Tuesday, January 26, 2021

COME PLAY (2020) (Universal Home Pictures Entertainment Blu-ray Review)

COME PLAY (2020)

Label: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 96 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.39:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French and Spanish DTS-HD MA Digital Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Jacob Chase
Cast: Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr., Azhy Robertson, Winslow Fegley

In the supernatural app-horror entry Come Play (2020) adolescent boy Oliver (Azhy Robertson, Marriage Story) is a non-verbal kid on the autism spectrum, which makes it a bit of struggle to communicate and connect with his family and friends. He is able to communicate through a symbol-to-speech app on his smartphone, but it is through the smartphone that lonely Oliver discovers a new app called Misunderstood Monsters. The app tells the story of a lonely monster named "Larry", who is misunderstood and only looking for friend. Oliver notices that when he is on the Misunderstood Monsters app that the lights in his room flicker, that it seems to be more than just an app. Oliver begins to grow fearful of the app and the creature that seemingly lurks within it. He is not wrong, Larry is trying to use the app as a conduit to break free of his screen-world and into ours in an effort to befriend the kid and steal him away. 

Not too surprisingly Oliver’s parents, Sarah (Gilliam Jacobs, Bad Milo!) and Marty (John Gallagher Jr., Underwater), do not at first believe him when he tries to warn them about the app-monster Larry. However, when the entity makes it's presence known at an awkward sleepover with bullying friends the struggling couple come to realize the app-monster is real, and they will have to fight to save their son from the friend-seeking creature.

I thought the main cast in this flick were pretty great, especially young actor Azhy Robertson whose facial expressions and physical acting manage to say a lot even without verbally being able to communicate it, other than with the assistance of the speech app. My favorite parts of the story are when it is Oliver himself, or with a group of kids, having to confront by Larry, and I sort of wish we got to see more of the kids on their own against the entity,  which is when the threat feels the most potent, those are the bits that pulled me into the story. The parental stuff was less effective for me but I still think the actors do a fine job. Overall I though the flick was a decent scary flick for early teens, but for a jaded horror fan like myself it was only a decent time waster on a Monday night, a classic one and done. 

Audio/Video: Come Play (2020) arrives on Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment framed in 2.39:1 widescreen in 1080p HD. The digital shot films, lensed by  Maxime Alexandre (Crawl, High Tensionlooks quite good in HD, the subdued colors are well saturated and there's a pleasing amount of fine detail in the close-ups. We also get some solid detail in the darker scenes, of which there are many. The audio comes by way of English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with optional English subtitles, the surround has some creepily effective  use of the surrounds and the score from Spanish composer Roque Baños (Evil Dead, Don't Breathe) has some nice placement in the surround mix as well. 

There are zero extras on the Blu-ray, not even a trailer, and I was hoping they would include the original short film that it is based on, "Larry", but no dice. The single-disc release arrives in a standard keepcase with a single-sided sleeve of artwork. We also get a slipcover with the same artwork with an embossed logo on the front cover and spine. Inside you will find a Movies Anywhere digital code for a digital copy of the film. 

Special Features:
- None

Come Play (2020) is a creepy but standard-issue PG-13 fright film aimed an early teen audience, the ones who come out in droves for the Blumhouse stuff, with no disrespect to Blumhouse, I like plenty of their films. The flick combines elements of the Slender Man story with some app-horror tropes like augmented-reality thrown in, but it was all a bit too familiar and nothing to get too excited about. If you're introducing some inexperienced kids to horror and don't to scar them with something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Evil Dead 2 this would be a safe bet, but if you're a well-versed horror fan looking for a solid chiller  this might taste a bit bland.

More screenshots from the Blu-ray: 

Don’t Tell a Soul (2020) arrives on DVD and Blu-ray 3/16

Blu-ray + Digital 

Some secrets should stay buried when Don’t Tell a Soul arrives on DVD and Blu-ray (plus Digital) March 16th from Lionsgate. It is currently available On Demand and Digital Platforms. Feature directorial debut for Alex McAulay (Writer of Flower), the film premiered at the Deauville Film Festival in September 2020 and selected for the Tribecca Film Festival. Don’t Tell a Soul stars Primetime Emmy nominee Rainn Wilson (2007, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, “The Office”; 2008, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, “The Office”; 2009, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, “The Office”), Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk, TV’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”, The Children Act), Jack Dylan Grazer (It, It Chapter Two, Shazam!) and Mena Suvari (TV’s “American Woman”, “American Horror Story”, American Pie franchise). Don’t Tell a Soul will be available on DVD and Blu-ray+Digital combo for the suggested retail price of $19.98 and $21.99, respectively.

