Thursday, February 28, 2019

DIS (2019) (Unearthed Films Blu-ray Review)

DIS (2019) 

Label: Unearthed Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 60 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English PCM 2.0 Stereo (No Subtitles) 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Adrian Corona
Cast:  Bill Oberst Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon, Manuel Domínguez

Dis (2019) from director Adrian Corona is a sixty-minute slice of arthouse dread starring Bill Oberst Jr. (Dismal) who plays an former soldier with a spotty past, first seen wandering the rural landscapes of Mexico, the film is peppered with black and white flashbacks that fill in sparse amounts of information about his checkered past. In the woods I am unsure if he's on-the-run or on-the-prowl, but his journey leads him to a creepy abandoned building, itself a labyrinth of corridors covered in graffiti street art. The place is also home to a mysterious hooded figure that has an unholy penchant for chaining victims to a wall, injecting them with something surely awful and then manually masturbating them to the point of orgasm, then collecting their precious bodily fluids for reasons that are not exactly clear at first.

The film is divided into three chapters spanning only an hour, and in that hour the journey is strange, nightmarish and very slow-burning, with a narrative that is loose to say the least. The film driven by a artful visuals and anchored by a intensely minimalist performance from Bill Oberst Jr., an actor with the sort of storied face that looks to have endured a lifetime of hardship, making his turn here as a broken military man about to receive a reckoning all the more convincing. 

The film's title is a nod to Dante’s Inferno, which sort of speaks to the leanings of the film, but I don't want to get too spoilery here, so I won't go much further than that, but honestly this is not a film that you can spoil in my opinion, it's an experience, the sort of thing you let it wash over you, and then you shower the filth away, and there's definitely some filth to be had here, the eye for artful and disturbing imagery on display here is rather impressive. 

Audio/Video: Dis (2019) arrives on Blu-ray from Unearthed Films in 1080p HD framed in 2.35:1 widescreen, and is easily one of the most artful and attractive looking films from Unearthed. Shot in Mexico the digitally shot film captures the natural splendor of the forested rural area with lush greens, and the filthy and dilapidated interiors of the abandoned building which features heavily in the film look appropriately disgusting throughout, it's a visually pleasing film, artful an grotesque in equal measure.

Audio comes by way of an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, as well as a PCM 2.0 stereo mix, both are crisp and clean, the immersive design offering some nice use of the surrounds throughout. 

Extras include a 2-min introduction by the director, a 19-min short film, and a 5-min interview with actor Bill Oberst Jr. that's unnecessarily split into five parts, plus an image gallery and a selection of Unearthed trailers. Notably, the short film would not play on my LG 4K UltraHD player but played fine on my external Blu-ray. 

Special Features:
- Short Film: Portrait (19 min)  
- Behind the scenes (3 min) 
- Introduction by director Adrian Corona (2 min) 
- Interview with Bill Oberst Jr. (5 min) 
- Still gallery
- Trailers: Dis (2 min), Atroz (2 min), Torment, Dark Side of the Moon (2 min), Sacrifice (2 min), Where The Dead Go To Die (3 min), Song of Solomon (1 min) 

If you're looking for something strange, artfully grotesque and ambitious then Dis (2019) will absolutely fit that bill, plus you get a hypnotic performance from Bill Oberst Jr, and enough nightmare fuel imagery for several films. 

PURGATORY ROAD (2017) (Unearthed Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: Unearthed Films

Region Code: A
Duration: 99 Minutes 
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English LPCM Stereo 2.0 - No Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Mark Savage 
Cast: Gary Cairns, Luke Albright, Trista Robinson, Geoff Falk

Purgatory Road (2017) is a Southern fried slice of exploitation that opens with a young boy named Vincent unable to stop a thief from making off with his family's life savings, an act that pushes his father and mother to the desperate act of double-suicide, a traumatic act witnessed by both Vincent and his younger brother Michael. As you might imagine witnessing the suicide of their parents ends up being the defining moment in the kid's lives. We move ahead a few years and the kids have now grown into men, Vincent (Gary Cairns, Daylight's End) is a Catholic priest who travels the rural south lands of Mississippi in a creepy spray-painted RV camper offering "absolution on wheels" to all sinners. His kid brother Michael (Luke Albright, Devil's Pass) joins him on his journeys, keeping the operation afloat while his brother delivers the sermons and takes in confessionals. 

