unable to directly act against him and instead resorts to assembling a rag-tag but intrepid bunch of wizards along with the bumbling but immensely likeable muggle Jacob Kowalksi (played by the splendid Dan Fogler).

Jude Law is exceptional in his portrayal of the world’s most powerful wizard, radiating gravitas and depth in every scene he is in and his combination sequences with Mikkelsen deliver some of the best sequences in the franchise, across its three installments so far. Newt’s constant companions - the sassy Bowtruckle and the kleptomaniac Niffler - deliver moments of delight and comedy even while the story is on a knife edge.

Redmayne, Fogler and the deliciously outlandish Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein, reminiscent of Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series) remain on point with their performances just like in previous editions. However, the rest of the supporting cast including Richard Coyle, Jessica Williams, Callum Turner and even the usually dependable Ezra Miller (Credence) fail to create any lasting impression.

The stakes definitely go up in this edition, with Grindelwald trying to manipulate the election for the Supreme Leadership position of the International Confederation of Wizards and this is reflected in the enhanced CGI and Visual Effects employed by director David Yates with the visual impact coming across in full force via 3D in theaters, trust me.

The wizarding duels are neatly choreographed and intricately shot and are definitely an enhancement over what we have been used to so far in the Harry Potter and the larger Wizarding World franchises so far and cinematographer George Richmond deserves high praise for delivering such impactful frames at every juncture.

The writing, however, waxes and wanes with many high points in terms of confrontations and battles not backed up by character development or emotional depth. The Porpentina-Newt romance which was the cornerstone of the first two installments is dealt with clumsily by the director, and we see no growth in the character arcs of any of the protagonists we have seen and fallen in love with.

Also, the twists in the story line can be seen a mile away and with the franchise expanding to five films from the original three, one can see the unresolved threads being put in place for future films.

Despite sluggish writing, Jude Law, Eddy Redmayne and Mads Mikkelsen’s immaculate performances and the top-draw CGI and production design and comforting throwbacks and references to the Harry Potter lexicon make this a cozy weekend watch.

Lovingly embedded with a viewing pleasure that lies in the visual effects and the stylish wizardry and duels, set your expectations right and you won’t be disappointed!

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” Premium Digital Ownership contains the following special features:
1. The Dumbledore Family Tree
2. Dumbledore Through the Ages
3. Magical or Muggle
4. The Magic of Hogwarts
5. Even More Fantastic Beasts
6. Newt in the Wild
7. The German Ministry of Magic
8. A Dumbledore Duel
9. The Candidates’ Dinner
10. Erkstag Jailbreak
11. Battle in Bhutan
12. The Secrets of Cursed Child
13. Deleted Scenes

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” 4K UHD combo pack and Blu-ray contain the following special features:
1. The Dumbledore Family Tree
2. Dumbledore Through the Ages
3. Magical or Muggle
4. The Magic of Hogwarts
5. Even More Fantastic Beasts
6. Newt in the Wild
7. The German Ministry of Magic
8. A Dumbledore Duel
9. The Candidates’ Dinner
10. Erkstag Jailbreak
11. Battle in Bhutan
12. The Secrets of Cursed Child
13. Deleted Scenes

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” DVD contains the following special feature:
1. The Magic of Hogwarts

Experience the newest adventure in the Wizarding World™ when “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” arrives for Premium Digital Ownership at home on May 30th, 2022.

The film is directed by David Yates from a screenplay by J.K. Rowling & Steve Kloves, based upon a screenplay by Rowling, and stars Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) and two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law (“Cold Mountain,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley”). The film will also be available to stream on HBO Max on May 30th and will be available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD beginning on June 28th, 2022.

The film’s ensemble cast also includes Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, William Nadylam, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Victoria Yeates, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Fiona Glascott, Katherine Waterston, Maria Fernanda Cândido, Richard Coyle, Oliver Masucci, Valerie Pachner, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, and Mads Mikkelsen.

The film was produced by David Heyman, Rowling, Steve Kloves, Lionel Wigram and Tim Lewis, with Neil Blair, Danny Cohen, Josh Berger, Courtenay Valenti and Michael Shar executive producing.

Official Trailer

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore @ Facebook

Edge of Tomorrow: 4K Ultra HD
(Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Carlos Alazraqui, Lori Alan, et al / 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2022 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: An alien race, undefeatable by any existing military unit, has launched a relentless attack on Earth, and Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) finds himself dropped into a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage is thrown into a time loop, forced to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again and again.

Training alongside Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), his skills slowly evolve, and each battle moves them a step closer to defeating the enemy in this intense action thriller.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Bros. is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the highly-anticipated Edge Of Tomorrow in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this July 5th, 2022.

For my money, this Edge Of Tomorrow [4K Ultra HD + Digital] combo pack sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is Edge Of Tomorrow presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the battle training scene The Only Rule, where Cruise is, for all intents and purposes, beaten up by the faux aliens enough that Blunt has to step in and make him aware of the one and only rule: If you get injured on the field you make sure that you go ahead and die!

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material; notably the Come Find Me In Your Next Life! scene where after multiple deaths, Cruise is back, stronger and wiser than ever to convince Blunt to follow him and, importantly, help him save the planet.

