THE EPITAPH VOL. 25
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (2019)- NO MERCY (1986) - DEADLY MANOR (1990)- ROBOCOP (1987) - THE RINGU COLLECTION - MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES (1957)- HITCHHIKE TO HELL (1977)MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (2019)
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.
DEADLY MANOR (1990)
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.
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)
THE RINGU COLLECTION
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)
MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES (1957)
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)
HITCHHIKE TO HELL (1977)
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.