Synopsis: While stealing money to help their sick mother (Mena Suvari), teen brothers Matt and Joey (Fionn Whitehead and Jack Dylan Grazer) are surprised by Hamby (Primetime Emmy Award nominee Rainn Wilson), a security officer who gives chase and is then trapped in a well. Over the next few days, Joey and Hamby forge an uneasy relationship. Hamby tells Joey he’ll keep quiet if Joey sets him free. But Hamby holds another secret, one that will threaten Joey and his family, in this twist-filled, cat-and-mouse thriller.

Special Features: 
- Flesh & Blood: Creating Don’t Tell A Soul

Rainn Wilson TV’s “The Office”, The Meg, “Mom”
Fionn Whitehead Dunkirk, TV’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”, The Children Act
Jack Dylan Grazer It, It Chapter Two, Shazam!
Mena Suvari TV’s “American Woman”, “American Horror Story”, American Pie franchise

Program Information:
Year of Production: 2019
Title Copyright: Don’t Tell a Soul © 2020 Unbridled Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Artwork & Supplementary Materials © 2020 Saban Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Type: Theatrical Release
Rating: R for language, some violence, teen drug use and a sexual reference
Genre: Thriller
Closed-Captioned: N/A
Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH
Feature Run Time: 96 minutes
Blu-ray Format: 16x9 2.39:1 Presentation
DVD Format: 16x9 2.39:1 Presentation
Blu-ray Audio: English Dolby Atmos
DVD Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN (1980) arrives on 3-Disc Limited Edition (4K UHD + Blu-ray + CD) April 27th from Blue Underground!

3-Disc Limited Edition (4K UHD + Blu-ray + CD)

Label: Blue Underground
Release Date: April 27th, 2021
Region Code: Region-FREE  
Rating: PG
Duration: 102 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0; French DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English SDH, Français, Español Subtitles 
Video: 2160p Ultra HDWidescreen (2.40:1) DolbyVision HDR10, 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: Don Taylor
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross, James Farentino, Ron O’Neal, Charles Durning
Trapped outside the boundaries of time and space – 102 aircraft... 6,000 men... all missing.

The time is now. The place is aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz, America’s mightiest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean. Suddenly, a freak electrical storm engulfs the ship and triggers the impossible: The Nimitz is hurtled back in time to December 6th, 1941, mere hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As the enemy fleet speeds towards Hawaii, the warship’s Captain (Kirk Douglas), a Defense Department expert (Martin Sheen), a maverick Air Wing Commander (James Farentino) and a desperate Senator in the Roosevelt administration (Charles Durning) must choose between the unthinkable. Do they allow the Japanese to complete their murderous invasion, or launch a massive counterstrike that will forever change the course of history?

Katharine Ross and Ron O’Neal co-star in this spellbinding sci-fi action hit filmed on location aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz with the full participation of the U.S. Navy and the ship’s crew. Now Blue Underground is proud to present THE FINAL COUNTDOWN in a stunning new restoration, scanned in 4K 16-bit from the original 35mm camera negative, with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio, for the ultimate in explosive home theater excitement!

Special Featurs: 
- Audio Commentary with Director of Photography Victor J. Kemper
- Lloyd Kaufman Goes Hollywood - Interview with Associate Producer Lloyd Kaufman
- Starring The Jolly Rogers - Interviews with The Jolly Rogers F-14 Fighter Squadron
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Poster & Still Galleries
- BONUS! THE FINAL COUNTDOWN Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD by John Scott
- BONUS! Collectible Booklet featuring The Zero Pilot Journal

Sell Points:
- The action-packed sci-fi classic returns in a new 40th Anniversary 3-Disc Limited Edition!
- WORLD PREMIERE! New 4K Restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
- Exclusive Limited Collector’s Edition includes 4K UHD Blu-ray, Remastered Blu-ray, Soundtrack CD, collectible booklet, reversible sleeve, and 3D lenticular slipcover (First Pressing Only)
- UHD features 2160p Ultra HD Resolution and Dolby Vision HDR, with Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio
- Remastered Blu-ray features 1080p HD Resolution, with Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio
 -Compatible with D-BOX home theater systems
- National Print Advertising and extensive Online Exposure
- Directed by Don Taylor (DAMIEN: OMEN II, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU)
- All-Star cast includes Academy Award winner Kirk Douglas (SPARTACUS, LUST FOR LIFE), Golden Globe winner Martin Sheen (APOCALYPSE NOW, THE WEST WING), Academy Award nominee Katharine Ross (THE GRADUATE, THE STEPFORD WIVES), Golden Globe winner James Farentino (DEAD & BURIED, BLUE THUNDER), Ron O’Neal (SUPER FLY, RED DAWN), and Academy Award nominee Charles Durning (WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, TOOTSIE)
- Features a rousing score by Award-winning Composer John Scott (GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LIONHEART)