As for the audio, well we have a veritable smorgasbord of choice here: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), French: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, German: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hindi: Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

As for the movie itself, well, when an alien race called Mimics invades and destroys Europe, London is the last resistance in the Old Continent. General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) plans an attack to France expecting to defeat the Mimics and orders Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), who is an American public relation officer, to cover the invasion.

However Cage does not accept the assignment and threatens General Brigham to expose the casualties. He is arrested, accused of deserter, lowered to private and assigned to fight in the invasion under the command of the tough Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) in the Heathrow Base.

Humans are slaughtered in the invasion and Cage kills a Mimic and is sprayed by his blood; in less than five minutes combat, Cage dies. Surprisingly he awakes in the Heathrow Base and relives the same day over and over after dying!

Each time, Cage tries to fix the deaths of his squad and he meets Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) that asks him to find her when he awakes in the base. Rita brings Cage to meet Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor) that explains to him that he killed an Alfa and his blood has given the ability to reset time.

Further, the last hope of Earth is the destruction of the Mimic leader called Omega that is hidden. Will Cage and Rita succeed in their solitary mission?

Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live. Die. Repeat) is an entertaining blockbuster with a funny story, great cast and top-notch special effects. The plot is a combination of 12:01, Groundhog Day, Triangle and Butterfly Effect and a beautiful dose of Starship Troopers thrown in, all mixed together with a time travel paradox and a messy happy ending, so to speak!

Cruise, no surprise, anchors the film as this man who develops from absolute spineless weasel to full-fledged soldier of valor and courage. If anything the novelty of Cruise dying over and over gives those non-fans who dislike him a reason to giggle!

The only disappointment to me was the night sequences because little can really be seen and they happen at the crucial points of the film. But how Bill Paxton’s Kentucky drill sergeant is used in the film when Cruise continues to awaken over and over is a total hoot!

Oh, and in conclusion, once you understand that the end is NOT resetting time 2 days, and it’s actually only resetting it a few hours prior to when it was previously resetting, AND when Cage resets the Alpha/Omega that he got his ability from ceases to exist it’s pretty easy to wrap your head around everything!

Ultra HD Blu-ray Elements:
Edge of Tomorrow Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:
1. Operation Downfall - Adrenaline Cut
2. Storming The Beach
3. Weapons Of The Future
4. Creatures Not Of This World
5. On The Edge With Doug Liman
6. Deleted Scenes

Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow was directed by Liman from a screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth and based on the novel entitled “All You Need is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Edge of Tomorrow was the first motion picture to be shot at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden.

Edge of Tomorrow was produced by Erwin Stoff, Tom Lassally, Jeffrey Silver, Gregory Jacobs and Jason Hoffs, alongside executive producers Doug Liman, David Bartis, Joby Harold, Hidemi Fukuhara and Bruce Berman, with Tim Lewis and Kim Winther serving as co-producers.

Supporting Cruise and Blunt is an international cast that includes Bill Paxton (Aliens, HBO’s “Big Love”), Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1), Noah Taylor (Lawless), Kick Gurry (Australian TV’s “Tangle”), Dragomir Mrsic (Snabba Cash II), Charlotte Riley (World Without End), Jonas Armstrong (BBC TV’s “Robin Hood”), Franz Drameh (Attack the Block), Masayoshi Haneda (Emperor) and Tony Way (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Ultra HD* showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

Edge of Tomorrow will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 ERP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Digital download of the film. Fans can also own Edge of Tomorrow in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on July 5th, 2022.

Edge of Tomorrow | 4K Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment

Cinderella [Blu-ray+Digital]
(Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, Nicholas Galitzine, Billy Porter, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / PG / 2022 / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: From Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect), Cinderella is a musically driven bold new take on the classic fairytale. Our ambitious heroine (Camila Cabello) has big dreams and with the help of her Fab Godmother, she perseveres to make them come true.

Cinderella has an all-star cast including Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, James Corden, Nicholas Galitzine, Billy Porter and Pierce Brosnan.

Blu-ray Verdict: Opening with the town folks performing Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, we are then introduced to Ella (pop singer Camila Cabello in her first movie), who lives in the basement of her stepmother’s (Idina Menzel) home.

Yes, Ella has two stepsisters, although neither are particularly wicked. In fact, Anastasia (Maddie Baillio) appears almost disinterested, while Drizella (Charlotte Spencer) is at times, downright hilarious (in a Leslie Mann kind of way). Even the stepmother has moments of respectability and decency with Ella.

Ella’s only friends are the three mice who also live in the basement. It’s here where she hones her talent as a dress designer and dreams of having her own business (How hard can it be?, she muses).

For her, she sees fashion design as not just her way out of the basement, but more importantly, as her road to independence. She doesn’t need a man or anyone else, and is skilled in daily affirmations. Hers is less of a dream and more of a goal, despite the challenges of her situation.

Of course, this is still a Cinderella story, and Nicholas Galitzine plays Prince Robert, an unfocused young man who lacks the drive to be king and fulfill the ultimate wish of his father, King Rowan (Pierce Brosnan).

On the other hand, Robert’s sister, Princess Gwen (Tallulah Greive) is both driven and filled with ideas on ways to improve the kingdom. Her father readily dismisses her from matters of importance (men things), while Queen Beatrice (Minnie Driver) initially tries to maintain peace in the family.

Knowing that this is a musical, and seeing Pierce Brosnan’s name in the credits, might generate nightmarish flashbacks for those who experienced his singing in MAMMA MIA! (2008). While he does tease/threaten us with singing, most of his musical bits are quite tongue-in-cheek.

Bringing a jolt of energy to the story at a time when it’s desperately needed is Billy Porter as Ella’s non-binary Fabulous Godmother, known as Fab G. Porter’s costume and overall flamboyance are a hoot to watch, and oh by the way, he’s quite a singer as well.

And yes, the three mice turn into coachmen played by James Corden, James Acaster, and Romesh Ranganathan. They do serve up some comic relief, but likely not as much as they or the filmmaker hopes. Surprisingly, the set design and costume design are fairly drab - the two exceptions being Porter and the ball.

In addition to the opening Rhythm Nation song, you’ll hear a version of Salt-N-Pepa’s What a Man, as well as other familiar tunes. The music and the shift in Ella’s approach are the contemporary touches, as the girl-power theme stresses there’s no need for a man ... even a Prince.

The twist on the Cinderella tale varies from previous versions, the most popular being Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 film with Lily James and Cate Blanchett, the 1997 film with Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother, and of course, Walt Disney’s 1950 animated classic.

Ms. Cannon’s version is still a love story though for it’s just love of one’s self and career, rather than the love of another person. A tale perfectly suited to the times. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of a wondrous Gag Reel.

Sony Pictures @ YouTube

See For Me [Blu-ray]
(Skyler Davenport, Kim Coates, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Laura Vandervoort, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2022 / IMAGE Entertainment - IFC Midnight)

Overview: A group of thieves break into the luxurious, secluded mansion Sophie is house-sitting. Sophie, a visually impaired former skier, must rely on Kelly, an army veteran living across the country, to help her fight back.

Blu-ray Verdict: When blind former skier Sophie accepts a last minute house-sitting job in a secluded mansion, she awakes in the middle of the night to find the house under invasion by a group of thieves seeking a hidden safe.

Her only means of defense: a new app called “See For Me”, which matches her with a volunteer across the country who uses Sophie’s cell phone to see on her behalf.

Stubbornly independent, Sophie is reluctant to accept help until she is connected to Kelly, an army veteran who spends her days playing first person shooter games.

As the game of cat-and-mouse with the intruders escalates, Sophie is forced to learn that if she’s going to survive the night, she’ll need to take all the help she can get.

Writers Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue have taken the basic plot of the classic Audrey Hepburn Wait Until Dark and upgraded its technology. Blind and being stalked by violent criminals? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that.

Sophie Scott (Skyler Davenport) was a promising skier until she lost her sight to a rare disease. Now she combines house sitting and larceny because nobody would suspect the poor blind girl, as they say (somewhere).

Anyway, her current assignment house/cat sitting for a very rich Debra looks to be all about stealing an expensive bottle of wine or two. In truth, it’s a nice touch making the disabled heroine something other than a perfect angel that everyone wants to love and pity.

But what See For Me does it take this plot point a little bit too far, for my liking, as our lead, blind character exhibits many traits of, well, not being all that nice herself; and at times, more so than the criminals who have just broken in.

However, it turns out that is a magnificent trait to have in these particular circumstances as it comes in rather handy as the craziness unfolds around her.

Personally, and I’ve now watched this movie twice in three days, I have to say I am rather impressed by Skyler Davenport, our blind lead actress in the film who, it turns out, is actually legally blind in real life.

For this most definitely adds to the believably of her actions as a blind person stumbling around, knocking things over, and just acting blindly lost, for Davenport is very skilled at her craft here.

Sure, home invasion stories are a staple of the horror and thriller genres and so are a well-trodden territory, but when handled well, much like See For Me, they still offer an effective avenue for tension, pressure, and terror.

In closing, See For Me may not be anything new to the genre, may not even make you love the lead character enough to care (due to everything aforementioned about her), but what it does do is deliver a tight, impactful, efficient thriller, one with enough unique hooks and unexpected turns to set it (for the most part) apart from the pack.

Complete with that hook line of a rather unique twist, the result is a quick, edgy, old-school thriller that really works on most all thriller levels. A unique offering that fully deserves all the praise that it is receiving, albeit that most of it is deservedly aimed at the super talented Skyler Davenport. [RF] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official Trailer

Downton Abbey: A New Era [Blu-ray Combo]
(Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / PG / 2022 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: It’s time to return to Downton in DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA, available to own with bonus content on Digital June 24, 2022, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD on July 5th, 2022 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The much-anticipated cinematic return of Downton Abbey follows the Crawleys and their staff as they welcome a movie crew and their glamorous stars to Downton for the filming of a new silent movie, while other members of the family go on a grand adventure to a villa in the south of France to uncover a mystery about the Dowager Countess and her past.

Blu-ray Verdict: You will recall that one of the most satisfying tying up of loose ends in the 2019 movie was the introduction of a very likable character Lucy (Tuppence Middleton), offering hopes of ending Tom Branson’s (Allen Leech) seven years of lonely widower life.

Picking it up directly therefrom, A New Era opens with their wedding. Together with the wedding, a funeral bookends also A New Era, but I digress.

You may also recall that at the end of the 2019 movie was a revelation of what might be characterized as the beginning of the end. Violet Grantham (Maggie Smith) told her most beloved granddaughter Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) about her failing health. Death was not imminent but inevitable.

This was sad but not tragic as she had lived a long and satisfying life. In A New Era, we see Violet gracefully taking this final journey, but not without the sparkles that light up the scene every time she is around; but allow me to backtrack a little, if I might.

In the 2019 movie, everything evolved around a single plot line: the royal visit - the King and Queen were to stop by Downton Abbey for 24 hours on their tour. A New Era has two parallel plot lines, a tale of two estates, you may call it: Downton Abbey, and an exquisite villa in France.

Exotic as it may sound, the French villa plot is quite uneventful. An old flame of Violet’s had put this piece of property under her name decades ago, a few months before the birth of her son Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville). Upon the Frenchman’s death, his widow now refuses to surrender the villa to Violet, although her son is more amicable and invites the Downton Abbey masters and entourage to pay a visit to the villa.

Of far greater concern to Lord Grantham than the property is the innuendo that he is really the son of the recently deceased Frenchman, hence a fraud all these years as the master of Downton Abbey. False alarm, as it turns out, but I never told you that.

Far more interesting is what happens back home. It’s about the making of a silent movie (the year is 1928) using Downton Abbey for most of its scenes. With Lord Grantham and Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) away in France, Mary is in charge of handling this mayhem which, incidentally, will help significantly in bringing money needed rather badly for maintenance of the estate (particularly the roof, as already mentioned in the previous movie).

Not exactly royalties, the movie crew is yet equally formidable, with three key characters shaking up the idyllic, quiet life in Downton Abbey.

Impacting the Downton people least directly is gorgeous idol-goddess star Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock), with a haughty presence that hides her job insecurity. With her strong Cockney accent giving away a humble childhood (one character comments on this noticeable Achilles heel that George Bernard Shaw has even written a play about it), she wouldn’t survive the alarming, growing popularity of talkies.

This character is instrumental to some good scenes in which Daisy Parker - yes, she has married Andy - (Sophie McShera) and Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt). These two, as the Downton people closest to Dalgleish (being assigned to look after her), come to understand her so well that they finally succeed in talking her into becoming a better person.

Secondly, the charming director Jack Barber is played by Hugh Dancy who got my attention in quite a few movies (King Arthur, The Jane Austin Book Club, et al). Matured from Galahad he played in King Arthur, Dancy is now more like a Lancelot, whose charm becomes almost irresistible to cool Lady Mary.

Providing opportunity is the fact that her Europe-roaming, racing-car-fetish husband Henry is away in the entire movie (last time he at least made a cameo appearance in the end). Well, perhaps Matthew Goode was too busy filming the TV series The offer which, incidentally, is a brilliant dramatization of the story behind the making of The Godfather. But I have digressed once more, sorry.

The third of the three key characters from the movie-making hoard is the male lead in the silent movie, Gable-ish bachelor superstar Guy Dexter, played by veteran, prolific actor Dominic West.

If you remember from the 2019 movie, Thomas Barrow (Robert James Collier) who succeeded Mr Carson (Jim Carter) as Downton Abbey’s butler found true love in his sort of counterpart in the Royal staff during the King and Queen’s brief visit.

Unfortunately, that was the early 20th century when there was no whatssap. Long distance romance was difficult to maintain. Ah, but what about Tom and Lucy? you ask. Well, their romance by correspondence was blessed by Violet who quipped I’ll lick the stamps myself.

Anyway, it is another loose end nicely tied up when Dexter, planning to move to Hollywood, offers to take Barrow on as his personal dresser, a career move that is about a lot more than just a career. Barrow finally finds true love, and lives happily ever after. Another fairy-tale closure.

I have covered most of the important stuff in the movie. All the familiar people that I have not specifically mentioned are here, but with not much happening to them. One thing that absolutely must be mentioned however is one other loose end beautifully tied up - Molesley (Kevin Doyle) and Baxter (Raquel Cassidy).

While this couple has captured our hearts many times over, the immovable obstacle is his inferiority complex that his extremely modest salary as a school teacher is not adequate to provide her with a decent (not lavish) material life she deserves.

Everything changes when the good director, upon discovering Molesley’s writing talents, offers him an ongoing commission of script-writing, with handsome remuneration. Who would not love a fairy-tale ending?

Downton Abbey (TV series and movies) before Maggie Smith joined the ride midway through was already top-notch. She has managed to take it a few notches up. Violet Grantham will be missed in the next installment (can’t see why there shouldn’t be one, in my humble opinion). Unfortunately this is not the Marvel universe and they wouldn’t be able to bring back a character that has died ... or will they?!

And then, Downton Abbey will not feel complete without a Lady Mary/Carson embrace. Rest assured. With the entire weight of not only Downton Abbey, but also the entire village to carry on her shoulder, Mary needs a shoulder to lean on herself when things get tough. Who best to provide it than Carson, who has been like a second father to her ever since she was able to walk and talk? [HY]

• Good To Be Back - The cast is happy to be back at the estate and making their next film. Hear what it was like for them to see one another again and learn about their character’s continuing story arcs.
• Return to DOWNTON ABBEY: The Making-of A NEW ERA - A production as large as DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA takes incredible preparation, people, and craftsmanship. This in-depth making-of piece delves into the work that each department contributed to bring this film to life.
• A Legendary Character - Take a look back at the legendary character that is the Dowager Countess of Grantham and see why Maggie Smith was born to play the role.
• Creating The Film Within The Film - Take a deeper dive into the making of the film within the film, highlighting the extra research and details that were taken into consideration, from set design and vehicles to the plethora of period-accurate film equipment and props.
• Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia - Learn the real history behind Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia, and why it was a perfect vessel to play the cross-channel ferry in the film.
• Spill The Tea (Time) - Sit down with Allen Leech (Tom Branson) and Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith) as they spill all the details of what life on the set of DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA was really like.
• Feature Commentary with Director Simon Curtis

DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-rayTM, DVD and Digital.
• 4K Ultra HD delivers the ultimate movie watching experience, featuring the combination of 4K resolution and the color brilliance of High Dynamic Range (HDR).
• Blu-ray™ unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.

The motion picture will also be available in a Limited-Edition Gift Set, featuring the Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and Digital Code, presented in exclusive packaging along with vintage-style postcards, a photo book and a collectible Downton Abbey branded stainless steel tea strainer with a velvet bag.

Available only while supplies last, this special offering is the must-own gift for any Downton Abbey fan or to add to your own collection.

With a screenplay by Julian Fellowes and starring the original cast alongside exciting new additions, DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA is packed full of exuberant moments, excitement and humor, tears of joy and sadness and new beginnings for all your favorite characters.

DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA is also available to stream on Peacock on June 24th, 2022.

Official Trailer

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Bigfoot or Bust [Blu-ray]
(Gail Thackray, Melissa Brasselle, Lisa London, Becky Lebeau, Christine Nguyen, et al / NR / 2022 / Coldwater)

Overview: A team of curvy celebrities head out on a quest to search for the Bigfoot, unaware another group of time traveling buxom women from the future are also looking for the elusive creature.

Competitive hi-jinks ensues between the two teams, clashing with local hillbillies who are also hunting for the legendary beast.

The rivals engage in silly, slapstick capers in order to catch Bigfoot, leading up to a hilarious finale busting with laughs!

Verdict: With a tag line such as The Breast Bigfoot Movie Ever Made!, if you don’t know what you are in for from the off, then you have no right in having made this wondrously brilliant movie purchase in the first place!

And even knowing that, according to director Jim Wynorski, actress Rochelle Swanson was supposed to be in the cast, ending her retirement from acting, but who had to drop out, Bigfoot or Bust is (quite literally) chock full of busty beautiful women who more than fill the gap, so to speak!

Also noteworthy is the fact that this is Lisa London’s (Sudden Impact) first time working with director Jim Wynorski. Becky LeBeau recommended her for the role and at first it was just going to be a small cameo, and then she ended up one of the stars!

And as much as her acting isn’t going to ever win her any Oscar’s here, she, along with all the other female focal points are on tip tio form; playing along perfectly with the Russ Meyer-esque format.

In truth, the cult director behind Chopping Mall’s all-new film focuses less on the titular (sorry, couldn’t resist!) character and in classic Wynorski fashion, more on the cast of sexy women who try, and succeed in stealing the show for themselves.

“Having spent much of my formative years renting director Jim Wynorski’s VHS classics Chopping Mall and Return of Swamp Thing, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up Bigfoot or Bust,” MVD Director of Acquisitions Eric D. Wilkinson has said. “This film is hilarious in all the best possible ways, and I can’t recommend this enough for anyone who wants to check their brain at the door and just laugh at what is likely the silliest movie of 2022!”

Never to be taken seriously for a second, this so-called Bigfoot movie is nothing more than a rather glorious showcase for all the beautiful ladies on show. Scantily clad almost from the off, the host of leading ladies combined with some very goofy, and for the most part cleverly constructed (all be they cheesy, of course) one-liners is as good as it gets here in Bigfoot or Bust, trust me. This is a Widescreen (1:85.1) Presentation adapted for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Audio Commentary with Director Jim Wynorski
Music Video
Deleted Scene
Behind The Scenes Featurette
Original Theatrical Trailer
English Subtitles

Bigfoot or Bust Trailer

Van Duren - Waiting: The Van Duren Story
(Van Duren, Jody Stephens, Andrew Loog Oldham, Hilly Michaels, Mickey Curry, et al / NR / 2018 (2022) / MVD Visual)

Overview: From the ashes of Big Star in Memphis, Van Duren played in bands with Jody Stephens and Chris Bell, before being led to New Haven by manager Andrew Loog Oldham of the Rolling Stones.

Forty years later, two Australians discover his music and on a drunken promise, embark on an amazing journey to make a film about the artist touted as the next Paul McCartney.

There’s only one catch - Wade and Greg have never made a movie before, so it’s learn as they go!

Verdict: This Award winning documentary on the lost Memphis powerpop artist, Van Duren is one of the most engrossing so-called bio-pics I have had the pleasure to watch for a very, very long time. Not someone I knew one smidge about before diving into this documentary, I am now lovingly all brought up to date on one of the most fascinating, and wholly under-appreciated powerpop musicians of an age.

On their quest to get this bio-pic completed, Jody Stephens and Chris Bell stumble upon con men, rock stars and Scientologists, as they uncover the dark secrets that kept Duren’s second album from ever being released. Despite one setback after another, they soldier on, until they realize he doesn’t own the rights to his music.

Without the music, how will they complete the film?

After meeting Van Duren at Ardent Studios in Memphis, they realize that they are now part of the story, and must help Duren get his music rights back, which makes this a real-life Searching for Sugarman with a feel-good approach as two Aussies venture across the globe to discover the driving passion of music, and the commitment to fulfill a promise.

Chock full of heartwarming passion and together with a strong vein of devotion and honest love for what their subject was to them, and his fans, Van Duren - Waiting: The Van Duren Story is a highly touching bio-pic about a musician that always laid it all on the table when it came to his music and recordings.

A quite wondrous viewing opportunity for all fans of powerpop and a rather delicious way to keep the spirit of the great man still alive, his flame of inspiration burning brightly, everything about this documentary is masterfully crafted from start to finish.

Featuring Jody Stephens, Andrew Loog Oldham, Hilly Michaels, Greg Morrow and Mickey Curry there is also a limited edition digipak Collectors Edition that comes with extended interviews with Andrew Loog Oldham (Rolling Stones), Jody Stephens (Big Star) and Terry Manning (Ardent Studios). This is a Widescreen (1:85.1) Presentation adapted for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Interview with Terry Manning (Ardent Studios)
Interview with Andrew Loog Oldham (Rolling Stonees)
Behind The Scenes Footage
Interview with Jody Stephens (Big Star)

Official Trailer

Giallo Essentials: Black Edition
(Jenny Tamburi, Silvano Tranquilli, Renzo Montagnani, Bedy Moratti, Rosanna Schiaffino, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2022 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Giallo Essentials: Black Edition (Smile Before Death, The Weapon, The Hour, The Motive & The Killer Reserved Nine Seats) is a 3-Disc Limited Edition Blu-ray set that brings together all three of these oft-overlooked gialli and which are all now restored in 2K from their original camera negatives [includes brand-new, Arrow-exclusive restorations of all three films alongside a range of in-depth bonus features].

Verdict: In Silvio Amadio’s Smile Before Death (1972), familicide with a sprinkling of Oedipal love is the order of the day when teenager Nancy returns home to discover the apparent suicide of her mother, and quickly comes to suspect that her stepfather and his mistress are to blame.

Smile Before Death is nice little giallo. With only three characters that have any real screen-time and only two or three different sets, it’s what I’d definitely call little. Nancy’s mother’s murder may not be overly complicated, but it’s still a real treat to watch Nancy get to the bottom of things as Marco and Gianna turn on each other.

It’s a hoot watching Nancy play them like a fiddle. They fall for it hook, line, and sinker. It’s some terrific writing given how little the movie is. Director Silvio Amadio (better known for his giallo, Amuck) does a remarkable job of keeping the interest high even though we already know where most of the film is headed.

Amadio also does a fantastic job of springing not just one, but two twists near the film’s finale, of which I’m please to say that both worked perfectly, as far as I’m concerned.

Next, horny priests and self-flagellating nuns abound in Francesco Mazzei’s The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive, (1972) as police commissioner Franco Boito investigates the brutal murder of a young clergyman, only to enter into an affair with the dead man’s lover.

The film now only examines a murder, but the idea that a Catholic priest - Don Giorgio - is having an affair with two different women - Orchidea (Bedy Moratti - Women in Cell Block 7) and Giulia Pisani (Eva Czemerys - The Killer Reserved Nine Seats) - and tries to break things off with both of them before he’s killed.

Since Inspector Boito (Renzo Montagnani) has already fallen for Orchidea - whose husband has just committed suicide - what’s the hope for a fair inspection of who the killer could be?

The only person who may know is a young orphan who lives in the church named Ferruccio, who once watched while Don Giorgio self-flagellated, and who now is kept drugged and quiet. There’s also the matter of a skeleton-filled catacomb under the church in addition to nuns taking baths fully clothed and whipping one another fully nude!

Finally comes Giuseppe Bennati’s The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (1974), an assortment of wealthy degenerates – including Italian cult mainstays Andrea Scotti and Howard Ross – answer the summons of an eccentric nobleman and assemble in the theatre attached to his ancestral home, only to find themselves trapped in the decaying building while a savage killer picks them off Agatha Christie-style!

This is a surprisingly entertaining Italian giallo that resembles a lot of later American slasher movies more than it does the earlier or contemporary Italian thrillers. As in slasher films like Stage Fright (both versions), Popcorn, and Clown at Midnight this film is basically about nine people who attend a showing at a mysteriously deserted theater and find themselves trapped inside and picked off one-by-one by a mysterious masked killer; who may be motivated by revenge.

Really though the plot here is pretty inconsequential. This movie is much closer to the stylish gialli than amateurish slasher movies in quality, and instead of having a cast of adolescent American nitwits, the cast is made up of sumptuous European beauties who spend much of the movie in various states of undress - oh yeah, and the male lead from South Pacific! These are all Full Screen (1:33.1) Presentations adapted for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

New 2K restorations from the original camera negatives of Smile Before Death and The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive
2K restoration from the original camera negative of The Killer Reserved Nine Seats
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of each film
Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks on Smile Before Death and The Killer Reserved Nine Seats
Original lossless mono Italian soundtrack on The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive
English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
Rigid box packaging with original artwork in a windowed Giallo Essentials Collection slipcover
Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais, Peter Strain and Haunt Love

New commentary by authors and critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
Original Italian and English front and end titles
Smile of the Hyena, new video interview with Stefano Amadio, film journalist and son of director Silvio Amadio
Never-before-seen extended nude scenes, not used in the final film
Image gallery

New commentary by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
A Man in Giallo, new video interview with actor Salvatore Puntillo
Front and end titles for the lost English-language dub
Image gallery

New commentary by author and critic Kat Ellinger
Hanging with Howard, video interview with actor Howard Ross
Writing with Biagio, video interview with screenwriter Biagio Proietti
Italian theatrical trailer (in Italian and English)
Image gallery

Desperate Hours: Special Edition
(Mickey Rourke, Anthony Hopkins, Mimi Rogers, Lindsay Crouse, Kelly Lynch, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1990) 2022 / MVD Visual)

Overview: From Academy Award®-winning director Michael Cimino comes this taut psychological thriller about a family held hostage in their own home.

Starring Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), Oscar® winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs), Mimi Rogers (Someone Who Watch Over Me) and Kelly Lynch (Road House), this nail-biting action film grabs you by the throat and leaves you gasping in terror. Prepare yourself. The Desperate Hours have begun.

In dire need of a hideout, escaped convict Michael Bosworth (Rourke) uses his charming smile to gain entry into the posh home of Nora and Tim Cornell (Rogers and Hopkins) and their two children. While waiting for his beautiful lawyer-turned-accomplice (Lynch) to arrive, Bosworth’s smile soon explodes into homicidal rage when the Cornell’s desperately try to fight back.

Holding the family at gunpoint and ruthlessly pitting husband against wife, Bosworth’s fury escalates into a shocking night of terror and cold-blooded murder. Finally, the family is forced to take a stand that will either destroy them ... or unite them as never before.

Blu-ray Verdict: Desperate Hours is a 1990 remake of William Wyler’s psycho drama of the same name from 1955 featuring Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March as original cast. This is the story of a blood-thirsty gang raiding an upper class suburb house on their run from the police after a series of ambitious big projects like Heaven’s Gate, Year of the Dragon and The Sicilian in the eighties.

In this remake, it is Mickey Rourke’s turn to play Bogart’s leading role, and he turned Bogart’s coolness into a portrait of a psychopathic gentleman gangster whose violent dominance is about to erupt like a volcano every second. His counterpart is lawyer Anthony Hopkins, an upper-class citizen and head of a broken family. Both men are fighting against each other in every possible way, starting with psycho duels and witty conversations to hard fights and pure wars of nerves.

Most of the plot takes place in Hopkins’ house, and as soon as the story is settled out of this apparent suburb paradise hell breaks out, starting from Rourke’s violent escape from a courthouse prison in the beginning of the film to the final showdown when the police arrives.

Cimino’s direction works well with his whole ensemble often placed in the living room like actors on a static theater stage, and the camera views the psychological warfare often from a very distant ankle like in a documentary. The great cast of all actors featuring Mimi Rodgers, Kelly Lynch, Elias Koteas and David Morse and the minimal and seducing sound track score by David Mansfield add much tension to this well-dome remake of a great fifties crime drama. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround, French Stereo
English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, French Subtitles
Behind the Scenes Featurette (HD, 6:00)
Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:00)
Photo Gallery
Collectible Mini-Poster
Reversible Artwork
Limited Edition Slipcover

Martial Club: Special Edition
(Te-Lo Mai, Kara Wai, Chia-Hui Liu, Lung-Wei Wang, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1981) 2022 / 88 Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: A gloriously typical entry from Shaw Brothers, Martial Club starring Kara Wei (THE BRAVE ARCHER 2 and MAD MONKEY KUNG FU) and Gordon Liu (THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN) and directed by Lau Kar-Leung (LEGENDARY WEAPONS OF CHINA), affords us a fast-paced, cleverly choreographed piece of martial arts fun combining many elements that lovers of this kind of cinema will be more than appreciative of.

Rival fight schools, an old master and beautifully designed set pieces tumble together in a colorfully kinaesthetic unceasing parade of flying fists and action set pieces.

Blu-ray Verdict: Once again director Liu Chia-Liang manages to pull it out of the bag with this Shaw Brothers mini-epic focused around the different styles of Chinese martial arts, particularly the gulf between northern and southern styles.

By 1981 you might expect Shaw films to start becoming a little derivative and repetitive but by contrast MARTIAL CLUB is one of the freshest-feeling films I’ve watched from the studio.

