Wednesday, April 10, 2019

THE EPITAPH VOL.13 - ACCIDENT (2017) - THE MAN WITH THE MAGIC BOX (2017) - DONNIE BRASCO (1997) - THE RUNDOWN (2003) - BARB WIRE (1996) - OUTLAWS & CON MEN 4-FILM COLLECTION(1966-1972) - AMERICAN NIGHTMARES (2018)

THE EPITAPH VOL.13 


ACCIDENT (2017) 

Label: Well Go USA
Region Code: A
Duration: 95 Minutes 
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.39:1) 
Director: Dan Tondowski
Cast: Stephanie Schildknecht, Roxane Hayward, Tyrone Keogh

A pair of very attractive young ladies are hitchhiking to a music festival when they are picked up by a pair of guys driving a sporty car, a make-out session in the backseat gone wrong turns into a huge vehicular accident with the foursome injured, trapped and stranded in an overturned car off the main road. Things go from bad to worse when they guys turn out to be something other than what they first appeared, and then a group  paramilitary mercenaries show looking to recover something hidden away inside the car! This is a ridiculous sort of film that has a simple enough premise but everything is stretched beyond reality, with actors that are easy on the eyes, but are given stiff dialogue that they aren't capable enough t sell convincingly, but if you're looking for a trashy, generic thriller with a good-looking cast but not much else this might fit the bill, a one and done for me. The Blu-ray from Well Go USA sports a 1080p HD widescreen (2.39:1) transfer with English DTS-HD MA audio, the only extras are a selection of trailers.


THE MAN WITH THE MAGIC BOX (2017)

Label: Artsploitation Films
Region Code: 1
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 103 Minutes 
Audio: Polish Dolby Digital with Optional English Subtitled
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen
Director: Izabela Igel, Roman Jarosz
Cast: Piotr Polak, Olga Bołądź, Sebastian Stanki Stankiewicz, Helena Norowicz 

In the Orwellian tradition of Terry Gilliam's Brazil comes this wonderful Polish love-story that is visually lush and well-crafted, offering notions of time travel and a forbidden love that spans several time lines.  This is heavily influenced by Terry Gilliam and at time brought to mind Eternal Sunshine on a Spotless Mind, even squeezing in a reference to Men In Black! I found The Man With The Magic Box to be an intoxicating film from start to finish, lover's of arthouse sci-fi and offbeat love stories wrapped in Orwellian imagery are in for a real treat! 

DONNIE BRASCO (1997) 

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 126 Minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: Mike Newell
Cast:

Set in the late-70s the 90s mob film Donnie Brasco (1997) is bit of an unsung gangster film I think, it was hugely popular when it arrived in theaters, and it holds up still twenty-years later. Depp plays an undercover FBI agent who goes by the handle Donnie Brasco while infiltrating the mob, befriending veteran hitman Lefty (Al Pacino), but his activities while undercover do not sit well with his suffering wife Maggie (Anne Heche). The film is well done and features excellent performances from both Depp and Palcino, in addition to a terrific supporting cast, making for an often thrilling and potent mafia film. The film arrives on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment with a 1080p HD widescreen transfer but only a lossy Dolby Digital surround audio option with no subtitles, and no extras, just a basic start-up menu. The image is solid though, and it comes with slipcase, and they bundle it with a DVD version of the film. 

THE RUNDOWN (2003)

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13 
Duration: 104 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Christopher Walken, Rosario Dawson 

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a charismatic dude, I'm not a huge action-film fanatic but whenever I watch one of his films he's just so charismatic and likable, a bad-ass with a heart of gold sort of guy, and that charm was in fill effect on The Rundown (2003) where he plays Beck, a bounty hunter looking for one last bug score before retiring from that savage life. That last bug score turns out to be looking for his bosses son Travis, plated by the typically wisecracking Seann William Scott (American Pie). The search leads him down to the Amazon where Travis is in search of an ancient artifact known as The Devil's Cat, but so to is unscrupulous mine operator Cornelius Hatcher (Christopher Walken), leading to all sort of action-comedy fun. If you're a fan of the rock or big-action comedies this is a home run all the way through. The Blu-ray release from Mill Creek is rock solid, offering a dazzling 1080p image and bombastic DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track with optional English subtitles, unfortunately they do not carry-over any of the extras from the previous Universal Blu-ray release, but do bundle it with a DVD version of the film. 

BARB WIRE (1996) 

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 69 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: David Hogan 
Cast: Pamela Anderson Lee, Temuera Morrison, Victoria Rowell, Jack Noseworthy, Xander Berkeley, Udo Kier, Steve Railsback

The Golden Raspberry Award-nominated Barb Wire (1996) is based on the Dark Horse comic book series, and much like the film I never did get around to reading any of those comics. This was a first time watch for me, when this was making the rounds in the cinema in the 90's I had zero interest in, it looked like a straight-up train wreck of a film, and watching it now I wasn't wrong. The film opens with it's statement of intent right up front, with Pam Anderson's character performing a not-unfun striptease, whipping her hair and tits around, being showered in champagne, and then killing a cat-caller with her high heels. Yeah, strap yourself in for a trash shit-show, it;s gonna be a bumpy ride indeed. Set in the then futuristic year of 2017 during the Second American Civil War. Busty Barb runs a nightclub and moonlights as a bounty hunter who is helping the freedom fighters. The Government baddies are represented by Colonel Pryzer (Steve Railsback, Lifeforce) and the corrupt Chief of Police Alexander Willis, played by Xander Berkeley who is always an asshole in everything he appears, from the original Candyman to his role on The Walking Dead. The film is trashy fun from start to finish with some fun dystopian flourishes, I found it very entertaining and very bad. Mill Creek Entertainment offer up a dated HD master of the film, presenting it in 1080p HD widescreen (1.85:1) with English DTS-HD MA audio with optional English subtitles with zero extras. 



OUTLAWS & CON MEN 
4-FILM COLLECTION (1966-1972) 

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: 1
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 346 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) & Full Frame (1.33:1) 
Directors: Alberto De Martino, Luigi Batzella, Eugenio Martin, Enzo G. Castellari
Cast: Lee Van Cleef, James Mason, Gina Lollobrigida, Jack Palance, Giancarlo Prete, Lionel Stander, Glenn Saxon, Fernando Sancho, Evelyn Stewart, Jeff Cameron, John Desmont, Esmeralda Barros

Mill Creek Entertainment have come quite a ways since they began as a cut-rate bargain bin budget label, offering public domain box sets real cheap once in a while they do return to their dingy roots with a sub-par compilation of films, such is the case with this four-film set, packaging together Django Shoots First (1966), Django Cut Price Corpses (1971), Bad Man's River (1971) and Sting of the West (1972). The presentations here are awful with the first three film in cropped widescreen, and the final film being full frame, they are digitized and horrendous looking with lots of digital artifcating, making this one of the more unpleasant viewings experiences I've ever sat through. Django Shoots First was a forgettable Django knock-off but does at least feature an appearance from Erika Blanc (The Devil's Nightmare), while Django's Cut price Corpses is even less memorable. The Lee Van Cleef starring Bad Man's River is directed by Eugenio Martin (Horror Express) is an odd mix of western action and broad comedy, making for an uneven watch. The film has a more pristine Blu-ray available from Kino Lorber for those who would like to watch it in a more optional  presentation. The last film is the Enzo G. Castellari (The Inglorious Bastards) directed Sting of the West, starring Jack Palance as a con man assuming the identity of a monk,helping a guy lay claim to a gold mine, it's terrible stuff. Only the most ridiculously die-hard spaghetti western fans need seek this one out, and even then I'd say maybe look for something  where all four film are not crammed onto a single DVD.  


AMERICAN NIGHTMARES (2018) 

Label: MVD Visual 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 89 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen
Director: Rusty Cundieff, Scott
Cast:  Danny Trejo, Vivica A. Fox, Tamala Jones, Chris Kattan, Jay Mohr

In this horror anthology written and directed by Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott (Tales From The Hood and Tales From The Hood 2) we have two millennial hackers hacking into internet user's devices and blackmailing them, but this night the pair of techno-terrors have their screens overtaken by  Mr. Malevolent (Danny Trejo) who subjects them to seven tales of anthology terror. 

The first story is "Mates". the tale of a woman just out of an abusive relationship who receives a free membership to an elite dating service, it seems to good to be true, and it is. This one s fun and a little bit trashy, it was fun to see the bat-shit crazy ex Reggie get his comeuppance. In "The Prosecutor" a slimeball politician (Jay Mohr) who turned a blind-eye to a witness that could have cleared a man of murder who was sentenced to death gets what's coming to him.  "White Flight" is the story of racist family who dream of an all-white world, with the dad's creating a device that will transport them to an all-white other dimension, which it does, with a very silly punchline.  In "The Samaritan" a dying man (Chris Kattan) hires a prostitute to dress up as a clown for some fun and murderous games. "Hate Radio" is a short tale about a loudmouthed radio host who hates women, it's another case of comeuppance when the misogynist is transformed into a woman and becomes the victim of a serial lady-killer.  In "The Healer" a snake-oil faith healer who is sought after my one of his dead followers father's who imbues the healer with the ability to actually heal with a twist. Last up is " Thy Will Be Done", reminding a bit of John Carpenter's "Anti-Birth" episode of Masters of Horror with an anti-abortion family abducting a young woman to prevent her from terminating her pregnancy, but when the baby arrives it's an unholy thing they've brought into the world! American Nightmares is a fun anthology, cramming seven shorts into a ninety-minute run time makes for a breezy watch, if you're a fan of EC Comics inspired anthologies along the lines of Tales From The Hood this is from the creators of that, you're probably gonna have a good time. 


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