Monday, January 25, 2021

MEAN MAN: THE STORY OF CHRIS HOLMES (2021) (Cleopatra Entertainment Blu-ray Review)


 Cleopatra Entertainment
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 80 Minutes 
English Dolby Digital 5.1 
with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Antoine De Montremy
Cast: Chris Holmes, Scott Ian, 
Dizzy Reed, Johnny Rod, Stet Howland

I must have been about thirteen when a schoolmate handed me the firsts self-titled W.A.S.P. cassette and told me to check it out. I dutifully carried it around school with me all day obsessively looking at the cool evil-looking artwork and thinking that these guys looked fucking cool! When the last bell of the school day rang I went to my locker and retrieved by cassette Walkman and slipped in the cassette tape in as I exited the school in my jean jacket and began my routine walk home. That was the day I fell in love with shock-rockers W.A.S.P., and it all began with that one-two punch of "I Wanna Be Somebody" and "L.O.V.E. Machine" that burned into me metal-loving ears, tapping directly into my overly-excited and lustful teenage brain, it was the right band at the right time. The band had been on my radar for a while as I had been following the humorous exploits of the uptight conservative censorship group Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center (P.M.R.C.) and their ridiculous efforts to make parent's aware of the supposedly dangerous music that their kids were listening to. They has placed the band's notorious "Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)" song on their "Filthy 15" list, a grouping of songs by bands that also included prime cuts from Motely Crue, Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath and Venom - in addition to Prince and Cyndi Lauper! Counter to their intentions it was through this list that I first heard of the bands W.A.S.P., Venom and Mercyful Fate, so thank you and fuck you to the P.M.R.C. for that! The band's horror imagery went quite well with my love of scary movies with a great live sact that included setting the band logo on fire above the stage, spitting blood, throwing raw meat at the audience and faux torturing half nude women. It was a real tasteless mix of Kiss-styled  showmanship by way of Alice Cooper mixed in with that Shout At The Devil-era Motley Crue aesthetic, it certainly hit the sweet spot for me at that age. 

The shock-rockers released a string of salacious metal albums throughout the eighties before guitarist Chris Holmes departed following the release of their fourth studio album, 
The Headless Children (1989). It was after his departure that I pretty much checkout of new albums by W.A.S.P.. I have only recently going back and checked out the post-Holmes discography, though did briefly return tot he fold in the late-90's. The image and sound of Holmes and front man Blackie Lawless were an integral part of attracted me to the band, they were a great duo but were apparently not the best of friends behind-the-scenes. The doc does dig into their complicated 
history a little bit, noting that it was Lawless who helped get Holmes get off the sauce in the late-90's, which is cool, but he also seems to have screwed him over when it comes to songwriting credit and royalties owed. 

This meat of the doc is catching up with Chris Holmes who is still alive, which might be surprising to anyone who saw the infamous clip of him in Penelope Spheeris's lampooning metal-doc The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, where we saw Holmes floating in a swimming pool and drinking and excessive amount of vodka before drunkenly pouring it over his head, while his sad-eyed and clearly embarrassed mom watches from poolside. He is now married an living in Southern France where he has been touring and making music with his latest band Mean Man, in which he sings and plays guitar. 

The doc is not a deep diving examination of his career, his guitar-style, or his contributions to W.A.S.P., it's more of a tour doc peppered with interviews with Holmes as Mean Man makes their way through Europe playing a handful of smaller clubs and bars to the delight of hardcore fans. Holmes during his interviews touches on his childhood, the early bands he was in, the formation of W.A.S.P. and his relationship with Blackie Lawless, and his marriage to rocker Lita Ford. He also gets into what life has been like since, including performing in the band Psycho Squad, whom I had never even heard of till I watched this doc, but from what I could tell their only output was a cassette demo tape, so maybe that is not all that surprising. 