This inventive story is unlike anything else I’ve seen from the studio. The plot is nothing special, about three rival kung fu schools and their attempts to get one up on each other. However, MARTIAL CLUB is in reality a thematic film exploring subjects such as honor, rivalry, and chivalry and as such it becomes a mature and enthralling piece of film-making.

In fact, it’s the total opposite of the kind of bloody and visceral entertainment that Chang Cheh was putting out during the era, instead feeling graceful and even profound in places.

Elsewhere, there’s very little to dislike about any of the film’s ingredients. With Chia-Liang directing and doing the fight choreography, the action is admittedly spectacular and never repeats itself. There are the usual one-on-one and one-on-many duels and bouts and one great riotous moment in a theater that reminded me of similar greatness in the likes of JASON BOURNE; Chia-Liang certainly know how to direct chaotic action well. Inevitably the best stuff is saved for the climax with the alley fight perhaps being one of the greatest Shaw Brothers action scenes ever.

The cast is also exemplary. Gordon Liu does his erstwhile hero bit very well, convincing as the headstrong youth. Kara Hui impresses yet again as his rival and it’s hard to take your eyes off her whenever she’s on screen. Hsiao Hou is excellent in support and the likes of Ku Feng round out the cast nicely.

However, by far the best actor in the whole thing is Wang Lung Wei in an excellent turn as a true martial arts expert. Lung Wei is so often cast as a stock villain and his honorable turn here sees him playing a good guy for once and he’s absolutely brilliant in it; his character dominates the story and he gives the performance of his life. He really makes you wish he could have played more than stock villain types all the time! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

HD Transfer from the Original Negative in 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono Cantonese Audio with Newly Translated English Subtitles
1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono English Audio (Synced Best possible From Instructors of Death Print)
Commentary with Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng and Actor / Martial Artist Michael Worth
Supplemental Audio commentary with Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng
Instructors of Death - Grindhouse Presentation
Kung Fu and Dancing - An Interview with Actor Robert Mak
Born to Be Bad - An Interview with Actor Johnny Wang
Disciples of Shaolin - An Interview with Stuntmen Hung Sun-Nam and Tony Tam
The Right-Hand Man - An Interview with Producer Lawrence Wong
‘Instructors of Death’ Trailer
Hong Kong Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original Hong Kong poster artwork

Miami Blues: Special Edition
(Alec Baldwin, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nora Dunn, Paul Gleason, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1990) 2022 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Junior Frenger (Alec Baldwin, The Departed, “30 Rock”) is trouble and Sgt. Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward, Tremors, Short Cuts) knows it. Junior, smooth-talking, good-looking ex-con tiptoes on the borderline of psychotic behavior in this thriller-with-a-comic-edge. Moseley is the detective hot on his trail after Junior kills a Hare Krishna, robs a pickpocket, then steals Moseley’s badge, his gun … and even his false teeth!

Junior’s running around the streets of Miami posing as a cop, assaulting people and making arrests. And even though he promises his live-in lover (an ex-prostitute played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight) that he’ll stay out of crime, he continues playing cops and robbers on both sides of the law.

Quirky and unpredictable, Miami Blues has been hailed by critics and the public alike as a dark, comic cops-and-robbers thriller unlike any other.

Blu-ray Verdict: Simply put, Miami Blues is an arresting, oddball and darkly comedic crime fiction from the mind of the late Charles Willeford, written for the screen and directed by George Armitage and co-produced by Jonathan Demme.

Some people may find it a little too unpleasant for their tastes, but others will delight in its unpredictability. It’s got enough interesting faces in its supporting cast to help it make an enjoyable cult-favorite type of film.

Alec Baldwin plays psychopathic hoodlum Junior Frenger, who arrives in Miami intending to start over, or in his case simply move on to a new assortment of victims (he begins by messing up a Hare Krishna in an airport!)

He hooks up with Susie Waggoner, a sweet, simple minded hooker played by the endearing Jennifer Jason Leigh. A tough homicide detective, Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward, good as always) follows his trail, but gets victimized himself when Junior gets the drop on him, and steals Hokes’ gun, badge, and false teeth. Junior then has the time of his life pretending to be a cop, while entering into a domestic situation with Susie.

Miami Blues does get fairly violent sometimes, but if this sort of thing doesn’t bother you, you can have a good time with this story and these players. It’s got a hip soundtrack including a score by Gary Chang (this reviewer loves the use of Norman Greenbaums’ Spirit in the Sky).

Among the supporting actors are Nora Dunn of Saturday Night Live & Three Kings, Demme regular Charles Napier (The Blues Brothers, The Silence of the Lambs), Obba Babatunde, and Jose Perez; cameos range from Martine Beswicke (Prehistoric Women) to Paul Gleason (The Breakfast Club) to Shirley Stoler (The Honeymoon Killers). Highly recommended to fans of cult cinema. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio
LPCM Master Audio 2.0 Stereo, Spanish Mono, French Stereo
English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, French Subtitles
Interviews with Alec Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh (HD, 26:01)
Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:11)
3 TV Spots (SD)
Original Orion Home Video ‘Miami Blues’ Trailer (SD, 1:57)
Photo Gallery
Collectible Mini-Poster
Reversible Artwork