Much like how the killer-Santa scarred five-year-old Billy Chapman in Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) the thief in the night that destroyed his family has had a long-lasting and perverting effect on Vincent's sense of spiritual morality, with the priest handing out hail-Mary's to low-level sinners while saving the souls of the worst offenders by offering them absolution by death. 

The younger brother Michael is a bit more reticent about these righteous murders, but he stays true to his brother's path of demented salvation, but you can sense a growing division between them. This division is widened by the introduction of love interests for both men, with Michael flirting with a cute waitress in town, and Vincent becoming involved with the baby-talking babe Mary Francis (Tristan Robinson), who turns out to be a stone-cold killer, her influence increasing the priest's thirst for the blood of sinners. 

As the plays along we get a pretty cool tale of morality gone wrong, a pair of kids forever changed by a tragic event in their lives, one a bit more so than the other, but even the younger brother is complicit in the crimes. A kinder light is shown on the younger brother, wisely giving viewers a character to empathize with to a small degree. The introduction of psycho-babe Mary Francis is definitely where things begin to go even more wrong for the siblings, leaving Father Vincent to stray from even his own twisted path of righteous morality, setting the stage for betrayal and more violence. 

All these sinners that the are absolved of their sins through death are being dismembered and fed to a ghoul that the brothers keep down in their basement, so you can be sure this film has some gruesome FX work, courtesy of  Marcus Koch and Cat Bernier  of Oddtopsy FX. Their work here is realistic and delightfully gross, with multiple stabbings, shootings, various scenes of dismemberment and all the sick stuff you gore hounds crave, this is not a film that will disappoint the lovers of the red stuff, but it also doesn't go overboard to the point of overkill and desensitization. 

On a purely gore and grittiness level the film is successful, it establishes a grim tone and keeps it up, but I don't think the psychological underpinnings of the brothers is not fleshed out to it's full potential, which I think would have made the whole film more impactful. Then there's Tristan Robinson as the baby-talkin' psychopath Mary Francis, a character which sort of brought to mind
Sheri Moon Zombie's turn as Baby from House of 1000 Corpses (2003), her shrill voice was at times like nails on chalk board, but it works for the character I guess. She turns in a fine performance as the wedge that divides the brothers, but there are flashbacks to her back story that for me brought the film to a bit of a crawl, it feels extraneous, but it's not ruinous.  

Audio/Video: Purgatory Road (2018) arrives on Blu-ray from Unearthed Films in 1080p HD and framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. The film was shot digital and looks crisp and sharp, shadow detail is strong and colors resonate with a good warmth, there's some striking purple and red lighting throughout that gives the indie film a dramatic and stylish look. Audio comes by way of English LPCM 2.0 stereo - even though the back cover advertises Dolby Digital, everything is clean and well-balanced, no issues detected. .   

Extras include an audio commentary with the director Mark Savage, a 5-min slide show of the gruesome F/X work from the film, 29-min of interviews with actors  Gary Cairns, Luke Albright, and Trista Robinson. All the actors are interviewed separately, speaking about their coming onto the film, their characters, experiences on set and a bit of their acting processes. 

Actor/co-screenwriter Tom Parnell shows up for a 9-min interview who describes meeting director Mark Savage, creating the story, digging into the characters and story of the film. The last of the extras is a 20-min Q&A after a screening of the film involving director Mark Savage and actor Gary Cairns, plus a selection of trailers for Purgatory Road and other Unearthed films, including The Dark Side of The Moon (1990), which I am so looking forward to, coming to Blu-ray June 2019! 

Special Features: 
- Audio Commentary with Director Mark Savage
- The Grisly Art of Marcus Koch and Cat Bernier (5 min) 
- The Actors Speak (29 min) 
- Tom Parnell: Beyond The Day Job (9 min) 
- Purgatory Road Q&A
- Trailers: Brutal (1 min), Dark Side of the Moon (2 min), Purgatory Road (2 min), The Song of Solomon (1 min)

Overall Purgatory Road is a film that worked for me with only a few minor quibbles along the way, but nothing that ruined it for me, it's still a brutal slice of southern exploitation with plenty of grit and grue. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019




Time to get caught up on some current and upcoming releases from the budget-minded label Mill Creek Entertainment. If you're looking to stretch that digital entertainment buck these guys have you covered, with releases spanning the spectrum from exploitation and horror to anime and science fiction, documentaries and kiddie-friendly classics - so let's have a look at a few of their current offerings... 