Also interviewed for the doc are friends and musical contemporaries like Scott Ian of Anthrax, former W.A.S.P. members Johnny Rod and Stet Howland, Rob Chevelle of Lit Soul, Blitz from Overkill, Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth, Henrik Bergqvist of The Poodles, Dizzy Reed of Guns N' Roses,  band mates Jungle Jim and Chris Olson of Psycho Squad, former W.A.S.P. roadie Curt Levis, L.A. concert promoters Joe Sutton and Gina Zamparelli, GNR tour manager Doug Goldstein, Chet Thompson from Hellion, producer Bill Metoyer, as well as childhood friends David Nord, Denny Barry and Jack Van Furchge', Doug Anderson of the Van Halen Museum, plus his uncle, sister and mother. It's a good mix of memories and love for the guitarist as the talking heads talk of Holmes' friendliness, his distinct guitar tone, and his antics both on-stage and behind the scenes. 

Holmes come across a super-nice guy who leans a bit on the annoying side, he has a big goofy personality and doesn't seem to have much of a filter. We often hear his wife, whom I believe is also his tour manager, telling his to stop doing embarrassing stuff or to tone it down a bit, and for the most part she doesn't have much luck reigning him in. Sober for over 20 years this just seems to be his personality, he's just a big jovial guy who loves to get silly and truly doesn't give a fuck what anybody thinks about anything, he just wants to rock and roll for as long as he can. 

The doc doesn't have much of an arc to it, I would have preferred more depth and detail about his time in W.A.S,P., his song-writing contributions, and what lead to the fall-out with Blackie Lawless, and while there's a bit of that there was not enough for my tastes, which as a fan of W.A.S.P. is what I was looking for. Honestly I am not such a fan of Holmes post-W.A.S.P. stuff,  including his current band Mean Man. He's not a great singer but as he says, he'd rather be a bad singer than have to deal with shit-heel lead singers, apparently Blackie left his mark on the man! At the end of the day he seems to be having a great time doing what he is doing, and that's what counts. If you are a fan of Mean Man you're in luck, we get plenty of footage of him and the band rocking the bar rooms, playing what looks to be the same thirty plus years old guitars he played back in W.A.S.P., beat to Hell and back, but still sounding great in the hands of a rock n' roll wild man. 

Audio/Video: Mean Man: The Story of Chris Homes (2021) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Cleopatra Entertainment in 1080p framed in 1.78:1 widescreen. The new digital shot interviews and live performances look great. Also mixed in are vintage clips from W.A.S.P. interviews and concert footage from VHS sources, so it's a mixed bag, but within the constraints of a documentary it was just fine. Audio comes by way of lossy English Dolby Digital 5.1 with optional English subtitles, everything is clean and well-defined in the sound department. 

Extras on the disc includes a brief image gallery, and a handful of Cleopatra Entertainment trailers, but the main extras are the seventy-five minutes of bonus interview footage which includes some great stuff like Holmes recalling the time he auditioned for Ozzy and what it was like touring with Metallica and Armored Saint back in '84-'85, as well as behind-the-scenes shenanigans while opening for Iron Maiden. It also gets into his friendship with the late Eddie Van Halen and how Eddie used one of Holmes' guitars on the Women and Children First album. We also gets lots more childhood memories from family and friends as well as W.A.S.P. stories from former bandmates and roadie Curt Levis who has some great tour tales to tell

Special Features: 
- Bonus Footage (75 min) 
- Image Gallery (24 Images) (1 min) 
- Cleopatra Entertainment Trailers: Street Survivors (2 min), Hollywood Rocks (4 min), Jane's Addiction: Ritual De Lo Habitual - Live From Irvine Meadows (3 min), Conny Plank (2 min), Bluebird (2 min),  Melody Makers (3 min), Mean Man:  The Story of Chris Holmes (2 min) 

Mean Man: The Story of Chris Holmes (2021) is not so much an in-depth exploration of the guitarist's' life and career as it is a celebration of his improbable survival and "I don't give a fuck" attitude, and to that end it's an enjoyable enough watch. I learned quite a bit about the man that I did know beforehand, but there was just not enough W.A.S.P. talk for me, but this is a doc about Holmes, not that band, so it is forgivable. Seeing the now sixty plus year old guitarist still out there rocking n' rolling with his band and seeing how sincerely appreciative he is of his fans is super-cool, but if you're looking for a deep dive into the history of W.A.S.P. chock full o' heavy metal pathos this is maybe not the doc for you.   

More screenshots from the Blu-ray: