Saturday, February 29, 2020

RETURN OF ULATRAMAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES (1971) (Mill Creek Entertainment Blu-ray Review)

6-Disc Steelbook Edition   

Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Duration: 1298 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Region Code: A
Audio: Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p Full Frame (1.33:1) 
Cast: Jiro Dan, Nobuo Tsukamoto, Jun Negami, Shin Kishida, Rumi Sakakibara
Directors: Ishiro Honda, Masanori Kakei, Yoshiharu Tomita, Noboru Kaji

Synopsis: To Protect Justice and Peace - He Has Returned! The crustal movement and the abnormal climate had occurred repeatedly on a global scale and dormant monsters started to awaken from sleep. A young man named Hideki Go, who was chasing his dream to be a race car driver, lost his life in saving a boy and a puppy that failed to escape in the midst of Monster Takkong’s rampage.  However, the new Ultraman, who had come from Nebula M78 to defend Earth, was deeply touched by Go’s brave action and resurrected him by uniting as one. After that, Go is determined to fight any enemy that threatens the freedom and happiness of humanity and joined MAT, the Monster Attack Team. While he struggles with his identity gap between Ultraman and Hideki Go, he grows through fighting against the monsters and aliens.

In the fourth series of Ultraman, the Return of Ultraman series, Earth's alien protector Ultraman once again merges his lifeforce with that of a human he has deemed worthy of his power. This time it's a heroic race car driver named Hideki Go, who has been gravely injured after saving a young boy and his dog during a monster attack that destroyed an apartment building. Ultraman merges with his Go at the moment of death, resurrecting him, imbuing him with the power of the ultraman.  Soon after Go joins defense unit known as MATS (Monster Attack Team) to protect the Earth from giant-sized kaiju and alien invaders from outer space. If you're familiar with any of the previous Ultraman series it's more of the same, and that's not a bad thing, because more of the same means 120-foot tall monsters stomping on a cheap assortment of miniature cities and dramatically emerging the ocean (a.k.a a pool on a sound stage), with our min character Hideki transforming from his human form into the 120-foot tall Ultraman to kick some kaiju and alien ass!

This series plays along mostly as creature of the week sort of episodes with Ultraman doing what he does best, tearing up aliens invaders and giant-sized creatures, and it's a formula that is still a blast to watch. The designs of the over sixty kaiju seen in this incarnation of the series are mostly  crap-tastic z-grade schlock worthy of scorn from  MSTK3, but some of these are pretty cool looking for stuff done on an anemic budget, and it's a ton of fun. 

Ultraman jack's suit is slightly different from previous incarnations I've seen, and it's also noteworthy that this Ultraman does not need a device to transform from his human form into the towering Ultraman, he just wills it to happen and grows bigger like Apache Chief from the Hanna-Barbera saturday morning cartoon Super Friends.  

This was also the first series to feature an Ultraman team-up, with both Ultraman and Ultraseven from the previous series returning, creating a Ultra-verse that didn't exist previously. This was definitely a series that was firing on cylinders with plenty of big-action and lots of giant monsters, and it still holds up, plenty of fun for kids of all-ages. 

Audio/Video: All 52-episodes of Return of Ultraman arrives on 6-disc Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment, presented in 1080p HD original full frame 1.33:1. Audio comes by way of Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono with optional English subtitles, there is no English dub option, so you're gonna have to read the subtitles.    

No extras on any of the sic discs but we do get a fantastic looking 24-page booklet with a writing on the series from Keith Aiken of, plus there's a complete episode guide, profiles of Ultraman Jack and other characters, a look at the tech of the series, and of course the wild assortment of kaiju. It's a nice looking booklet printed on thick card stock paper that's nicely bound, it doesn't feel cheap and is loaded with images from this series.

The six-disc set arrives in a a fantastic looking steelbook with a nice finish, both front and back features images of Ultraman Jack with some of the series more memorable kaiju in the background. The artwork on the inside is of Ultraman Jack's chest, I think they could have done better with the interior artwork, but it looks alright. The six discs come stacked three on top of the other on a pair of spindles, each disc has a red. background with white lettering, featuring six different kaiju. 
This release also gets a clear plastic slipcover that slips over the steelbook, with printing on the front, and on the backside you will find the usual information and specifications you'd usually find printed on a Blu-ray wrap. The 24-page booklet also its nicely beneath the slipcover. Inside there's also a digital code for the series available through MCE's proprietary digital streaming service. .