I'm not a huge anime fan but this 2003 reboot of the Astro Boy series was pretty entertaining stuff, the story of a A.I,. robot child named Astro who's inventor disappeared, but with the help of a new science-guy mentor sets about protecting lives of robots and humans alike. Fun kiddie stuff, lots of good vs. evil with a little bit of gray area in there. The fifty-episode series spans four DVD discs with no extras, housed in a standard DVD keepcase with the discs stacked on the center spindle, there are no extras, but this set does come with a spiffy looking slipcover that has different artwork than the DVD sleeve. This looks to be the same content as Mill Creek previous release of the series with new artwork. 


& MEMORIES (1995)
As stated before I am not a rabid connoisseur of Anime, so I walked into METROPOLIS (2001) with zero expectations and my eyes wide open, and I was stunned. A vibrant and luminous slice of Japanese animation about a world where humans and robots co-exist in a dystopian future. The relationship is frayed and anti-robot groups fan the flames of hatred, causing unrest among the population. Enter into the fray Det. Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi, tasked with arresting a mad scientist named  Dr. Laughton, they find themselves caught up in a dense plot to overthrow the ruler of Metropolis, and a secret weapon that could destroy the world. The dazzling animation borrows from Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1937) which inspired the manga that this is adapted from, and many scenes that look like they could have been pulled directly from Blade Runner, it has loads of sci-fi influences that it wears on it's sleeve. The animation is hallucinatory and overwhelming, blooming with luminous color and dense storytelling, I cannot praise it highly enough. Metropolis was previously issued on Blu-ray/DVD combo from Mill Creek Entertainment in Steelbook packaging, here it gets a DVD re-release on a double-bill with anime-anthology Memories (1995). This film gets both Japanese and English audio with same set of extras as the previous release. Memories (1995) is an anime-anthology film, we get three science fiction shorts, the hand drawn animation is a bit more old school than Metropolis, and I dig it. The shorts are not really connected by a theme or through line but are all quite good, there's a bio-terrorism short, a Kubrick-ian slice of the surreal and an Orwellian vision of dystopia. The animation here is very well-done, but know going in that the sole audio option is Japanese with optional English subtitles, so if you're looking for an English dub you're out of luck. No extras on this one, just the film, but at least the pair of films get their own DVDs and are not both crammed onto a single disc.


Mill Creek Entertainment have collected three of their Benji restorations on a 2-disc DVD/Blu-ray + Digital release combo, all three films are presented on single-disc Blu-ray or DVD. The films on it are the original BENJI (1974), FOR THE LOVE OF BENJI (1977) and BENJI: OFF THE LEASH (2004). When I was a kid I adored the first two Benji films, kid-friendly movies about a kind-hearted pooch, that still manage to have their charms all these years later. The simplicity of the storytelling is kind of ridiculous, but the heart-warming tales still shine. The 2004 film is the dud of the bunch for me, not having any nostalgic value for me was probably a key factor in that opinion. The three-film set looks solid on Blu-ray, but it lacks most of the extras of the single-film Blu-ray releases, though they do carry-over the trailers and audio commentaries with director Joe Camp and his son Brandon for each film. Also included is a digital copy of the film for Mill Creek Entertainment's proprietary streaming service.



These eye-popping 4K Ultra HD releases, IMAX enhanced, give us ultra-detailed and gorgeous views of our planet, in A BEAUTIFUL PLANETS narrated by Jennifer Lawrence we get views of the Earth from the International Space Station shot in 4K, illuminating the lives of the scientists aboard the ISS, also speaking to the harm being caused to our planet by pollution. The real sizzle here though are the brilliant views of Earth itself from space. In JOURNEY TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC narrated by Cate Blanchett, the story is told through the perspective of a 13-year old kid who has been chosen to sails aboard a teaching ship that travels along the coastline exploring the reef ecosystems, full of natural wonder and breathtaking imagery of the abundant sea life, all the while exploring the sad truths about these endangered natural treasures. Each film is accompanies by a handful of extras, housed in a black 4K UltraHD keepcase with a slipcover, inside there's also a Blu-ray version of the film and a digital code for the film from Mill Creek's proprietary streaming service. If you're a lover of nature documentaries these are highly recommended, the only real hang-up I have about these is that they're less than 50-min long each, but the HDR10+ color encoding is brilliant and lush, with DTS:X audio that makes for a very pleasing presentation. 


Eli Roth's HOSTEL (2005) and HOSTEL PART II (2007) get a Blu-ray/DVD reissue from Mill Creek, both film's are painful excursions into travel abroad, with the first film follow a group of college kids as they travel through Europe in search of European pussy, which they find in abundance in Slovakia, but afterwards find themselves strapped into chairs and subjected to horrific tortures at the hands of the ultra-wealthy who pay big money for the opportunity to murder young people. The first Hostel film is fun, I sort of hated everyone in it, so you just sort of have to root for the gore of it all,and the film delivers some memorable and gruesome deaths for sure, but the lack of character development or even simple likability of anyone really puts a hurt on this one, just the glee of gore will only go so far. The sequel is more of the same with a gender swap, this time we have a trio of ladies, including Heather Matarazzo of Welcome to the Doll House, on vacation in Slovakia, winding up at the same hostel from the first film, and more of the same ensues. The characters here are more likable at least, and I like the warmer look of the film, it's more stylish, and the kills are better as well. We also see more of the behind-the-scenes of how the ultra-wealthy bid on potential victims. The highlight here for me is the blood-drenched death of Matarazzo's character, hung upside down over a tub, a nude woman lays beneath her with a scythe and slices her open, literally bathing in her blood in the process, it's a thing of macabre beauty. There's also a pretty sweet penis-severing, and be on the lookout for Italian director Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust) in a cameo as - what else? - a cannibal! A few notes about this release, it's advertised as the director's cut with 5.1 audio, but the first film is the theatrical version, with the DVD offering a alternate ending, but the Blu-ray does not. Also, the audio on the Blu-ray is 2.0 stereo and not surround, but there is 5.1 on the DVD, so that's a bit of a disappointment, but if you're just looking for an affordable no-frills double-feature this is an option, but if you want the films with all the extras you might want to seek out the standalone Blu-rays for each film that were released by Sony and dripping with cool extras. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


On April 9th, Severin Films is steering the ship beyond Blood Island and straight into the heart of darkness. The Hemisphere Box Of Horrors is bursting at the seams with all the wild, unhinged madness you can handle, with each film newly scanned in 2K/4K from the best – and often only – complete elements available.

Though best known for their legendary BLOOD ISLAND Trilogy, the Philippine/U.S. production/distribution company Hemisphere Pictures was also responsible for some of the most provocative and insane films of the ‘60s and ‘70s drive-in/grindhouse era. THE BLOOD DRINKERS and CURSE OF THE VAMPIRES are the still-potent masterpieces from The Father of Philippine Horror Gerry de LeonBRAIN OF BLOOD is the all-star Grade Z classic from infamous exploitation auteur Al AdamsonTHE BLACK CAT andTORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM – starring Christopher Lee and Tarzan – are Hemisphere’s two most extreme acquisitions for the company’s notorious double-feature packages.

THE BLACK CAT/TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM is a Box Set Exclusive double feature. The Severin webstore is also including mini-posters of the box set artwork as a bonus for all those who order direct.
Also available on DVD
BRAIN OF BLOOD Special Features:
● Memories Of Blood: Interviews With Director Al Adamson, Producer Samuel M. Sherman, Associate Producer J. P. Spohn, Actor Zandor Vorkov, Actor Sean Graver, and Filmmaker Fred Olen Ray
● Partial Audio Commentary With Producer / Co-Writer Samuel M. Sherman
● Trailer
● Radio Spot
Also available on DVD
● Manong of the Philippines: Interview With Script Supervisor and Gerry De Leon's AD Dik Trofeo
● Hemisphere Appreciation by Filmmaker David DeCoteau
● Audio Commentary With Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Howard S. Berger
● Partial Audio Commentary With Hemisphere Marketing Consultant Samuel M. Sherman
● Deleted Scenes
● Blood Drinkers Trailer
● Vampire People Trailer
● Radio Spot
Also available on DVD
●     Cursed Vampire: Interview With Actor Eddie Garcia
● The Market Of Hemisphere: Interview With Marketing Consultant Samuel M. Sherman
● Audio Commentary With Philippine Genre Documentarian Andrew Leavold
● Partial Audio Commentary with Sam Sherman
● Deleted Scenes
● Beast of Blood / Curse of the Vampires radio spot
Box Set Exclusive

● Blood Demon Trailer
● Black Cat Trailer