Mill Creek Entertainment have been doing fantastic work with the Ultraman series, the Steelbooks are gorgeous, and the accompanying the booklet is stuffed with series info, it's just wonderful stuff. If you're already a fan of the series you're gonna love it, and if you love vintage giant-sized kaiju action and stuff like Power Rangers or Thunderbirds Are Go! you might already be a fan and just done't know it yet. 

Thursday, February 27, 2020




Fans of neo-noir and hard-boiled mystery should check out Motherless Brooklyn directed by Edward Norton (Fight Club). Set in 1950's New York City the film has more than a whiff of Roman Polanski's Chinatown, at the center of the film lays a corruption plot involving the city officials and the public works. Norton plays a detective with tourettes investigating the death of his mentor and friend (Bruce Willis, 12 Monkeys), with a great supporting cast including Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the daughter of a jazz club owner (The Cloverfield Paradox) and Alec Baldwin (Beetlejuice) as the political heavy. It's a solid film, but it runs nearly three-hours long and has a few too many tangents that are never quite tied-up, but if you're into a good gritty mystery this is well-worth at least a rental. The Blu-ray from WB looks and sounds fantastic, plus we get a couple of nifty featurettes, deleted scenes, and an in-depth commentary from Norton. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)   

NO MERCY (1986)

Eighties cop-thriller No Mercy (1986) stars Richard Gere (Pretty Woman) as renegade Chicago cop Eddie Jillette who is on the hunt for his partner's murderer, the culprit is a pony-tailed drug lord named Losado. Jillette tracks him to the Louisiana , with the cop ending up handcuffed to the killer's Cajun girlfriend (Kim Bassinger, Batman), and the pair find themselves being hunted down through the swamps by the drug lord's thugs. I was never a big fan of Gere or Bassinger in the 80's (or ever), but I remember watching this on cable and digging it a bit. Watching it now it doesn't hold up all that well, it's riddled with 80's cop-film cliche after cliche, which was sort of irritating, but I know this film has it's fans. It arrives on Blu-ray from MCE in 1080p HD widescreen with DTS-HD MA stereo audio, no extras, but it does come in one of those retro-VHS slipcover.


Arrow continue the love for filmmaker José Ramón Larraz (Whirlpool) with what I believe was his last horror film, the slasher Deadly Manor (1990). It's a fairly generic slasher that strands a group of teens in an abandoned mansion and bad stuff happens. The film lacks the originality and atmosphere Larraz's earlier works but for cheap slasher chock full o' tropes it's not awful, still having some cool kills and a memorable sex scene. It's a step down from his previous slasher Edge of the Axe (1988), but if you're into tearing through some lesser known slashers Arrow have got you covered with a fantastic looking release with plenty of extras, including an excellent deep dive commentary from Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan, and a candid interview with actress Jennifer Delora. 

(Arrow Video)

ROBOCOP (1987) 

Director Paul Veerhoven's Robocop (1987) needs no introduction from the likes me I hope, it's game-changing and future predicting slice of dytopia starring Peter Weller as a good cop gunned down in the line of duty, who is then re-animated as a crime-fighting cyborg cop to fight crime kingpins and corrupt politicians in the near apocalyptic city of Detroit. This 2-disc release offers both the R-rated and unrated director's cut of this film on separate discs. From what I can tell Arrow carry-over all the previous extras from past releases and then stuff it like Oreo with plenty more goodies for the die-hard fans. You might not think you need to upgrade if you already own the previous MGM Blu-ray, as this is the same 4K restoration as that release, but Arrow looks to have a slightly better encoded, and it's absolutely dripping with extras. This is definitive and final word on the films - at least until we get a 4K Ultra HD  - and even then I can guarantee it won't have all these extras, unless Arrow themselves decide to do a UHD, which would be all sorts of awesome. So, if you see this sweet looking 2-disc release on the shelf at your local video store the one and only thought you should have is "Dead or alive, you're coming with me!". (Arrow Video) 


Arrow Video give this Japanese video viral-curse series some serious love with the Ringu Collection, congaing Ringu, Ring 2, Spiral and Ring 0: Birthday. The first film is a j-horror classic, but the two sequels Ring 2 and Spiral, while interesting, have always left me unimpressed. However, I was very impressed with Ring 0, a more visually pleasing film that tells the origin story of the vengeful ghost Sadako, turning out to be my favorite film in the series. The films arrives on a 3-disc Blu-ray set with audio commentaries for each film except the unofficial sequel Spiral, with plenty of interviews and a video essay, plus we get a selection of deleted scenes, and trailers. If you're into j-horror or just the Ring series in particular this is a fantastic set, I definitely have more of an appreciation for the series after pouring through it, and it's still creepy stuff. (Arrow Video) 


The Hollywood biopic of silent film mega-star Lon Chaney starred screen legend James Cagney in an affectionate and telling of Chaney's life, from his early days working in Vaudeville to his iconic  film work on The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), right up till his death. Sure, there's some creative licenses being taken with the story, but Cagney is absolutely fantastic as the silent-film star, giving the screen legend some serious pathos, examining his difficult marriage, his upbringing by mute patents, and his relationship with his estranged son Creighton Chaney, a.k.a. on Lon Chaney Jr., The Wolfman). Honestly, I had never even heard of this film till Arrow announced it, and I thought it was fantastic, even if some of the recreations of some of Chaney's most iconic work fails to measure up to the original, but how could they not? The film is black and white and looks wonderful in lush 1080p HD with lossless audio. Extras include a wonderful Tim Lucas commentary plus a 21-min conversation with Kim Newman about Chaney's legacy, we also get a trailer and image gallery for the film. This is a serious gem of a film that I think anybody who is into cinema history and Hollywood biopics would be very pleased with. I also loved seeing Jim Backus, Mr. Howell from Gilligan's Island show up as Chaney's agent. (Arrow Video) 


When I was a kid I was warned not to ever hitchhike unless I wanted to end up murdered with my throat slit in some field at the hands of a stranger, and this is the sort of scuzzy film that drives home that point home rather nicely. The story of a sad little loser with migraines that picks up teenage hitchhikers off the side of the road and kills them. It's a sleazy bit of grindhouse that covers all the bases with some nudity, violence and a deranged killer. As an added bonus the lawman on the killer's trail is none other that Russell Johnson, the Professor from Gilligan's Island! The film should appeal to fans of culty 70s exploitation, the Blu-ray has some decent extras too, including an appreciation of the director by Stephen Thrower, a video essay, plus an interview with actress Nancy Adams, trailers and an alternate opening sequence.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020




Label: Dorado Films 

Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 85 Minutes / 81 Minutes 
Video: 1080p HD Full Screen (1.33:1) / Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Audio: Spanish Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 with Optional English, Italian, and Spanish Subtitles
Director: Jess Franco 
Cast: Montserrat Prous, Albert Dalbés, Glenda Allen, Mario Alex / Montserrat Prous, William Berger, Robert Woods,  Edmund Purdom


When movie star Annette (Glenda Allen, TV's Space: 1999) invites her Hollywood friends to her isolated island home for a weekend getaway they get more than the expected 70s loving, drinking and dancing, the weekend quickly devolves into a whirlwind of kidnapping, murder and weirdness. 

We're introduced to Annette's weird sister, the suspicious Valerie (Montserrat Prous, The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff) who lives on the island where she cares for movie star Annette's young son Christian. No sooner has the star arrived on the island with her movie making friends when we are treated to some sinister voice-over narration from Valerie, who loathes her famous sister, wishing her dead, along with her Hollywood-type group of friends, which include her lawyer-lover Vincent (Mario Álex, School of Death), former lover and Christian's father Jean-Paul (Francisco Acosta, Sinner: The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac), movie producer Jerome (Luis Induni, Night of the Howling Beast) photographer Vera (Yelena Samarina, Murder Mansion), and Annette's personal bodyguard Juan (Alberto Dalbes, Cut-Throats Nine)  

Things begin to go astray when Valerie overhears Annette with her son's father, who wants custody of Christian, which angers Valerie. Later that night the boy is kidnapped and a demand for a large ransom is left next to the boy's bloodied bed. In short order the guests begin to be killed off in a way that is much like Ten Little Indians. The guests cannot escape the island as the only transport to the mainland has been blown up with one of the guest's aboard, and there is no other boat arriving on the island till after the weekend. Who's the kidnapping-murderer, is it one of the guests, or perhaps the increasingly erratic sister, or maybe the suspicious housekeeper Laura (Kali Hansa, Countess Perverse) or the shady caretaker Pongo (Manuel Pereiro, Satan's Blood)? 

Franco's love for Mediterranean island locations is on full display, however, the lurid eroticism is toned way down in this one, not typical for him. Also unusual is that the story is a fairly linear, a psychological murder mystery along the lines of an Agatha Christie story, though it is actually adapted from a novel by author Enrique Jarber. The film has some decent lensing from cinematographer Javier Pérez Zofio (Franco's Night of the Assassins) who also did some second unit on the Agatha Christie adaptation Ten Little Indians(1974). We also get a cool jazzy score from Jess Franco himself plus contributions from composer Fernando García Morcillo (The Cannibal Man).  

Montserrat Prous as Valerie really anchored the film for me, I love her wide-eyed stare, while she doesn't have the sexual allure of later Franco muses Soledad Miranda or Lina Romay, she does manage to cast her own spell upon you with those deep, mysterious eyes, giving a delightfully unhinged performance. She makes for an easy suspect early on, but when the bodies begin to pile-up Valerie winds up with a double-barrel shotgun in her hands and is a total badass. 

Franco manages to muster up some great atmosphere towards the end with Prouse wandering around the dark island house with a gas lantern in one hand and the shotgun in the other, casting shadows and expecting danger to leap from the dark at every turn, she's ready for just about anything, except for maybe the shocker of an ending, which is completely nutso.  


In Jess Franco's The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff (1973) Melissa Comfort (Montserrat Prous, Diary of a Nymphomaniac) is a young woman who is without the use of her legs since childbirth. Nightly she is haunted by nightmares of her father's mysterious death years earlier. In the horrific recurring dream her father (a cameo by director Franco) stumbles to her and drips blood onto her nightgown, she awakens terrified and screaming. She lives with her conniving step sister Martha (Loreta Tovar, The Night of the Sorcerers), her aunt Flora (Kali Hansa, 

Countess Perverse), and a loyal butler named Mathews (Jose Manuel Martin, Curse of the Devil). 

The family calls on a psychiatrist who is a friend of the family, the titular and sinister Dr. Orloff, played by the steely eyed William Berger (Five Dolls for An August Moon). Given the title of the film it will come as little surprise that the doctor, and members of her family, are conspiring against the wheelchair bound invalid. His diabolical plan involves using a disorienting combination of drugs and hypnosis to coerce Melissa into violently murdering the other members of her family. In a weird twist Melissa is able to walk on her own, but only under the post-hypnotic commands of the evil-eyed Dr. Orloff. 

I think Berger is fantastic in the role as the evil master of hypnotism, this is definitely his vehicle, stealing nearly every scene in the film in my opinion. A suspicious folk-singer neighbor alerts Inspector Crosby (Edmund Purdom, Pieces) that something just ain't right over at the Comfort house, but will it work in her favor? 

I remember watching this movie the first time, I had to double check and be sure this was a legit Jess Franco film as it was a nearly bloodless affair with only a hint of nudity, not what I'd come to expect at that point from the master of Euro sleaze. However, the film has some terrific psychological horror elements and an atmosphere that is enhanced by a haunting score composed by Franco himself. Spoilers, my favorite scenario in the film has the butler Matthews whisking Melissa away to safety in the trunk of a car after overhearing the conspiracy against her, only to be murdered by Melissa (under the hypnotic command of Dr. Orloff) on a misty road. 

Sadly the lovely Lina Romay (The Hot Nights of Linda) appears only briefly in the film, which was a bit of a let down for me. The movie could certainly be considered slow paced, but it picks up towards the end. It has some decent visuals but largely lacks the visceral and erotic flavorings I crave when watching a Franco film, this might be one for the Franco lovers and completest only I think. The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff (1973) is not the stuff of euro sleaze legend but it is a tasty slice of 70's Spanish psycho-sleaze with a mesmerizing performance from William Berger as the evil hypnotist. 

Audio/Video: The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff (1973) was previously released on DVD from Intervision a few years previously. That previous release was sourced from a 1" tape and was a soft, smeary VHS image that left a lot to be desired. Dorado Films prsents both of the film are sourced from 35mm theatrical prints, and scanned in 4K. The boost in quality for The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff is clearly evident, the fine detail, clarity and colors are richer, but the print is well-worn with loads of white speckling and some print damage and fading. That said, this is a worthy upgrade, but come to it with lowered expectations.

The Silence of the Tomb(1972) is making it's digital home video debut with this release, also sourced from a 35mm theatrical print, but nicely framed in the scope widescreen (2.35:1) aspect ratio. It looks overly bright and a bit washed out in places, softer than the full frame Sinister Eyes, also sporting some print damage and age-related celluloid wear, but still very watchable and treat to see in HD.

Both films feature lossy Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with optional English, Spanish and Italian subtitles. There's some minor audio distortion but overall a solid, though lossy, audio presentation.

Extras on the disc include 24-min of movie trailers for possible upcoming releases from Dorado Films, a 15-min chat with ageing actor Robert Woods (The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff) who speaks about the collaborative European style of movie making in the 70s, working with Franco, the audio syncing process of the time, and being convinced by William Berger and Edmund Purdom to come down to Spain and work with Franco. Woods also touches on how Jess appeared in his films like Hitchcock, and his distaste for his more erotic fare. There are also script pages which include an alternate ending for the movie. Additionally there's a 2-page booklet with writing on the film from  Alex Mendibil. There's also an Ultimate edition of this release from Dorado Films with alternate artwork and a 24-page collector's booklet, but the on disc  extras are exactly the same.


Special Features:
- Video Chat With Robert Woods (15 min) HD 
- Script of Original Ending for Silence of the Tomb
- Trailer: El Asesino No Está Solo (4 min) HD, Camino Solitario (6 min) HD, The Counselor (4 min) HD, Crimes of The Black Cat (4 min) DH, Horrible sexy Vampire (3 min) HD, Knife of Ice (3 min) HD 
- Collector's Booklet with writing by Alex Mendibil 

This is a nice Jess Franco double-feature from Dorado Films, both films look reasonably solid in 1080p HD, with the previously issued The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff 

looking significantly better than the previous standar-definition release from Intervision. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Introducing IMPRINT FILMS - the New premium Blu-ray label from VIA VISION ENTERTAINMENT!

Australia's Via Vision Entertainment have announced a new premium Blu-ray label Imprint which will deliver ongoing monthly releases of long requested and previously unreleased film in stunning HD.

Imprint will launch in May 2020  with the releases of five titles including George Pal's 1953 classic War Of The Worlds (1953), Gene Fowler Jr's I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958), Ridley Scott's The Duellists (1977), the epic war drama Waterloo (1970)  &amp' the film-noir classic Sorry, Wrong Number (1948).

The first pressings of each release will have strictly limited-edition deluxe packaging along with HD new transfers, audio commentaries, exclusive bonus features and more. 

The new Imprint label is bound to excite movie collector's everywhere delivering  a library of "must own" film releases in the HD format. 

This marks the worldwide Blu-ray debuts of War of the Worlds (1953), I Married A Monster From Outer Space, Waterloo (1970) and Sorry, wrong Number.

Monday, February 24, 2020

KILLER WEEKEND (2018) (Dark Sky Films DVD Review)

Label: Dark Sky Films
Region Code: 1
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 84 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 & 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.39:1) 
Director: Ben Kent
Cast: Sean Verey, Mark Heap, Danny Kirrane, Ewen MacIntosh

Killer Weekend (2018) is a British comedy about a small group of friends taking their soon-to-be-married mate 
Sam (Sean Verey, EastEnders
on a weekend zombie-paintball survival adventure. They also invite Sam's somewhat uptight soon-to-be-father-in-law Gerald (Mark Heap, Spaced) along hoping they will bond, but it puts a bit of a kink in the planned bachelor getaway. 

They arrive at the remote paintball facility and the games begin, having a bit of a fantasy-battle with the ex-military who seem to take the zombie gig a bit too seriously. Things begin to sideways when one the more overly aggressive zombies-cast catches Sam off-guard in the woods, stumbling to get away Sam accidentally plunging a tree branch right through the guy's guts, seemingly killing him. It turns out he's not dead, just gravely injured, but the most lunkheaded of the friends mistakes the injured guy's moan for help to be the sounds of a re-animated
zombie hungry for brains, instantly plunging his survival knife right through the back of his skull, killing him for real this time.

The panicked idiots group-think what to do  next and decide the best course of action would be to bury the body of the actor in the woods and pretend the whole thing never happened, which they do. These morons can't seem to stay away from trouble though, in short order the group are involved in more accidental homicides, resulting tidy piles of new corpses in need of disposal.

Despite the groups efforts the bodies are discovered by Sgt Marshall (Tim Faraday, EastEnders) and his ex-military crew who set after the paintballers for some not undeserved revenge. The flick is a fun bit of goofiness with an emphasis on laughs without much suspense or fright to back it up. The real show are the Brit-blokes acting-bad and making poor decisions, and even that doesn't come off all that original, but it's an above average time waster. This definitely brought to mind stuff along the lines of Severance (2006) and the backwoods horror-comedy Tucker and  Dale vs Evil (2010), it's not on par with either of those films, but it's a bit better than Doghouse (2009). Killer Weekend (2018)is a fun enough watch, I didn't love it but I didn't hate it,  it's a decent time waster but probably a one and done for me.